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Joule review: Amazon's Alexa lends a hand to this sous vide machine

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The Good The Wi-Fi-enabled $200 Joule immersion circulator has an app that will teach you a thing or two about sous vide cooking. The Joule also works with Alexa, Amazon's digital assistant, to help connect your cooking to the rest of your smart home.

The Bad The lack of controls on the body of the Joule could be irritating if you want to just glance at the immersion circulator to get an update on its status. The integration with Alexa still has some kinks to work out.

The Bottom Line The Joule immersion circulator is the right product for the ambitious chef who's also into smart-home technology.

8.1 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 7
  • Usability 9
  • Performance 8

When it comes to kitchen appliances, immersion circulators are still the new kid on the butcher block. You use these devices to sous vide, a relatively recent method of cooking that still invokes some head tilts when I try to explain it to friends. (In short, you put food in a plastic bag and cook it in a temperature-controlled water bath -- read more about the technique here.)

Though this niche cooking gadget still has some ground to gain before it becomes as common as the hand mixer, manufacturers of immersion circulators are beefing up their products' connectivity to attract tech-savvy foodies and stand out from one another. These aggressive tech additions have turned these gadgets, which often go for around $200, into one of the easiest ways to make your cooking smarter.

The Joule immersion circulator (center) is a formidable opponent to the Wifi Nomiku (left) and Anova Precision Cooker Bluetooth Wi-Fi (right).

Chris Monroe/CNET

The Wi-Fi-enabled $200 Joule immersion circulator has just one-upped competitors like the Wifi Nomiku and the Anova Precision Cooker Bluetooth + Wi-Fi with its integration with Alexa, Amazon's voice-controlled digital assistant. That integration, along with an educational app and good cooking performance, makes the Joule ($238 at Amazon) one of the best immersion circulators available, especially if you're interested in smart home technology.

The Joule, a product from the Seattle-based food and technology company ChefSteps, is a sleek, 11-inch long cylinder with a magnet in the bottom that allows it to stand up on its own. Like other immersion circulators, it also has a clip so you can attach it to the side of your pot.

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