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LG Smart ThinQ 6.3 Cu. Ft. Capacity Electric Single Oven Range with Infrared Grill LRE3027ST review: This LG oven is smart, but not smart enough

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With a reasonable $1,399 sticker price, the LG Smart ThinQ Single Oven Range with Infrared Grill LRE3027ST incorporates new technology along with features you'd find in a traditional freestanding range and oven. In some cases, this LG takes those predictable elements and adds some flair and utility, such as a pair of dual-element burners for rapid boiling, and an infrared broiler. It's also one of the first large cooking appliances on the market with smartphone connectivity.

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6.7

LG Smart ThinQ 6.3 Cu. Ft. Capacity Electric Single Oven Range with Infrared Grill LRE3027ST

Pricing Not Available

The Good

The <b>LG Smart ThinQ 6.3 Cu. Ft. Capacity Electric Single Oven Range with Infrared Grill LRE3027ST</b> boasts welcome features like a warming drawer, dual-element burners, and an easy-to-use touch-pad interface.

The Bad

Inconsistent cooking performance and a glitchy, questionably useful smartphone app hurt this oven's appeal.

The Bottom Line

While we love the idea of greater connectivity with our kitchen appliances, this LG oven doesn't deliver enough in cooking prowess or connectivity to merit a strong recommendation.

Unfortunately, glitches with the app and less-than-useful features mean the LG's smart functions aren't really enough to set this range apart from its unconnected peers, including LG's own LRE3025ST. It's still early days for smart appliances, so I'm willing to excuse some experimentation, but right now LG's connected oven features need more work.

I wouldn't buy this range on the strength of its smart functions, and I'm also not overly impressed by the LG's inconsistent cooking capabilities. If you're looking for a connected cooking device, so far the GE Profile Built-In Double Convection Wall Oven PT9550SFSS seems to be on the right track with its utilitarian remote preheat feature. For mid-priced rangetops, I'd look for a unit with more predictable results.

LG Smart ThinQ LRE3027ST is not quite smart enough (pictures)

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Design
The LRE3027ST isn't a slide-in range that will blend seamlessly with your countertop, but that doesn't mean it won't integrate well with your kitchen. Countertop height and depth are usually 36 inches and 25 inches (including the lip), respectively. This LG range comes in at 36 inches high and 29.5-inches deep. It's almost a perfect fit.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

The overall height of the range is just over 47 inches, including the control panel. This back control looks dated given its touch-pad interface. In contrast, the slide-in (and pricier, at $2,299) Samsung NE58F9710WS Electric Range and its front-panel LCD touch screen cuts a more modern, minimalist profile.

The LG's oven interior is extra large for its external dimensions. coming in at 6.3 cubic feet of oven cavity space. That makes it one of the largest single oven cavities on the consumer market. Most other ovens this size have an interior in the range of 4.8 to 5.3 cubic feet.

With a large oven cavity, the number and configurability of the racks will help determine how well you can use all of that extra oven space. The LRE3027ST range comes with two standard racks, one split rack, and one convection roast rack, and seven different slots to load them into. That's about average for an oven of this size.

LG does include an extra large viewing window, at least, coming in around 20-inches wide by 10 inches high. Not everyone will like the blue interior you'll see through the window, but at least it's not visible when the oven light is off.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Like most ovens, LG includes a door lock. You'll still need to be aware of your kids, given that the LG has open-door broiling. Some models, like the Samsung, allow for closed-door broiling, though that's not too common yet.

Revamping the basics
Like your standard, run-of-the-mill range, the LG comes with conventional features like a multiburner cooktop, a broiler, and an oven that includes multiple racks and different rack height options. These features alone are not so exciting, but LG has imbued them with some welcome updates.

Looking first at the cooktop, you'll notice that the configuration is different. The oven features five burners instead of the traditional four-burner set. There's nothing too surprising there, but LG has taken these basic elements a step further. For example, the front two burners are both dual-element burners, meaning they're composed of independent inner and outer elements. If you don't need a full-sized burner, using just the smaller one gives you some nice cooktop efficiency.

I'm less wowed by the warming burner, which seems superfluous. I would rather have a third full-strength small burner and just use it on the lowest setting if I need to keep something warm.

