This has to be the favourite way of making the original "fast food"; toast.
Quick, convenient and easy to use they are available in a huge range of colours, sizes and styles to suit all. You can even buy toasters to match the other small appliances in your kitchen. When looking, here are a few things to think about:
Number of Slices
2, 4 & sometimes 6 slice models are available. Choose the one that most suits you, and the amount of worktop space that you have. The 2 slice models can be very compact while the 6 slice versions will take up quite a lot of space. Some 4 slice models will have a "slot selector" allowing you to just toast 2 slices at a time if you want to. If you have a large family a 4 slice model would probably be the smallest version to choose. Generally speaking the larger the capacity of the toaster, the more expensive it will be although overall styling is a factor also.
Look at these as some are very narrow whilst others are more generous allowing you to toast thick bread, muffins, bagels etc. all in one machine. The depth of these slots will vary too with each model. Some have a wire "cage" with a handle that fits into each slot allowing you to toast complete sandwiches (there are special plastic bags for these "toasties", available in most supermarkets). This means that your toaster can be a sandwich maker as well!
This can be a simple manual dial, or more sophisticated electronic sensors that will turn off the heated elements inside at a given "brownness" setting. In either case a manual "ejector" button is always useful; stopping the toast from burning if it gets stuck. Electronic sensors should, in theory, prevent this from happening, so models with these should give more consistent browning. Apart from browning, some toasters will also have settings for "defrosting" and "reheating". These are self-explanatory and may be worth considering as they offer varying degrees of controllable heat.
On the side of the toaster there will usually be a press down lever. This will lower the wire racks into the slot ready for toasting. On some models there will be a "high lift" facility, to let you to toast really small items and remove them safely.
The crumb tray at the base of the toaster should be easy to remove and clean. Some models have "cool touch" exteriors which might be useful for you. As with most electrical goods a year's warranty is standard and models with easily replaceable parts are worth considering especially on the more expensive ranges.