I have received my Actifry this week. The potatoes I fried here came out perfectly fried. Imagine the best french fries you have tasted but without the greasy feeling and oil dripping from them. The oil you will find on the fries once they are ready is virtually invisible. If you want them very crispy, just let them fry a little longer than the specified time. If you like them tender on the inside, follow the specified time provided on the user's manual which is around 40 minutes for 2 1/5 pounds.
So far I have tried frying potatoes, bananas, nuggets and onions. All came out with brilliant results and what's best, using minimal oil. They all looked and tasted just like fried but were not greasy. And they were very crispy.
The only drawback is the quality of this gadget that was clearly not made to last. I have used mine 6 times only and the paddle has already stopped working twice for no apparent reason. The paddle was attached correctly and no food was blocking it from turning around. I had to turn off the unit several times before the paddle resumed working on both occasions. So I guess this will not last much since it has been used only a few times.
The Actifry has been around on Europe for some years now and I have found several people complaining about the product quality. It is not unusual to find reviews of people having it exchanged or fixed twice during the one year warranty time.
I would expect something so expensive to last a lot longer. If someone else finds the same issue with the paddle please comment.
I recommend checking Amazon's website in UK if you are interested in more reviews of this appliance. There you will find 240 reviews of Actifry.
My Actifry is being used around 5 times/week and sometimes the paddle still stops turning, but I find that removing and inserting it back usually solves the problem in no time. I am still very satisfied with the food it produces, but really wish that Tefal would improve the durability of this item.
UPDATE (02/02/2010 - One star removed from the 3-stars-rating, now only 2 stars):
I would like to point some flaws I have found on the unit until now. There really is a lot of room for improvement by Tefal:
1. The paddle sometimes stops turning for no reason at all, as I have already described above;
2. The piece that attaches the panhandle to the pan consists of two screws and a small piece of plastic that goes all the way down the side of the pan. More than a HUNDRED times I had to run to the machine because I could hear the paddle had got stuck and could not turn. ALL THESE TIMES the reason was that the food had got stuck due to this little piece of plastic and the paddle could not turn anymore because it was blocked by the food. Would it have been so difficult to attach the handle without this small piece of plastic? I truly doubt it;
3. The paddle would be so much easier to clean if it was not hollow on the bottom. Lots of food pieces enter the several small holes which seem to be there just to make it awkward to clean;
4. The plastic lid cover gets cracked by the heat the machine delivers! I have never removed this cover to clean, so it can't have been dropped or badly handled during clean ups. However, a crack has appeared at the front of the plastic lid cover. All I can think of is that heat from the machine during its normal operation cycle has made it crack.
In my opinion, the downsides of this machine outweigh the great results it delivers. That is really a pity since this machine could have been much better designed and the use of higher quality materials shouldn't add much to such a steep price.
UPDATE - 04/09/2010
This week, the paddle has finally stopped turning for good. And the plastic lid cover seems to crack a little bit more each time I use it. Luckily it is still in the warranty period since I bought it 6 months ago. So that was the lifetime of my Actifry - 6 months.