Most helpful positive review
256 of 261 people found the following review helpful
Best choice today, but still not as good as they used to be...
on April 5, 2010
Like most reviewers, I have had many toaster ovens over the years. I typically do not make time for reviews, but thought I had some unique insights on this model.
The good: Looks beautiful, and matches my stainless kitchen. The quartz heating tubes throw a lot of infrared light, much like B&D's Infrawave product. The heating element protectors do a good job of keeping food off, but still letting the light shine through. I like the funky metal arms that pull the tray out. Yes, they look silly, but they pull the tray out when it is hot, yet don't prevent you from grabbing it and pulling it all the way out, and they work in all positions. I have tried all cooking modes, and it does a fantastic job.
The bad: Basically, no new toaster ovens can match the ones that used to be built, and I assume this is due to liability concerns and pricing pressures. My previous toaster ovens had a temperature sensor in toaster mode, while this one only uses time. Toaster mode in this model is just oven at 450 with convection fan off. The toast comes out great, but you do not have the fine level of control that older temperature sensor control dial had, so you can't just walk away and come back when it dings. Also, this toaster oven only heats to 450 degrees, while my previous ones went to 500, and I could trick them to be even hotter for steaks (press toast button when in oven mode). This is probably due to the nonstick coating of the oven interior, which is only good to 450. My older ovens had the self-clean interior good for 800+ degrees.
One note - some reviewers lamented that the convection fan is not on in toast mode. Toast mode and oven mode is the same thing, so just use oven set to 450 if you want the fan on when toasting. (Update 4/14: I've noticed that turning the convection fan on when making toast makes toast come out like Melba toast or salad croutons.)
So my conclusion? This one is a keeper. Food comes out great, in all modes. The huge amount of infrared light thrown by the quartz tubes in such a small shiny oven yields great browning, searing, and flavor. In the end, it is all about the food, and food comes out very tasty in this little gem.
Update April 2014 - This little guy is still going strong after years of use from a family of five. I figured out the trick to lighter toast. After turning dial far enough to turn on timer, (which would make toast too brown for some people) you just turn it back to a lower number. I also like that the oven is small on the outside, yet huge on the inside - it doesn't take up much countertop. Finally, I also like the rubber bumper in back that prevents the toaster oven from being pushed to close to the back wall. Really like and recommend the little guy and am upgrading my rating to five stars.