If you’ve never tried a toaster oven before, now’s a good time. If you’ve had one before, it’s an ever better time. Exploring the features of the Breville Smart Oven models will demonstrate that. But to pick just one out of the three is a tough chore. Here’s why.
Basic Design & Features
At first blush, it might appear that the major difference between the Breville BOV450XL (aka Mini Smart Oven), the BOV650XL (aka Compact Smart Oven), and the BOV800XL (aka Smart Oven) is simply size. I.e., that the difference actually is minor. But “major” or “minor” – that’s just semantics. What’s important is that, size aside, there are a number of features that might push you to one or the other.
|Power||1800 W||1800 W||1800 W|
|Capacity Interior||0.8 cu. ft.||0.6 cu. ft.||0.45 cu. ft.|
|Toast Capacity||6 slices||4 slices||4 slices|
|Rack Height Positions||3||3||3|
|- baking pan|
|- broil rack|
|- pizza pan|
|Where to Buy?||Best Price||Best Price||Best Price|
They all have the same retro look, true. Stainless steel box, big round handle, tempered glass. Non-stick coating on the interior. Removable crumb tray. All that in the same shape case that varies somewhat in volume.
- BOV450XL: 14″ W x 15 1/2″ D x 8 1/2″ H outside, 0.45 cu ft inside
- BOV650XL: 16 1/2″ W x 15 1/2″ D x 10 1/4″ H outside, 0.6 cu ft inside
- BOV800XL: 18 1/2″ W x 16 1/4″ D x 11 1/4″ H outside, 0.8 cu ft inside
Those size differences can certainly influence which fits best in your lifestyle. Available kitchen counter space varies, for one thing. Still, cooking style is probably even more important.
The BOV450XL is a fine unit but it’s just too small for the big casserole dishes I like to make. Not to mention, it won’t accommodate those big pizzas the family loves. The BOV650XL will fit a 12″ pizza, while the BOV450XL accommodates only an 11″. That difference is just enough to make a difference in my case. For you, the smaller unit might be just right.
Heating Elements, Element IQ
Fortunately, all three models offer the company’s proprietary Element IQ technology. Normally, I’d write that off as just a marketing buzzphrase. Not here. It actually does something, something really helpful.
Each unit houses four quartz heating elements in an 1800 watt toaster oven. But, how it uses them is key. Making different selections varies how much “juice” is delivered to each element. Make toast and you get top and bottom heat in equal amounts. Switch to the Pizza setting and the unit heats the top element more than the bottom. Sometimes the difference is large, too. One element might heat up only to 1/3 the maximum, for example.
In short, every setting tailors what the elements do, both in temperature and time, to provide the best possible outcome. Special instruments can be used to demonstrate that visually. They’ll show how the actual heating pattern inside varies from one setting to another. But you don’t need a lab to tell you it’s working. The cooking results will show you that.
So, if the heating technology is the same and the case only varies in size, where are the important differences?
Here, again, “important” might be semantics. But for my money, there are some that qualify. Most lie in the controls, but there’s one big one that belongs here: convection. The BOV800XL turns the toaster oven into a convection oven. The BOV450XL and the BOV650XL lack that feature.
Your lifestyle may not call for that. And if you also don’t need the larger size, by all means save your money and go for one of the smaller models. But, for me, a convection oven is a huge convenience.
Convection ovens operate by actively moving heat around. Usually that’s done with an internal fan. Passive heating is improved in the Breville Smart Oven simply because of the Element IQ technology. But even here the convection feature enhances cooking times by around 30%.
For someone who is pressed for every minute, not to mention hating to wait for food, that’s a big benefit. Your mileage may vary. Judge accordingly. Before you make a final decision, though, consider the question of evenness.
The Element IQ feature helps ensure the right heat pattern for a particular dish. But the elements are still localized; they can only do so much. If you want the utmost in even heat, say for that special chicken mushroom casserole, a convection oven is a must.
There are other differences in the Breville Smart Oven line. Some buyers will see them as trivial. In a few cases, I’d agree. But there are a couple that decidedly push me toward one versus the other, even ignoring the issues of size and convection ability.
The dual dials on the BOV650XL, for example, are a godsend. I love the ability to select both the pre-set program and the Time/Temp from round dials. My otherwise-great microwave has the flat, “under the plastic” buttons. They’re a pain to operate. The dials here are sure, accurate, and feel good. They operate mechanically, but the components under the covers are electronic. The best of both worlds.
The BOV800XL has separate dials, too, but I actually like them a little bit less. Pre-set programs (there are 9, to the 8 on the other two models; this one includes an additional Warm option) are selected by a Function dial. The LCD display shows clearly the function selected, but I like the inscribed, painted words on the BOV650XL.
The BOV450XL also has a big dial for the pre-set functions. Sadly, it lacks the second one for the Temp/Time. Instead, it uses buttons. It’s not quite so bad as it might be, though. They’re real, raised buttons – easy to spot and easy to press. They’re clearly marked, too, as are the center Up/Down buttons.
Pressing both the Temp and Up buttons simultaneously isn’t so much fun but it’s far from hard either. However, that old bear – the necessity to tap many, many times to go far up or down the scale – is back with this model. It’s not so difficult as many other models, but I much prefer the other style. Judge according to taste and personal patience level.
The other buttons are straightforward and shared by all the models. They include a Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion ability and a Frozen Foods button for defrosting, along with the all-important Start/Cancel button. The BOV800XL has one extra for the Convection feature.
The display differs somewhat from one Smart Oven to the next. They all have clear, and clearly laid out, LCD modules. Each display offers a pale blue background that changes to orange during operation and back to blue when the cooking cycle is complete.
But the BOV450XL and the BOV650XL displays are, not surprisingly, simpler. They don’t show the function, since it’s marked on the dial. Each one does show the temperature, of course, along with several other indicators.
Choosing between the Breville BOV450XL, BOV650XL, and BOV800XL is not something a reviewer can do for you, natch. There’s no set of attributes that would definitely pick out one over the other.
For me, the convection feature and the large size of the 800 model puts it past the finish line. For others, the price is too high to pay for things that, admittedly, can be marginal in many cooking scenarios. Here, it really is a case of “to each her own”.