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Table of Contents: Masthead StickyEcho Buds (2nd Gen) with wired charging case (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Echo Buds (2nd Gen) with wireless charging case (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
Amazon’s second-generation Echo Buds come with noise cancellation, a much-improved design compared to their predecessors, and great sound quality. They were already affordable at their usual $120 starting price, but Amazon is taking $40 off leading up to Amazon Prime Day 2021 for Prime subscribers.
Amazon Prime Day takes place on June 21 and runs through June 22, and we’re expecting to see big discounts across categories like tech, home, kitchen, toys, appliances, and much more. Amazon loves to discount its own products on Prime Day, and we’re already seeing early deals on products like the Echo Dot, Echo Frames smart glasses, Amazon Halo fitness band, and Kindle Paperwhite.
And don’t forget – you’ll need an Amazon Prime subscription to take advantage of Amazon Prime Day deals. Learn more about how Insider Reviews tests products and evaluates deals.
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The best Amazon Echo Buds deals for Amazon Prime Day 2021
The standard Echo Buds that come with a wired charging case are available for just $79.99, a notable drop from their usual $119.99 price. Paying less than $100 is a steal for any pair of true wireless earbuds, but especially for a pair that we’ve called one of our favorites. The pricier version of the Echo Buds that come with a wireless charging case is also getting a price cut to just $99.99 compared to their usual $139.99 price.
The Echo Buds don’t sound as good as some more expensive wireless earbuds from Apple and Sony, and they also may not fit as snugly in your ears. But they have a lot to offer for the price, and this Prime Day discount makes them an even more compelling alternative to Apple’s AirPods or Samsung’s Galaxy Buds.
Echo Buds (2nd Gen) with wired charging case (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Echo Buds (2nd Gen) with wireless charging case (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
We’ll be compiling all the best speaker deals during Prime Day 2021 as soon as the event begins. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member yet, you should consider signing up for a 30-day free trial to take part in the savings.
Though bigger discounts will likely be available on Prime Day itself, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some solid speaker deals on Amazon right now. Below, we’ve rounded up some current speaker discounts, along with details on what we expect during the big sale. Learn more about how Insider Reviews evaluates products and vets deals.
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Best early Amazon Prime Day smart speaker deals
Amazon devices are usually available for some of their lowest prices during Prime Day, and Echo speakers with Alexa are no different.
Fourth-gen Echo speakers feature a new orb-shaped design and improved audio performance, which make them stand out in comparison to the older puck-shaped models. The fourth-gen Echo Dot is available for a modest $5 discount right now, but we expect a better deal when Prime Day begins. Check out our Echo (fourth-gen) and Echo Dot (fourth-gen) reviews for detailed impressions.
Third-generation Echo Dots are also on sale right now. Outside of the visual design, overall performance between third- and fourth-generation Dots is very similar. If the third-generation Dot drops to a lower price on Prime Day, it may present a better value compared to the fourth-gen model.
Amazon isn’t the only company that makes impressive smart speakers, however, and it’s possible we could see some good Prime Day deals on models from other brands. Smart speakers from companies like Sonos and Bose even let you choose between Alexa or Google Assistant.
Top early Amazon Prime Day Bluetooth speaker deals
Bluetooth speakers make it easy to listen to wireless music at home or outside. Many of them are portable with integrated batteries, while some are also water-resistant for trips to the beach or pool.
Last year’s Prime Day sale included discounts on Bluetooth speakers from brands like Bose, JBL, Sony, and Anker. We expect a similar assortment of deals on Prime Day 2021.
SRS-XB43 Bluetooth Speaker (medium, Preferred: Amazon)SoundLink Revolve+ (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
Best early Amazon Prime Day soundbar deals
Soundbars offer a sizable upgrade over the tiny speakers built into most TVs, while still saving you some cash and space compared to a larger home theater system.
Some soundbar models feature wireless subwoofers, and more advanced packages even include satellite speakers for surround sound. Premium systems also include up-firing speakers to enable Dolby Atmos audio. This feature can make it sound like effects are coming from above your head.
On previous Prime Days, we’ve seen deals from brands like Samsung, Vizio, and Bose. We anticipate a similar assortment of discounts on Prime Day 2021.
Top early Amazon Prime Day home theater speaker deals
If you’re looking for truly immersive audio performance when watching movies, playing games, or listening to music, it’s worth investing in a genuine home theater speaker setup. Home theater speaker setups can take the form of a simple pair of stereo bookshelf speakers, or even a complete surround sound system with five or more speakers.
That said, buyers should keep in mind that most home theater speakers require a separate amp or AV receiver for power and processing. Amazon sometimes offers packages that include a receiver, but more often than not you’ll need to pick one up yourself. New 5.2-channel receivers start at around $250, while 7.2-channel receivers start at around $400.
For Prime Day last year, the Q Acoustics 3020i bookshelf speakers were available for $255, and a similar deal is possible for Prime Day 2021. Discounts on some of our top home theater speaker recommendations are also possible, including picks from brands like Polk, Focal, and Klipsch.
