Why you can trust ZDNet
ZDNet independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNet Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNet's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
But you do them anyway because they might give someone else a little pleasure, even if not for long.
That's how I felt more than a year ago when I ordered R2-D2.
I'm not a Star Wars person. For my wife, however, it's something of a passion. So when I wondered what to buy her a couple of Christmases ago, I considered -- for a fleetingly unimaginative moment -- to get her something to do with the movie franchise.
And then, in a twisted happenstance, I came upon an R2-D2 toaster. Peddled by Williams Sonoma, this had an enticing introduction.
The store website declared: "R2-D2 saved the galaxy; now it can save breakfast. The ultimate gift for Star Wars fans, our exclusive R2-D2 toaster is a lively kitchen companion."
Well, that sounded fine, didn't it? Even if the idea that this was the "ultimate" gift might seem a touch far-fetched. But wait, I thought, what makes it a lively companion?
The second one: "Cute toy, but I have had mine less than a year, and it has already broken. Only 2 people use it, and not daily. But the spring mechanism no longer holds the bread down for toasting. Disappointed, very expensive toaster."
Naturally, I bought one. Well, we hadn't had a new toaster for at least ten years. (Yes, alright. I know.)
I found these reviews very positive, you see. This toaster would delight my wife, quickly be annoying, and it wouldn't last long.
Did I ever suggest I know what I'm doing? No.
On Christmas Day, my wife plugged in the toaster. The minute you press the lever down to toast, it makes R2-D2 noises. The minute the toast is about to pop out, it makes R2-D2 noises.
Initially, this was a novelty, I suppose. After a while, it became not irritating but almost entertaining. It was even useful. Not only did it toast adequately, but I even became grateful when it warned me the toast was almost ready.
There are several tasks to perform while making breakfast. There are several moods I have in the morning, few of them good.
It's heartening to know when one of my tasks will be complete. It's heartening to know that I can tolerate at least some noises while that's happening.
Most gadgets that make noises drive me toward making noises of my own. Guttural ones.
Yet here we are, almost eighteen months later, and R2-D2 still works just fine, hasn't caused conniptions and even occasionally emits a giggle from visiting guests.
Novelty products are, in general, terrible things. That is, at least, my own considered thought. This thing, though, is weirdly pleasing.