See the lowest price listing I’ve found on Amazon:
4.5 Reviewed by SusanRating:
At first glance a lot of people think it’s over priced, but don’t dismiss the Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL just yet. Unlike so many of the lower priced models, this combination convection toaster oven is extremely well designed to make cooking fast, easy, and convenient, and at the same time not sacrifice food quality. In fact, many owners say they had no idea they would use it so much, and it works so well it has virtually replaced their traditional ovens. That’s a pretty strong claim!
The consensus of opinion among owners seems to be that this model rates at the very top for quality construction. Many feel that the build quality of its close competitor the Cuisinart TOB-260N is not quite as good.
At the same time, though, there is enough feedback on the Breville to raise some concerns about its longevity. It’s enough to make that Cuisinart model look much more attractive because it carries a 3 year warranty, and the warranty on this Breville unit is only for one year. You may want to check out both before you decide.
For more on the competition, you can click here to read our complete review of the Cuisinart TOB-260N Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven.
Below we’ll take a closer look at all the details on the Breville Smart Oven, including both good points and drawbacks.
Table of Contents (Click a topic to read ahead!)
- 1800 Watts
- Element IQ™ Technology
- 0.8 Cubic Foot Interior Capacity (holds 6 toast slices, 13″ pizza)
- User Friendly Controls, Backlit LCD Display
- 9 Pre-set Programs
- 2 Hour Timer with Automatic Shut-off
- 3 Rack Height Positions
- Auto-eject Center Rack
- Removable Crumb Tray (front load) and Nonstick Interior
- Insulated Dual Wall Door and Glass Window
- 3 Accessories Included
- 1 Year Limited Warranty
Controls & Ease of Use
A lot of toaster ovens have controls that are so confusing you have to constantly refer to the manual, but on this aspect the Breville really shines. It’s designed extremely well to give you dozens of options to choose from in a way that is very intuitive and easy to learn and use.
Three main dials let you choose your function, time, and temperature. Personally, I much prefer dials for these settings because twisting a knob is so much faster than having to push a button over and over to get to a higher or lower time or temp. The nine presets are Toast, Bagel, Bake, Roast, Broil, Pizza, Cookies, Reheat, and Warm. The backlit LCD display is easy to read so you can see what you’re doing.
The other controls are a Start/Cancel button and 3 tiny push buttons for quick settings. One of these little buttons turns the convection function on or off, and the second lets you choose between Fahrenheit or Celsius. The third is marked with a snowflake symbol and works with the Toast, Bagel, Pizza, and Cookie functions. When you cook a frozen pizza (or any frozen food), just push the snowflake button and the oven automatically adds the time needed for defrosting.
The color of the LCD display changes while the oven is preheating. When it’s ready, the color changes back to normal and a beep sounds to alert you. A countdown timer shows you how much cooking time remains, and when the cooking cycle ends, the oven will beep and shut itself off.
It’s also possible to change the default settings of the preset functions, and the oven will remember your personal preferences. The only problem with this is that if you unplug the unit (or have a home power outage) for more than 5 seconds, the presets will revert back to their factory default settings.
The convection function is dead simple to use, but you do have to adjust standard recipe times because convection cooking is so much faster. This function is on by default but can be turned off if you prefer, and in fact convection is not recommended for a few foods, one being pizza. If you’re completely new to convection, you might need to experiment a little, but this toaster oven’s instruction manual provides lots of helpful information and recipes to get you started.
While most toaster ovens have only two rack positions, this one has 3 options. It’s designed this way to give you the best results with each of its nine different functions, but you don’t have to remember which is which. The glass door has markings so you can quickly see whether to put the rack in the top, middle, or bottom positions.
