What do you expect of an oven that costs $600? If you answered, "Not much," I really wouldn't blame you. At $600, you'll have a hard time finding noteworthy features or designs -- no convection settings, no luxurious slate finishes, no smart features. $600 is the price of boring, unremarkable ovens that get the job done.
Compared with its competitors, the $600 range from GE's Artistry Series offers performance that's no less unremarkable, but it strives to set itself apart with a simple, streamlined build and retro design flourishes that are anything but boring. Make no mistake, this is almost purely a design play, as the Artistry Range offers next to nothing by way of features or expanded functionality. Still, it performs perfectly well and, for the most part, looks good doing it. If you don't want to spend a lot, and you're more concerned with the way your oven looks than the way it cooks, the Artistry Series range might be your best bet.
Design and features
GE's entire Artistry Series puts design front and center. These are kitchen appliances aimed at window shoppers -- people who aren't concerned with functionality upgrades or advanced cooking settings, and who simply want their appliances to look good.
To this end, I think the Artistry Series range is a success. If you put me in a room filled with $600 ovens and told me to pick the best-looking one, it's probably the one I'd point to. With a pleasingly simple build and plenty of retro appeal, it's a visual standout in its class.
A lot of that appeal stems from GE's restraint. You won't find any excess buttons cluttering up the backsplash, or any buttons at all for that matter. There isn't even a digital clock. Instead, this range goes analog -- an oddly refreshing change, at least from a visual standpoint.
Some of these design touches are better in appearance than they are in practice. The analog clock doesn't double as a timer, for instance, and it doesn't light up in the dark. The silver knobs look the part, but they're actually plastic, and far too wobbly for my tastes.
The simplified approach also means that there's hardly anything worth mentioning by way of features. In addition to the lack of a timer, there's no convection fan, no hidden bake element, no steam cleaning feature -- no self-cleaning function at all, which feels like an especially odd omission. The only thing notable is that you can expand one of the burners from 6 to 9 inches, and use the extra wattage to bring water to a boil a bit faster. For my money, I'd rather have a fifth burner, or a griddle-sized bridge between two burners.
The entire Artistry Series is available in black or white finishes. The black models, like the range we tested, might be a better fit for modern kitchens, while the white models put more of an emphasis on the retro touches. The Artistry Series also offers a gas range which also comes in white or black, and which also carries a $600 price tag. That's a nice value, as gas range models almost always come priced above their electric counterparts.
With the electric model, you get a smooth cooking surface up top (apparently, coils were a retro touch too far for GE). Smooth-tops are generally a cinch to keep clean, and that's more or less true for the Artistry Series, though I had a hard time keeping it from smudging whenever I wiped it down.