To take advantage of Prime Day speaker deals, you’ll need to be an Amazon Prime member. A Prime subscription is available for $13 a month or $120 annually. Amazon Prime members receive a ton of benefits, including free two-day shipping on many items, access to Prime video streaming, and more.
New Prime members can receive a free 30-day trial. If you haven’t signed up before, you can subscribe to Prime now in order to try the service and take part in all the Prime Day deals for free.
How to shop for a speaker
Choosing exactly which speaker is right for you can be tricky. Different speaker types vary wildly in price and size, so certain models are better suited for specific buyers.
Shoppers who simply want a compact speaker to take outside or use on trips should consider a portable Bluetooth speaker. If you want to add a digital assistant to your household, then you should look into buying a smart speaker. Smart speakers typically offer Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, but they don’t always include rechargeable batteries. If you simply want a good pair of stereo speakers for your desk at home or work, then consider buying a set of computer speakers or powered bookshelf speakers.
People looking to upgrade their TV-watching experience will want to find a good home theater system or a soundbar. Soundbars can be space- and budget-saving, but a full home theater setup with multiple speakers will give you the best performance with true surround sound. On the downside, most home theater speakers require a separate AV receiver for power and processing, which can add a couple hundred bucks or more to your total price.
If you’re looking for more speaker recommendations and detailed buying advice, check out our various speaker buying guides:
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Amazon Prime Day 2021 is fast approaching, and there are already plenty of noteworthy deals. The Amazon shopping event takes place on June 21 and 22, and we’re expecting to see tons of deals on tech gadgets over the coming days.
Apple deals are no exception. Prime Day isn’t here yet, but there are already a several good discounts on products like AirPods and iPads. But remember that they tend to sell out fast, so it’s a good idea to act fast if you find a deal you’re interested in. The 2021 iPad Pro, which only launched in May, was already available at a $50 discount on June 18 but quickly sold out.
You don’t need to be a Prime member to shop current deals, but many deals will be exclusive to subscribers when Prime Day 2021 begins. If you’re looking to give membership a shot, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial now. Prime memberships start at $13 a month after the trial ends.
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Frequently asked questions
When is Prime Day?
Prime Day 2021 will begin on June 21 and run through June 22. Prime members will be able to take advantage of non-stop deals on a variety of products and services over the two-day sale.
Before buying new Apple products on Prime Day, you should keep in mind that discounts tend to appear more often on previous-generation Apple devices. For example, a product like the Apple TV 4K (first-generation) is more likely to go on sale since the new second-generation model was just released in May 2021.
When comparing prices, you should also keep in mind that Apple offers discounted refurbished products on its own website, including previous generations of the MacBook Pro, iPhone, and more. Apple’s trade-in program can also give you additional money toward a refurbished product, as well, when you send Apple your old device.
For detailed buying advice on how to choose the right Apple product for your needs, check out our various Apple device guides and deal roundups:
Starting in early 2020 Apple launched a number of new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models.
The key difference compared to older models, is that the latest MacBooks include Apple’s M1 processor, a chip that offers faster performance. We recommend the more affordable Air for most people, but the Pro is still a great buy for shoppers who crave a bit more power, slightly longer battery life, and superior speakers and microphones. You can read our full comparison of the latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro here.
The best price we’ve seen the new MacBook Air (256GB) sell for so far is $899, so we expect a similar or better deal on Prime Day. The last time the previous version of the MacBook Air dropped to its lowest price – $799 – was February 2021. If stock is still available, we could see it sell for even less during Prime Day.
You’ll also want to keep your eye on the price of the MacBook Pro with Apple’s M1 Chip. Earlier this year, the price went down to $1,099, which is $200 less than its full price. It’s on sale right now for $100 off, so a better deal could be available on Prime Day.
The best early Amazon Prime Day deals on AirPods and Beats headphones
Prime Day 2021 will be the first Prime Day since the launch of the AirPods Max, Apple’s premium over-ear headphones. The headphones haven’t seen many deals since their debut, so Prime Day could be the first time we see a discount larger than $30.
Airpods Max (medium, Preferred: Amazon)AirPods Pro (medium, Preferred: Amazon)AirPods with Wireless Charging Case (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Airpods with Wired Charging Case (Newest model) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Solo3 Wireless Headphones (medium)Powerbeats Pro (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Flex Wireless Earphones (medium)
Shop the same prices from Walmart’s Deals for Days and other competing sales:
The best early Amazon Prime Day deals on Apple Watch
There are a number of Apple Watch models to choose from but we recommend the 40mm, Series 6 (GPS) model thanks to its health features. We didn’t see the Series 6 fall in price during Prime Day 2020, but it fell by nearly $50 the following month. We recommend any deal that brings the Series 6 below $350.
Other Apple Watch models include the Series 3, the lower-cost alternative to the Series 6 with a wide range of bells and whistles, as well as the Apple Watch SE. The Apple Watch SE hasn’t dropped below $230 on Amazon while the Series 3 hasn’t fallen below its May 2021 price of $198.
