Editors' note, June 9, 2016: Anova Culinary has updated the app that pairs with the Wi-Fi portion of this sous vide device. We tested the new features and updated the review below.
Anova is poised to make its precision cooker more than just a part of your kitchen. The manufacturer wants to use Wi-Fi to make its sous vide appliance an active part of your life outside the home. The company just released the Anova Precision Cooker Bluetooth + Wi-Fi, a $199 sous vide device that heats and circulates water to cook vacuum-sealed foods. The price converts roughly to £130 in the UK and AU$275 in Australia.
This is the company's second connected product for home cooks; the previous Anova Precision cooker has just Bluetooth, which gives users the ability to control the cooker from across the house, but not across town. Besides the addition of Wi-Fi, the newest Anova isn't much different than the Bluetooth-only model, which costs $20 less. Both cookers are nearly identical, as is their cooking performances.
The most notable difference is the app that pairs with the Wi-Fi unit. When I first reviewed the Anova Wi-Fi in November, I knocked the companion app for being too spare with its features and limited in its commands, especially when I compared it to Anova's previous, more robust app for its Bluetooth-only models. However, Anova has updated the Wi-Fi app with cooking guides, pictures and an ice-bath setup feature that improve the way you connect and cook with the Anova Wi-Fi. Anova eventually plans to merge both apps so that Wi-Fi users can also access the library of recipes and guides that Bluetooth users have. This latest Wi-Fi app update is a successful step toward bridging this gap in features I lamented a few months ago.
Anova has aggressive long-term plans for its latest cooker. The Anova Wi-Fi has been available in select Apple stores alongside other connected home products such as the iDevices Kitchen Thermometer and Philips Hue light bulbs. This spring, the company began to bring the immersion circulator into some Target stores, and the device will start appearing on Best Buy shelves this summer. There are also plans to make the Anova compatible with HomeKit, Apple's software platform built into iOS 8 and iOS 9 that integrates with Siri to control compatible devices, the company says.
The Anova Precision Cooker Bluetooth + Wi-Fi makes a strong case for adding sous vide to your kitchen routine. It doesn't have the versatility of countertop systems like the Paragon Induction Cooktop or the Oliso SmartHub & Top. Fortunately, an immersion circulator like the Anova comes with a lower price and takes up less room than bigger sous vide systems. Pair those advantages with an improving app that sous vide cooking more convenient, and you've got a product that hard to dismiss.
A sous vide primer
At last year's IFA electronics show in Berlin, at least one European appliance company executive was skeptical of the American appetite for sous vide. This cooking method, which has been around since the 1970s, involves two parts: vacuum-sealing food in a plastic bag and cooking the bag in a controlled environment with the help of an often-pricey device. Sous vide has seen enough success overseas to warrant the creation of built-in sous vide systems such as the KitchenAid Chef Touch Sous Vide Column. It could be years or even decades before Americans are ready to etch out a special spot in their kitchens for such an intricate system. But manufacturers such as Anova have spent the past several years creating sous vide tools that fit on countertops or in drawers to nudge curious American home cooks toward adopting sous vide.
Easy-to-use device gets the app it deserves
You don't need a lot of space or equipment for the Anova Wi-Fi. The precision cooker is identical to the Bluetooth version: a 14.75-inch-long column topped with a circular LCD display that shows the current temperature of the water and the set temperature the cooker is trying to reach. There is also a start-stop button and a Wi-Fi indicator on the display. The streamlined display is much simpler than the touchscreen Anova One Sous Vide Circulator. An LED backlit scroll wheel beneath the display lets you adjust the set temperature easily. The device slides into an adjustable ring clamp that screws onto the side of a pot and suspends the stainless-steel covered pump, heating coil and temperature sensors into the water.