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302 of 323 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2012
So I've owned this for about two months now and I've used it about five times. All in all, this is a good slow cooker - it seems to be built well, the cooking temperature doesn't seem too high, and at the end of the day, it works. So, a solid three stars for that.

However, there are a few major flaws in the design that make me question the competence of the designers who worked on this model. Things that would seem like a no-brainer to anyone who's ever cooked anything, but somehow, not the case here.

For example, the timer control has four AND ONLY FOUR settings, so it is not truly programmable. High for 4 hours, High for 6 hours, Low for 8 hours, and Low for 10 hours. Want to cook on high for six hours? Too bad. Want to cook on low for four hours? Tough. Now, of course, you can manually keep returning to the crock pot to adjust these times - there's nothing to stop you from coming back after four hours on high and adding another two hours, but if you wanted to cook something for, say, four hours on low and then have the unit switch over to "keep warm" afterwards, you can't. (This is particularly problematic for me when I make bone stock because the timer has a max time of 10 hours, and I tend to simmer for at least 20 hours. That means I have to continually come back to the crock pot throughout the day and reset the timer so it doesn't automatically shut off.) So there's no way to manually adjust the cook times?? Do they actually think customers are so inept that setting temperature and time separately would be too confusing, and therefore needed simplification to two hour intervals?

Second, the lid has a locking mechanism, which I've yet to use because you're not supposed to lock the lid while cooking - only during transport. This seems like a nice feature, but of course they designed the lid with no way of keeping the clasps actually in place when you turn it upside-down. So when you remove the lid and set it upside-down on your counter (so that you don't get condensed water all over the place) the locking pieces fall out of place and then get in the way when you want to put the lid back on, making you use two hands to put the lid on every time. Yeah, poor design again.

To summarize, the unit cooks reasonably well, but these two flaws seem somewhat inexcusable. It's not worth it to mail it back (I can't imagine what the shipping would be) but if I had the chance to do it all over again, I'd go with the nearly identical model that has an adjustable timer.

A few things that have been addressed on other reviews:

1) the crock pot does have an electrical/chemical smell the first time it heats up. This would be from the industrial solvents burning off. It goes away after the first use and doesn't get into the food.

2) the lid seal appears to be latex and not plastic. No odor left in the food that I can taste, and I tend to be pretty sensitive to that sort of thing. Moisture does seem to get into hidden parts of the lid, but so far I've been able to keep the lid clean (again, not very good design though)

3) the ceramic pot seems pretty solid and well built. No complaints there.
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155 of 165 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon September 30, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I haven't had the opportunity to use this crock-pot other than testing the temperature. Unfortunately, today's crock-pots cook hotter than the first ones. Because I've read many complaints of some crock-pots cooking too hot, I tested this one with room temperature water. After 4 hours on the High setting, the water was boiling & the temp was approx. 208 degrees. I tested it on the Low setting next, after 4 hours the temperature reached 190 degrees. Today's crock-pots are set to cook up to 300 degrees on High, and 200 degrees on Low. So far, this one seems to cook as expected.
UPDATE: FYI...the boiling temp of water @ 2000' is 208.1. Food thermometers can be off 1 or 2 degrees in either direction.

I had to wiggle the lid around to be sure to get a seal. I didn't want any steam/heat to escape. By the way, did you know you shouldn't lift a crock-pot's lid very often? Doing so will reduce the temperature & it will take approx. 20 minutes for the temperature to come back up. This crock-pot has a very nice feature, you can test the temperature of the food through a gasket on the lid. The gasket is designed so that steam won't escape.

The locking lid is great, but the lid pieces are a bit bulky.
Hooks are provided on the back of the crock-pot for storing the cord. I like this feature a lot.

The travel temperature gauge is a nice addition. When the temperature of the water was 190 degrees, I turned the crock-pot off & removed the lid. After 40 minutes the gauge was in the light orange zone. The temperature of the water was 120 degrees at this point. I think food would probably remain hot longer. Leave the lid on & locked as long as possible to hold serving temperatures for longer periods of time.

