This page is specifically about ALDI Australia; I haven't been to an ALDI shop outside
Australia for over ten years.
The most interesting thing they have, though, are technological. Every week they produce a
flyer with special offers. These are often not just discounted offers, but one-off specials
that will not be available again after the stock has been used up. Some of them good; in my
experience, the majority are not.
To ALDI's credit, they're quite happy to take things back again if you're not satisfied:
they have a 60 day “no questions asked” return policy, as long as the
goods returned are complete and in original condition. This is a good thing; based on my
prior experience, I wouldn't buy much of this stuff if it weren't for the ability to return
Here's what I have bought, and what I think of them.
In November 2007 I bought a 500 W Tevion UPS for only $99. Following the industry trend,
they stupidly and misleadingly call “850 VA”. I wonder what would happen if
somebody would really connect an 850 VA reactive load with cos φ of 0.6 to it. Still,
that's a very good price, and it even has a continuous line voltage monitor. As of April
2008 I'm waiting for more of them to come on sale.
I bought a couple of battery powered tyre pumps, and returned them both. They're toys, not
tools. I tried the first one to pressurize my garden sprayer. After a minute of pumping I had
less pressure in the sprayer than with two strokes of the piston.
I returned that and bought a larger compressor, which also doubles as a jump start
station. It didn't work either! In particular, on both units, the air pressure gauge doesn't
show anything unless it's pumping (and I have my grave doubts about the accuracy then), so I
can't use it for its prime purpose, checking tyre pressures:
I also bought a couple of mice, advertised as a mouse with 6 programmable buttons and 2
scroll wheels; that's incorrect: they only have 4 buttons. It's interesting because it's a
wireless mouse without batteries; instead, it gets its power from an inductive pad on which
it rests. An interesting idea. Under FreeBSD it worked
out of the box, with the exception of the horizontal scroll button, which didn't seem to
generate any output.
On the whole I'm happy with this mouse. The lack of usability of the horizontal scroll
wheel is common in non-Microsoft systems; I think there's some kind of initialization to
enable it. About the only issue I have with it is that it's easy to get grit on the mouse
pad, and it makes it unpleasant to use until it's been removed.
In April 2008 I bought a raclette grill to replace my old one, which is losing the PTFE
coating on the pan. On the face of it the ALDI unit is very attractive, with an oval form
allowing 8 trays instead of the more common 6, and with a thermostat. In practice, though, it
just didn't get hot enough, and it was also uneven in heating. When I finally got one part of
a tray grilled (over-grilled, in fact), the other end was still only barely cooked
The element on the older grill is further out from the middle of the tray area than on the
new one, explaining the uneven grilling. But why is it so slow by comparison? I had suspected
a lower power rating, but according to the specs it does 1200 W, while the old one only does
900 W. I wonder if it's honest.
I've been baking bread in the oven for a while now, but the idea of a machine to take over
the timing work for me sounds like a good idea. Also ALDI's two month no-argument return
policy gave me the security that I needed to decide to buy it.
I've never even examined a bread maker before. What I found didn't encourage me:
The bread maker doesn't handle humidity; it's up to the user to add the correct amount
of water. How much? On the bread mix packet I had it stated 420 ml. The measure I got was
clearly inconsistent with itself: the 2 oz (fl oz?) mark corresponded to about 45 ml
(should be 57), and the 4 oz mark corresponded with about 105 ml (should be 113 ml):
How much of this is the fault of this specific el-cheapo bread machine? Certainly the
unbelievably bad instructions are. But I suspect that the paddle issue is general, and
probably the colour (though all, including this one, offer the option of making the bread
darker). The loaf looks quite like the loaf
on Laucke's home page, so possibly that's the way
it's intended to look. In general, the results are an order of magnitude worse than doing
it manually, and the problems cleaning the machine mean that it also doesn't save any
After the disappointing results with the bread maker, decided to see what it was like for
just kneading dough. Once again, the results were disappointing. Tried a French-style
baguette, but greatly misjudged the amount by which it would rise during baking:
Then tried a rye bread, which showed a number of the weaknesses of the machine:
Inserting the baking pan is non-trivial: the drive for the paddles needs to be aligned
correctly, and just finding the correct position is difficult. On this occasion (but,
surprisingly, not before) it took me four attempts to get both paddles to engage, not
helped by the lack of firm confirmation that they've engaged.
On this occasion, the removable paddles somehow got dislodged; only one of them
gripped, I was able to turn the device off (it holds state for 15 minutes) and reengage the
things, but that was only possible because I was watching it. Normally this would have
resulted in a wasted loaf.
It only allows the dough to rise once. To do a typical two-rise loaf you have to knead
it again. This may have been the explanation of the extreme size of the previous loaf.
The problem with the dislodged paddles and the difficulty in inserting the pan is enough
reason to return this particular bread maker. Peter Jeremy tells me that his has fixed
paddles, but one way or the other they all leave holes in the bottom of the bread.
In summary, I'm returning this unit for two reasons:
Bread machines aren't for me; they don't offer enough flexibility, and they don't make
things significantly easier.
If I did buy a bread maker, it probably wouldn't be from ALDI.
On 18 June 2008 I bought a thing which ALDI calls a “mini
greenhouse”, made out of steel tubes stuck together and held by plastic joints; no
screws intended. It was covered with thin plastic foil. At the time of assembly, I wrote:
I suspect it won't last long.
It didn't: the joints kept coming apart, and the wind tore the foil. Three months later it