|Submited By: William Sommerwerck on 01/02/2010|
My dad worked for GE, and in 1957 brought home the first "Toast-R-Oven". Unlike modern toaster-ovens, in which the toasting and baking are performed in the same cavity, it was a conventional toaster with a tray underneath where items could be inserted for cooking or light grilling. (You can see a picture of it in the 12/2009 or 1/2010 issue of Consumer Reports -- I don t remember which.)
When I moved away from home, one of the first things I bought was a GE toaster oven -- the model that has become /the/ "classic" toaster oven, with the pull-down door and chrome finish. It lasted about 10 years, and I replaced it with the exact B&D equivalent (which was white, but otherwise identical), which lasted 20 years. Had the power solenoid not jammed, I would still be using it.
Looking for a replacement, I studied Web reviews. The conclusion I drew was that /all/ toaster-ovens, regardless of make, model, or price, were utter JUNK. But I needed one, so after a bit of shopping, I picked up this model for an attractive price at Targét.
It appears that most (if not all) toaster-ovens have abandoned the 70-year-old double-thermostat system. Instead, you turn a timer for the degree of darkness. On this model, there are only two markings (pale and black), with nothing in-between to make it easy to repeat your favorite setting. Is it asking too much to add markings?
Worse, this oven takes quite a while to warm up. So, as there is no thermostatic control of the toasting cycle, the setting that s right for the first batch of toast will overtoast -- possibly even burn -- subsequent batches. This is the oven s major flaw, which is probably common among timer-controlled toaster-ovens, B&D or otherwise.
There are safety issues. One poster has pointed out that the timer doesn t always shut off for "light" settings. The user manual says that, for short settings, you should turn the timer all the way up, then back. This has /always/ been a problem with mechanical spring-driven timers, but it shouldn t be necessary. And as another pointed out, the knobs aren t sufficiently asymmetrical to make it clear which end is pointing which way.
The most-significant safety issue is the lack of a door interlock. Opening the door doesn t shut off the elements, or stop the toast cycle, as it did in earlier toaster-ovens. This is something the Consumer Product Saftey Commission should look into.
As toaster-ovens go, this isn t a /bad/ one. There s room for six English muffin slices, and the glass door is big enough to reveal everything going on inside. Multi-slice toasting evenness is okay, but the toast is decidedly "stripéd", not unlike steaks or chicken breasts on a grill.
I ve had mine almost a year, and have had no problems. The TRO490W therefore gets a grudging recommendation, even though it s not up to the quality one expects from GE/B&D.