Pros: Even heating, easy to clean, great non-stick, glass lids
Cons: Like all anodized aluminum, can discolor on outside of pans
After 5 years of putting up with Calphalon's low-end Pots & Pans cookware, I embarked on a mission to find the ideal cookware for my new set. I knew that, in the price range I was considering and given that I had decided non-stick was a must, the main contenders were Anolon and its more-famous rival Calphalon.
I looked at all of the available sets -- Anolon's Classic, Pro and Titanium lines, and Calph's Kitchen Essentials (at Target), Professional Nonstick II and Commerical Nonstick lines. After weighing the pros & cons of each (as well as the sometimes considerable price differences), the Anolon Pro set seemed the clear winner. To help see why, here's the basic run-down of the factors/features the went into my decision on a cookware-by-cookware basis (ordered roughly by price):
Calph's Kitchen Essentials ($145/8 pcs): basically this is Pots & Pans line (see below) but without the "dimples" in the bottom and with glass lids. It's the same mid-weight aluminum, middling non-stick and plastic handles.
Calph's Pots & Pans ($150/8 pcs): Hard to clean (this comes from experience), poor non-stick durability (2-layer process), plastic handles oven safe only to 375 F.
Anolon Classic ($150/8 pcs): Top-notch (3-layer Dupont Autograph) non-stick, plastic handles oven-safe to 350 F. Glass lids that have Knob-type handles.
Anolon Pro ($180/9 pcs): Top-notch non-stick, stay-cool metal handles that are very comfortable to hold, oven-safe to 500 F, glass lids with loop-style handles.
Anolon Titanium ($299/8 pcs): Extra-thick aluminum, dishwasher safe, oven safe to 500 F, stain-resistant exterior, metal lids with loop handles.
Calph Professional Nonstick II ($299/8 pcs): Equivalent to Anolon Pro except oven-safe to 450 F and handles are riveted lower on pan.
Calph Commercial Nonstick ($400/8 pcs): Equivalent to Calph Pro Nonstick II but with flared edges, "upgraded" handles and metal lids.
Since I knew I wanted to be able to use these pans in the over, I quickly eliminated the options with plastic handles since they could only go to 375 or less. The Calph Commercial Non-stick were the most physically attrative set to me, but at more than double the price of the Anolon Pro, I could forgo that bit of beauty. Plus, the Calph Commercial handles, although attractive, are not very comfortable and can make lifting the heavier pans quite difficult.
I strongly considered the Anolon Titanium but eliminated them due to their weight (they are heavier than any of the others) and the high prices of open stock pieces. I knew I'd want to be adding to my collection regardless of whether I bought the 8- or 10-piece set and I didn't want to spend $90 for a sauce pan.
That left the Anolon Pro and the Calph Nonstick II. For all practical purposes, these two lines are virtually equivalent, with the following exceptions: the Anolon are over safe to 500 while Calph's only safe to 450; Anolon's handles are riveted higher, making them more stackable; the Anolon set is more attractive to me; and, last but not least, the Anolon set is $100 less than the Calph set!
Since buying the Anolon Pro, I am satisfied in my belief I made the right decision. They cook wonderfully and clean-up is a snap. The non-stick is flawless and the handles really do stay cool. I highly recommend this cookware set, and given the deals you can get a Amazon and Macy's, you can usually get quite a bargain.