Also, you need to know that if your power goes off, this crock-pot will not reset itself. It will need to be re-programmed.

This crock-pot features a heat-saver stoneware crock & should keep foods warm longer than the traditional 6 quart, carry-n-go crock-pot. I'm not sure I'll be able to test this feature. Speaking from my prior experience, stoneware typically keeps food warm longer. By the way, the stoneware crock is oven & microwave safe.

Always fill a crock-pot at least 1/2 to 3/4 full to avoid over or under cooking. However, to prevent spillovers never fill it more than 3/4 full. Reduce cooking time if the stoneware pot is less than 3/4 full.

Programmable cooking time choices are 4 or 6 hours on High; 8 or 10 hours on Low. When the programmed cooking time is completed, it shifts to Warm automatically. Then the timer will count up & the timer window will display the amount of time the unit has been on warm.

So far so good. This crock-pot has performed as expected. I will update my review with new information as I continue to use the crock-pot.

UPDATE: My family just had a delicious meatloaf cooked in the crock pot. I sat the 2 1b. meat loaf on the Prepara Roasting Laurel to keep it out of the juices & cooked it for 4 hours on the High setting. When the cooking time was done, the crock pot automatically went to the Warm setting. It was on Warm for 3 hours until I was ready to serve it.
Of course, meatloaf cooked in a crock pot doesn't look very appetizing even when it has ketchup on top, but the meatloaf (made with 90% lean ground beef, 10% maximum fat) was very moist & not dried out like it would've been if it was baked in the oven.

UPDATE 2: The BBQ Ribs I made in this Crock-Pot turned out amazing. I was home while they were cooking so I started them on High for 6 hours; concerned they might get done too early, after 3 or 4 hours, I turned the Crock-Pot off, then back on, to reprogram it for Low - 8 hours. 3 or 4 hours later, I turned it off again & reprogrammed it on Warm.
If you're interested in the recipe I put sliced onion on the bottom, then 4 chopped garlic cloves, the ribs, BBQ sauce, then sprinkled a small amount of ground cumin and a little chipotle powder over it all.

UPDATE 3: Just made Hearty Chicken Noodle soup...which also turned out great. I can safely say that the crock-pot does not cook too hot.
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Earlier this year, I shopped for slow cooker-. I've been making a lot of broth recently for the special diet I've been on. When shopping I narrowed my choices between two slow cookers:the Hamilton Beech "Set and Forget" crockpot and the Crock Pot Travel serve 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker. Ultimately, I went with the Hamilton Beech, but the reviews were really good for this Crock Pot, and I wondered if I had made a mistake. Of course, when offered the chance to review this crock pot for free, I was thrilled.

These two slow cookers have nearly identical features: both have lids with side clasps that close and lock the lid in place when traveling. Each one has a thermometer slot, so you can stick check the temperature without removing the lid and losing the heat. Each one has an electronic display to keep track of time or temperature setting.

I love both crock pots; however, there are two major differences. The first is in the way temperature can be adjusted and how time is measured. With the Hamilton Beech, you can manually adjust the temperature. Select the exact temperature setting you'd prefer and the time you'd like. This is good if you are an experienced with slow cooking, and know which temperature settings to use. With the Crock Pot, there is no guess work. A user can't select exact temperature or time settings (it's only Lo, Medium,Hi, and the time settings are already pre-set at each specific temperature.) The advantage: if you're inexperienced at slow cooking -- it takes the guess work out of knowing what temperature is better suited for the recipe you're cooking.

The second difference is construction. Next, in my opinion, the Crock Pot was better-constructed (it was stoneware and insulated, event) compared to the Hamilton Beech's. I preferred the construction of this crock pot compared to Hamilton's. However, I could not fit an entire small chicken (and I do mean small) in the Crock Pot without having to force the lid down.

