LAS VEGAS -- GE has just revamped its Monogram line of fancy cooking surfaces to include advanced induction heating, touch-sensitive swipeable controls, and truly eye-catching LED indicators lights.
Still not impressed? How about a slick sous vide accessory which turns compatible GE ranges into scientifically precise immersion boilers. With this gadget, aspiring home chefs will conceivably have the tools necessary to whip up batches of slow cooked eggs on demand, poach filets to perfection, or create properly handled steaks that melt in your mouth every time.
Even at first glance it's clear the new GE Monogram Induction cooktops are unconventional kitchen appliances. Instead of the usual protective metal grates or fragile glass coverings you'll find atop standard gas or electric ranges, this stove has a smooth, flat, top deck. Indeed the surface is an almost monolithic slate gray, with only dark circles indicating the Monogram's cooking zones.
This conservative aesthetic vanishes, however, the moment you activate the cooktop controls. Splayed out in an arc consisting of five semi-circles, the Monogram's command center is unlike any other range. More like laptop trackpads or perhaps tablet touchscreens, you raise and lower burner heat levels by tracing a finger across any of the interface's circular lines. And as you sweep from left to right (low to high) attractive LED lights activate to provide visual feedback. Essentially that makes these touchable dials a meld of virtual gauge and physical knob.
Competitors from Electrolux , Samsung , and Meile have dreamed up similar appliances with tappable buttons and interactive displays, but this latest GE interface take kitchen UI in a novel direction. Especially novel is that this new design is only made possible by the fact that the cooktop uses induction technology.
Instead of applying indirect heat to pots and pans as do gas or electric ranges, induction cooktops rely on electromagnetic coils to energize metal materials in cookware creating a spike in temperature. As a result these kind of cookers don't use burners in the literal sense or need bulky protective grates either.
Another upside is that there are no embedded ceramic plates (which serve as heat traps on electric ranges) inside an induction cooktop surface. The big bonus here is that induction flat tops, save for the pans they heat, themselves remain relatively cool to the touch.
Aside from futuristic controls and heating technologies, GE is also offering a companion accessory targeted straight at chef-types and geeky cooks alike. Constructed directly out of its partnership with engineering collective FirstBuild, at its heart the sous vide gadget is a smart thermometer that clips to stockpots and samples water temperature readings continuously.
It then pairs to compatible GE ranges via wireless Bluetooth and transmits data in real time. When you set a desired temp, the Monogram induction cooktop uses the sous vide add-on to automatically adjust its burner output. Combined, both stove and sensor work to lock down water bath conditions for the duration. Subject eggs to 145 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, or perhaps London Broil heated at 131 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 hours? No problem, according to GE: the Monogram can tackle these tasks.
There's no denying that GE's new Monogram Induction cooktops with their sleek looks, unconventional controls, induction heating and advanced sous vide skills are enticing. Starting at $2,600 (30-inch) and climbing to $3,100 (36-inch), only the most well-heeled home cooks, however, will find the range's steep sticker price reasonable.
If Monogram Induction feels out of reach, GE also has plans to bring the same cooking technology to its Cafe line of induction cooktops ($1,999 for 30-inch; $2,299 for 36-inch) including the touch and swipe UI plus support for the sous vide upgrade for $149 extra.
Induction cooking will grace the GE Profile induction line as well ($1,599 for 30-inch; $1,899 for 36-inch), sans the fancy finger interface, but with sous vide compatibility. GE expects to ship its new induction products by May this year.