Its not cheap construction but rather the nature of any coating. Nonstick coatings typically can handle about 450 degrees before it can degrade them. Also the coating is a layer on top of the metal and the metal expand and contracts with heat and will eventually break down the coating over use. It does not matter where its made. Oiling the plates makes no difference though the paper towels will help with abrasions.
The fact is that devices like this have been made in China for years and its not the quality of the construction but rather a problem with all nonstick coating.
If you look on the right side there is a big tray that slides underneath. The grease drips into it and it very easily slips out to clean or better yet,put it in the dishwasher. It is very big and holds a ton of drippings.
Can any owner of this griddler post its dimensions when it is laid out flat? I have a countertop which is 24" deep and I was wondering if this will fit in that space when I open it completely to use the larger cooking area.
You can extend it's useful life by using Reynolds "release" foil to line both surfaces, which will protect your food from the peeling plates and makes cleanup even easier. You can actually make a folded pouch which seals in all the juices, which, with the edges properly crimped, totally eliminates any cleanup at all. You can also use parchment paper in place of the foil, but you will have some cleanup, because the paper doesn't hold back the drippings as well as the foil. For those who don't want the extra fat that this method allows, you'll need to use a paper towel to remove the excess fat before chowing down.
By metal clips are you referring to the clips that hold the plates in place. If so, the one that I purchased here on Amazon has metal clip holding the plates in position beyond that I wouldn't have any idea what clips you might be referring to. I love this thing. We like pannies and I use it for grilling salmon and chicken breasts and we used it for pancakes the other morning. My MOM has had one for a couple of years and I had used hers and loved it. Couldn't see the price tag at the time and went to Geo Foreman and loved that but when this price came up, we couldn't pass it up. Go ahead and get it, you will love it.
Remember, the plates have two sides, a grill side and a flat side. I have made quesadillas and burritos with mine by using the flat side. It's easier to place the first tortilla down first on the flat grill side on low/medium, add your meat/veggies then pile with cheese, add your second tortilla. Press the top part down and grill for 3-5 mins or until the cheese is melted.