Watch Series 6 (40mm, GPS) (medium)Watch SE (40mm, GPS) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Watch SE (44mm, GPS) (medium)
The best early Amazon Prime Day deals on iPads
Apple’s latest iPad Pro models, starting at $799, launched in May. The 11-inch iPad Pro did get a $50 discount in May, but it’s not clear if we’ll see any major discounts over Prime Day since the 2021 models are so new.
There are older iPad models that have seen more frequent sales on Amazon, including the 2020 iPad Air, the 2020 iPad, and the 2019 iPad Mini. These older iPad models lack Apple’s new M1 processor but they still make good buys for most people. The 2021 Pro models, on the other hand, are really only necessary for creative professionals that need top-notch performance.
iPad Air (4th Gen., 64GB) (medium, Preferred: Walmart)2020 iPad 10.2-inch (8th Gen) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)iPad Mini (5th Gen, 32GB) (medium)
Shop the same prices from Walmart’s Deals for Days and other competing sales:
The best early Amazon Prime Day deals on Apple iPhone accessories
Apple’s iPhone line has supported MagSafe chargers since the iPhone 8. While we typically see the charger for $5 off on Amazon, it dropped to $10 off in May 2021. We recommend any deal on Prime Day if it’s $10 off or more.
The EarPods with a lightning connector – Apple’s wired headphones option – have been anywhere between $14 to $20 since May 2020. Any deal price lower than that would be worth jumping on during Prime Day.
MagSafe Charger (medium)MagSafe Duo (medium)EarPods with Lightning Connector (medium)
The best early Amazon Prime Day deals on Apple AirTags
This includes the Apple TV 4K (first- gen) and the Apple TV HD (fourth-gen) featuring the original Siri Remote (first-gen). While these models are still quality options for streamers, the newer versions include an improved Siri remote (also sold separately).
When sold for the same price, the newer Apple TV models are a better buy, but if the old versions get big discounts on Prime Day, they could present a better value.
TV 4K (2021) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)TV 4K (2017) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)TV HD (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
Shop the same prices from Walmart’s Deals for Days and other competing sales:
The best early Amazon Prime Day deals on iPhones
Apple’s iPhones rarely get discounts on Prime Day. The new iPhones were just announced in October 2020, and carriers and retailers will likely discount older models to make way for the new ones.
It’s unlikely that the deals will be on Amazon, though, as the online retailer only sells models that are locked to Cricket Wireless.
Some older models to keep an eye on include the iPhone 11, the iPhone 11 Pro, the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the iPhone XS, and the iPhone XS Max. You can check out our guide to some of the best iPhones for every budget in 2021 ahead of your next iPhone purchase, as well.
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Amazon Prime Day 2021 kicks off on Monday, and we’re already starting to see some early deals on laptops. The annual Amazon shopping holiday takes place from June 21 through June 22, and we expect to see even more laptop and Chromebook deals throughout the weekend and into the big event.
Although Prime Day is an Amazon shopping holiday, don’t forget to check out other retailers as well. Competitors like Target and Walmart are hosting their own shopping events at the same time, and we’re likely to see compelling discounts from other retailers like Best Buy as well.
And of course, you’ll need an Amazon Prime membership to get access to Amazon’s Prime Day deals. Learn more about how the Insider Reviews team vets deals and tests products.
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The best Amazon Prime Day deals on laptops right now
We typically see discounts on laptops across many categories on Prime Day, from MacBooks to gaming laptops,Chromebooks, and Windows devices. See below for the best laptop deals we’ve found so far on Amazon leading up to Prime Day.
The best Amazon deals on MacBook laptops happening now
Prime Day isn’t here just yet, but we’re already seeing some Amazon deals on MacBook laptops. The MacBook Air with M1, which happens to be our favorite Apple laptop, is currently available at a discount along with the M1-powered MacBook Pro. Both of these laptops offer impressive gains in performance and battery life compared to their Intel-equipped predecessors. We’re hoping to see deeper discounts as Prime Day gets closer.
New MacBook Air (M1) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)MacBook Pro with M1 Processor (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
The best Amazon deals on Windows laptops happening now
Windows laptops are best for those who want more flexibility than Apple’s Mac laptops have to offer. Windows devices come in various sizes and many of them have 2-in-1 designs that allow them to function as both laptops and tablets.
We are starting to see more discounts on Windows laptops now that Prime Day is almost here, and expect to see even more over the weekend. Amazon has also confirmed that this year’s Prime Day discounts will include deals on HP products as well as laptops, desktops, and monitors from brands like Acer, Asus, and LG.
Envy x360 2-in1 (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)XPS 13 Touch Laptop (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Surface Laptop Go (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Yoga 9i (14-Inch, 256GB) (medium, Preferred: Walmart)Surface Laptop 3 (15-inch, 128GB) (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)Flex 5 (14-inch 2-in-1 with AMD Ryzen 5) (medium)Gram (Intel 10th Gen Core i5, 8GB) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
The best Amazon deals on Chromebooks happening now
Chromebooks are best for those who just want an affordable, lightweight laptop for browsing the web and working in Google’s suite of apps.
