Like just about everyone else in the free world, I grew up with a GE Toast-R-Oven. I cooked everything from toast (of course) to pizza bagels (a great discovery back in the 70s) to TV dinners and even baked fish in it. When the one I received as a gift when I bought my first house finely gave up the ghost, I replaced it with a $100 Hamilton Beach tabletop convection oven could bake a whole loaf of bread, two pies or a meatloaf. It even had a rotisserie with a spit you could impale a chicken on, though I never tested this feature. I used it for several years, and it did everything you would expect of a compact toaster oven- except make toast. The burners were just too far apart.
Enter the Breville. Rather than the mechanical timer and temperature control of the Hamilton Beach (and the GE before it) this unit has fully electronic control that promises to be more accurate in both functions. It can handle (they say) a 12" pizza, and 4 slices of toast. So how does all this work in practice?
As a toaster, it's great. It toasts more evenly than my $20 Target toaster, and the slide out crumb tray makes cleaning easy. Repeatability if excellent, and of course you can watch the bread/bagel/whatever as it toasts, keeping an eye out for burning. It compensates for heat buildup when you toast multiple items in sequence- a major help. Still, for close to $200 you expect more than just toast from a machine like this.
I haven't tried baking a pie yet, but I did do some miniature muffins, and they came out fine. I haven't done any bread yet, as it's just too small to handle a standard loaf of the size I bake. Maybe I can make some buns or rolls in it.
The timer function is a bit annoying in the way it works. You set the time and temperature, and when it comes up to temperature, it starts the countdown. This is fine for frozen pizzas and TV dinners, but less helpful for bakers trying to control the baking environment. I'd prefer something that would come up to temperature and then wait for me to start the timer.
Half the functions on the main knob are for preset cooking programs- like the microwave ovens in lunchrooms that have buttons labeled "soup", "sandwich", and so forth. There's a "cookies" function, but I have dozens of different cookie recipes with different time and temperature settings. This program is useless to me.
So: A great toaster, and a useful oven for baking very small items. It's a little deeper than the old Toast-R-Oven, but still not big enough to handle more than a quarter sheet of cookies or a small pie. Useful, for what it is, but given the price, it's getting close to being a luxury easy bake oven. I think the Breville BOV800XL The Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ, which adds convection and a somewhat larger oven is a better deal overall, and if you really want a useful secondary oven, something like my Hamilton Beach 31197R Countertop Oven with Convection and Rotisserie is a lot more flexible.
After a little over three months of using this oven, I'm more convinced than ever that this is a superb (if expensive) toaster. Unlike the pop-up toaster on my counter, you can precisely set the actual toasting time- very handy- and you can watch until you get the precise shade of browning you're looking for.
I'm also becoming more favorably inclined to its use as an oven, too. It's still a bit small for most baking uses, but it's big enough for roasting peppers or baking a few potatoes, or even a tiny batch of cookies. I still think the larger version is a better all-around appliance, but for a tiny apartment kitchen this may be a good choice.
Six month update:
I find I've been using this oven more and more for all my toasting and small baking needs- it's even taking over some of the tasks I used to do in my microwave. It's still reliable, easy to maintain, and the accurate electronic timer is a great improvement over the mechanical timers in cheaper ovens in both accuracy and reliability.
Update: It's now three years since I wrote this review, and I find myself using this toaster oven almost every day. I toast in it, I bake, and I broil. In hot weather it gets more use than my oven, and it still works as good as it did the day I received it.
Five year update: Still going strong, although one of the lower quartz heater tubes has broken. Doesn't seem to affect the performance of the oven, but I'm going to see if I can't find a replacement on-line.
on May 7, 2010
It's a shame you have to spend over $150 for a good toaster oven, but if the cost is not an issue, this is an excellent one. This is not a convection oven, but is exactly what I wanted and it fits perfectly where the cheap one it replaced was.
