THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD?
I can’t be the only one who senses a dumbing down of society. Perhaps it’s the mindless scrolling through social media apps, the binge-watching of television serials or choosing to have Prime Now deliver that last-minute anniversary gift that you forgot to plan for whilst partaking in the former activities?
It is perhaps unsurprising then, that the concurrent rise in the use of the prefix “smart” presents something of a contradiction.
Smart phones, smart TVs, smart watches, smart thermostats, smart doorbells… the list goes on. And on. And on and on.
The irony is, defining SO MANY products as “smart” contributes to the same dumbing down effect that we can see amongst the human population. At what point does “smart technology” become everyday and average? Will the latest, most technologically advanced innovations of the future be deemed “super smart” instead to differentiate them from their now-not-so-smart predecessors?
Techopedia defines “smart devices” as:
Smart devices are interactive electronic gadgets that understand simple commands sent by users and help in daily activities. Some of the most commonly used smart devices are smartphones, tablets, phablets, smartwatches, smart glasses and other personal electronics. While many smart devices are small, portable personal electronics, they are in fact defined by their ability to connect to a network to share and interact remotely. Many TV sets and refrigerators are also therefore considered smart devices.
As detailed, smart devices are defined by their ability to connect to a network to share and interact remotely. For many consumers, though, the inclusion of the word “smart” within a product title can lead to the (sometimes misinformed) assumption that it’s worth paying a premium for.
As you may already be aware – I LOVE gadgets. I’m also a fan of aesthetically pleasing additions to my home – curved edges, chrome finishes, glass panels. You get the idea. Anything that can spark my imagination or invigorate my senses gets two thumbs up from me.
Enter Smart Toasters...
Surely an attractively designed piece of equipment with advanced features would be a winner with me? In this case, I’m not so sure…
Even a gadget addict such as myself must question their purpose and value. The notion of spending a hard-earned crust on potentially crumbyproducts – just because they’re deemed “smart” - can be a hard one to swallow.
Sage the Smart Toast 4 Slice Toaster retails at John Lewis for a whopping £169.99. The manufacturer description reads as follows:
Sleekly designed, ‘the Smart Toast™’ toaster BTA845UK from Sage will integrate seamlessly in your kitchen. The stylish stainless steel design will fit in with any décor, and it’s complete with a wide range of functions so you can toast anything from crumpets through to fruit loaf.
It certainly sounds like it could fit my criteria from a kitchen beautification perspective, but it doesn’t tell me what’s smart about it.
I continue reading…
A Bit More
If your toast comes up lighter than you’d prefer, just one simple touch is all it takes for a little extra toast time.
A Quick Look
The Quick Look function allows your toast to glide up and down and show how your toast is browning without you singeing your eyebrows or restarting the cooking process.
The self-centring design is ideal for even toasting; it’s also extra wide and deep for larger bread.
If you’re making a fry up and want your toast ready at the same time, this handy countdown display shows you the amount of time left before your toast is ready. Perfect for planning cooking times!
When your toast is ready to eat, an audible sound alert will let you know it’s done which is ideal for busy kitchens.
Removable Crumb Tray
You’ll be able to clean your toast with ease as the crumb tray is removable.
The high lift lever was designed to be safer and make it easier to remove toast, crumpets and muffins.
Now, I must hand it to Sage’s copywriting team – they certainly make it feellike a must-have, indispensable item that no self-respecting amateur chef (AKA Chief Family Toast Maker) should be without. But let’s be real here…
It promises even toasting, a removable crumb tray and a “ready indicator” in the form of an audible sound alert(!) (in case the “regular” sound of toast popping up is so well-engrained in your psyche after decades of toaster-usage that you’re now completely oblivious to it!)
Indeed, the only feature that feels “smart” enough to exceed the capabilities of your bog-standard £10 toaster from Argos is the countdown timer function. That’s a truly clever idea to an everyday irk, and one that I’m genuinely surprised isn’t incorporated into all modern toasters as standard. Somehow, though, I can’t see that functionality equating to a “money well spent” mindset after purchase.
I can’t say I’ve ever lost sleep over toast before, and I doubt I ever will. On the face of it, a product of this nature would not save me time, energy or my sanity. Using the Smart Toast still requires manual input and supervision, whilst taking a big hit on my bank balance.
This begs the question, did the world really need a smart toaster in the first place?
It pains me to say it, but my answer is no. At least not in its current form.
Whilst it may make delicious, evenly-browned toast, so can any number of ordinary (and much cheaper) toasters, given the right calibration.
For me, a truly “smart” product goes beyond dictionary definitions around interactivity and connectivity. When I see the word “smart”, I want to know that my life is going to be made easier; that the product can do something better than what I have experienced or done before; that I will save time and effort; that my family will be safer; that I will be healthier or happier; that I’m getting value for money.
In other words, I want jam on it. And so should you.