They’re usually less expensive than Windows laptops since they come with limitations when working offline. That being said, Chromebooks have improved a lot in recent years and certain models now come with faster processors and the ability to install Android apps from the Google Play Store.
The best Amazon deals on gaming laptops happening now
Gaming laptops almost always cost more than standard laptops, which is why it’s important to look for discounts. Our favorite gaming laptop right now is the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, which offers noteworthy performance and battery life packed into a stunning design. Check out our guide to the best gaming laptops for more buying advice and tips on what to look when shopping.
Area-51m (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Legion 5 (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)
What are the best laptops to buy in 2021?
Our favorite laptop is the Dell XPS 13, which strikes an excellent balance between fast performance and elegant design. It runs on Intel’s latest 11th-generation processors and features a vivid display with super-slim borders around the edges that enabled Dell to cram a 13-inch screen into what feels like an 11-inch laptop casing. The new model usually starts at $930.
The 2020 MacBook Air with M1 is our favorite Apple laptop. Apple’s M1 processor brings significantly faster speeds and longer battery life to Apple’s most portable laptop at a usual starting price of $1,000. We chose it over the M1-powered MacBook Pro because it’s cheaper and sleeker than the Pro while offering similar performance and configuration options.
If you’re looking for a Chromebook, the Google Pixelbook Go is your best bet. With a typical starting price of $649, it’s pricier than many Chromebooks and for good reason. It has a comfortable and quiet keyboard, long battery life, and a 1080p webcam – a rare find even on laptops twice the price.
When choosing a laptop, the most important factors to consider are how much you’re willing to spend, screen size, performance, and storage.
For a general use laptop, we’d recommend a notebook with an Intel Core i3 or Intel Core i5 processor and at least 8GB of RAM. If you’re primarily using your device for tasks like web browsing, word processing, managing spreadsheets, and watching videos, you don’t need a more powerful processor like an Intel Core i7.
Most of these laptops will have integrated graphics rather than standalone graphics processing units (GPU). That’s sufficient for general use laptops, but those looking for a gaming laptop for a video editing machine will want a more powerful GPU.
Chromebooks, on the other hand, are designed to primarily be used with an internet connection, so they often have less memory and storage than your typical Windows or Mac laptop.
The most common laptop size is 13 inches, but you can also find laptops in larger 15-inch sizes or more compact 11-inch sizes.
Check out our full guide for more advice on how to choose the right laptop.
What a whirlwind 2021 has been – and we’re only halfway through. Although only six months in, 2021 has already been an exciting, challenging, and hopeful year for so many. If you’re looking to pass the time as you restart your commute, seeking an escape from reality, or eager to learn, a good book can go a long way.
Enter: Amazon’s best books of 2021 (so far). Amazon’s book editors have curated a list of their 20 favorites from January through June, with descriptions provided for the top 10 below. The best overall pick – ‘Great Circle’ by Maggie Shipstead – is a story about flight, connections, and perception all rolled into one thrilling plot.
Here are Amazon’s 20 best books of 2021 so far:
*Captions have been provided by Amazon’s book editors.
‘Great Circle’ by Maggie Shipstead
At a young age, Marian Graves becomes obsessed with flying, and she’ll do whatever it takes to get into the sky and circumnavigate the globe. Fast forward 100 years, and Hadley Baxter is remaking herself in Hollywood as the role of Marian Graves in a Hollywood bio-epic. From Montana to Los Angeles, London to New Zealand, “Great Circle” follows these two women who yearn for adventure and freedom, and like flying, it’s the thrill of the century. –Al Woodworth
‘Klara and the Sun’ by Kazuo Ishiguro
When he was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature, the committee noted how Ishiguro “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.” In this beautiful novel, Ishiguro presents an “Artificial Friend,” a robot girl with artificial intelligence designed as a playmate for real children. It is a simultaneously heartbreaking and heart-mending story about the abyss we may never cross. —Chris Schluep
‘The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race’ by Walter Isaacson
Isaacson is famous for writing “Steve Jobs” and “Leonardo da Vinci”, so a title like “The Code Breaker” might imply a book about a lesser character. But the 2020 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, biochemist Jennifer Doudna, who co-developed the gene-editing technology CRISPR, is a giant in her own right. CRISPR could open some of the greatest opportunities, and most troubling quandaries, of this century — and this book delivers. —Chris Schluep
‘We Begin at the End’ by Chris Whitaker
“We Begin at the End” is a story of regret and revenge, wrapped around a mystery, buried inside a tale of star-crossed love. 13-year-old “outlaw” Duchess Radley — fierce but vulnerable — attempts to protect her troubled mother but instead sets off a fateful chain of events in this gorgeous, harrowing novel. —Vannessa Cronin
‘What’s Mine and Yours’ by Naima Coster
