Pros: It looks good on my counter; the bowl and lid fit in the dishwasher.
Cons: Not programmable; burns food, even on low.
After years of successful crock pot cooking, less than a week ago I purchased another Rival, this one a Smart Pot. I've prepared two meals in these 5 days. Both days I returned home to the revolting smell of charred food. I found the pot got extremely hot on the right side and I had to let the pot soak in hot soapy water and chisel away the carmelized, charred food with a knife. I placed the almost clean pot in the dishwasher and it came nice and clean. I admit I almost gave up chipping out the carmelized rice and considered returning it as is to Costco where I bought it. But I optimistically searched for another recipe and gave it another shot.
My husband turned on the pot before leaving for work at 7:30 this morning. I'm a teacher and class starts at 7:15 so I leave my house just before 6:00 a.m. We figured I'd get home in 8 1/2 hours. He set the pot for 8 hours. I expected the pot to be on warm when I returned. Strangely, it was set on 10 hours and still cooking (no, it was charring) away. I called my husband and asked if he was sure it was set on 8 hours and he said yes. Even if he made a mistake and set it on 10 hours, it should not have burned the meal in 8 1/2 hours, surely.
I saw a recommendation for a much more expensive slow cooker on Cooks Illustrated. I thought I'd save money by getting this less sophisticated pot, plus my old Rival did a good job for about 30 years. I made a mistake. I'll be returning this pot for a refund. I'll pull out the old pot (broken and taped power control and all) until I get a better pot.
My advice, do a lot more research than I did before purchasing and never buy a crock pot you have to watch. It sort of defeats the whole purpose.
You have 4 choices for setting the pot for cooking: High for 4 hour or 6 hours; Low for 8 hours or 10 hours. You may switch it to warm or let it go there automatically at the end of cooking time. I was pleased to find I could go straight to the warm cycle if I wished, which would be handy in keeping food warm for a buffet or to keep food warm which was cooked by another method. When the warm cycle was first introduced on the Smart Pot, you could not manually turn on the warm cycle. You had to set a cooking cycle and let it expire, then the pot switched to warm, probably to keep people from mistakenly using the warm cycle to actually cook. My problem is that I’d like to have control over both the heat I want and the time I want. If I want to cook something on Low for 6 hours, I cannot do that with this pot unless I choose 8 hours and then monitor the cooking and turn it off after 6 hours. I just know that my old Rival’s low setting was the right temperature, and this one's is not—not even for the recipes that came in the book for this pot. I am going to try the All-Clad, based on reviews I’ve read.