The Sunbeam Hot Shot hot water dispenser heats 16 ounces of water to a near-boil within 2 minutes. It has a small footprint which takes up very little space and makes it ideal even for your office desk. Whenever you want to make tea, coffee, cocoa, soup, etc, just pour the necessary amount of water into the little container on top and hit the "Heat" button. It will shut off on its own once the water boils, which usually happens in less than 2 minutes. Put your mug below the spout, hit the "Dispense" button and Voila! your hot water is ready for you to make your drink. That said, this hot water dispenser is hardly perfect, but with a list price of just $20 it does what it is supposed to do well enough.

Truth to tell, the Hot Shot hot water dispenser is little more than a glorified electric kettle. The biggest advantages are that it heats up to two cups of hot water for you and costs $20 or less. Most decent electric kettles cost much more - often at least $50. And the low-end kettles almost always need you to boil at least two cups of water. If all you want is boil enough water for one cup of coffee using the kettle, you are out of luck. You will have one spare cup of hot water in the bottom of your kettle, rusting away the heating element and waiting for you to accidentally touch the kettle and scald yourself or spill it on something important or easily damaged. But if you use the Hot Shot, there is no danger of you scalding yourself when making just one cup of hot drink.

Just make sure you buy your Hot Shot hot water dispenser from a retailer with a generous return policy (e.g. Amazon with their 30-day returns) because the new Hot Shots are nowhere near the quality of the originals. Many Hot Shot failures occur within 30 days of purchase, failing right out of the box.

The old Sunbeam Hot Shot hot water dispenser easily lasted more than a decade, with more than a few customers still using the same unit even after 25 years. Unfortunately, the new models are now made in China with cheaper materials and lower quality control. You are lucky if they last more than a year. On the other hand, that is about par for the course nowadays when you pay $20 or less for a product.

One important point to note is that this is a hot water dispenser, not a true electric kettle. That means it usually does not truly boil water (212F), but only heats water up to around 190F. While this is near-ideal for coffee, it is a bit too hot for green tea and a bit too cool for black tea.

So, to sum up, what you get when you pay $20 for the Sunbeam Hot Shot is a hot water dispenser which lets you quickly, conveniently and safely make one or two cups of hot coffee or tea in the office or home. Its design is sleek and modern, and it does not take up much space so you can easily leave it on your workdesk. Quality control is far from perfect, but more than good enough for what you paid. It certainly beats paying $100 for a brand name electric tea kettle which breaks down within a year.

An alternative to the Sunbeam Hot Shot are hot water dispensers like the Zojirushi electric airpot. The large 4 liter model can serve can serve a medium sized family or a small office with only a few refills needed daily. You just pour the water in every morning or night and let it boil. The electric airpot will keep the water warm at the preset temperature throughout the day. Depending on your situation, it can be a lot more convenient than the Sunbeam Hot Shot, although it is also more expensive and you do not get freshly boiled water.