Digital overkill?

December 8, 2010

Why does a toaster have to be digital? What purpose does having a computer chip inside a toaster serve?

My old toaster was relegated to the trash a few weeks back (another story…), so I purchased a new one (Breville Ikon BTA550). I didn’t realize that the controls on this new toaster are digital/electronic and that they reset themselves to the factory defaults after you turn off the power. I believe this is bad design, especially for seniors.

The first time I used the toaster, I adjusted the setting to ‘2’ from the default ‘4’, just to be on the safe side. After getting perfect toast, I switched off the power (just like the manual suggested I do) and put the toaster away.

Next morning, I plug in the toaster and put in the bread. The digital control is on the side away from my prep area, so I didn’t notice that it resets itself to the factory default of ‘4’. That is, I didn’t notice until I could smell the toast getting a little too brown around the edges! I hit the Cancel button and checked the control — it was ‘4’.

Older style toasters have a manual ‘brownness’ dial and once set, you don’t have to change it, providing you toast the same sort of bread product all the time.

But not this newer toaster. I hunted out the instruction manual to see if there is some way I can set the default to something other than ‘4’. Nope. All I find is this:

‘The toaster will remember your desired setting’ — how nice of it! But only if you keep it plugged in AND TURNED ON. As soon as you turn it off at the power outlet (gee, perhaps to save power like all the energy companies recommend), it resets to ‘4’ and there’s no way I can find that you can change that default. The default setting of ‘4’ is way too high for the bread I was toasting (and no, it wasn’t light, skinny, dry bread — it was a 2-day old heavy grain bread cut into ‘toaster’ slices with quite a bit of moisture still in it [I’m a baker’s daughter — I know these things ;-) ]).

As I only have toast occasionally, I’ll now have to remember to adjust the setting EVERY TIME I get the toaster out. I don’t think this is progress!

How will seniors cope, especially those whose short-term memory isn’t good? Will it take a toaster fire and perhaps injury — or, God forbid, death — for Breville to change this design? If they’re going to make a toaster with digital controls (and I question the need for that), then the user should be able to set the default to what THEY want and not what Breville wants.

Update December 2010: After using the toaster a few times (set to ‘2’), I set the dial to ‘1’ for some drier bread. That setting held the next time I plugged it in and turned it on. I don’t know why it didn’t hold the ‘2’ setting… Methinks this beastie has a mind of its own!

Update January 2011: Well, this is weird. I put the setting back on ‘2’ for a different type of bread. Turned off the toaster and unplugged it. When I turned it back on the next day, it had reset to ‘4’. So I tried with ‘1’ again — ‘1’ holds its setting; ‘2’ resets to ‘4’ every time. There’s something wrong with that.

Final update: Eventually the toaster died, while still under warranty. I took it back and replaced it with a toaster with dials that just work.


  1. Shame on you for trashing your poor old toaster. GRIN.

  2. Rhonda:

    Have you tried Ctrl-Alt-Delete ? Maybe it’s a MicroSoft job!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: