GE's combo cooker flaunts Advantium speed baking plus conventional oven skills (hands-on)

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If you can't decide between the proven baking prowess of a convection oven and swifter cooking times of your microwave, then don't. At least that's GE's idea. The company's new creation, the $3,999 Advantium wall oven combo melds the strength of each into one modular kitchen unit. The top section of the appliance consists of a powerful Advantium microwave, while sitting below it in the bottom drawer is a European convection oven for a more traditional baking experience.

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GE Avantium built-in double oven Brian Bennett/CNET

Design and features

Available in widths of either 27 or 30 inches and 120- or 240-watt configurations, the upper section of the wall-mounted GE Advantium wall-oven combo oven may look like a fancy broiler or even dishwasher. Hidden under its glossy black glass skin and gleaming stainless steel facade is this appliance's true purpose. Pulling the top handle down reveals a microwave-style turntable paired with a familiar cavity fit for frozen burritos, pizzas, and other instant fare. That's where you'd be wrong, my friends, because this is no ordinary microwave made for just nuking TV dinners.

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Advantium class microwave up top with standard oven underneath. General Electric

Indeed, the cooker sports GE's Advantium logo, meaning its capabilities go way beyond what microwave gadgets usually tackle. Outfitted with an array of searingly-bright halogen light bulbs that back up the oven's pulses of radio energy, the Advantium packs the power to roast and caramelize. The final part in the Advantium oven's trio of skills is European convection; essentially hot air that's specially heated, then circulated throughout the oven chamber.

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Inside the Advantium is some serious microwave hardware. Colin McDonald/CNET

So what does that really mean in real life and everyday kitchens? According to GE, this translates to cooking times that are two to four times faster than what you'd see in ordinary ovens. Additionally, items that you'd never dream of tossing into the microwave such as as whole chickens, potatoes, raw Brussels sprouts -- you name it -- will roast and become golden brown and delicious in no time.

While I can't confirm that the Advantium can prepare a crispy, perfectly baked whole chicken in under an hour, I can say its steak-searing performance puts basic microwaves to shame. During a recent GE press demo, I was treated to rounds of delicious steak made in the gadget that could never have been whipped up in any microwave I've ever used. Of course, while the outside of my meaty snacks were pleasingly brown (rather than a sickly gray), they also lacked the satisfyingly crispy crust that you can get by pan-searing in a seasoned, cast-iron pan.

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The GE Advantium oven made pretty tasty steak for a microwave. Brian Bennett/CNET

When you aren't pressed for time, the Advantium wall-oven combo's lower section features a larger capacity standard convection oven that will suit the needs of bigger baking jobs. Need to roast a hefty 20-pound turkey or an oversized pheasant? This looks like a chore for the Advantium combo's lower half.

Outlook

Priced at a steep $3,999, the GE Advantium wall oven combo (also known to GE insiders as the "Advantimod") is certainly not a low-end item. GE however did explain that the dual-door oven's modular design offers ways to lower its price -- hence the "mod" in its GE nickname. For instance, you'll be able to scale down the price by opting for a convection microwave/convection oven combination ($3,499). The lowest configuration is an ordinary microwave and thermal oven arrangement ($2,999) but where's the culinary fun in that?

As to whether the Advantium wall oven combo will one day boast some of GE's slicker options, such as a linked smartphone app like its connected ranges or its sophisticated slate-gray textured finish, remains a mystery. The company has confirmed, however, that the Advantimod will hit stores across the US on August 1 of 2014.

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Where to Buy

GE Advantium wall oven combo

Part Number: CNETGE Advantium wall oven combo

MSRP: $3,999.00

See manufacturer website for availability.