This oven is well made, the door opens smoothly, the rack comes out easily. The pan that comes with it is heavy and enameled, not cheap sheet metal. The control system is excellent. The display is illuminated while setting or cooking, but dims out when not in use. I found it very easy to use. Toasting is a single touch and it compensates for the hot oven with multiple toast cycles. I've used the bake cycle and the muffins turned out great. It remembers your last setting for each cycle, so if you determine the 'perfect' setting for your favorite bagels or pizza, it's preset and ready to start when selecting the cycle. The crumb tray pulls out the front and is very easy to clean. This is vastly superior to out the back or from the bottom that most of the others I looked at have.
on May 12, 2010
I'm not one to write reviews, but this toaster is worth the time investment! We bought this toaster about a month ago. The whole family (inc. the kids) fell in love with it from the first time we ate toasted bread out of it, but we decided to hold off writing the review for "further testing". Initially, we had a Black and Decker for a bit less than 13 yrs till the toast lever caught fire (literally) and stopped functioning properly. So we needed a replacement. Our criteria was a small toaster/oven, that is not complicated to use, does not offer convection cooking (I already have two full size convection ovens), does not have the annoying ticker timer and that was about $50 - $70. I searched among many brands, unfortunately, many either were simple but offered the ticker timer OR offered convection baking which I know I would not use. The day I came across The Breville toaster and read the reviews, I was impressed with the features, but not the price. The reviews were so positive that I reconsidered the budget allotted for a toaster oven. This toaster is so easy to use, my 8 and 11 yr old can operate on their own with minimal supervision. It toasts toast, and french bread/baguette with beautifully, even golden color, crisp outside and warm chewy inside. We fell in love with toasted bread all over again! I reheated whole chicken the other day, and that came out perfectly warmed, through and through with crisped skin. We love this toaster and thank Breville for making it. I will definitely be recommending it to anyone who's looking for a good toaster oven, and it willing to make the investment. It's an investment, that's well worth every penny!
on May 11, 2010
I was searching for a toaster oven for a while, but I didn't see anything I like at Target, so I searched online and found Breville's oven on Amazon. I was gonna buy the bigger one (BOV850), but after looking at the measurements, I thought the smaller one (BOV650) would fit better for my kitchen. As soon as I took out the oven from the packaging, it's a little smaller than I had imagined. I should have bought the bigger one. That's my only regret... But if you have a small kitchen, this should be a perfect-sized oven for you.
I have this oven for almost 2 months now. Everything is so far so good. I mainly use this oven to bake, and I've baked several times already with it. The cakes and bread turned out very good. Since this oven is very powerful, I always set the time to the lowest setting. For example, if a recipe tells you to bake the cake for 30-40 min, then I will bake for only 30 min, and the cake will come out just right.
Although this oven is expensive, but it's worth every penny.
- The door is very easy to open.
- The trays that came with the oven is heavy, and don't look like cheap metal pans.
- The crumb tray can be pulled out from the front and is very easy to clean.
- Auto shut off function
- The LCD panel has different background colors to indicate the oven is in use or not in use.
- Very powerful oven. If not used correctly, it may burn your food.
- The tray doesn't automatically slide out like the bigger version.
QUICK SUMMARY: This fine-looking countertop appliance has nifty, gee-whiz tricks (they make this oven "smart") which appeal to the techie-side of me. My non-techie wife, however, still prefers our 22-year-old Panasonic toaster oven. Read on to learn why.
BACKGROUND: In my home, I'm the techie aficionado and gadget geek. I like seeing, using, and owning high tech stuff. Who knew that the lowly toaster oven could be made into a high-tech device? My wife, OTOH, dislikes the complexity (and, often, unreliability) of high-tech devices. She opts for simplicity of operation, even if the results are less-than-perfect.
WHAT I LIKE:
- The bagel-toasting feature is my favorite and most used. Set the oven to "Bagel" and turn your bagel cut-side up, and this toaster will brown and make crispy the inside of your bagel, but the bottom, exterior side of the bagel will receive only a gentle warming so as not to overbake it. This feature works splendidly, each and every time.
- Another nifty trick is that it knows to adjust the toasting length of bread (or bagels) if the toaster is already warm from being recently used. Now, if you like light toast, it won't get too brown because someone used this toaster ahead of you. Similarly, dark toasted bread won't get burned. Nice!
- The cooking pans that come with this toaster are top-notch and should last for many years with proper care.
- Although compact, this toaster oven is really quite big, and I can't imagine needing any larger toaster oven than this. You can broil, cook or bake many, many things in this appliance.
- Aesthetically, this toaster oven is top-notch with the stainless steel appearance. In our decidedly out-of-date kitchen, this appliance lends a nice sparkle. I may not have granite countertops and a stainless steel refrigerator, but hey, look at my toaster oven!
