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GE 30-inch Free-Standing Electric Range JB650SFSS review: This no-frills GE range gets the job done

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GE's $800 30-inch Free-Standing Electric Range, model number JB650SFSS, doesn't have an app or a red LED status bar like some of the brand's fancier machines. It doesn't even have a convection cooking mode -- a fairly ubiquitous feature in mid- and even some budget-tier ovens nowadays. In fact, its stainless steel finish, smooth cooktop and extra burner reserved specifically for warming are the only noticeably "premium" additions to this otherwise utilitarian range.

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6.8

GE 30-inch Free-Standing Electric Range JB650SFSS

Pricing Not Available

The Good

800 bucks isn't bad for a 5-burner stainless steel range with a smooth cooktop.

The Bad

It met expectations, but never exceeded them. The plus and minus buttons on the oven touchpad display are tiresome to use.

The Bottom Line

GE's JB650SFSS is completely middle-of-the-road; it's fine in every category, but certainly won't revolutionize the way you cook.

That doesn't mean that the JB650SFSS is a bad choice, just that it doesn't exactly stand out or excel in any categories. Get this functional range for all of your cooking basics, but look elsewhere if you want something more advanced.

This plain GE range has all of the essentials (pictures)

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Back to basics

While the $800 JB650SFSS doesn't have the intriguing design of the retro-minded GE Artistry series, it still looks like a model that would offer a lot in terms of features. Interestingly, though, there's not a lot happening behind its stainless steel finish and smooth ceramic cooktop; this is a very basic range.

It has a 5.3-cubic-foot capacity with two oven racks and six height adjustment options. A touchpad display in the center of the instrument panel controls the oven. The main buttons include Bake, Start, Broil (high and low), Cancel/Off, Oven Light, Timer (on and off), Self Clean, Steam Clean, Clock Timer and Delay Timer. There's a digital clock display in the center of the touchpad and plus and minus buttons for setting the clock, timers and cooking temperatures.

While the touchpad is pleasantly uncluttered, adding a number pad would make it easier to use. As it is now, you have to use the plus and minus buttons to set everything, which means small incremental changes until you reach the desired cooking time or temperature -- a comparatively slow and potentially aggravating usability quirk.

The touchpad display. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

As far as the smooth ceramic cooktop goes, the JB650SFSS has five electric burners and five corresponding burner knobs. Three of the burners are 6 inches in diameter (one has a lower wattage that's reserved specifically for warming). The other two can alternate between either 6 and 9 inches or 9 and 12 inches depending on the size of the pan or skillet you're using. The knobs are labeled and completely intuitive, although they don't feel as premium as they look.

LG's nonconvection electric range (model number LRE3021ST) also costs $800, has a smooth cooktop and is finished in stainless steel. But, it has a larger 6.3-cubic-foot oven capacity. It also has a particularly cluttered touchpad display that controls both the oven and the cooktop and it has just four burners compared to the JB650SFSS's five. If you prioritize oven capacity, LG's model might trump GE's, but its messy instrument panel leaves a lot to be desired.

Do you really need convection?

Convection heat relies on a fan to circulate hot air throughout the oven cavity. It's great for multi-rack baking since it disperses heat more evenly than traditional oven tech. That doesn't mean that traditional modes can't make a solid batch of cookies, but there's been a clear push to at least make convection an optional feature.

In previous oven testing, where both heat modes were available options, we often saw a significant difference in evenness between the top and bottom racks of biscuits in traditional versus convection. In traditional mode, the top and bottom racks were usually much less uniform than in traditional mode; the collage below, pulled from a batch of past oven reviews, demonstrates the strength of convection over traditional.

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Still, some ovens do cook pretty evenly in traditional mode, as the Dacor Renaissance double oven demonstrates above. In the case of that model, you just have to pay about $5,000 for the privilege of owning one.

This GE range, on the other hand, responded in much the same way as the GE PT9550SFSS I already reviewed. The top rack was much darker than the bottom rack. Now, that's not a big deal if you don't mind some unevenness or if you don't bake multiple racks regularly, but it certainly isn't ideal.

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Top and bottom rack biscuits baked simultaneously in the GE JB650SFSS. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

On top of that, you can get essentially the same stainless steel GE range with convection for $900 -- that's just 100 buck more than the JB650SFSS. If convection cooking matters to you even a little, it seems almost silly not to spend the extra $100. That's especially true, since you're already spending extra on those precious few premium options on this model: the stainless steel, the smooth ceramic cooktop and the five burners (four is standard).

If you want the most basic, but functional range around, GE's black, white or tan plastic non-convection ranges cost just $450. They have 4 electric coil burners and the same 5.3-cubic-foot capacity as this model. I haven't tested those ranges, but they are way more reasonably-priced if you really don't need any extras.

Overall performance was predictable, if not a little underwhelming. No test returned anything more or less than reliably decent roasted chicken and broiled burgers and expediently boiled water. You can make a good meal with the JB650SFSS -- it just won't have all of those advanced options that so many models boast.

Recapping the JB650SFSS

This electric range manages to make do with the bare minimum. It doesn't have convection cooking modes or many other advanced features, but it still cooked decent food. If you're looking for a basic range with a few snazzy upgrades -- stainless steel, a smooth cooktop, five burners -- this $800 GE 30-inch Free-Standing Electric Range is a reasonable choice.

Broiling burgers. Ry Crist/CNET

But don't forget that you can get the convection version of this range, model number JB690SFSS, for just $100 more. GE also sells less expensive non-convection electric ranges (model numbers starting with JB250DF are finished in black, white or "bisque" plastic and cost just $450). That makes the JB650SFSS sort of awkwardly positioned; it's a budget model with basic functionality that hopes to appeal to people willing to pay more for a "premium" look.

If you don't care about convection or the cosmetic side of things, you can easily find something less expensive. If you do, you may want to spend that additional $100 for the convection range. And if you land somewhere in the middle, the $800 JB650SFSS might be just right for you.

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6.8

GE 30-inch Free-Standing Electric Range JB650SFSS

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Usability 7Performance 7