Until now, ovens haven't played nice with other smart-home products. Manufacturers have added Bluetooth, NFC (near-field communication), Wi-Fi and even tablets to their stoves. They've created apps that have ranged from somewhat useful to headache-inducing. And for the most part, these ovens aren't talking to any other gadgets.
The $5,300 Jenn-Air JJW380DP electric double wall oven is the first oven we've tested that talks to other smart home products outside the kitchen (GE Appliances recently announced that its Wi-Fi large appliances will work with Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant; we'll review one of these stoves soon). The Wi-Fi-connected double oven works with only one other device, but it's an important one: the Nest Learning Thermostat, the popular, smart heating and cooling control system. This connection means that you can set a rule for your Nest to adjust the temperature of your home when one of the Jenn-Air ovens reaches a certain temperature.
The Jenn-Air double oven has a few more worthwhile tricks when it comes to cooking your food well. The unit has a built-in Culinary Center that sets cooking temperatures and makes suggestions for certain dishes based variables such as the cut of meat you are cooking and the type of pan you're using. And the oven turned out delicious food when I cooked with our usual test recipes and when I used the Culinary Center.
This Jenn-Air double oven does have a few drawbacks. Plenty of households won't be able to put down $5,300 for an appliance, and there were some inconsistencies in the way the top oven and bottom oven bake. And I admit that Jenn-Air's partnership with Nest is a one-trick pony. But the usefulness of that trick, the double oven's pronounced cooking skills and Jenn-Air's ambitious jump to connect the kitchen to the rest of the smart home make it worthwhile to add the Jenn-Air JJW380DP to the top of your wish list.
The Jenn-Air brand is owned by Whirlpool, a manufacturer that has made big moves in advancing its products' presence in the smart home. The company's smart Whirlpool brand products include app-connected washers and dryers, a dishwasher that will connect with Amazon Dash replenishments and a range that, like the Jenn-Air JJW380DP, will connect to Nest. Whirlpool also announced that it would partner with a Silicon Valley startup for the software in its Jenn-Air smart ovens.
The Jenn-Air double wall oven establishes just how seriously its parent company takes its smart large appliances and how they work with other smart products. The oven's Nest capabilities are impressive and easy to set up within Jenn-Air's iOS- and Android-friendly app. After you set up a user account and connect the oven to the app, you select "Works with Nest" from the settings menu. You can opt for the app to notify you if the oven is on when the Nest is set to away, the setting you use when you've left your home. This provides a virtual answer to the question, "Did I leave my oven on?"
The highlight of the Nest connection is that you can enable a rule to change your Nest's temperature setting based on the temperature of the oven. For example, you could have the Nest lower its setting by 2 degrees Fahrenheit every time the Jenn-Air oven reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit. During testing, the Nest quickly adjusted its settings as soon as either of the double oven's cavities hit the temperature at which I wanted it to adjust. And the Nest automatically returned to its original temperature settings once I turned the oven off.
On the surface, this doesn't sound like a very fancy feature. But if you've ever been busy in the kitchen, you know that it can get hot. The Nest's automatic adjustment of your house's temperature would make cooking a little more pleasant without having to leave the room to adjust the thermostat. Now, you can only set one rule at a time between the Nest and the Jenn-Air, which is limiting if you want different adjustments for higher temperatures. But this compatibility is effective, and I look forward to seeing it expand.
The Jenn-Air's app, unfortunately, lags when you compare it with the super-responsive connection to a Nest. You can control all of the oven's functions from the app and preheat the oven from your device (just make sure you enable the oven's remote connection feature). But there is a noticeable delay between setting the oven temperature in the app and the oven receiving that setting and adjusting accordingly. Making selections within the app is also a challenge; I was reduced to selecting things with my pinkie after the app failed to register the (many) times I tried to press buttons with my index finger. But I appreciated the app's slick interface, which mirrored that of the touchscreen control panel on the body of the double oven. Both screens include responsive scrolling menus and a cool graphic of a growing wave of flames when the oven is preheating.
The Jenn-Air double oven is smart in the way that it prepares food. Both ovens include your basic cook settings and convection options (there are two convection fans in each 5-cubic-foot cavity), but you can also use the oven's Culinary Center to obtain the best cook settings for what you're cooking. This feature presents you with a menu of food options that break down further into submenus (for example, you can select "poultry" from the main food menu, then "chicken roaster" from the submenu). You select how done you want your food and the type of pan you're using. The oven will then set the temperature based on the selections you made; all you have to do is plug in the included temperature probe if the oven prompts you to. I cooked two chickens in the Jenn-Air -- one with the usual recipe I use to roast chickens, and the other based on the Culinary Center's guidance. Without knowing which chicken was which, most of the folks in the office who tried meat from both chickens said the one I cooked with the Culinary Center was juicier and tasted better. But the taste testers said both chickens were delicious.
The Jenn-Air's baking capabilities were a bit lackluster for a product that costs more than $5,000. Biscuits I baked with the convection fan in use came out fine, but the browning wasn't as consistent across the baking sheets. This showed me that the hot air wasn't getting to all parts of the oven cavity evenly. And when I used the normal bake setting to cook single trays of biscuits, the biscuits I cooked in the bottom cavity were lighter than those that I cooked in the top cavity.
Both ovens were quick cookers when it came to broiling hamburgers. It took the ovens an average of 13.67 minutes to cook six burger patties, which makes the Jenn-Air among the fastest electric oven broilers we've seen.
For the past couple of years, ovens have thrown all sorts of features into ovens to make them smart (even a full-size tablet). But none of these smart ovens has had much of an impact. The technology has often felt like an afterthought rather than a collection of useful features that make being in the kitchen a little easier. Sure, I can preheat some ovens from an app on my smartphone, but will the oven play nice with other smart devices in my home?
The Jenn-Air JJW380DP double wall oven is the first large cooking appliance we've tested that can answer that question with a resounding, "Yes." Its connection to Nest is a small feature that will make a big impact in the home. Its Culinary Center can teach you a thing or two about turning out a roast chicken or whatever dish you're craving. And despite its few shortcomings, the smart features and ambition of the company behind this $5,300 double oven make this a product worth lusting after.