GE's $800 30-inch Free-Standing Electric Range, model number JB650SFSS, doesn't havelike 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.
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.
Back to basics
While the $800 JB650SFSS doesn't have the intriguing design of the retro-mindedseries, 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.
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.