The hidden baking element is another surprise here and it has some very clear benefits. With a hidden baking element, the heating coils reside under the cavity floor, making for a smooth, uninterrupted oven interior. Wiping the surface after spills or removing debris after using the self-clean cycle is an easy task without obstacles. You can place racks on the very bottom level and not worry that they're resting directly on top of the heating element, which would likely burn your food.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

While the hidden bake element is a nice feature, what is perhaps most unique about this oven is the infrared broiling element. Traditional broilers use a coil system than snakes across the top of the oven cavity. With the infrared broiler, those serpentine coils are replaced by a set of ceramic plates, which heat up and then distribute that heat more evenly across the tops of food. Many outdoor grills feature infrared technology because it lends itself well to better searing and more consistent heat. We found that the LG's broiler seems to run at a much higher temperature than standard broilers, and I'll discuss that a bit more in the performance section.

Moving downward from the oven cavity itself, we come to the warming drawer. On many ovens, especially older models, the drawer is meant for storage. Some brands are taking this drawer and using it as a way to give you even more options, so warming and broiling drawers are common in newer ovens. We've also seen models with a drawer that can bake. In the case of the LG, you'll find a warming drawer, arguably the most practical option.

The warming drawer has three heat levels: low, medium, and high. The manual has a fairly comprehensive list of which setting is suitable for which foods. As an added safety feature, the warming drawer will turn off automatically after 3 hours. This drawer would be excellent for those who entertain a lot. Or, if you're like me, you can use the warming drawer on the three holidays you have company, and use it for storage the rest of the year.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Like many appliances, the LRE3027ST comes standard with a Sabbath Mode. Ovens not in Sabbath Mode usually have automatic shutoffs, as a safety precaution, if the oven has been on for a particularly long amount of time. When an oven is in Sabbath Mode, this shutoff is disabled. In addition, all lights or display screens (anything that will turn on when the oven door opens), are disabled until Sabbath Mode is deactivated. LG takes this a step further with the LRE3027ST and makes it so that all control buttons, except the Clear/Off button, are disabled and inactive.

Usability
You control all of these components with the IntuiTouch touch-pad control panel. This touch pad includes the basics that you've come to expect, like burner, oven temperature, and clock controls. But LG also added presets to this touch pad.

Two of the presets that I appreciate most are the delayed clean and bake functions. You can delay the oven cleaning until you're out of your home or until everyone is asleep, thereby reducing the danger of someone accidentally opening the oven and getting burned. Similarly, you can program the oven to turn on and begin baking at a certain time. You'll find similar features with Electrolux's EI30EF35JS IQ-Touch controls.

Other presets include a kid's meal option, which has a frozen pizza, fresh pizza, and chicken nuggets settings; and a favorites preset, which includes bread, meat, and chicken settings. When I tested the bread setting, the oven automatically preheated to 375 degrees, which was the temperature prescribed by my recipe, but I could have changed this temperature if needed. I still had to manually input the cook time once the oven preheated. Given the amount of manual interaction required on my part to use the presets, I'm not sure they saved me any significant amount of time.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

I like the IntuiTouch controls well enough and found them responsive, but they aren't any more responsive than more traditional buttons. The thing that sets it apart is the scrolling display, and the burner controls. These burner controls are easy to use, and each features a tiny screen to display the status or power level of the burner.

This is not to say the touch pad couldn't use some trimming. For example, you'll find three timing buttons, which include cook time, start time, and timer on/off. I understand that start time pairs with the delayed bake function, but cook time and timer on/off seem fairly redundant to me. In any case, I appreciated the fact that the burner controls are laid out to mirror the burners' location on the cooktop itself. This made selecting the proper button a worry-free process and spared me the anxiety that sometimes comes from dials, which aren't always laid out logically.

I also found it incredibly easy to use the warming drawer, which you control using the same keypad as the stove and oven. Simply press the Warming Drawer Set/Off button and use the number buttons to select the desired temperature level.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

In terms of oven controls, I appreciate the fact that the convection bake and roast settings convert cooking temperatures automatically. For example, if you are baking a chicken and the recipe calls for 400 degrees in a traditional oven, the LG will automatically convert to the appropriate lower temperature when you set it 400 degrees with convection baking. Keep this autoconversion in mind so you don't adjust the temperature yourself and undercook.

Bakers will appreciate the warm/proof setting. Whether you are baking bread and need it to rise, or trying to keep a load of casserole dishes warm for company, this setting takes much of the hassle out of adjusting the oven.

I can't imagine this touch-pad interface being any more user-friendly, though I do wish its look and feel were a bit more modern. Touch pads are hardly cutting edge, and it's hard not to compare it with the sleek disappearing touch screen on the Samsung, but it is important to remember their nearly $1,000 price difference. It's interesting that the rest of the Smart ThinQ line has bright LCD touch screens. At least the touch pad on the range works well and isn't confusing.

