Black and Decker SL5470C Stainless Steel Slow Cooker / B002SB8K4W
I've had an older-model Hamilton Beach 33967 Set 'n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker for years and we've gotten so much use out of it. I thought it might make sense to try out this Black & Decker model and maybe upgrade to it permanently if it turned out to be better.
Controls: This Black & Decker model is manual control, which means that you just have a turn knob with three options: Low, High, and Warming. I don't really like manual control, and I prefer my digital programmable Hamilton Beach model (which also has Low/High/Warm functions in addition to fancier temperature settings). I will say, though, that I can see manual being useful if the power goes out (briefly) while you're cooking and if, when the power comes back on, the manual cooker continues cooking. (Though it seems like this could be dangerous, in the Food Safety sense, if the power was out for some time without your knowledge? I'm not an expert, though.)
Lids: One thing I don't like about this Black & Decker model is that the lid just sits loosely on. My Hamilton Beach model actually has lid-clamps to hold the lid firmly in place.
Sizes: This Black & Decker model has a 7-quart capacity whereas the Hamilton Beach one only has 6-quarts, however (a) I can't tell a difference by sight (and both units look the same size to me), and (b) we've never cooked anything which needed more than 6-quarts worth of space.
All in all, this is a good slow cooker--don't take away from my rating that it's not. And if you really need a 7-quart capacity or if you prefer manual to digital then I do recommend this model. But I'll stick with my Hamilton Beach one for now, because I so much prefer the digital options.
A note on cooking: When we were new to slow cooking, we thought that roasts had to be covered to the top in broth or water, and we never understood why the meat came out so tough. Someone finally told us to stop using so much liquid and that made all the difference in the world. I now never use more than 1 small can of broth with our roasts and they come out as tender as you can imagine. Also look up how to cut against the grain instead of with it, because that can make a huge difference as well. Good luck!
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this product provided through Amazon Vine.
~ Ana Mardoll