Pros: Mixes bread dough thoroughly; nice rising action
Cons: Crusts too dark; shape of loaf
I have had my Breadman TR444 for over a year, and in that time I've made hundreds of loaves of bread plus dough for pizza and whatnot. There are a few things I don't like about this machine:
1. It's loud. In fact, the mixing and kneading cycles sound like a chugging washing machine. If you are hoping to set the timer and have fresh bread when you wake up, I suggest not sleeping too near the bread machine.
2. You have to scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula in order to prevent flour pockets sticking to the corners of the bread, which is rather unpleasant. Usually you only have to scrape once and it's not a big deal.
3. You have to be there when the bread comes out, because the inside of the machine gets quite moist and the moisture has nowhere to go except back into the crust.
4. No matter what kind of bread I make, whole wheat, rye, or whatever, I always have to use the white bread setting with the light crust setting, or else the crust comes out too dark and hard.
5. I don't like the vertical shape of the loaves. When I slice the bread for school lunches, the individual slices are quite large, making a sandwich that is bigger than my kids (ages 8, 10, and 12) can manage, but when I cut the slices in half, the half-sandwich is too small. The crust is really too hard for sandwiches (and my kids are normally crust-eaters) and with this shape, there's a lot of hard crust all the way around, which is wasted if my husband and I don't get to it.
6. No matter what kind of bread I make, the inside comes out rather large-pored and fluffy. Sometimes I like a denser loaf (for example, with oatmeal bread).
7. You can't make a double batch of dough. With three children we go through a lot of bread, and I like to make two loaves of bread at a time.
8. The paddle is permanently stuck to the base of the pan. We can't get it out so we wash around it.
Having said all that, there are some things I like about this bread machine:
a. It makes terrific dough. I confess, I use it to mix and rise most of my breads. Then I take them out and let them rise again and bake in bread pans in the oven because I prefer the shape and texture of the loaves that way. I also make pizza dough in it fairly regularly.
b. It's easy. Dump the ingredients in and turn it on. You only need to pay attention to the order in which you add ingredients if you aren't starting it right away, because the yeast shouldn't contact liquid until it's ready to be mixed in. It is definitely the most effortless way to make bread I've ever seen.
I just bought a heavy-duty mixer to mix up double batches of bread dough, so it remains to be seen whether we will use the Breadman anymore.
I would recommend this machine for anyone who doesn't have the time or inclination to bake bread in pans, the old-fashioned way. Despite its drawbacks, it makes lovely bread. Nothing compares with homemade bread or the wonderful smell in your house when it's cooking, and the Breadman has been reliable. I might also investigate other bread machines. To me, the extra-crispy crust is the biggest drawback of all, but who knows -- some people like extra-crispy crust. In short, this machine is like a quirky old uncle who is sometimes a pain but is loved nonetheless.