I purchased my Signature Classics 4-Slice Toaster Oven from Walgreens, simply because they were asking only $20 and Walgreens is just down the block whereas I’d have to do some serious bus riding (or mail ordering) and pay a lot more money to get one from anywhere else. Signature Classics is just a re-branding of Signature Gourmet, Walgreens’ in-house line with which I have long experience. The products are not exactly the height of craftsmanship, but they’re generally among the cheapest options on the market an
Generally I don’t read appliance instruction manuals before using them, but for some reason, something compelled me to take a peek at this one before plugging it in. And I turned out to be very glad I did! On page five, in very unassuming text hidden at the bottom of the page, the manual casually mentions that ” … during the initial uses, the toaster oven may emit light smoke and a slight smell. This is normal and will subside with further use.” The reason I’m glad I read that is that during the first fifteen or so minute of use, the unit pumped out rather noticeable smoke and left my kitchen smelling like Burning for the rest of the evening. Not only did this save me calling the fire department unnecessarily, it also saved me a ranty and angry return of the unit to Walgreens demanding to know why they are trying to burn my house down with their inferior product.
I also think the Signature Classic/Gourmet/Whatever people have been reading my previous reviews of their products. On Page 4, in much more noticeable and prominent text than the whole thing about smoking out your kitchen, there’s a whole little section devoted to excuses as to why they include such terribly short power cords (their best reason: “to avoid tripping”).
Once we got past the whole “smoke pouring out” phase, however, I found the unit to be as basic and competent as the usual Signature kitchen doohickeys. As with all of their products they don’t let you select a specific temperature but rather have the temperature knob broken down into three settings: broil, bake and toast. As the only thing I really use this for is to toast various breads lightly and possibly to bake some small loaf-pan cakes in the future, I’m fine with the limited control over temperature settings, though other toaster ovens in this price range seem to offer a much greater degree of flexibility. The ticking mechanical timer that continues to tick for a good five minutes past the “done” mark is also a bit annoying, though that seems to be standard on all cheap toaster ovens these days. But all in all it does the job.
You can certainly do better in this price range, but if you just want to toast up hunks of bread and such, it works if it’s the most convenient or cheapest option. Or both. If you intend to do Serious Cooking with it, or feel like airing out your kitchen for 15 minutes upon first use is a rather unreasonable demand, I’d keep looking elsewhere.