For fans of Celeste Ng, Ann Patchett, and Jacqueline Woodson, “What’s Mine and Yours” beautifully unravels the hurt, happiness, and hope that one generation bestows upon the next. An unforgettable portrait of how parents and kids — white and Black — handle love and loss, racism, and loyalties. —Al Woodworth
‘The Four Winds’ by Kristin Hannah
Set during the Great Depression and featuring an unlikely heroine who will lodge herself into your heart, “The Four Winds” is a reminder, when we so urgently need it, of the resiliency not only of the human spirit, but of this country as well. Kristin Hannah’s latest reads like a classic. —Erin Kodicek
‘Punch Me Up to the Gods’ by Brian Broome
To The Gods (button)
Hard-hitting, unflinching, and written with the unfettered gusto of a fist in motion, “Punch Me Up to the Gods” is a searing memoir of racism, homophobia, and addiction from a writer of enormous talent. With humor, grace, and honesty, Broome investigates his own identity and his experience as a gay Black man in America. —Al Woodworth
‘Gold Diggers’ by Sanjena Sathian
This debut novel is part-examination of the immigrant experience, part-exploration of the dark underbelly of suburbia, all with a dash of magical realism thrown in. Two second-generation Indian Americans discover the secret to success is drinking a lemonade made from literal gold, and their lives are forever fused together and altered. If this funny, realistic, and heartbreaking story is any indication, Sathian is an author to watch. –Sarah Gelman
‘The Plot’ by Jean Hanff Korelitz
“The Plot” is a riveting story within a story that is a Rubik’s Cube of twists. Jake Finch Bonner, a once-promising young author, is floundering in obscurity when a one-of-a-kind plot falls into his lap. The resulting book rockets Jake to stardom — only, the plot wasn’t his. Korelitz’s thriller keeps readers guessing right up to its shocking end. —Seira Wilson
‘Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It’ by Ethan Kross
It turns out that some of the most important conversations we have are with ourselves. Ethan Kross examines the voice that speaks inside our head, explains why it’s there, and reveals how we can learn to rely on it rather than being broken by it. ‘Chatter’ is a masterful, revealing take on human nature. —Chris Schluep
Toaster ovens are the unsung heroes of kitchen appliances. If your living situation doesn’t allow for a standard oven, a toaster oven allows you to bake, roast, and make anything else you might cook in a regular oven, only on a smaller scale.
During the holidays when a big turkey is hogging the oven, you can prepare your sides in the toaster oven. And, in the summer, you can cook meals efficiently without heating up your home.
Many convection toaster ovens are now marketed as air fryers. You should know that “convection cooking” and “air frying” are the same thing. Both methods brown your food by using heat and a fan. So, if you see that a toaster oven is an “air fryer,” know that it also does convection cooking and vice versa. We use both terms in our guide.
So, what’s the difference between the two? Convection toaster ovens give you the option of baking or broiling, while air fryers tend to only have one function: convection baking. Also, the typical toaster oven looks like a miniature standard oven with a window, while most air fryers have a small drawer that you put your food in.
For this guide, I roasted, toasted, air fried, and baked 32 pounds of chicken, eight dozen chocolate chip cookies, eight pizzas, and four loaves of bread in eight toaster ovens.
I have reviewed kitchen appliances for four years and have developed many objective tests to determine which models are best for different needs and budgets. You can find details about how I test toaster ovens here.
I tested all of the toaster ovens in this guide. I put each through many objective tests, and during the testing period, my traditional oven sat idle as I relied exclusively on the toaster ovens. When testing toaster ovens, the most important factors to consider are ease of use, temperature accuracy and consistency, and how quickly it preheats.
Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:
Ease of use: I evaluate ease of use several ways. First, I look at how intuitive the functions are. I was able to get all but the Anova up and running without the use of instructions. I see how easy it is to clean each, if there’s a removable crumb tray, if there are a few rack positions for different types of cooking, and if the timer allows you to run the unit for extended periods. I also looked for helpful functions, such as smart connectivity, convection/air fry cooking, and steam.
Temperature variance: When you set a toaster oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, you want it to reach that temperature and stay there. To assess this, I set each unit to 350 degrees and took digital readings of the temperature every 15 minutes for two hours. Then, I looked at the average and range of the temperatures. All of the models I tested averaged less than 350 degrees. The median was about 336 degrees, and the median range was 9.7 degrees.
Preheating: One of the main benefits of a toaster oven is that it preheats faster than a standard oven, and thus, you can enjoy your meal faster. I timed how quickly each oven reached 350 and 425 degrees, repeating each test several times, to see which models preheated fastest. Most models reached 350 in under six minutes, and half of the units had trouble even achieving a reading of 425 degrees.
Cooking performance: I put each toaster oven through four cooking tests:
Toasting bread: I evaluated how many slices of Hillbilly Old Fashion Bread each model held. Then, I set the controls to toast the bread to a medium shade. I looked at how long and how evenly each toasted.
