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GE PHS920SFSS Induction Range review: Tricky controls and scant features hurt this otherwise promising induction oven

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The Good The compact GE PHS920SFSS Induction range boasts powerful cooking elements, attractive looks and a capable convection oven.

The Bad The Induction range is saddled with confusing controls and is devoid of extra features.

The Bottom Line PHS920SFSS Induction range and convection oven is lovely to look at, and boasts a powerful cooktop, but it's held back by cumbersome controls and a lack of compelling extras.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 8.5
  • Features 5
  • Usability 6
  • Performance 8

Editors' note, May 20, 2015: After uncovering some discrepancies in our initial round of testing, we have updated this review from when it was originally published on April 29. We have since rerun both its double rack convection and large burner boil tests, and updated its ratings accordingly.

At first glance the $3,200 GE Profile PHS920SFSS induction range looks like a shrewd kitchen upgrade. Its stainless-steel design is gorgeous, and it includes a powerful induction cooktop and convection oven. While it's not what you'd call inexpensive, at $3,200 it's actually cheaper than other slide-in induction ovens such as Samsung's Chef Collection Induction Range , which goes for a cool $3,700.

After boiling it all down, however, that extra $500 for the Samsung is money well spent thanks to its ease of use and an assortment of meaningful extra features. Compared with this GE induction cooker, the Samsung Chef Collection is the wiser choice.

Design and features

The GE PHS920SFSS induction range certainly has bold, beautiful looks to match its luxury price tag. Despite being compact and measuring a mere 30 inches wide, GE's liberal use of stainless-steel materials in this oven's construction lend it a decidedly premium appearance.

Further elevating the slide-in model's visual appeal is a front-mounted control panel. It's stylishly angled downwards, sports clean lines and gives the whole appliance a sleek shape. This design choice not only gives the range a futuristic profile -- the panel's gentle slope places its buttons and keys within easy fingertip reach.

The range's control panel is sleek and subtly angled. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Unlike the Samsung Chef Collection Induction Range, however, the GE PHS920SFSS lacks physical knobs to control its cooktop burners. That's a shame because one big challenge with induction cooking is the technology's lack of sensory feedback. Whereas gas stoves and electric cookers emit flame, heat, light or some combination of all three, induction ranges operate in relative stealth, heating compatible cookware using invisible magnetic fields only.

The Samsung Chef Collection Induction Range does its best to offset this issue by using LED lights placed around each of its burners to mimic the look and feel of real gas flames. Samsung also installed a cluster of power level indicators right on the cooktop (in the center near each of the range's burners) just in case you miss similar labels grafted onto its burner dials. This setup offers three methods that work together to effectively convey cooktop status.

Telling which burner you're using can be confusing. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Unfortunately I often found it difficult to tell which set of buttons controlled which burner. That's because all the GE PHS920SFSS range's cooktop indicators sit up front on the control panel, not near the burners themselves. The panel's small keys are tricky to locate and tap without looking at them directly.

The interface here is easy to clean since it's a flat, unbroken surface. And GE certainly has the chops to build a stovetop with an elegant UI. I found the company's Glide Touch interface on its new Monogram Induction cooktop much easier and enjoyable to interact with. Hopefully we'll see this control setup trickle down to the company's freestanding free-standing and slide-in style ranges in the near future.

GE's new Glide Control-equipped Monogram induction cooktops are much more intuitive. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

One positive is that GE thoughtfully equips the small burner (back right) with a "melt" button. Pressing this will engage a preset heat level just hot enough to melt delicate ingredients such as butter and chocolate without scorching them. Likewise both of the large 8-inch burners feature similar "simmer" keys designed to bring sauces to a gentle bubble without the fear of burning.

Down below is a 5.3-cubic-foot capacity convection oven. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Aside from its induction cooking surface, the GE PHS920SFSS range offers an oven that's pretty pedestrian. Its 5.3-cubic-foot capacity cavity is actually a tad small when stacked up against larger 5.8-cubic-foot ovens such as the Samsung NX58F5700 , Whirlpool WEG730H0DS and KitchenAid KGRS306BSS . That said, the GE does boast a fan and a linked heating element that promises convection baking and roasting.

Performance

Due to its high price, premium styling and efficient induction cooktop, I expected the GE PHS920SFSS range to really wow me with its cooking capabilities. Actual test kitchen results were more of a mixed bag. I baked numerous batches of biscuits, using both single- and dual-rack configurations.

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