Advantages Cheap fast boil 1.5 jug kettle by Kenwood, additional blue hue
Disadvantages Cheap plastic quality, body not insulated, silly cup measurements on windows.
|Ease of use|
|Cleaning & Maintenance|
|Value for money|
When we bought our Opera (Morphy Richards) jug kettle in 2005 and then 2006 when the price began to fall (thus having two of the same, one to use and one as a back up) in a tea loving home, at the time I baulked and laughed at the attached ribbon card on the handle stating that the kettle had been painstakingly painted by hand which then created an individual and collectable kettle impression! Oh whatever. Yet I had been wrong to mock this aspect following the next purchase for myself when I had finished my first year at University and promptly broke the lid on my Morphy Richards Filtermaster III (yes the one that I used to boil eggs in!). I couldn’t afford another Opera jug (it was around £25 and EBay offerings were still around the £20) but I definitely wanted something as quick and easy to use. Looks wise this model by Kenwood looks nearly identical to our better made and thought out Morphy Richards Opera jug - but if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Kenwood's JK406 jug kettle seems to have used Morphy Richards' Opera Jug kettle as its basis for just about everything. But there are several problems when trying to copy a successful design...
• 3kw rapid heating element; its very quick and quiet.
• 1.5 litre jug capacity with twin legible water gauges.
• Permanent pick out water filter; but it’s a cheap plastic weak mesh filter.
• 2m power cord with wrap around storage facility & 360° round base.
• Silver finish with LED power On switch; the LED is at the base of the handle, the finish is sadly cheap plastic.
• Light weight – easy to carry and to fill straight from the tap through the spout.
• Additional light up feature.
• Price in 2007 from Makro: £6-99, after tax: £9-99, later prices at Currys £14-99.
• Price in 2012 second hand purchases or refurbished online of £15 to £20.
At £9-99 after VAT charges from Makro, there aren't very many kettles from a large mass produced company name at the price which offer up basics in modern day jug kettles. Forget 2000 watts or 2.2kw because that is slow compared to a 3kw or more powered kettle and it's a lot faster to boil up water even when filled to the top. Forget bare elements too which leave them open to impurities which can get "baked" on after boiling too. A concealed element covers the boiling element but at the same time it is also easier to clean when general dirt in tap water in time doesn't flow through the filter - or so Kenwood at the time, would have you believe.Remember the sincerity of copying Morphy Richards? Well its not good news for this Kenwood. On the upside first of all it is a compact 1.5 litre jug kettle which looks okay on any work surface but rather bland with cheap greyish glittered plastic designed to emulate the same model by Morphy Richards. But however curvy and organic it looks the JK406 looks cheap because of the plastic used to create a budget kettle; If you are looking for a stylish kettle, then you may well have to give this model a thumbs down. Why? The problem with the Kenwood is that joins and seals come through the paint, the quality of plastic is largely thin and unyielding and despite the silver glittery look similar to the Opera jug, the Kenwood does try and look professional despite the cheap joins and seals, and it will work well if you are not interested in style but prefer function over form. From a distance the silvery grey kettle looks classy but close up it is really easy to see the cheap plastic quality.
Noise wise, in use the kettle is quiet in start up and general use which is a bonus compared to our louder (but older) Opera jug. Throughout the five years that the Kenwood JK406 has continued to be used and still goes, the kettle is very quiet compared to our bigger, far more modern Bosch jug kettle.The biggest flaw that the JK406 has in my opinion is the water chamber itself. Against the Opera jug which has a flip up locked lid and flips over out of the way, the Kenwood's same copied lock lid action only goes so far. At least if you switch the Morphy Richards on by accident when filling from a tap, the nature of the lid flicks the button back to Off. The Kenwood's switch is located on the handle at the bottom further down and it therefore doesn't have this safety feature. It does have a thermal cut out/dry protection feature - but then every electric kettle has to by UK law.
Filling it straight from a tap can take time and patience too, because the actual diameter of the jug at the top is small and difficult to get at. Miss the water filling area and hit the spout means filling from a tap can be messy unless you do a slow to medium trickle - but in hard water areas it defeats the purpose of that filter retaining impurities if you are going to boil the water, because the first thing which will flow out from the spout via the filter are the impurities that remained there when you first filled up!!Filled up the normal way means that water impurities get stuck to the proper other side of the washable pick out filter but like the rest of the kettle, this slide out water mesh filter is bonded on the poorest plastic around; bendable and already cracked at one side, the filter does do the job its intended to do, but made of nasty weak plastic.
This "bonus" feature of the kettle will only become apparent when you use it late at night or in dim areas. Whilst I was using the kettle one night, I noticed that whilst the on button lights up, the kettle also has an internal light set inside which changes the original silver pearlescent finish into an almost opaque look aided by a sea blue hue. Infact, what the JK406 does become when used at night, is a cool and stylish looking kettle in poorly lit areas. The blue hue lights up the whole kettle apart from the concealed element and shows the bubbles rising as well as soon as the kettle reaches the top temperature and switches off automatically. Unfortunately, it also highlights just how thin the plastic is on this kettle at the same time and this means seals and joins will also be revealed in the dark when the kettle is switched on as well as wiring underneath the plastic.
Another small downside is that although twin gauges and a power on switch have been designed to be symmetrical which appeals to both consumers who are left and right handed, the litres symbols are missing from the gauges which is useless if like me you like to cook with water!! I'd have preferred to see litre graduations rather than cup sizes - I don't know anyone these days who uses cups other than mugs and if its for the Americans, well they don’t even get to buy this kettle in the U.S so I’m clueless as to who the cup graduations are actually for!
When it is finished boiling, the body of the Kenwood JK406 is extremely hot to hold, and the only way of carrying the kettle is by its handle which has been insulated but not as insulated as I'd like. Other than that at least the JK406 model is a lot lighter from other kettles I have used, including the Opera jug by Morphy Richards and the Moulinex Ovea jug kettle I bought earlier for the use in an old office job I used to do.
Naturally the 2 metre power cord can be wound up and stored under the base and it’s good that Kenwood have double insulated the cord for this task. The cord however feels better made than the whole kettle! The exterior body also gets quite dirty over time, especially if used as a kitchen kettle that is susceptible to oily foods being prepared and there is no cooker hood to catch the oil in the air or poorly ventilated areas. I found it to be an increasing pain the backside to have to wash down the Kenwood all the time because of accumulated brown grease spots that appeared and nothing worse than trying to hold a kettle if the grease spots got on the handle.
If you are looking for a stylish kettle which doesn't reveal its cheap build quality I would look elsewhere. If it's reliability you're after, the Kenwood JK406 is a pretty good all rounder but could have a safer body, better quality and better insulation. Purchased in 2007, it is now five years old and still going strong without a hitch!
The JK406 is a cheap kettle and it is apparent from the way it has been built. It boils well, it boils quickly and quitely and really does everything a basic jug kettle should. The only bonus aspect it brings to the table is that the entire body lights up when it i switched on and this is only noticeable in poorly or cosy lit areas. The general feel however if buying in a shop or inspecting from a box looks like it is made of good quality thick plastic but in use it is just too hot to handle, unless literally you use the handle all the time to pour and fill up with water and from some angles it looks quite garish with its chunkier seals and gaps as the following photo added to this review on Ciao reveals.
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