Other than small nitpicks here and there, this crock pot was an excellent product. But, a person should decide what features they can and cannot live without before purchasing this product.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2013
I lost my trusty All Clad slow cooker after 8+ years of heavy use. After some research, I decided to buy this Crock Pot brand / model. I was worried about general comments that it cooks hot. After I ruined 3 pots of food in this model (using my trusted recipes) I can confirm it does cook REALLY hot -- even when I monitored the time and liquid carefully. Food was BOILING on LOW. It was dried out, leathery, tasteless. What?! I never had this problem with slow cooking in my life. So I did some more research.

As it turns out, several years ago, slow cookers changed their pre-fixed temperatures for the "low" and "high" settings. New slow cookers (generally all brands from what I can discern) cook 20 to 40 degrees hotter. This is heartbreaking for me. Food cooked low and slow is delicious.

I hate that I wasted money on this one. But it's too late for me to return it now. I'm telling you so that you can decide for yourself whether "low" and "high" presets are for you. Any old recipes won't work in these new slow cookers with pre-set "low" and "high" settings. And adjusting liquid and time won't fix that you are fundamentally changing the base temperature.

The answer I've found is NESCO brand -- as it actually allows you to control the temperature (as opposed to using "low" and "high" options that have been preset by some company).
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2013
The new crockpots have been set at a much higher temperature than previous models due to safety concerns and government regulation. The new crockpots cook at 200 degrees which literally boils the meat instead of slow simmering which makes for rubbery meat instead of meat that falls apart after cooking. Research indicates this is all crockpots from all manufacturers.

Definitely would not recommend.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2013
This slow cooker was a replacement for my 6-year old model, which we found would heat the food too quickly. Unfortunately this one is no different and follows a category-wide trend: food will cook completely in under 4 hours on low, and make it overdone at any of the fixed time settings. With no way to set a precise time, you can't even have it shut off earlier. But it does add some nice features like a sealed lid for easy transport, a gasket for a temperature probe, and an auto-warm setting once the time expires. The stoneware can hold fully-cooked food without power at 140F or higher for 3 hours in normal house temperatures (~73F), which is great. Overall I would give it 3.5 stars if it were possible - a slightly better than an average unit with some nice features, but a bunch of problems that hold it back. Will I keep it? Sure. It's an upgrade from my "dumb" crock-pot. Unfortunately there aren't many better alternatives out there.
Details on my testing are below:

To test performance and safety:
I prepared the slow cooker according to common instructions found online: 3/4 full of 40 degree water, set on low. Temps were taken every 15 minutes using a calibrated thermometer. Ideally it should heat to between 185F and 200F and reach the 140F "safe zone" within 4 hours. See my customer image for the graph of results. In summary: This unit cooked to the "safe zone" by 2:15 on high and 2:30 on low, and hit "cooked" at 185F by 3:30 on high and 4:15 on low. Both settings levelled off at exactly 204 F. At sea level it's not much of a problem, but at Denver altitudes water will boil at 203F. Left at that high a temperature, it could cause food to be overdone without regulating it yourself by removing the lid every so often, and watching it like a hawk. Now of course all of this could vary depending on whether the food is in full contact with the cooker, the initial temperature of the food (frozen or not), and if you add food during cooking which lets the steam out.
There's also a no-power-required temperature display on the front of the unit (the bright white label), which gives you an estimate of how hot it is even when unplugged and travelling. There's no probe for this thermometer, so I assume it is measuring the temperature of the stoneware - not exactly precise for the food itself, but a decent estimate nonetheless.

Power usage:
On high, the unit pulled 237 watts of power. On low, it fluctuated between 170 and 237. For your power bill this means that ~4.5 hours of use will pull up to 1 kWh of power. Using the US average for electricity, that's a total of 12 cents to heat up your meal. Disturbingly the unit pulled 2.1 watts of power when completely off but plugged in - the so called "phantom" power. That would add up $2.21/year if it was left plugged in 24/7. Not much, true, but this is just one more device in your kitchen doing the same thing. So as with all appliances, unplug them when you are not using them.

