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GE Appliances' new Kitchen Hub is a mega-touchscreen that can microwave

The 27-inch over the range smart display GE Appliances released last year is getting a second generation with a microwave and new smart home features.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET
This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor and the hottest new tech gadgets around.

GE Appliances added a massive screen to its lineup of kitchen products last year with the GE Kitchen Hub. Functioning as a hood vent and mega smart display, it spanned 27 inches and cost $1,200. The Kitchen Hub had nearly everything a home chef could want, including cameras to view, record and share your cooktop, recipe apps and all the functionality of an Android tablet. But it was missing the one thing many people expect above their ranges -- a microwave. 

This year, GE Appliances is adding that microwave functionality with the Next Gen Kitchen Hub. This new Kitchen Hub retains the 27-inch design from the original, but gains a 1.9 cubic foot microwave. Like its predecessor, you'll still get all the Android tablet goodness like streaming Netflix and Spotify from the display or video chatting with friends and family. That means you can open up the Google Play store and download the same apps you'd add to your Android phone or tablet.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

There are some significant differences in the two models, however. The original model had two cameras, one over your range and one front-facing for chats. The Next Gen Kitchen Hub adds a third inside the microwave. 

That third camera includes AI with what GE Appliances describes as "AI-powered computer vision cooking technology" that can detect ingredients, help determine when food is done, raise or lower oven temperature, note any missing ingredients or suggest recipes based on the ingredients it sees. You can view the in-oven camera feed from the GE app, as well. 

"Our goal was to integrate industry-leading technologies into the cooking space that take the consumer experience to the next level," said Shawn Stover, executive director of SmartHome Solutions for GE Appliances. "The Next Gen Kitchen Hub offers solutions to your meal planning dilemma, making life easier and better at home."   

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In addition to the microwave and its built-in camera, GE Appliances is making this version of the Kitchen Hub Z-Wave compatible, so it can act as a hub for your smart home's Z-Wave devices. That's not something I'd deem essential for a kitchen appliance, but it's a nice option for folks hanging onto the idea of a hub-based smart home

As with the Kitchen Hub, the Next Gen Kitchen Hub offers Google Assistant voice controls, video-chatting and SideChef for guided recipes, and it can control any other GE smart appliances in your home, too.

The Next Gen Kitchen Hub will be available in late 2020, but we don't have any details on pricing just yet. AI-powered computer vision cooking technology, accessible for all GE appliances with cameras, will also be available in late 2020. Stay tuned as we find out more about the tablet-wearing microwave that could be your kitchen's command central.