I’ve been trying to find a way to explain how technology brands differ and then it hit me – toasters. So I thought how would some well know technology companies approach the humble toaster. Here’s what I came up with.
iToast from Apple. This is a perfect cube made of brushed aluminium. It has no handles, no feet and just two slots in the top. You turn it on by pressing the single button and it auto-detects the weight of the Apple Bread(TM) and lowers these into the cube. Browning is controlled by a touch sensitive slider. Because brown isn’t considered an acceptable colour by Apple, your choices range from Excellent (iPod pale) to Awesome (oh so nearly, but not quite, burnt).
Good Points: Tooth-achingly well designed. Silent. Cool to touch and simple enough to use that your Grandmother could work it out.
Bad Points: Costs over £300. Only accepts one size of Apple Bread (available at Apple Stores 10 slices for £8). Cannot be upgraded, repaired or opened. Unauthorized attempt to configure it for bagels or muffins will result in a software lockdown rendering it useless.
Microsoft Xtoast 360
This is a large toaster in the shape of X-wing fighter. It comes in three sizes; 4 slot, 8 slot or 12 slot models and the box contains dinner-plate sized wired controllers. This allows you to control each grill element independently, allowing for family toast wars. It comes with 6 inch feet as the body generates an uncomfortable 300 degrees of heat when all slots are being used.
Good Points: Inexpensive and interfaces with Microsoft (R) Toast Live, Microsoft (R) Windows Toast, Microsoft (R) Office Professional – Toast Edition, Microsoft (R) Toast Maker in Windows 7. Zune Toasty and Microsoft (R) Breakfast 3.0 (due to ship in 2016)
Bad Points: Users report a small incidence (43%) of Red Ring of Toast which results in a complete shut down. The fan is reported to be loud (>240db) and the packaging recommends that the unit is placed on a four inch flame retardant sheet to avoid burning your house down.
Dell Toast XP556/45/A
Dell have never been worried about trying out new product lines and the XP556 is no exception. In common with Dell’s ‘user-designs’ strategy this toaster can be as individual as the user wants. The basic unit cost £40 and can toast two slices. If you use the online Dell Toast Store things become more interesting. We recently decided to create a pro-style toasting tower with all the accessories. Our model has the optional Toast Card that can accept anything from a bilini to whole baguette. With the additional Toast-RAM (£23) we were able to toast a crumpet in 0.4 of a second. The XP556 has eleven USB 2.0 slots so you can connect your MP3 player (except iPhone/Ipod Touch), your TV, games console and up to seven laptops using Microsoft (R) Home Toast Network so you can monitor your toast schedule over WiFi anywhere in the house.
Good Points: Well designed, affordable and the larger model are powerful
Bad Points: Toast Care(TM) Service Plan is expensive. The Call Centres have never heard of toast, don’t know what bread is or have never tasted it. During the support call they suggested the problem could be the orange juice, cereal, coffee, the wrong sort of bread and that there was a known proximity issues with Shreddies.
This is the choice of the executive toast lover. It is a matt black rectangle which comes in a small range of slot options. The main selling feature is that is extremely rugged. Your children can force objects into it or drop it on the kitchen floor and it will come back for more. It is fitted with a parental finger print scanner to prevent infants making toast and will work reliably for years as long as you disable all of the supplied software and just stick with Microsoft (R) Windows Toast.
Good points: Extreme robust and will interface with SAP Home Edition and Oracle SQL Home Server. It will comfortably work on home networks with up to 11,000 connected devises and complies with all EU Home Toast Security Protocols.
Bad Points: Everyone else in the office has one.
HP Family Toaster
This is the cheapest toaster on our list costing only £3.80. It is a plastic box and available in Bey, a colour HP tells us is the bastard lovechild of beige and grey. It has the structural strength of a burger carton but produces decent toast.
Good points: Very cheap to buy, slow. A two slice serving can take 14 mnutes depending on the degree of brown required.
Bad points: The HP Family Toaster requires two proprietary toast holder, one for bread and one for bagels and muffins. These last about a month and cost £30 a pair. Some users have tried to use the toaster with third party holders but this often results in blocked bread slots and a voiding of the warranty.