I've owned two of these that were sold under the Walmart house brand. They don't last long (between 1-2 years) but they were cheap when Walmart sold them (less than $10). After a year's use they look like crap (you can't remove the burner to clean the top. All brands seem to be that way) so I didn't feel too badly about them dying and having to throw them away. Now that Walmart doesn't sell them the price seems to have creeped up to about 2 times as much. I just ordered another and I'm not going to be as OK to have it die in a year, since now it's about twice as much $! Nevertheless, while they work, they work good. I liked the way it heats up very quickly and cools down pretty quickly, too. It gets red hot and will stay hot. It is also able to be set on a very low warming temp. One odd thing I noticed, but I'll bet it's true of all brands of hotplates...if it's in a very cold room (winter in Florida...45*)...even if the hot plate is set to "Off," it will come on! I discovered this when some plastic plates I left sitting on top of it were melted. One morning very early, I saw it turn on, too. So watch out for that little issue with any hot plate.
I just bought a Sylvania 1,000 watt hot plate, but I don't like it. It's too slow. It cycles off too much and it's white so it'll get nasty looking quickly. I decided to get another Continental and relegate the Sylvania to an outdoor kitchen area that's less used. I also have an Aroma hot plate that's 800 watts. I don't care for it at all. It takes way too long to get hot and then way to long to get cool. It has the solid steel burner instead of the coil type....too much mass. It's ok for something that you want to cook for 25 minutes or more as it will maintain a pretty even heat. But it's too time consuming for quick cooking--stir-fry and the like, which is mostly what I do.
One more note about the Continental... This time when it died I took it apart (easy) to find out why it broke. Where the elec. wire attaches to the burner it's just a cheap little quick connect. It seems to have gradually sizzled itself into oblivion. I think it could be fixed by soldering the wire directly to the burner, but I haven't tried it yet. If that works, I'll keep it as a back-up.
Oct. 1, 2011: I've been using the new hotplate for four months and don't like it as well as the one that died. When turned on high, the new one cycles off too much, so it takes a lot longer to boil water. I guess it's "hit or miss" getting one that always cooks good and fast.