Breville BOV650XL Compact Smart Toaster Oven Review by Ellyn Hennessey
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The Breville BOV650XL toaster oven is intended to be the Goldilocks version – not too big not too small. Whether that’s true or not depends, of course, on your needs. But the features will certainly suit anyone.
Basic Design & Features
The Breville BOV650XL looks like a fairly ordinary toaster oven. That’s not necessarily a criticism. It’s a plain, stainless steel box with a somewhat retro look. Personally, I like that. But that’s where “plain” ends. The basic design, quality, and feature list are all impressive.
It starts with the ample size: 16 1/2″ W x 15 1/2″ D x 10 1/4″ H. It continues with an even more important measurement – the capacity: 3/5 cubic foot. In such bare form it might be hard to evaluate those numbers. So, let’s try it another way.
You can stuff this toaster oven with 4 slices of regular bread to toast with plenty of room around each one for good air and heat flow.
Or, you can cook a 12″ pizza. Or, you can try a casserole dish. The unit will accommodate a 10-inch by 10-inch enamel baking pan. Small steaks do fine on the 10-inch by 10-inch enameled broil rack.
Naturally, all that space isn’t helpful if the oven lacks the ability to cook anything and everything you put in it, and cook it evenly. Fortunately, at 1800 watts, you’ll always be able to bake any dish you can dream up. The Element IQ feature will ensure the right heat.
There are several convenience features built-in. The most obvious are the three rack positions and removable crumb tray. But the most useful are the many electronic and mechanical controls available.
The BOV650XL cleans up easily thanks to a nonstick coating inside the cavity. If, like me, you’ve ever had tomato paste splatter the interior of your toaster oven you’ll be very thankful.
Display & Controls
I couldn’t legitimately call it a smart display, but the LCD screen has some convenient aspects. It’s backlit in a light blue, which is helpful when you start cooking at a time of day when you don’t feel like turning on the lights. For me, that’s early morning in winter when the daylight is very dim. It will illuminate orange during preheating and cooking and blue again at the end of a cooking cycle, a kind of visual “ding” of the timer. Not Smart like your phone, maybe, but definitely smart.
There’s something else on my “Thank You, Breville” list: fine controls. First and foremost is the large dial. It’s used to select a “program” and I’ll detail its use below.
In this age of touchscreens and flat, buried buttons on appliances, I’m really grateful someone chose to offer a mechanical dial. There are some things that just work more easily and a big, twistable knob is one of them. Technology has advanced, happily, but our hands are still the same as they’ve been for millennia.
There’s a second, smaller control dial to set the time (from 1 minute up to 120 minutes). Thank you, again, Breville. Punching time into a microwave oven is quick and easy but on those cold mornings it still ain’t a lot of fun for numb fingers.
The control is so cleverly designed you can use it in another way: to adjust the temperature – from 120 F to 450 F. As if that weren’t enough, it can also be used to select the number of bread slices to toast and to set the shade from light to dark.
Happily, even though the dials operate mechanically, they’re still electronic controls at heart. That’s the best of both worlds.
For those who enjoy buttons there are plenty of those, too. The large Start/Cancel button makes it easy to operate the BOV650XL for those of us who often temporarily misplace the eyeglasses. If you prefer to measure temperature in Celsius, there’s a conversion button to make it easy. Hey, there are lots of scientists around and they cook with toaster ovens, too!
You don’t have to be a scientist, though, to appreciate one of the niftiest technological improvements to come along in toaster ovens in a while: Element IQ. That’s Breville’s fancy marketing term for the incorporation of some smarts into the appliance.
That includes some aspects that are pleasantly convenient if not particularly impressive. I’m referring here to things like pre-sets for Toast, Pizza, Reheat, and the like. There are eight total. The others are: Roast, Broil, Cookies, Bake, and Bagel.
They’re nice, and I’m glad they’re there. But the impressive part is the Element IQ feature. It tailors the heating elements to direct heat in a pattern best-suited for each pre-set. It sets the power accordingly and even calculates the optimal cooking time. Heat toast and it puts on both top and bottom evenly. Select Broil and it puts more on the bottom than the top.
Even so, you can impose your individual preferences manually without any struggle. You can adjust the time and temperature for the pre-set programs, if you wish. And, really smart, the BOV650XL will remember them for the next time.
The Breville BOV650XL is convenient, well made, and offers ample capacity. Despite lots of pre-sets, you can easily tailor things as you like. And, just as importantly, this toaster oven is consistent. The Element IQ technology ensures an optimal heating pattern for every kind of dish.
There is one lack in the design that deserves special mention, though I consider it minor. This is not a convection oven. Normally, that wouldn’t be worth highlighting. But the BOV650XL is fairly expensive as small appliances go. It would be nice, at this price point, to have that feature. To get that, you have to “upgrade” to the BOV800XL.