What I like about FNV Labs' Mellow smart sous vide cooker is that it only makes sense as a connected appliance thanks to a separate innovation in its food-handling features. Not only will the Mellow cook your food, its designers say, but it can also keep it refrigerated through its ability to chill the 4.5-liter water bath. Because of both that refrigeration capability and Mellow's Wi-Fi connection, you can put a pouch of uncooked steak in before work and tell it via app to have your meal ready when you walk in the door at the end of the day.
This will be an expensive small appliance when it first hits retail. FNV Labs says Mellow will sell for $500 when it goes to larger distribution. It hasn't worked out the timing, nor the retailers for its wide availability yet, although a discounted $400 version is available for pre-order today by way of a limited production run set to ship in 2015 (a clever promotion that gives you a $20 discount for every referral that also places an order could see a few people get a unit for free).
For its cooking specs, FNV Labs says Mellow can set the water to temperatures ranging from 35 degrees F (1.67 degrees C) to 197 degrees F (91.67 degrees C). It boasts 1,000 watts of heating power, 50 watts of cooling, and a double-walled tank to improve temperature consistency (and thus energy use).
The water bath is large enough to accommodate about six servings of food, and the app is also smart enough to remember your preferences, so it can recall that you like your steak medium rare and prompt you to cook it that way every time without asking you to enter specific cook settings. A built-in weight sensor can tell you if anything has been added to the water bath, giving you an extra layer of security when you leave Mellow on during the day.
Assuming the device works as advertised, those who order an initial unit will be getting one of the first smart small kitchen appliances. A connected CrockPot Slow Cooker will ship later this spring via parent company Jarden Consumer Solutions' partnership with Belkin. Jarden and Belkin are also exploring a connected Mr. Coffee unit (among other products), but as this point that's really the known list of countertop appliances that can talk to a mobile app.
Given the high price, the unknown company, and the fact that even unconnected sous vide cookers are a niche product, Mellow clearly has an even greater challenge than consumer product giant Jarden to get cooks to buy into the still-new, for some dubious idea of a connected appliance. FNV Labs at least deserves credit for going all-in. Mellow is entirely app-driven. The device itself has no buttons, so any interaction happens via your iOS or Android device.
If you'd like to pre-order Mellow, or you'd just like to learn more, you can check out the product site here.