As for cleaning, the Smart Oven ranks as well or better than other toaster oven models. The crumb tray pulls out from the front, which saves you from having to move a heavy appliance just to empty the tray. The interior has a non-stick surface that is relatively easy to wipe clean. I found no complaints of any kind about cleaning, but do be aware that the manufacturer does not recommend placing the wire rack, broiling rack or baking pans in the dishwasher.(Back to Top)
Here is where the Breville Smart Oven leaves so many of its competitors in the dust. It has been ranked as the top rated toaster oven by Consumer Reports (2013), Good Housekeeping (2011), and other respected sources. In a July 2014 review, America’s Test Kitchen wrote that it “sports simple, intuitive controls and five highly responsive quartz heating elements, which helped it out-toast, -roast, -bake, and -broil the nine other machines in our most recent testing.”. (Source: America’s Test Kitchen – Toaster Ovens)
Ironically, most toaster ovens do only a poor to fair job of making toast. (In fact, if all you want is good toast, save your money and counter space and get a nice popup toaster instead.) The reason is that a common problem with toaster ovens is hot spots that result in uneven and/or over cooking. Toast may turn out too light on one edge and too dark on the other. Casserole dishes can be bubbly hot around the edges and barely warm in the middle.
Breville’s Element IQ Technology was designed to help solve that problem. Each of its 5 quartz heating elements is independently, automatically adjusted to ensure an exact cooking process. Power is sent where it’s needed most, and at the right time, for more consistent and controlled heat.
More About Element IQ
To get a bit more technical, most oven elements have only two options, on or off. During the cooking process they alternate between full power and zero power in an attempt to maintain the optimal temperature, which doesn’t always work as well as needed.
The difference in the Breville Smart Oven is that it can adjust the wattage of each individual heating element, increasing or decreasing heat in small degrees as needed. It’s been described as working sort of like a dimmer switch, where you have zero power and full power, plus infinite options in between the two. The Smart Oven also decides which elements to engage depending on the food being cooked (the preset you choose).
To explain why this matters, one example is the difference between baking and toasting. The baking function does not engage all 6 heating elements or the full 1800 watt power. Instead, the oven distributes only 1500 watts among 4 of its heating elements in order to produce even cooking throughout the food.
However, toasting requires high heat from top and bottom to crisp bread quickly without drying it out, so the Breville engages its full 1800 watts. In addition, it decides how many elements to engage based on how many pieces of bread you are toasting. Besides that, if you want to toast a bagel or English Muffin, the Bagel function gives you more toasting power on the top and less on the bottom to prevent drying out the bread. Honestly, it’s like the oven does the thinking for you!
Another example of how much thought went into the design of the Breville is in the way the preheating function works. When the oven reaches 75% of the temperature you’ve set, the ready alert will sound. New users may think this is a malfunction, but it’s by design. The reason is that when you open the door to insert your food, there is a considerable temperature loss inside the oven. Knowing that, Breville tested to determine how to ensure the fastest heat up time despite that unavoidable heat loss. This testing showed that waiting until the oven reaches 100% of your temperature setting is a waste of time. However, by alerting you at the 75% temperature level, you get the same end results without any wasted time waiting for preheating that is going to be lost when you open the door anyway.(Back to Top)
Size and Capacity
Exterior dimensions of the Breville BOV800XL are 18.5″ wide x 16.25″ deep x 11.25″ high. In addition, the manufacturer recommends a minimum of 4″ clearance on both sides of the oven to allow for adequate air circulation.
Also, the top of the oven gets very hot during use, so you need some height clearance too. You wouldn’t want it wedged tightly underneath overhanging cabinets. In fact, there is a ribbed area on the top of the oven designed to serve as a warming tray, and it will hold 2 average size ceramic dinner plates.
Note: An optional alternative is to purchase the Bamboo Cutting Board. It’s designed to sit on top of the Smart Oven to give you back some lost counter space.
Another big plus with the Breville is that it has a good ratio of interior space to exterior dimensions. The interior capacity is 0.8 cubic feet. If you’re like me that’s pretty meaningless, so here are some examples of what it will hold:
- up to 6 slices of toast
- 13″ round pizza(1)
- whole chicken, up to 4.5 pounds
- 9″ x 13″ baking pan IF it doesn’t have wide handles(2)
(1) One point to note is that the way this oven accommodates the round, 13″ pizza pan is that there is a concave area in the middle of the back of the oven interior.