These are the recommendations I've found online and in the user's manual:
1) The pot has to be 1/2 to 3/4 full. If you're only cooking in a small part of the pot, it will heat up the contents much faster - potentially overcooking it even more if you are not watching. Conversely, if it's packed to the brim, there's no room for the steaming effect and the sheer mass of food will take longer to cook.
2) Empty and clean the pot while the food is still warm. Nothing is more of a pain to deal with than stuck-on food from the night before. Even the glossy surface of this pot can still have this problem.
3) Keep the lid closed as much as possible. Temperatures drop very quickly if you open it.

Pros:
- Temperature probe gasket on the lid: Makes it super easy to read the temperature of what you're cooking without opening the lid and letting all the steam out.
- Hooks on the back for the cord to wrap around are nice, especially when on display at a potluck.

Indifferent:
- There is slight electrical burning smell during the first few uses, but that went away soon thereafter. It's even mentioned in the manual as "normal".

Cons:
- The time settings are very limiting on this unit: 4 or 6 hours on high, and 8 or 10 hours on low. Especially since it tends to heat quickly, there's no way to lower the time. Unattended operation is not recommended.
- If you live in a electrically-unstable area, the fact that the unit resets to off with even a brief power loss might be a problem for you. No way to tell if the food was fully-cooked or not, and even the manual recommends discarding it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2014
I was so excited since this cooker was to be an upgrade for me. Loved that it was "programmable" and the locking latch. Well, I used once and it worked beautifully. The second attempt, I placed my cooker on low and expected to come home to a wonderful stew. Well, the meat was raw still. Thank God it was really cold in the house, so I then turned it back on "high" to see what happened. At the 30 min mark it turned itself off. I switched the plug to another outlet and this time under 30 min it shut off. I tried one more time and It did it again, I gave up and discarded contents.

I then call customer service and after numerous prompts, I am transferred to a line that rang no less than 10 times then gave me a message that it was disconnecting. It was like 5:30pm on Friday. I sent an email, but no response as of yet.

I am so disappointed. I would take it back to the store I purchased from, but I threw away the receipt and box since it worked perfectly that first time. I am placing my review on Amazon in hopes that I will get a better customer service number to contact.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2014
Could not wait to get my new crock pot. I had given my older one to my granddaughter when she moved. It looks and cooks great. The two puzzling things about the inside pot is: 1. the lip to pick it up with is on each middle side not the ends of how you would normally pick it up. It's strange and I don't like that. I have to turn the whole thing sideways to lift the inside pot out..2 I noticed on the bottom of the crock itself has the word sunbeam indented on it. That makes me feel like the pot is not the original one. And the glass lid, you have to wiggle it in place like it's not made for that pot. I believe this was purchased before and was switched and sent back. Sunbeam has nothing to do with cCrockpot.. This is why I gave it a two.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 28, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have been a fan of crock-pots for so long. They are a favorite way for me to cook. This travel serve 6-quart cooker solved one of my biggest complaints about crock-pots. Finally a locking lid. One time I was bringing a crock-pot dinner to a pot luck at work. While I did pack the crock-pot carefully, placed it in a padded laundry basket, the basket tipped over, and I had a dinner soak my trunk. Let's just say you have to have a lot of cleaning supplies to clean up after a large crock-pot.
I love the that you can program the cooking times, this is very helpful if you work. I find that I am really gone 10 to 11 hours a day, and its really tough for a dish not to dry out if you can't reduce the cooking temperature. So this is a really nice feature too! The handles to help you carry a hot crock-pot are also a really nice touch. I like that these handles aren't solid so you don't have to fully grip right next to the hot crock-pot.
Looking for a crock-pot that has some enhanced features? This crock-pot has some really nice features that will help you travel with your food.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2014
Disappointed and returned because I need a 6 qt crock pot to cook up to 6 qts. but this crock pot holds less than 5 qts. When I talked to the company, they told me it is the housing until that holds 6 qts... REALLY...you can't cook in the housing unit. :-(
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