Most helpful critical review
298 of 317 people found the following review helpful
A good crock pot with serious design flaws
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.