(2) Most basic 9″ x 13″ metal baking pans will fit, but many glass baking dishes have side handles that make them too wide for this oven.(Back to Top)
- 12″ x 12″ Enamel Broil Rack
- 12″ x 12″ Enamel Baking Pan
- 13″ Non-Stick Pizza Pan
While it’s great that Breville includes these items, the drawback is that they aren’t dishwasher safe. The user manual states: “To extend the life of your accessories, we do not recommend that these be placed in the dishwasher.” This isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s definitely something that most of us would want to know before we buy.
- Bamboo Cutting Board
Reclaim your valuable counter space by placing this on top of your Smart Oven. Measures 17.75 x 10 x 1.25 inches and has recessed handles on sides so it can be easily moved.
- 13″ Non-Stick Pizza Crisper
Same as the included round pizza pan except this one is perforated with crisper holes for better browning and crispier bottom crust.
- 13″ Non-Stick Pizza Stone
Stone with porous surface to absorb moisture and produce a browner, crisper crust.
Both the pizza crisper and the pizza stone can be used in traditional household ovens as well.(Back to Top)
What are the common complaints?
There are almost 4,700 online reviews concerning this model, so that’s a lot of data to sort through. First you have to eliminate those that run from irrelevant to completely absurd, like the lady who praised every single feature but rated it only 1 star because she’d be embarrassed if her friends found out she paid so much for it. Others weeded out include:
- reviews written about the wrong product
- reviews written by shoppers, now owners
- complaints that the product is too big (um, check the dimensions before you buy)
- products returned for various personal for a full refund
- complaints about inaccurate temperatures when it’s apparent the user didn’t understand that this is how the pre-heat function is supposed to work (see above for explanation).
Also not included are complaints of products damaged during shipping. In every case I found, the customer received a refund or replacement and was satisfied with the resolution. Besides, shipping damage is no reflection on the quality of the product itself, and such a problem is usually easy to resolve if you buy from a reputable seller.
Of those who have dealt with Breville customer service, reports are quite mixed with about an equal number of both good and bad. There are several cases in which the manufacturer agreed to replace units that stopped working shortly after the warranty had expired. There are also 2 known cases in which Breville refused to honor the warranty because the unit had been purchased from an unauthorized dealer. (Note that many of the reviews on Amazon are written by people who did not buy the product from Amazon.)
As for legitimate complaints, these are the serious issues I’ve found:
- 3 reported that the unit caught fire, though one indicated it was due to considerable grease buildup inside the oven
- 2 reported smelling a strong chemical odor even after the unit had been in use for a while
- 2 reported that the glass door “mysteriously” shattered
While definitely worth noting, all of the above seem to be very isolated incidents. Also, it’s possible that the fires or the exploding glass doors could be due to owner misuse. Here’s what the manufacturer says about the door:
“The glass of the oven door has been specially treated to make it stronger, more durable and safer than ordinary glass, however it is not unbreakable. If struck extremely hard, it may break or weaken, and could at a later time, shatter into many small pieces without apparent cause.” (Source: Breville)
If you have any serious concerns, you always have the option to contact Breville and ask before you buy (which would also give you an idea of how well and how quickly customer service responds).
At the time of this writing I found 2,519 online customer reviews, and 75% of those people gave the Breville Smart Oven a 5 star rating. That’s a powerful recommendation, considering that by far most people are much quicker to complain than to praise.
Only 7% of reviewers gave it one star. That’s a very small percentage, only 169 people, but for my money I wanted to know why they thought it was that bad. So I read every one of those 169 reviews, including the comments on them. (No kidding, it took the better part of a day!) I even made a spreadsheet to help sort it all out, and what I found was very interesting.