Frozen Pizza: In addition to evaluating how large of a pizza each unit can fit, I timed how long it took to bake the pizza and how even it turned out. I used Kirkland Signature Pepperoni Pizza in all but two of the toaster ovens. The Hamilton Beach and Panasonic models couldn’t fit the 10.5-inch pizza so I used Totino’s Party Pizzas in those models instead.
Whole chicken: I cooked a whole chicken (between 3.5 and 4.5 pounds) according to the recipe in Toaster Oven Takeover. I used the Meater Block to monitor the internal temperature and removed the chicken once it hit 165 degrees. I timed how long it took to cook the chicken, how evenly it was cooked, and how different parts of the chicken tasted.
Cookies: I baked gluten-free chocolate chip cookies using a homemade dough and evaluated how quickly and evenly they cooked.
Pros: Has convection cooking/air frying, large enough to fit a 12-inch pizza, provides consistent heat, cooked pizza, chicken, and cookies quickly and evenly
Cons: Temperature settings appear to be inaccurate, did not toast evenly
The Cuisinart Digital AirFryer Toaster Oven (Model TOA-65) had the best overall performance in our objective tests. It took less than five minutes to set up and features an easy-to-read backlit digital display. You navigate through the many different functions by turning a knob and pressing it to select the function and adjust the time and temp.
The Cuisinart toaster oven was one of the best models for making pizza, chicken, and cookies. It heated a frozen pizza in under six minutes, and the cheese, crust, and pepperoni were evenly cooked. Using the convection cooking function, the chicken reached a safe internal temperature in 52 minutes, and the skin was a beautiful golden brown and tasted outstanding. The meat was moist and flavorful. And, the cookies were evenly cooked in about 12 minutes, which was significantly faster than the average, 13 minutes and 45 seconds.
When we ran the Cuisinart Digital AirFryer Toaster Oven for two hours at 350 degrees, we noticed the temperature only varied by four degrees. However, the display said it was preheated when our thermometer read 270. It continued to heat up and reached 350 after eight minutes. The average temperature during the test was 314, well below 350.
The Cuisinart toaster oven fell short of perfection in two other categories. We used the presets to toast six slices of bread, but after a blazing fast toasting speed of less than three minutes, the top was lighter than the medium shading we set it to. And, the bottom was uneven with the center almost burnt and the edges barely toasted. If I were to use this toaster oven for regular toasting, I’d likely up the time a little bit and flip the bread halfway through.
Lastly, by our measurements, the Cuisinart was slower than average to preheat to 350. However, it was quick to get to 425, which made it ideal for frozen pizza.
Pros: Fast preheating, accurate temperature settings, even cooking, features air frying/convection cooking, timer has stay-on function
Cons: Uneven toasting, was among slowest to roast a chicken
Despite costing less than a third of the price of the other models in our guide, the Black+Decker Crisp ‘N Bake Air Fry Toaster Oven (Model TO3217SS) held its own in our tests. We like that it has intuitive, no-nonsense analog knob controls, a roomy interior, and convection cooking/air frying. Another nice touch is the “stay on” option on the timer, which makes it so you don’t have to keep adding more time during longer cooks.
The Black+Decker toaster oven appeared to have the most accurate thermostat. At 347 degrees, it came closest to reaching a 350-degree average during our two-hour test. However, the temperature varied by 13 degrees, which put it in the middle of the pack.
It was consistently one of the fastest to preheat. The oven reached 350 degrees in under four minutes, and getting to 425 only took about a minute more.
The Black+Decker Crisp ‘N Bake Air Fry Toaster Oven excelled at making cookies and frozen pizza. Each batch took about 14 minutes to bake, which was just fair, but the results were even and delicious. The story was the same with frozen pizza: the cooking time was about average, but the pizza was excellent. The chicken was also great: flavorful, juicy, and evenly cooked. However, it took nearly an hour and a half to finish, which made it one of the slowest models.
The Black+Decker oven’s toasting was subpar. It toasted six slices of bread in three-and-a-half minutes, which was about average, but the results weren’t very even. The top of the toast was close to consistent, but it was noticeably less done near the front, and the bottom was much less toasted than the top.
The best large-capacity toaster oven
The Breville Smart Oven is large enough to fit nine slices of toast, a dozen cookies, or a 12-inch pizza making it ideal for larger families or if you just want to use it in place of your standard oven.
Pros: Can fit nine slices of toast and a 12-inch pizza, provides consistent and even heat, features convection cooking/air frying, attractive backlit digital display with several functions and sub-functions
Cons: Temperature settings were consistently higher than what we measured, slow to preheat
Along with our best combination pick below, the Breville Smart Oven (Model BOV800XL) was one of two models that could toast nine slices of bread at once, and it did a good job of it. Plus, it can hold a 12.5-inch pizza. This is impressive considering the exterior dimensions aren’t inordinately large.
Like our top pick, the Breville Smart Oven has a backlit digital display with separate knobs for quickly adjusting the function, temperature, and time. It also has sub-functions that adjust the cooking time and heat based on the size of the pizza you are baking or the slices of toast you’re toasting. Plus, the Smart Oven features convection cooking/air frying.
