Breville BOV800XL Smart Toaster Oven Review by Ellyn Hennessey
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The Breville BOV800XL is the big boy in the company’s lineup of “smart” toaster ovens. Fortunately, it’s got a lot more going for it than just size. And, what does “smart” really mean when applied to an appliance, after all? Let’s see.
Basic Design & Features
The Breville BOV800XL has a feature I have to mention right up front because the other models in the lineup lack it: an Auto-Rack Eject. It isn’t so important to me as to some, but I too like the rack to come out of the oven when I open the door. Less chance of burning a hand when you don’t want to use a mitt (as when picking up a bagel).
The case measures 18 1/2″ W x 16 1/4″ D x 11 1/4″ H. And, at 0.8 cubic feet of interior space, it’s the company’s largest Element IQ toaster oven. By the same token, it will hold the included 12-inch by 12-inch broil rack or the same-sized enamel baking pan.
But those numbers might not tell you much unless you’re used to comparing appliances that way. Better to note that you can comfortably insert a 13″ pizza or half a dozen slices of regular bread to toast.
Making that food won’t give you a big mess of crumbs or burnt globs of cheese to clean up, though. There’s an easy-to-remove drip tray for bread crumbs, grease, and more. It pulls right out the front, unlike some toaster oven models that make you turn the unit around to remove it from the back.
That ample size is very welcome but there are a great many more features here that get me excited about this model.
9 Pre-set Oven Programs
The most obvious of those features is the big dial to select from 9 pre-set programs. That covers the range, forgive the pun, of the foods you’ll commonly cook in this unit: Toast, Bagel, Pizza, or Cookies – along with Bake, Roast, Broil, Reheat, and Warm.
The first four options are highly targeted, making cooking life as simple as twisting the dial and waiting a few minutes. The last five, especially the Bake, Roast, and Broil, are there to combine ease of use with complete flexibility.
Calling them “programs” isn’t for the purpose of using a contemporary buzzword, either. This unit actually has some smarts. Not so sophisticated as your average iPad application, but a step up for a toaster oven. Explaining what that means will also show what “targeted” means, too.
Breville incorporates in this collection something it calls “Element IQ”. Far from just marketing-speak, it has a very important function. Like the other Breville Smart Oven toasters that include this feature, the BOV800XL houses four quartz heating elements. But they’re not just big rods that use electricity to make heat. The “smarts” comes in when you choose one of the programs.
For example, when you select Toast you clearly want something that heats evenly across the top and bottom of the food, while keeping the interior nice and soft. By contrast, when you insert a homemade chicken casserole recipe you want to cook evenly through the entire dish. In other situations, you want to sear the top and let grease drip down to the bottom.
The Element IQ feature takes care of all those complexities automatically. The various heating elements don’t all come on full blast at once. The total power possible is 1800 watts, but those on the bottom may only receive 1/3 of the total while the upper area receives 2/3. Tailoring the amount for each lets the BOV800XL put the heat more precisely where you need it for a particular dish. Hence, the word “targeting”.
Naturally, there are times when you want to tailor things even more. So, apart from the small “Function” button on top, there are also two other controls: “Temp” and “Time”. If you have a special recipe that calls for a precise cooking time and temperature you can mix and match to your heart’s delight.
There are other controls on the front panel. One is a helpful Fahrenheit to Celsius selection button. If you’re used to using the European or scientific units – or just happen to have a recipe from a friend that calls for degrees C – you don’t have to scratch your head over the conversion.
There’s also a nice big Start/Cancel button that, oh happy days!, is not one of those flat, “under the plastic” style things.
Best of all for people like me who love to cook, the BOV800XL houses a convection oven feature. Not only does it speed cooking times by up to 30% – a welcome aspect for busy chefs – it furthers even more the goal of uniform cooking. If you have a dish that absolutely must receive the same amount of heat everywhere, a convection oven is the best way to achieve that.
Naturally, there are times when it would defeat the purpose. It’s not intended to be used when making toast or bagels, for example. There, you want the heat to be unbalanced. But for a wide range of dishes, it’s a huge benefit. I lamented elsewhere that the BOV450XL and BOV650XL don’t have this feature. Larger size aside, this feature alone makes the BOV800XL my favorite of the three.
Even apart from the comfortable design of the dials and buttons, you’ll never have to wonder where things are set. The LCD on this model is clear and well laid out. If, for example, you push the Convection button the panel will show unmistakeably that the feature is active.
It shows equally clearly what pre-set you’ve selected: Toast, Roast, etc. I’m guessing that’s why Breville decided not to etch the program name into the case around the dial, as it did on the other models. It would be nice to have both but that’s a minor drawback in my view. During operation, the display’s slight blue tint changes to orange, another nice indicator.
The Breville BOV800XL has ample space, numerous useful features, and excellent cooking technology. If I had anything to add to my wish list, especially at this price, it would be the inclusion of a second rack. Still, that’s available as an option.