About that app
After my hands-on with the LG LFX31995ST Smart ThinQ refrigerator, I thought I was familiar with LG's SmartThinQ app. The refrigerator app was incredibly easy to use. The smart range app? Not so much. The first time around, I worked with the app for more than 2 hours trying to get the range to connect with no success. In the end, I was unable to connect the range to my phone via the app. I suspect LG hasn't updated yet to support iOS 7. Steve, our technical editor, was able to make the connection before upgrading his iPhone's OS, but it wasn't easy even then.

Screenshot by Steve Conaway/CNET

At least LG's app is a free download on both iOS and Android. Once you've labored through establishing a connection, the app functionality is very limited. It does offer customer support videos and diagnostics, using either Wi-Fi or a set of audible tones. The rest of the app's functions aspire to make your cooking easier, but they're not really that compelling or time-saving.

One example is the timer function that lets you set or monitor the oven's timer from your app. A cumbersome interface makes it a pain to use, and it was much faster to just use my phone's standard timer widget.

Steve Conaway/CNET

Another hiccup comes from the Smart Range recipe section, arguably the core of the oven app. Her you can select a recipe and "send it" to the range. All this means, however, is that the range will queue up the preheat temperature -- you still have to walk up to the oven to actually turn preheating on. In fact, you must press start within 30 seconds of sending the recipe, meaning you must be in the same room. Given what a process it is to access a recipe, the app doesn't save you any time here, either.

If you do queue up a recipe, you'll find these also need polish. In every example I read, the recipe directions were out of order. For instance, the last instruction on the recipe for banana pancakes is "use an offset spatula to turn the pancakes and finish cooking on the second side, another 2-3 minutes." Fair enough, but three points prior it says that you should "serve the pancakes at once dusted with powdered sugar and blueberry maple syrup."

Granted most cooks will know not to serve pancake batter. And I appreciate that the app will communicate with other LG Smart ThinQ appliance apps. If you want to cook a Smart Range recipe, you can run an search of the ingredients you currently have in your refrigerator. Still, the issues far outweigh the positives, and LG's Smart Thinq app simply needs more attention, from QA to its basic functionality.

Screenshot by Steve Conaway/CNET

Performance
We designed our tests to asses what we considered to be primary oven uses, such as roasting, broiling, and baking with both convection and nonconvection settings. We also put the stovetop through its paces with boil and simmer tests. We will add more comparison units, and focus on price-appropriate comparisons as we expand our inventory of oven reviews. For now, we're comparing two of the first ovens we received here in our review facility, the $1,399 LG and the considerably more expensive Samsung NE58F9710WS Electric Range.

Many ranges and cooktops now claim to have turbo-boil or rapid-boil capabilities, usually in the form of a large, adjustable front burner. This LG is no exception, and you trigger fast boiling by selecting both the inner and outer elements on the large dual-element burner. The LG boiled a large pot of water in 12 minutes and 10 seconds, compared with the 14 minutes and 32 seconds required by the Samsung. When we performed the test with a smaller burner though, the LG needed 15 minutes and 6 seconds to bring water to a boil, whereas the Samsung only needed 11 minutes and 53 seconds. We were surprised to find such variation between the units. Plan any high-heat multipot cooking scenarios accordingly.

To test the range's ability to simmer food, we made white rice. The temperatures shown in the graph began after we brought the water and the rice to a boil and set the rice to simmer, as per each manufacturer's instruction (2.2 in the LG's case and Low for the Samsung). The temperature on the Samsung's burner began to drop about halfway through. The LG's heat output didn't really budge. That's problematic, but at least with our rice, the LG didn't scorch the pan, and it only came out with a slight yellow tinge. It could have been worse.

In a less formal test, I also reduced some balsamic vinegar on the LG, using both the larger and smaller burners. I found that the burners ran much hotter than expected, and my first batch burned. This heat isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I would note that you should use care when cooking on the LG the first few times, as it will run hotter than you are likely accustomed to and you'll likely need to make adjustments.

It wasn't just the stovetop that ran hotter than expected. The LG's infrared broiler also heated to a higher-than-expected temperature, which yielded some interesting results in our broiling tests. This broiler heats ceramic plates located on the top of the oven cavity. The idea is that they will heat more intensely and more evenly than traditional broilers in order to sear your food and cook it faster. In the case of a ham steak, the searing definitely happened, though perhaps too much.