WHAT MY FAMILY (mostly my wife) DISLIKES:
- Our ancient Panasonic toaster oven had a simple feature that no one else seems to replicate, that is, when you open the door of our old Panasonic oven, the inside tray slides out several inches, making it easy (and safer) to get to your hot food. This Breville lacks this feature which my wife, especially, adores about our old Panasonic oven.
- Also on our old Panasonic oven was a rail of sorts so any cooking pan or slices of bread you laid on the wire rack couldn't accidentally be pushed to the back interior wall of the oven. On this Breville, if you use a turner to, say, retrieve your toast, you might accidentally knock the bread off the interior wire rack, pushing your toast too far into the back of the oven, and your toast might then fall onto the bottom burner (as my 7-year-old son's toast did this morning). And if that should happen to, say, your young son's toast, your non-techie wife will shoot a nasty glare your way firstly before helping your young son get his now-imperfectly toasted bread slice out from the bottom of the oven, and then your 7-year-old will begrudgingly eat his toast because his toast has a scorched line across one side of it. And your wife will mutter how much better she liked her 20-year-old Panasonic toaster oven, and you will feel stupid for spending so much money to buy the "Ferrari of toaster ovens" only to realize your wife was perfectly happy with the "Honda of toaster ovens" she had been using since the start of your marriage.
CONCLUSION: If you love high-tech goodies but you also love your low-tech wife, keep your wife and learn to eat bagels that are imperfectly toasted. For all others: Recommended!
If you want nicely browned toast, and you care about practicality and value for your dollar, visit your local Target or Wal-Mart end cap clearance aisle and buy the ten dollar clearance toaster. In the end, two slices of Wonder White will toast really well in that toaster for less energy and maybe even faster.
If on the other hand, you want a solid built, handsome, small oven that does a great job toasting every possible piece of pastry ever invented or will be invented, then the Breville oven is just the right ticket. I think Clair Huxtable would even approve of this appliance.
The genius behind this elegant piece of countertop hardware is taking the microwave oven control concept and translating that into a toaster oven. The controls are super intuitive compared to a microwave. Middle round dial, select what you want to cook (Toast, Bagel, Pizza, Broil, Roast, Cookies, Reheat, and Bake), press or turn the bottom dial to set the options, and bam hit the upper button to start the machine working. Don't like what you did, hit that top button again to stop things. Probably one of the most intuitive oven controls I've ever seen.
This machine is built to last forever. The door handle is a huge substantial piece of stainless steel. When that door opens and closes, it works smoothly and with a satisfying sound. The glass door is full across the entire oven, so those little toasting bagels can't hide from your view. The crumb drawer is also substantial stainless steel and slides in and out very nicely. The exterior is rugged baked dark gray enamel. And those rubber feet are large support the oven perfectly. The enamel broiler pan is NOT non-stick, so line it with aluminum foil; and it is NOT diswasher safe.
There's a really thick owner's manual chock full 'o recipes. Kind of unusual to find a real manual in anything today.
How does it work? We've had a number of inexpensive toaster ovens in the past. In fact we kind of missed them; they are so practical for making open faced sandwiches (tuna melts especially). I've never seen a toaster oven with such even heat, fast warm up time, and practical. I kind of love this oven. Bagels come out heated all the way through with a bit of brown, depending on how you dial up the darkness. For the summer, this is just about the most perfect oven to not heat up the kitchen. There are four IQ quartz-like heating elements inside the oven. Different settings tailor the wattage to each element for the best cooking. There's a total of 1800 Watts of heat available. Two bagels on medium darkness are done in under a minute (ignore the countdown clock, it has a mind of it's own, that setting starts out at 3:45, then quickly jumps to 0:45, and then starts counting seconds). There is a pleasant beep repeated three times to tell you the food is done.
I love the heft of this oven, the whole machine, the door, the controls; and I love how well this works. It is just the right size for a medium sized kitchen. If you have a food processor, a blender, and a Kitchenaid stand mixer, this will fit no problem in your kitchen. Galley kitchens, oh this is just way too big. The whole unit is smaller than a standard microwave.
There's a minor flaw. The single oven rack has no stop. This is kind of problem if you don't pay attention while sliding out a hot rack. Every oven I've ever seen has a limiter so you cannot pull the rack all the way out without wiggling the rack up or down. This one slides out all the way, be very careful. The good news, when the oven is open, the glass door is a great landing place for that rack if it gets out of control.
