The Microplane Adjustable Slicer with Julienne Blade ($29.95) straddles the line between being an inexpensive paddle-style slicer and being a full-fledged mandolin. It's compact, like a paddle slicer, so it's easy to store in a drawer.
It's definitely sturdier than the all-plastic paddle slicer I have—this has a metal frame and a more substantial easy-to-grip handle. But the feature that sets it apart from the typical paddle slicer is that it has a removable julienne blade, so this can be use for regular slicing tasks as well as julienning.
The size adjustment lever is on the side, which is a little more convenient than having it underneath. It's nice if you're slicing different things and want different thicknesses.
But the part that I like best isn't really about use—it's about storage. I love that the removable julienne blade can be stored under the slicer where it snaps into place with the blades hidden. The hand guard snaps on top of the slicer covering the blade area. Those storage features are probably designed with an eye on safely, but I like the idea that all the components can be stored as one unit rather than being separate, loose pieces I have to keep track of.
Keep in mind that this is an upgraded paddle-style slicer; it doesn't have all the features of a larger mandoline, like the wavy slicing blade or the larger dicing blade. But if you've been thinking about buying a more simple paddle-style slicer, this one is all that and more.
About the author: Resident yeast whisperer and bread baking columnist Donna Currie also has a serious gadget habit. When her father-in-law heard about this column, he upgraded the nickname for her kitchen from "gadget world" to "gadget heaven." You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie.
Disclaimer: Testing samples were provided to Serious Eats.