Steve Conaway/CNET

Looking at the chart, you'll also see that it took nearly a minute longer for the ham to reach the food-safe 148 degrees than it did in the Samsung broiler. The Samsung broiler heated the ham steak evenly, without burning the fat or meat in the process. You might want that sear on some meats, but not on more delicate foods.

To test the range's convection roasting ability, we butterflied a whole chicken along the back, removed the spine, and placed it on a rack inside a roasting pan. We preheated the oven to 350 degrees and cooked the chicken until the thermometer read FDA-recommended 165 degrees. The LG roasted the chicken, on average, in just under 70 minutes, compared with 52 minutes on the Samsung. This seemed odd because, as in our broiling test, the inside of the LG's oven cavity seemed to run at a higher temperature than the Samsung's. What matters most in these food tests, however, is the finished product. In this test, not only was the Samsung's chicken done more quickly, but it had crispier skin and better-tasting meat. The LG chicken's skin wasn't as crisp, and the meat wasn't cooked as evenly throughout. And it took 20 minutes longer to hit the desired temperature.

Steve Conaway/CNET

While we only tested convection roasting, we tried both convection and conventional baking. Conventional baking relies on heat waves radiating from the heating element below the oven cavity floor and bouncing off the walls of the oven to cook and brown food. Looking at our performance chart, you'll see an abrupt temperature drop after the ovens claimed to have hit their preheated temperatures. The drop accounts for when we opened the oven door to insert the biscuits. From there, the temperatures gradually climbed back to the prescribed mark.

Steve Conaway/CNET

Our numbers reflect the average oven temperature compiled from eight different thermocouples inside the unit. We're less concerned with the temperature accuracy than the end product, which is the result of temperature consistency. The Samsung's average temperatures, as you can see in our chart, were closer than those of the LG. The apparent result is the LG's uneven biscuits, which are much darker on the top rack and lighter on the bottom rack. The Samsung results weren't uniform, but they were closer, and were not approaching overdone like the biscuits on the LG's top rack.

Because it's more efficient, convection baking uses lower temperatures than traditional electric baking. For better or worse, these ovens handle that adjustment differently. Tell the LG oven to cook at 450 degrees in convection mode, and it will automatically dial down the setting to 425. The Samsung doesn't make that conversion for you. We adjusted those settings accordingly for testing.

Again, the steep drop on the chart represents our opening the door to put the biscuits in the oven. The LG demonstrated a less severe pattern of temperature inconsistency on this test, and the biscuits came out much more evenly. They still weren't as uniform as the Samsung's biscuits, but convection cooking seems to prove its value here in both units.

Steve Conaway/CNET

Testing further, I also tried the bread setting from the LG's favorites menu, which let me see how well it handled a single, large-volume item. I made dough for two loaves of gluten-free bread and baked one in the LG and the other in the Samsung. The Samsung doesn't have a bread-baking preset and so I followed the box's directions. Even though the LG does have a bread preset, I still had to manually input the 30-minute bake time.

Both ovens produced loaves that were well-cooked, though we enjoyed the texture of the Samsung's bread slightly more. Whereas the LG's conventional baking browned the top of the loaf evenly, the sides and bottom weren't as uniform. The Samsung seemed to circulate the heat more evenly around the bread for crisp sides in addition to a crisp top.

Maintenance, support, and service
The LG LRE3027ST defaults to a 4-hour self-cleaning cycle, but you can adjust it to light and heavy cleaning modes by cycling through a single button. Press start and the oven will automatically lock itself. The lock will release when the oven has cooled.

The LG comes with a one-year warranty for parts and labor, including in-home service, and a five-year limited warranty on the cooktop and radiant surface units. LG also provides a service page that allows you to schedule service or find a repair center, as well as register for the extended service plan, which extends the warranty by five years.

This service page also has an FAQ section, a section where you can order your own replacement parts, and a customer chat center. For diagnostics or quick reference, you can also access the section of the Smart Range app that contains both topics.

Conclusion
When so much of the landscape lacks connectivity, I thought it was an opportunity for LG to really wow me with its SmartThinQ features. As with their Smart ThinQ refrigerator, while the LRE3027ST range seems to be basically competent, the smart features lack any obvious usefulness. If you like the basic design and performance of this range, you can purchase the LRE3025ST, which is the same oven without the wireless connectivity. Serious bakers and anyone who uses a broiler regularly might look for another option outside of this line altogether.

Find out more about how we test ovens.

2Z9A7139.jpg
6.7

LG Smart ThinQ 6.3 Cu. Ft. Capacity Electric Single Oven Range with Infrared Grill LRE3027ST

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Usability 8Performance 6