As with all ovens, the exterior gets hot. The right side, the one with the controls, only gets warm. But the top and left sides get pretty hot; enough that a plastic bread package will melt (guess what almost happened at our house?).
Now here is a really cool trick. The interior is exactly the right size for these foil sheets: Kirkland Signature Premium Quality Food Service ALUMINUM FOIL SHEETS - 500 Count 12" x 10 3/4". Oddly Amazon carries the Kirkland brand - or you can pick these up at your favorite massive club store that is the founder of the Kirkland brand. These sheets fit on the rack, in the broiler pan. Food sits on top of them and then slides out of the oven with no mess. They are a fantastic add to this oven.
The best part of this oven, no more nasty microwave softness to food. You can quickly and easily reheat food. It is a little slower than a microwave, but the food tastes so much better. And there is just no way to melt and brown Swiss cheese on top of tuna on a beautiful bun in a microwave. Viva Tuna Melts!
Breville is a high quality brand. There is a high end kitchen utensil store (WS) that carries most of their line. I own a Breville blender and Panini grill. All are solidly built, have great simple design, and are useful. I would say these are probably better than Cuisinart, except when you get to the ultra high end of Cuisinart. They hit that middle spot between consumer grade and professional restaurant grade.
Do you get the idea that I love this oven? It is expensive. It is beautiful. It does work really well. And frequently you get what you pay for. Now all you have to do Clif, is sneak over to Amazon and order this without Clair finding out.
July 8, 2013 Update: After three years, the oven looks and works as well as it did the day it arrived. I still wish it had a stop for the rack and the rack slid out automatically with the door.
December 10, 2013 Update: Breville has another model of this oven with a metal frame around the door and a magnet to move the shelf in and out. They must have finally understood what a pain dragging the shelf in and out. Sadly the new model is a different size from this one, so you can't use the new door. Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ
on June 26, 2010
I just received my BOV650XL oven and I must say I have higher standards than some of the other gushers here. However, the things that bothered me might matter less to others so I provide the detail below. What's with the $229 list price that Amazon gives? Breville lists it at $179.
1. The dials have a lot of wobble and play in them. The selector dial has nice, sharp stops but it wobbles around each of the stops so you have to make sloppy movements to turn it to a particular position.
2. The Time/Temp dial is VERY MUSHY and barely has clicks in it at all. The numbers sometimes skip one or two clicks when you're trying to increase or decrease them with the dial. It also wobbles around a position so you often set it one higher or lower than where you wanted it. I'm afraid that it'll get worse as time goes on and it ages and corrodes.
3. The display is tuned to view straight on, which requires you to duck to see it if it's on a counter. They should have tuned the display for an angle of 45-60 degrees ABOVE the horizontal, which is where most people will be looking at it (if you're right in front of the counter). As a result, I'm going to get a stiff neck and/or a sore back trying to read the dial. There doesn't seem to be any contrast setting to change this.
I've got a message in to Customer Service and I'll update this review if I get some feedback or resolution to these problems.
1. Construction is pretty good, but not a whole lot better than my last $40 Black & Decker. Overall feel is better, though. I'd rate it at about a $100 product, not a nearly $200 product.
2. Accessories are nice and solid (tray, boiler pan).
3. Nice that the crumb tray empties out the front. I can't believe Cuisinart insists on opening out the back (or B&D opening on the bottom!!).
4. Nice user interface with # of slices and level of toasting. Seems to work well after a couple of tries.
I'm keeping it and after all my research and short experience with it I believe it's still the best toaster oven out there but if customer service doesn't tell me that this one's dials are damaged, I'm going to have to take it apart and rewire the board to use more precise encoders on the dials so it's not so mushy and wobbly. I CAN'T STAND THIS. I'm the VP Engineering at a small consumer electronics company and I would NEVER sell a product with such shoddy user interface controls. These are the primary things that people experience with this device.
I wanted to give it four stars for the overall quality but I just couldn't because of the controls.
** UPDATE **
It's been almost two months, and we love our Breville toaster oven, "warts" and all. I got used to the controls and now no longer plan to try to alter them. I updated the rating to four stars because of our overall happiness with the product.
One positive feature I forgot to mention is the countdown timer. I love being able to see exactly how long it is for the toast (or whatever) to be done. We've come to expect this on our microwave ovens, and it's great to have it on a toaster oven, too.