What seems to stand out most in the low ratings is the growing concern about durability. The life expectancy of this kind of toaster oven is supposed to be about 5 years, but out of a total of 4,690 online reviews, there are 288 reports that this model either developed a serious malfunction or stopped working altogether during the first three years. The numbers are as follows:
- 118 during the first year of use
- 119 during the second year of use
- 51 during the third year of use
Reports of malfunction generally relate to one of three things: failed LCD display; convection function stops working; fan develops extremely loud rattle. In many cases these problems are significant enough to render the oven unusable.
In all, these 288 reviews make up only a little over 6% of the total, which may not seem too bad except that the number of such reports seems to be increasing, not shrinking. During the first year you can always file a warranty claim, though that process is is one more thing most of us don’t want to have to deal with.
How you interpret all the above data is certainly a judgment call. Despite those worrisome issues, when considering everything this little oven can do and reading the thousands of reviews from owners who absolutely love it, a whole lot of shoppers still find the Breville very appealing. In that case, one solution is to consider purchasing an extended warranty, and they are usually very inexpensive. For an example see this SquareTrade plan on Amazon, which offers the option of 2, 3, or 4 years.
Now, let’s move on to what all those extremely happy customers say.
What do owners like about this model?
In a nutshell, the answer is “everything”. In all the online reviews, good and bad, virtually everyone agrees that the Breville Smart Oven does exactly what it says it will do and lives up to expectations.
Those who bought this as a replacement for an older oven are thrilled at what a good job it does on everything they cook. Some hardly ever use their traditional oven any more, especially singles and couples. Others often use both because the Breville makes a great second oven for holidays and any time you’re cooking for a crowd. Another plus is that it’s wonderful to have in summer or hot climates because it doesn’t heat up the kitchen nearly so much. That isn’t to say it doesn’t produce some heat. It’s just more efficient because it’s smaller, and it heats up and cools down more quickly.
So many of the rave reviews use words like “amazing” and “outstanding” and say it’s the best toaster oven they’ve ever owned. They love the fact that the controls are simple to understand and use, and the oven is easy to clean. Some of the comments made over and over include:
- does every job well
- highly recommend this oven
- better than expected
- worth the money
Reading through all the comments also gives you a better idea why this is quite a step above your basic toaster oven. Consumers are pleasantly surprised at how well it cooks such a wide variety of foods. With so many reviews, you can see that people have cooked just about everything you can imagine: baked potatoes, pork loin, brownies, cookies, bread, cornbread, muffins, pizza, cakes, pies, baked chicken, fish, shrimp, lobster, steak, nachos, casseroles, cupcakes, quiche, frozen dinners, bagels, English muffins, roasted vegetables … you name it.
Last but by no means least, the convection feature lets you cook foods faster without having to resort to the microwave. Most health experts agree that some foods just shouldn’t be nuked. The worst thing about giving up your microwave is the speed it offers, but in so many cases, convection cooking gives you a good alternative that’s still pretty fast.(Back to Top)
- Very versatile – much more than your basic toaster oven
- Performs well on all types of foods
- Intuitive controls make it simple to operate
- 9 Presets for common tasks
- 3 Rack positions for better results
- Attractive Design
- Very roomy inside compared to counter space required
- Cost – high end model but has a high end price tag
- Longevity – a good number of units have stopped working during or after warranty period
Breville Smart Oven Review BOV800XL: Summary
The price might make you cringe at first, but remember that this isn’t your grandma’s toaster oven. These days none of the good ones are cheap, and the Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven outshines most of its competitors in just about every way. It’s fast, versatile, user friendly, and produces excellent results, even better than you might expect. If you want a high quality convection toaster oven that consistently delivers the best cooking results on a wide range of foods, the experts and the vast majority of satisfied customers all agree that this model is definitely worth the money. The only major drawback is the concern about durability, and this model carries only a one year limited warranty. For that reason you may want to consider spending a few extra dollars for an extended protection plan.(Back to Top)
What to check out the competition before you buy? Read our detailed review of the Cuisinart TOB-260N Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven here.