In short, we've now got this beauty running 'hot, smooth and normal' chez nous: http://www.000001.co.uk/
It's the sexily named Panasonic NNA574S.
I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone seeking convection goodness, without the usual bulkiness (the pic shows it on top of the fridge, but it'd sit happily on a standard depth work surface).
I simply don't use the main oven for day to day cooking any more.
Some key bits of awesome:
- It heats up so quickly its scary. Stone cold to 200 degrees C in under 3 minutes. To 160 degrees C in just over 90 seconds.
- Its quiet and has a safety feature that stops you leaving it running by accident. Once warmed up, if you don't subsequently give it a cooking time within 30 minutes it just shuts itself down.
- Despite the number of buttons on the front, you don't need to RTFM - all very simple.
- At 27L capacity, you can easily fit a full roast joint in there on the special plate it ships with.
- The window doesn't steam up so you can always see where your grub is at.
- Pastry (especially pies) and various other bits that usually go very wrong in a standard microwave come out simply brilliantly.
- Its energy efficient, reducing heating (and therefore energy consumption) as you approach the end of the cooking cycle by using heat bursts, clever circulation and fan type stuff to maintain the required temperature.
Its also a good way under £200. Our chums John Lewis do it for £184.
Anyhow, HUGE thumbs up from me (someone who loves cooking but increasingly doesn't have the time and loathes microwave nonsense). If you're looking for a second oven or a microwave replacement that just does more useful stuff, have a look at the Panasonic.