Delonghi as a brand name and I go back a few years together however, namely in their range of heaters; from fan heaters to convection heaters, their products have never let me down and whenever they are needed, go from the moment they are switched on. Delonghi heaters also have well written user manuals and easy to understand controls, so I assumed it would be the same with their kitchen appliance range.
** This is a long review **
The Delonghi Easitronic Microwave with a grill is priced currently at £54-99. Whilst this may a cheap price to many, the actual look of the microwave is painted in silver metallic and has an oval window designed to obviously fit in with today's more modern kitchens; the design is still growing on me even though I'm far from enjoying the oval window that covers a square window when the light comes on not to mention the bent waves of the design that looks like it could come from the home of Chris Bangle and his BMW wave formula. From the moment I lifted it out of the box, the Delonghi has a good organic design to it, but it is let down by cheap looking writing on the controls even though I do like the rotary wheel control dial that allows you to either adjust the cooking time or power settings when the additional button for each setting is also pushed by black plastic/chrome like buttons that don't feel expensively made. Closer inspection reveals poor panel fit between the door and main control panel; a painted white interior (stainless steel is a lot easier to clean) that is more likely needed to be wiped down after use due to its white interior and a strangely misplaced glass turntable dish that takes some time for it to adjust itself to turn around properly when the microwave is first used. Indeed the first hurdle I had was unpacking everything, from polystyrene strips to plastic corners and then easing the peel easy adhesive warning labels not to mention seals around the door, obviously to keep everything intact in the box before sale. The weight of this oven is also too heavy for my liking. Both Argos and the box state that the weight of the box is in excess of 20kg and the oven itself is around 12 to 13kg.
So in use the controls that are supposed to be easy are okay for the more basic approaches to microwave use but it can be tricky if you are used to a more qualitable brand such as Panasonic, particularly with lit icons that appear in the LED panel. Whilst it's easy to fathom how to set the clock either by 24 hour or 12 hour choices using the buttons and then the rotary controls, Delonghi may well sell this model on the continent as the decals used in cooking are difficult to understand. Whereas the heating icons are easy to see what they are they for, I found it hard to find out which icon explained the defrost function, made worse by the fact that the Delonghi has two defrost functions; a multi-defrost cooking program and something called "Jet Defrost," which would by assumption of its name would suggest an easy to use program - yet when selected it is difficult to fathom which defrost function I've picked. When cooking or defrosting starts up, the whole LED panel is lit up in orange with waves to show that the oven is operating - rather like a smiling face emerging - not really needed here - but those who love flashing LED's will surely approve of the solitary orange colourings. A warning beep of five repeats signals the end of cooking as well as intermittent beeps if you leave the food in the microwave thereafter. Not annoying however as the digital beep it emits isn't ear piercing. There is also a handy child lock function built in which is a boon for families and young children and the Delonghi also tells you that cooking has finished simply by showing "end" in large capital letters.
The noise of the actual motor is quiet though and compares favourably to my parents more expensive combination Panasonic oven, of which its size apes the Delonghi. Measuring approximately 26cm high and a width of 45cm, I find that the Delonghi is quite a compact, squat model and has a 20 litre capacity which could suggest being okay for two people maximum or with a young child. It has a one year guarantee and of course from Argos you can spend a little more over £10 to have an extra three years should anything go wrong.
One of the aspects I was looking for is the more up to date power levels that are constantly marked on frozen and ready meals, or instant porridge and other instant foods that require a microwave. So it's good that the oven offers 800 watts with 5 variable power heat settings including the two defrost functions, Express cooking facility, 10 pre-sets of auto cook programs, the aforementioned grill setting that offers 1000 watts of browning quality and a 60 minute digital time through the well precision and oiled rotary control. It takes around 10 to 15 minutes for the grill to heat up on its maximum level; whilst I don't mind using the grill in the bigger fan assisted multi oven in the kitchen, I do like the fact that at least, the Delonghi is at chest level and can therefore be used with less mess and easier access than having to bend down when grilling food if you have an oven below a hob; however when it came to cooking bacon and browning it, I found it does take a lengthy time of it, much more than it would take than with an oven that has the same grill element simply because of its bigger surface area; cleaning the grill in Delonghi is relatively easy but thanks to its permanent set grid, I'm never convinced that the grid is completely clean after use.
There are more downsides too and they are obvious from the moment of use if you challenge the oven with its auto cook programs. Now call me old fashioned but I'm used to auto cook programs that when selected show what they do on the LED panel, or at best hope to find a guide somewhere on the microwave control panel itself. Not with this Delonghi though! You have to look up the user manual to see what functions do what and that's where the trouble begins. Normally whenever I've used their heater user manuals, they are clear, short to the point and give good diagrams. However, this microwave's oven manual consists of three manuals; one general microwave user manual, a manual for the grill function and a further manual that serves as a small recipe booklet that also includes a handy vegetarian section. God help you if you lose one of the manuals! This would be of great benefit to many if the actual user manual for general use could mimic the same quality of the other two manuals. For a start the main manual is difficult to read, printed on poor quality paper that feels like it could rip if you exert pressure on it or try to glance quickly whilst the page numbers are out of sync with what features are available. Take for example, looking up the defrost function; the manual states to look at a double page number, so I got there and was taken to the troubleshooting section with no clear indication or mention of the Defrost mode.
Diagrams are also willfully short and look as if they have been drawn by a child whilst the quality of the wording shows up the budget aspirations Delonghi have clearly been drawn to. In this case whether Delonghi want to admit that Cookworks and Argos have some involvement going (Cookworks have an oven that similar in the same look and microwave function only on sale in Argos) or not, the user manual is nothing qualitable and comes as a complete shock compared to their heater manuals.
On all of the heat settings it easy to select anything I need to reheat, cook or even defrost but it does take some time to work out the silly and poorly written diagrams in the manual. And its price is reflected not just in the poorly written user manuals but also in the fact that although the grill offers a browning aspect, Delonghi include a rather high grill platform of which it relies on the support of the glass plate. Now whilst I'm no scientist, it would be more helpful if Delonghi had offered a splash plate to fit over the glass plate as well as offering protection if say the grill only function gets too hot and the tempered glass doesn't crack - the feet for the grill plate are also very cheap and can bend easily when washing. Other downsides is that the glass plate doesn't sit well on its turntable point when cooking generally; when something is taken out, the plate comes off the wheels and has to be realigned unless you gently lift the food out of the oven - and in this day and age when a microwave is supposed to offer quick cooking - it is annoying that the plate doesn't flush fit.
Cleaning however isn't difficult; thanks to its white painted interior, a wipe with a damp cloth is all that is needed to keep the interior clean whilst the glass plate is reasonably lightweight enough to be lifted out as well as being dishwasher safe. The turntable point can also be picked out to clean under as well the main triad of wheels even though the arms are cheap feeling and don't look as if they will last.
Which sums up the Delonghi in a nutshell; this is an ideal first time buyers microwave if you are moving on from the mechanical ting-a-ling bell microwave and want something which is easier to control. However although it cooks well and does it with little noise, the controls and user manuals need a little more thought. For most however, a microwave with a grill under £55 that ticks most boxes should suffice.
What a pity Delonghi don't even show their microwaves on their UK website; a sign that clearly tells the story that the model with the badge may well be from someone else and from a recent email to Delonghi, they admit that this oven is not their own but a contract with Argos. So even with its name on the model, this isn't really a Delonghi - I suspect that if it was really a Delonghi model built by Delonghi, it would prove be a lot easier to use and without having to look up the manual for its auto cook functions. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008
Cat number 400/5836
Short name: DeLonghi Easitronic