The oven excelled at chicken and cookies. It took a little more than an hour to roast a whole chicken, and it was the best tasting and most evenly cooked of all the birds in our tests. We baked a dozen cookies at once in the roomy Breville Smart Oven using the Cookie function, which utilized 350-degree convection cooking. The cookies came out evenly baked in 14 minutes, which was average.
The oven also cooked pizza evenly, but it took 17 minutes, which was longer than all but one of the models. It was also one of the slowest ovens to preheat. And, we weren’t able to get it to preheat to 425 degrees. It maxed out at 387. This was a consistent problem. In our temperature variance test, we measured an average temp of 292 despite setting the controls to 350. Because of this, we’d recommend utilizing an oven thermometer to find your target temperature setting.
On the plus side, the Breville toaster oven held its temperature consistently, only wavering by four degrees over the course of two hours.
The best combination toaster oven
In addition to baking, toasting, and air frying, the Anova Precision Oven offers sous vide cooking, and you can control it and monitor the internal temperature of your food using your phone.
Pros: Features sous vide and air fryer/convection cooking, smart WiFi connectivity via app, comes with probe thermometer that connects to oven, does a good job of roasting
Cons: Slow to preheat, bake, and toast, temperature didn’t stay consistent during our test
The Anova Precision Oven is the first toaster oven that offers sous vide, in addition to air frying/convection cooking. And, while most sous vide devices require vacuum sealing, the Precision Oven cooks your food without the need for additional packaging.
I cooked several steaks and pork ribs using the sous vide function and found it worked just as well, if not better, than an immersion circulator. I especially liked that the oven comes with a probe thermometer that plugs into the unit so I could monitor the internal temperature of the meat while it cooked, which you can’t do with vacuum-sealed meat in an immersion circulator
The touch buttons on the handle of the oven aren’t as responsive as I would like, and adjusting the temp one degree at a time using the up and down buttons is a hassle. So, I mainly used the Anova Oven app (available for iOS and Android), which allows you to key in your preferred temp and time. Or, you can automate the cooking process. The app features hundreds of recipes. One time, I used the app to preheat the oven as I waited in line at the store to pay for a frozen pizza so I could just pop it in when I got home.
This feature is particularly important since the Anova Culinary Precision Oven was one of the slowest to preheat. It takes about 10 minutes to heat to 350 degrees and 17 minutes to reach 425.
Also, while it has a relatively accurate setpoint, the temperature varied by 16 degrees during our two-hour test, which was more than most models.
The Anova Precision Oven also took a long time to toast. We used the toast preset, which involved a little steam to keep the bread from drying out. However, the process took longer than any of the other models, and the toast was still underdone.
It did much better on the other cooking tasks. The Anova oven fits a dozen cookies, and they baked quickly and evenly. We had the same experience with pizza: fast and even cooking. But, the oven really excelled at roasting a whole chicken. It completed the task in under an hour. The skin was crispy and flavorful, and the meat was moist and delicious. I particularly liked that the thermometer let me monitor the internal temperature of the chicken in the app.
What else we tested
We tested eight toaster ovens for this guide. These are the ones that missed the cut.
What else we recommend and why:
Hamilton Beach Countertop (Model 31401): There are two main reasons why you should consider the Hamilton Beach toaster oven. First, at $50, it’s the cheapest model we recommend. Second, it was one of the best at quickly preheating. Plus, it was in the middle of the pack in our toasting, cookie, and temperature variance tests. However, there are a few negatives. The oven is small, only fitting four slices of bread. It also took the longest to cook pizza and chicken.
Dash Chef Series 7-in-1 (Model DAFT2350GBGT01): There’s a lot to like about the Dash toaster oven, but it just wasn’t the best in any category. It has convection cooking/air frying and did an outstanding job baking cookies and pizza. The Dash oven was also one of the fastest to roast a chicken and one of the most even toasters. Yet, it took a long time to toast, parts of the chicken skin were burnt, the unit took longer than most to preheat, and it had the largest variance in temperature during our tests.
Emeril Lagasse Power AirFryer 360 (Model S∙AFO-001): Though we prefer to roast our chicken on a roasting pan, we like that this toaster oven from superstar chef Emeril Lagasse comes with a rotisserie spit. It also has an easy-to-use knob control system with backlit digital display. The Power AirFryer 360 preheated quickly and did a good job with chicken, pizza, and cookies, but it took a long time to toast and was uneven. It also did the worst in our temp variance test.
What we don’t recommend and why:
Panasonic FlashXpress Compact (Model NB-G110P): We really wanted to like this attractive toaster oven because it looks like something you might find in a child’s kitchen playset. It did the best job toasting and maintaining a consistent temperature. However, it was a pain to use. There are only eight temperature settings, and the timer only goes to 25 minutes. If you want to cook anything longer, you have to keep resetting the timer. Despite its small size, it took a long time to preheat. And, it didn’t do well making cookies, pizza, or chicken.
