Breville Smart Oven
Breville BOV450XL Mini Smart Oven with Element IQ
This is my first Breville Smart Oven product of any kind. I don’t have anything against the brand, it seems the vast majority of people who own them like them or even love them. And the few negatives I’ve read never really explain in detail any fault of the product itself, it’s usually something to do with user error or not choosing the right product for their needs. My only issue with the brand is that sometimes it costs far more than it should and I don’t see enough of an advantage in it to pay that much more. This time though I could see a few advantages to this model which took it to the top as my first choice (after several weeks of extensive shopping and comparing numerous other toaster ovens).
SIZE; Topping the list of why I chose this model is size. I have a wonderful Cuisinart TOB-100 which to me is the ideal size for a toaster oven. It’s served me well for over five years and still works fine except, as happens, the heating elements are getting old and everything takes longer to cook. These days the popular trend is for manufacturers to be pushing extra-large toaster ovens as a replacement for a full-size oven. I don’t agree, my stove works better as an oven than any toaster can possibly do and between it and a microwave and an air fryer (not to mention hotpot, steamer, slow cooker, and other small appliances) using a toaster oven is nothing but a compromise and not a good one at that. The Breville Mini is the right size to toast bread, bagels, English muffins, and similar things and occasionally heat up a leftover single slice of pizza. I mean, really, who really gets one of these things to bake pizzas, especially tiny eleven-inch ones?
CONVENIENCE: When I want to toast a bagel or something I just want to be able to walk over to my appliance, but the thing in, and push one button. This model does that, it remembers my last set and if I want to make a slight one-time adjustment I don’t have to read a service manual and push and turn a bunch of knobs to do so. The button layout on this model in my opinion is far easier to use than the next model up, the Compact, which requires you to push and turn a knob and have to think about which mode it is in every time.
SPEED; The Breville line of toaster ovens uses quartz tubes for heat. That is not my preferred choice. I’ve had plenty of ones that use this technology and while it is definitely faster than the metal rod elements my Cuisinart uses the quartz tubes have several downsides. First off, in reality, they are nothing more than a high power light bulb and like most bulbs the more powerful they are the more heat they give off. Being a glass tube they are fragile and delicate and like most bulbs, they have a relatively short life then they burn out (they are replaceable if you’re handy with such things). Metal heating element rods usually don’t get quite as hot and they take a lot longer to heat up to temperature than quartz tubes which are instant on. But metal rods can last far longer than a glass tube, especially if they get splashed with grease, which is a common event in a toaster oven. A metal rod can simply burn the grease off but a glass tube can shatter or instantly burn out. So I only consider ovens of this type conditionally acceptable if you use a lot of care to protect the tubes from getting splashed.
SMART; They use the word smart loosely, this oven doesn’t really sense the doneness of your food like some toasters I have owned. It simply determines how much heat to use for how long depending on what you tell it to do, so you are really the one doing the smarts. To me the word smart really goes back to the word convenience – being able to choose a setting with one simple dial, adjust time and temperature with simple push buttons, having a large clearly marked on/off button, having the display change color to tell you it’s cooking, and having a convenient button to add a little more cooking time if you need it without resetting everything from scratch.
WISH THEY DIDN’T; I mentioned that the size of the oven was my most important factor in choosing this model. The layout of the controls was second and the speed was the third. None of the other models I considered had all three. There are a few minor things that I don’t care for though. One is etched on writing on the door reminding me which shelf position to use to cook various things, I think it is useless and the painted-on labels detract from the look of the device and of my kitchen. I also don’t like that there is no hook to slide the wire shelf out when I open the door. This used to be standard on every toaster oven. I think it’s inconvenient and dangerous not to have it. The last thing isn’t a negative, it’s an observation – I cannot understand why anyone would complain about this or any toaster product because “it gets hot”. What are they expecting, on what planet does an appliance meant to toast something not get hot? For the record, this model doesn’t get much hotter or stay any cooler than any other toaster I’ve owned, in fact using professional-grade thermography test equipment I measured the outer cabinet to be slightly cooler than the Cuisinart. The simple answer is that your mom should have taught you a long time ago not to touch a hot stove. There is one review I read suggesting to use an extension cord so you can push this toaster right up to the wall in your kitchen. DON’T! You will burn your house down. If the little pull tab on the power cord bothers you, simply plug it into another outlet that’s not located right behind the toaster. But never use an extension cord on any toaster and never push it any closer to the wall than the manufacturer tells you to.
MORE ABOUT IT BEING TOO HOT; Since there are several one-star reviews that dismiss it for the sole reason that it “gets hot”, here are some extra facts about that topic. If you set your oven for 400 degrees its temperature is going to be 400 degrees. It doesn’t matter if you have a Breville, and Oster, a Cuisinart, or a no-name brand they will all be the same temperature inside. If it’s not getting hot and your oven is cold it’s not doing its job and that’s what someone should be complaining about, not that it gets hot. A toaster isn’t a toaster if it doesn’t get hot. The more powerful it is, the higher the wattage will be, and the faster it will toast – and the result of that is heated. It’s simple science. A hot toaster is a good thing and people who buy it should be adult enough not to touch it, place it close to a wall, put anything on it that can melt or burn, or allow children to play with it like a toy. I don’t know how anyone can expect any stove or toaster to cook and not get hot, and I’m even more baffled why they would complain about it and consider it a defect or a reason to give it a negative review. I attached those professional thermal imaging photos showing my highly rated Cuisinart next to the Mini to directly compare the amount of heat created by both of them. See for yourself.
A DOSE OF REALITY;
I am constantly amused about comments about how some users either love or hate the way a toaster oven cooks as if they could really tell a difference. This appliance is one of the most basic things in a kitchen, a technology that goes back to the stone age. In the simplest terms, it’s a metal box with a wire rack that heats food to a certain temperature and cooks it for a certain time. There’s nothing magic about that, it can’t make food taste better. In theory, every model sold does the identical thing the same way, the only difference is how it looks and whether you manually choose the time and temperature or a built-in program does that for you. But the process of the heating elements getting hot and cooking your food never changes no matter how much or how little you paid for the thing. If it burns your food it’s not the toaster’s fault, it has no idea what you put in the oven and what you consider “properly done”. So, sorry to rain on any parades but no, this gadget won’t and can’t make your food taste any better nor will it make you the next Julia Child.
YES, OR NO; This product met all of my needs as expected and I think it is in fact designed and made to a higher quality standard than cheaper ones. And the reality is that if you are looking for one that takes up a minimal amount of counter space you probably know that most of the more deluxe ones aren’t this small. It fits a niche, it may not be for everyone, but for the reasons listed above I chose this one and I’m satisfied.
I’m neither here to defend nor condemn this product, I paid a lot of my hard-earned money to buy it which entitles me to my opinions. I simply believe in facts versus baseless accusations. I hope this information has been useful to you and if so please feel free to comment.Promised Review By PhotoGraphics