Well, I finally managed to get my hands on a review model of Texas Instrument's latest "Smart App" ("App" being short for "Appliance"), the eToaster XG500 smarttoaster
, which was introduced a few weeks ago at CES. Now, as regular listeners of the TNRI podcast already know, I'm not totally opposed to the concept of Smart Apps; the idea of appliances being connected to the cloud is actually intrigues me. Furthermore, I am a big fan of TI's calculator line and I really hoped their foray into consumer kitchen smart appliances would be just as great. Boy, was I wrong. Listen, I have been reviewing gadgets and gizmos for over nine years now, and I can say with some confidence that this is definitely the worst piece of shit I've ever reviewed.
HARDWARE/DESIGN: What can I say? It's canary yellow, looks like plastic, and appears to have a smartphone soldered to it (I wouldn't be surprised if that were really the case). The touchscreen, which you have to use in order to do anything (there's not even a lever) is frequently unresponsive. Sometimes the processor overheats so fans start kicking in. Yes, the toaster has fans.
SOFTWARE: The eToaster XG500 uses a cheap Android knock-off - and keep in mind Android is free - called "Cyberbot" which is an ugly UI nightmare. There are four different clocks, but no timer. I can't even change the wallpaper or adjust the time zone because the settings are all in some weird language I've never seen before. There are a few apps, called App Apps, most of which involve bread. There's no e-mail app, nor a web browser, nor really an ecosystem to speak of. The calculator app is the only remotely good aspect of this hunk of junk, but how often are you going to use a calculator while making toast?
PERFORMANCE: Here's the kicker: it doesn't even make toast good. No matter what setting you put it on, toast either comes out slightly toasted, or the whole thing overheats and you have to pull out the battery (be sure to wear oven mitts). A TI spokesman told me the next version will include support for custom image toast imprinting - a technology that's already existed for years, mind you - but I highly doubt there will be a next version.
WRAPUP: I don't know if I can put it any more bluntly, this product is a defective piece of junk, an extreme health hazard, and should be avoided at all costs. It fails on all counts. Thus, I have no choice but to give it the lowest possible score,
9 out of