Pros: Looks nice, easy to clean door
Cons: Door hinge reliability; rack fits too loose (potentially dangerous); exterior hot spots; etc.
I had a Black and Decker toaster oven prior to this DeLonghi. This is a product comparison between two products that are no longer produced. (I believe that B&D appliances were once produced by a different company than they are today. Do not assume that any quality of yesterday?s product is still present today.)
The advantages of the (no longer produced) B&D was that it was easier to use and maintain. The B&D?s chrome exterior was very durable and long-lasting vs the DeLonghi?s painted top. After 10 months of use the beige colored top of the DeLonghi is beginning to show discoloration. We have been quite careful in cleaning it. Unlike the chrome top of the B&D which could take aggressive cleaning and come out looking like brand new even after 17 years of service the DeLonghi appears to have a significant disadvantage here.
With regards to the heating elements, the DeLonghi heats about as evenly as the B&D did.
Regarding speed, the B&D could toast much more quickly. Although I never did a side-by-side comparison because we purchased the DeLonghi after the B&D went south, I?d bet that the time-to-toast was about 30% less with the B&D than the DeLonghi. Since we are often in a rush around the house this was sometimes a bit of a bother. In some ways the comparison for time-to-toast is a bit unfair. The B&D cooking cavity was smaller (requiring less mass to be heated) and the distance from radiation element to toast surface was shorter with the B&D (and since the radiation intensity at the surface of the food is inversely proportional to the square of the distance to the heating element, for a given heating element wattage the heat imparted with the shorter distance will be greater? e.g., if the distance is halved then the intensity will be four times as great).
The DeLonghi also had a problem with the door hinge spring. The door hinge spring is suppose to maintain tension on the door so that the door does not flop down. (Resisting gravity increases the chance that it won?t break if you happen to let it go. Also, this link to the mass of the rest of the toaster gives the system a more ?substantial? feel.) Unfortunately, right after the first week?s use we started noticing that the door would give a pop sound, as it was opened/closed. The frequency was seemingly random. Investigating the source of the noise, I found that part of the door was occasionally striking a wire that was used as kind of a hinge pin.
Unfortunately the wire chosen in their design was not thick enough to resist what I would consider ?significant? deformity. The spring that was wound around the hinge pin (aka wire) was applying a torque to the hinge pin. I believe that DeLonghi probably chose the right spring force for good door operation but not the right hinge pin (/wire) to slide inside the spring. Given the same wire type (material) I think the inside diameter of the spring should have been greater so that the diameter of the wire (/hinge) could have been greater. A small increase in diameter may have prevented this noise and subsequent failure of the door hinge (which after an hour of fiddling around I was able to restore to something close to it original deficient design).
A second way that this shortcoming might have been addressed is to affix the center of the pin to the body of the oven. This may have prevented a significant amount of the distortion because the torsional force applied by the spring would have been acting on a shorter arm (i.e., wire length).
Another negative before I get onto the positives is the rack. Because of a vertical looseness of the slots that the rack slides into, I found that if the rack is pulled out some significant distance, there was a potential for it to quickly assume a tilt and the hot food to come falling out of the oven. This was a bummer a couple of times until I learned not to trust that part of the design. Still, when in a rush, knowing that the design ?feature? was present made me quite nervous. I would not suggest that you pull out the rack if you are not appropriately dressed for the potential consequences (i.e., wear shoes that will protect your feet from burns).
On the positive side the front of the XU450 oven is very nice looking and the inside of the cavity has a nice finish. The enamel (?) tray feels durable and has been easy to clean. The door is especially easy to clean since it doesn?t have a decorative frame. The B&D had a chrome frame that, while it may have made the door more durable was more difficult to maintain.
The instruction manual could have been reviewed a bit better. For example, on the Limited Warranty page, it says ?We warrant each Espresso Coffee Machine to be?? They should have looked at the warranty and then looked at the oven.
I purchased my XU450 from Lowe?s Hardware in January 2002 at a price of $29.92 (the original list price was MUCH higher). We purchased the oven after visiting 3 stores. (I think I bought the B&D for about the same amount /$24.)
Considering the time elapsed between the purchase of the B&D and the DeLonghi and the very high original price of the DeLonghi I think the DeLonghi should have been a better value.
Bottom line: It seemeD to be the best one for its price. However, I wonder if the engineers for the manufacturer actually used the oven in a home or if they got rid of the door problem in future designs. With toaster ovens having been produced worldwide for 40 years or more, there is no excuse for having ANY design errors. It took 17 years for a defect to show up in my B&D but only a very short while for defects to show in my DeLonghi XU450. The XU450 may last 17 years but I doubt it.