GE will use Bluetooth technology to connect a new line of ranges with an over-the-range microwave for "a more unified experience in the kitchen," the appliance manufacturer announced Monday. The appliances will be available beginning this fall.
GE's continuing foray into wireless technology shows that the manufacturer is eager to strengthen its foothold in the connected kitchen appliance marketplace. GE previously incorporated Wi-Fi capability intoand , and the company recently . GE first introduced Bluetooth technology to the kitchen in early 2015 with its , a project that was between the manufacturer and its engineering collective . However, GE's latest venture into Bluetooth increases the price of the over-the-range microwave while offering limited features that eliminate only minor inconveniences in the kitchen.
GE's new ranges will be part of the company's Profile brand. The ranges will use Bluetooth technology, which GE calls the Chef Connect feature, to communicate wirelessly with the over-the-range microwave to perform the following three tasks:
- Sync the clocks on the range and microwave.
- Turn on the lights beneath the over-the-range microwave when a consumer turns on a burner.
- Turn on the microwave's vent fan when the stovetop is also on.
Chef Connect features strike me as more "nice to have" than "must have." The addition of Bluetooth only eliminates flipping switches for the light and fan, tasks that haven't cast a heavy burden on my home cooking experience. It's also not too hard to set all the clocks in your kitchen to show the same time, so the time sync feature only solves a minor kitchen quibble.
The ranges in this Profile series, which GE will release in August 2015, are competitively priced with an MSRP of $1,100 for electric models and $1,200 for gas. But the Bluetooth technology puts the over-the-range microwave at the high-end price category for this type of appliance, which can start at less than $200. The MSRP for a black or white microwave model will be $449, and a stainless steel or slate model will have an MSRP of $499. I'm eager to see if GE can elevate the capabilities of the Chef Connect to match the price in future models.