In our house we use a toaster/compact oven almost daily and we have come to rely on ours heavily. We have had several of them, but we have never invested in a really good one. This compact oven is the first one we have ever used that would be considered a higher-end product.
Right out of the box we all quickly realized that this is a product meant to last. It is sturdy, constructed to handle a few knocks during use, and the pans and racks included are equally strong. Before this oven, every toaster oven I have purchased has come with flimsy trays and cheap wire racks.
The door to this oven is superior to most, with an excellent handle (not just a plastic lip but a real, metal handle) and quality hinges. It is cushioned to keep the door from slamming shut when closing it carelessly, though this should not be an excuse for haphazardly closing the door in a rush. There is a guide on the door that shows at what level to place the wire rack when in use, one level for roasting, another for toasting and a third for broiling. This removes a lot of trial and error.
Most intriguing though are the controls. There are two dials on the front of the oven, one setting for the type of cooking (baking, toast, bagels, etc.) and one for setting the temperature. The temperature dial is context sensitive and switches based on the type of cooking to be done. For example, when baking the temperature reads in degrees (and can be switched between F and C with the touch of a button). When toasting, though, it switches to the number of slices and the desired darkness. Spinning the dials does not turn on anything though - there's a start/cancel button just like on a microwave oven. When toasting, there is a countdown timer that displays how much time remains before cooking is done.
The display is fantastic. It can be read across the room, with big numbers and reasonable contrast to allow almost anyone to read.
I was concerned that during cooking that the outer surface would get hot to the touch. While it does get warm it does not seem to be unbearably hot to the touch. That said, plastics of any kind have no business on top of this oven.
It does a fine job of cooking. It seems to have a fairly accurate thermostat and cooking is even.
There are only two real criticisms I have with this oven, one a personal preference and one a more serious concern. First, it would be nice if the display would show the time when the oven is not in use. Sure, the microwave and the regular oven and the cordless phone and the DVD/VCR all show the time, but I would prefer the oven show the time readout anyway. More importantly, though, it would be extremely helpful if there was an mechanism for pulling out the wire rack after cooking. That rascal gets hot and the best way we have found to pull it out after cooking is to use a wooden clothespin to pull it. Other compact ovens I have used attach the rack to the door so that the opening of the door pulls the rack out so that food may be retrieved. In my opinion, it is an unfortunate oversight to not include this kind of feature in a compact oven. Even a metal hook included in the box for that sole purpose would have been nice.
This is definitely the best compact oven I have ever used. It is a solid appliance that works well and is well-made. It does more than just toast; it's a full miniature oven and is worth a serious look if you're looking for a good compact oven and are willing to spend more for quality.
on January 13, 2011
We purchased this product because of its good reviews. We are disappointed with its use as an oven. It is a good toaster for bagels, etc. When used as an oven to bake potatoes, they were never done right. I finally tested it with an oven thermometer. When the unit is set to 350 deg. and is done preheating, the thermometer indicates the oven is just approaching 290-300 deg. After 15-20 minutes the oven is finally at 335 deg. When I checked this thermometer in a gas oven and the oven indicated it was at 350 deg, the thermometer registered 350 deg.
We contacted Breville and sent the oven back. They sent a replacement. This is worse. When the oven indicates it is at 350 deg., it is only at 225 deg. After about 16-18 min. the thermometer indicates 335 deg. and rises no higher.
Are these controls meant for a convection oven? It is supposed to anticipate temperature but it does not work as well as an old DeLonghi we used to have.
on February 20, 2011
I use my toaster every day, and I'm pretty picky.
That said, i'm glad I sprung for the Breville BOV650XL.
* toasts / bakes evenly and quickly. I was SHOCKED that frozen pizzas come out evenly cooked (front to back), NO ROTATING NECESSARY.
* sturdy construction (except for the buttons / lower dial). I cannot comment on long-term reliability as I've only had the toaster for a couple of months.
* gets quite HOT on top (Breville actually suggests using the top surface of the toaster as a food warmer, I kid you not!).
* lower dial / button feels REALLY cheap and flimsy. hopefully will last as long as the rest of the machine
* the price
SUMMARY: You get what you pay for!
As long as you don't need the extra size of the "800" model, I think the 650XL (with 12"x10" cooking area) represents a much better value. The 650XL cooks so evenly and quickly that I'm glad I didn't pay the premium for the convection feature.