Update, May 2006:
Recommend this product?
I have been using my Advantium oven for 4 years and continue to LOVE LOVE LOVE it! It works so great on frozen pizza and other frozen convenience foods. As a busy mother, I appreicate the ease and swiftness of its cooking and defrosting. I still think it was worth every fricken penny I paid for it.
Update July 2003:
A year and a half later, I STILL love my Advantium. I would still highly recommend it! :-)
I am so impressed with my Advantium Speedcook Oven! Cooking with halogen light and microwaves. Who would have thought?!
I decided to buy an Advantium oven as part of the total replacement of my "high-low" electric stove. I had a green electric double-oven range, circa late 1960s. It was a regular range on bottom, attached to a regular small oven on the top (with a florescent light in the middle). I'm re-facing my kitchen and wanted to update my oven. However, I didn't want to lose the convenience of the upper oven. I didn't want to just put a microwave in its place. The Advantium solves this problem nicely. If YOUR kitchen has a similar problem, I would highly recommend the Advantium.
I have the "over the range" model in the highest power: 240 watts (it also comes in 120 watts). The installer charged me an extra $75 to do the electrical work needed to change the plug, etc for the oven. I figured: if I'm changing my oven, I want the most powerful, fast oven possible!
How it Works
The oven cooks food with either 950-watt microwave power, or a combination of microwaves and heat from the built-in 1450-watt halogen lamps on top and bottom. When you speedcook, the oven uses variable microwave power to cook the food from the inside, while using the halogen heat to brown and sear the food on the outside.
You can either "just" microwave food, or do "speedcooking" using the halogen lamps and microwave.
The oven comes with four carousel trays: a white tray for plain microwave cooking, and three metal speedcooking trays: two plain, and one for grilling. It also comes with a usage video, a recipe book, a user manual, and a laminated "quick reference" cooking guide.
When you microwave, you use the white tray and cook as you would in any microwave oven, using any microwave cookware. You can cover the food with waxed paper or use paper towels.
When you speedcook, you must be careful. You must use the metal trays. You CANNOT use waxed paper, paper towels, or plastic cookware, as the halogen heat will melt these items or start a fire! For speedcooking, you must use Pyrex, Corningware, or Anchor Hocking glass/ceramic cookware. I really don't think this is a big deal, since I have a large collection of Pyrex and Corningware. Since you can't use waxed paper to cover food, it's best to use the glass covers that come with the Corning dishes.
There is no keypad on this oven. To set cooking time, you rotate the large knob in the center of the control pad.
Speed Cooking with Halogen Light
This oven does what it says it will do. The first time I used it, I roasted a 5-lb chicken with potatoes and carrots. In 24 minutes. That's right: 24 minutes. It was perfect and cooked completely. I was extremely impressed.
A couple of nights later, I made filet mignon in about 10 minutes, and perfectly baked potatoes (crispy browned skins and all) in less than 10 minutes.
When you "speedcook" with halogen light, the upper and lower lamps go on and off as the food cooks. They are extremely bright -- talk about "nuking" food! You must be sure to use good oven mitts because the inside of the oven does get hot.
You can either use one of the 100 the presets, or speedcook manually, adjusting the power of the halogen lamps and microwave yourself. When the food is done, the oven beeps, and the digital pad displays the words "Your Food Is Ready."
The presets are very convenient. I have two small kids, so I'm making a lot of convenience foods like chicken nuggets. Some of the presets include: frozen convenience foods, various cuts of fresh meat and fish, pizza, breakfast foods, potatoes, breads, and sandwiches.
It takes a while to get the hang of cooking with the manual controls. A little trial and error is involved.
For instance, I tried to cook a large loaf of refrigerated Pillsbury french bread (the kind in the pop-out can), and it looked rather like a Star Trek transporter accident ("...well Jim, at least it didn't live long enough to suffer...") It might have been my fault, though. I didn't cut the loaf lengthwise as the directions suggested. It still tasted ok, though..
Basically, I think there's just a learning curve involved in using manual speedcook. It's a new technology, after all.
In general, think the speedcook feature is best for things like meats, vegetables, and dense batters. I made a tray of Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies in the Advantium. It took 6 minutes. At the same time, I baked some of the same cookies in my new GE gas convection oven in 11 minutes. The cookies from the convection oven came out better. The Advantium cookies were a little "flat". They were still ok, not burned or anything. But the ones from the traditional oven just looked better and were "puffier." Frankly, for kids, what's the difference. For picky adults, a traditional oven might be better for cookies.
Pillsbury crescent rolls came out fine, by the way.
One thing I don't like about speedcooking is using the metal trays. I hate messes, and you can't line the trays with foil, as you would in a regular oven. You can put the trays in the dishwasher, however, which makes it a little easier to deal with.
When you speedcook something large, like a roast, you put your Corningware directly on the bottom carousel grid (not on a metal tray). You can use up to a 5-quart Corningware dish. Of course, because of the size of the oven, you are a bit limited on cookware size -- no large rectangular dishes will be able to rotate, for example.
In addition to all the presets, you can enter your own recipe settings. You are limited to the descriptions built into the oven, however, since there is no keypad to "type in" the descriptions. The Advantium manuals explain very clearly how to set the upper and lower lamps. It just takes a little trial and error to get the hang of it.
My other 15-year-old microwave oven is only 600 watts, so of course this 950-watt oven microwaves food more quickly. The "micro express" button lets you microwave food at high temperature in 30-second intervals (keep pushing the button to increase the time). There are about 30 presets for microwave cooking, including defrosting food and heating beverages.
One really nice feature of this oven is the microwave sensor cooking. If you need to reheat food, for example, use the "reheat" preset, and the oven uses its sensors to tell when the food is hot. I think it senses the steam coming from the food.
Like the speedcook feature, you can enter your own recipe settings if you want to, but you are limited to the descriptions built into the oven. So, when I wanted to program my own preset for a Lean Cuisine, I had to call it "Lunch."
The oven does not light up when you are microwaving food. If you want to see the food you are microwaving, you must press the "oven light" button. One of the halogen lamps comes on for about 5 seconds.
I have the "over the range" model, which includes two bright surface lights on the underside. I frequently use these to light up the top of my gas range at night. Push the surface light button twice, and you have a lower wattage nightlight. You can even program the Advantium to make the nightlight go on and off at preset times each night!
The vent fan (300 CFM) works very well over my gas range. Sometimes when the oven is hot, the fan comes on automatically and stays on until the oven senses that it is cool enough.
You can adjust the beep so that it is louder, or off entirely.
There is a built-in timer, which you can use independently of the countdown timer for food cooking in the oven. So, you can time something else while your Advantium is cooking your food.
And, if you lose your instruction manual, there is even a Help button, which displays help messages on the digital display.
Cleaning the Oven
No, the oven does not self-clean. This is the one thing I wish was different. However, the interior is stainless steel, and is not hard to clean. Wiping it down weekly with a soapy sponge is about all it takes, unless you've really made a big mess.
I really love my Advantium oven. I am using it more and more (it was installed two weeks ago). I think it is best for cooking meats, but you certainly can bake in it with no problem. It browns evenly, and cooks very nicely most of the time. I think that once I use it more and get the hang of it a little better, I get even better results.
I bought this oven in tandem with a GE gas convection range (model JGB 910). Read my review of that oven, if you're interested. I'm very pleased with it, as well. Both appliances are in "bisque" color (slightly off-white) and look terrific in my kitchen.
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Amount Paid (US$): 1200