Forget the frills and the extra features. The $1,200 GE PGB911SEJSS is a simple gas range that gets the job done.
GE Appliances has found its sweet spot in lower-priced ovens. In the $1,200-and-less category, the manufacturer has produced ovens with simple, thoughtful designs and consistent cooking performance. Take the GE JB750SJSS electric range, which cooked up a mean chicken and costs $1,000 (and you can probably find it cheaper), or the intuitive GE PB911SJSS electric range for $1,100.
We see much of the same reliability with the $1,200 GE PGB911SEJSS gas range. The appliance delivers decent cook times and comes with a reversible cooktop griddle that makes indoor grilling fun. The range includes a Bluetooth connection, but it only controls the light and vent system with GE's corresponding over-the-range microwave. And the oven did have trouble evenly browning multiple racks of biscuits, and none of its cook times will set the world on fire.
The GE PGB911SEJSS gas range is $200 more than a similar gas range from GE, the JGB700SEJSS. That extra money gets you a few more cooking modes, along with the aforementioned Bluetooth feature and reversible griddle. If those things are important to you, you'd be safe bringing the GE PGB911SEJSS home. But you'd also be OK with the equally solid GE JGB700SEJSS and spending your $200 on the first few meals you'll prepare on it.
The GE PGB911SEJSS looks similar to the other lower-cost GE ranges that we've reviewed. This boxy, freestanding gas range is a standard 30 inches wide with stainless steel on the oven door and control panel. The GE PGB911SEJSS comes with a 5.6 cubic foot oven that has a convection fan built into the back wall for more even distribution of hot air during baking. Cast-iron grates cover four round burners on the cooktop and a fifth, oval burner lies in the center of the surface.
GE includes a reversible griddle for the center burner; you can grill items like hot dogs or burgers on the side with the raised edges and grilled cheese sandwiches, pancakes and the like on the flat side. We've seen a lot of ranges that include griddles for center, oblong burners, including the LG LRG4115ST and the Samsung NX58H9500WS, but I really enjoyed cooking with the reversible option that comes with this GE range. Though it's not a high-tech feature, it's a wise addition that gives home cooks a few more options.
Another noteworthy feature on this GE range is the Chef Connect button, which activates the oven's Bluetooth connectivity. The range syncs with GE's Bluetooth-enabled over-the-range microwave ovens so that the light beneath the microwave and exhaust fan will automatically turn on if you turn on a burner. The connection is functional but useless if you don't have the corresponding microwave, a drawback I noted on the Bluetooth-enabled GE PB911SJSS.
When it comes to cook tests, the GE PGB911SEJSS held its own against similar gas ranges. None of the cook times were extremely fast or slow, but the range proved that it can complete the basic functions of an oven.
Let's take a look at how the fast the cooktop boiled water:
The GE PGB911SEJSS took 11.72 minutes to boil 112 ounces of water, which lags almost two minutes behind the Kenmore 74343, the fastest gas cooktop water-boiler we've seen. But the GE still stomps out higher priced gas ranges in terms of boil times, including the sluggish, $7,130 Dacor RNRP36GS that took 15.38 minutes bring the same amount of water to a rolling boil.
The GE range delivered the same middle-of-the-road performance during the broil tests. It took the oven an average of 17.02 minutes to bring six hamburger patties to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, a respectable time when you compare it to other ranges.
The most disappointing part of the GE PGB911SEJSS's cooking performance was how it baked two racks of biscuits with the convection fan enabled. Though the convection fan was supposed to more evenly heat and, therefore, cook more evenly, the brownness on the biscuits on each rack varied from light beige to medium brown. The coolest part of the oven appeared to be in the middle of the bottom half of the oven, as you can see by the paleness of the biscuits that baked in that area.
The convection fan was, however, successful in helping roast a chicken. It wasn't the best chicken we've had in the CNET Appliances test kitchen, but it was by no means the worst, thanks to the moist white and dark meat. The skin, which browned nicely but didn't have solid crunch, left something to be desired.
GE excels at creating moderately priced ovens that can take care of basic kitchen tasks. The GE PGB911SEJSS is no different. It's a solid cooker with a couple of fun features including a reversible griddle. This $1,200, with its limited Bluetooth connectivity and reversible griddle, is a worthwhile purchase, especially if you're a fan of GE Appliances and want to also throw down some money for a Bluetooth-enabled microwave oven. If you want to save a couple hundred bucks, go for the $1,000 GE JGB700SEJSS, a sneaky-good gas model without the Bluetooth or reversible griddle.