What we’re testing next
We’re always testing new toaster ovens and retesting our top picks to determine the best ones. Here’s what we’re looking forward to testing for potential inclusion in this guide:
Chefman Toast-Air (Model RJ50-SS-T – $135.97): We’ve tested several Chefman kitchen appliances and have found the manufacturer makes quality products at an affordable price. We like that this features several preset functions and comes with two dehydrator racks, an air fry basket, baking/drip pan, and more.
Calphalon Quartz Heat Countertop ($199.99): I tested this years ago but wasn’t able to put it through our current testing methodology. I’m hoping to give it another try since it performed well, has an attractive appearance, and the digital display has an impressive array of functions and precise presets.
Oster (Model TSSTTVMNDG-SHP-2 – $91.11): We think the Oster Toaster Oven has a chance to contend for the best budget model. It has convection cooking/air frying, an attractive display, easy to read and adjust buttons, and a large capacity.
What are the benefits of using a toaster oven over a standard oven?
Roxanne Wyss, co-author of the toaster oven cookbook Toaster Oven Takeover, gives several reasons, including that it’s a green alternative. “When compared to a standard oven, the toaster oven preheats quickly,” said Wyss. “This means it is convenient to use for quick, everyday meals. It also means that it is a ‘green choice’ as there is no big oven to heat up and the toaster oven will not put a strain on the AC on a hot summer day.”
“Newer toaster ovens on the market, with electronic controls and even heat, brown food beautifully and cook quickly,” added Wyss. “You can place a toaster oven where it is convenient to use, which means at countertop height so no bending or lifting. It also means you can place the toaster oven in the family room or on the bar so it is easy to use for appetizers and snacks when friends gather.”
Additionally, since I started testing toaster ovens more than a month ago, I have not touched my standard oven. Every meal I’ve wanted to make for my family of four, I’ve been able to make in a toaster oven.
Should you get a toaster or a toaster oven?
Wyss believes toaster ovens are superior to toasters in several ways. “The versatility of the toaster oven outshines the regular toaster,” said Wyss. “You can toast a wide variety of bread sizes and often toast the number of slices you need for a larger family. Once toasted, you can top the toast with sandwich fixings or appetizer spreads so hot sandwiches or crostini are ready to serve in minutes. The toaster oven easily toasts English muffins, bagels, rolls, and a wide range of specialty rolls, pastries and buns.”
As with the standard oven, I found my toaster gathered dust while I was testing toaster ovens. The single-purpose toaster just didn’t seem worth the counter space. And, when making BLTs, it was nice to be able to toast six or more slices of bread at once.
However, there are a few key ways in which a toaster is often superior. First, most of the toaster ovens I tested didn’t toast as evenly or as quickly as most toasters. Second, toasters tend to cost much less than toaster ovens. Lastly, they take up less countertop space.
What should you look for when shopping for a toaster oven?
Kathy Moore pointed to several tips covered in the Toaster Oven Takeover cookbook she co-authored. “Think about what you want to prepare,” said Moore. “Do you want to cook a pizza or do you know you want to broil steaks? Do you foresee casseroles or toasted sandwiches? What pans fit into the oven? If you want to cook pizza, does your 12-inch pizza pan fit? What about a 9 by 12-inch rectangle pan? Some toaster ovens accommodate larger pans while others do not. Select one that accommodates the pans you own and for the food you would like to prepare.”
She also suggests thinking about where you will put the toaster oven. “Does it fit under your upper cabinets with room to spare or is it too wide to sit securely on a cart?” added Moore. “Does the door open conveniently for you?” To help you with this, we list the interior and exterior dimensions of each unit in our guide.
Also, think about the settings that are most appealing to your cooking preferences. “If your toaster oven advertises that it has a dehydrating setting, but that is not something you will do, it is not a necessary function,” said Moore. “Many now slow cook, but if you typically use a slow cooker and enjoy taking a hot meal in a slow cooker to a gathering, you may never use your toaster oven’s slow cook setting. Many people enjoy the toasting settings for bagels while others will enjoy the air fry settings. Evaluate the array of settings offered and be willing to experiment, but do not feel obligated to purchase an oven with settings you may never use.”
What’s the difference between a toaster oven and an air fryer?
Air fryers use a fan to blow hot air over your food to produce the Maillard reaction, which gives food its distinctive browning. Prior to the rise of air fryers, blowing hot air on food was known as “convection cooking,” and it’s something that all convection toaster ovens do. “Air frying” is essentially a wildly successful marketing campaign for technology that has been around for decades.
That said, not all toaster ovens can air fry, or convection cook, but a lot of them can these days. If this is a feature that’s important to you, look for a model that advertises that it air fries or convection cooks. In my experience, this is a useful feature. It can cut down on cooking times, give your food a nice browned exterior, and I’ve found it does an excellent job of revitalizing leftovers, especially pizza and french fries.
Check out our other buying guides for small appliances