Here's proof that you don't have to throw down thousands for a range that meets your needs.
We got to spend some time with the $1,899 Flex Duo range, model number NE59J7850WS, when Samsung debuted it at CES earlier this year. Since Samsung's $2,499 Flex Duo NE58F9710WS got high marks when we reviewed it back in 2013, we weren't exactly sure if this new, less-nice-looking model would bring anything special to the lineup. But its reasonable price and uniquely hinged upper oven door give it enough appeal to put its recommendability in the ballpark of its pricier predecessor.
This Flex Duo range won't make sense for everyone. For starters, it has a pretty unremarkable design. Yes, it looks fine, but it definitely doesn't have the same eye-catching appeal as Samsung's premium Flex Duo range . That said, if you're looking to spend less than $2,000, it looks roughly the same as every other stainless-steel-wrapped electric model in that price range.
Electric models tend to make less of a statement than their gas counterparts. Take the $1,699 Samsung NX58F5700 . That gas range comes with sturdy cast iron grates, a wok accessory and a griddle. Its slightly oversized burner knobs also give it an almost-luxury chef look, even though it's midpriced. It's a challenge to do something similar with the understated smooth ceramic cooktop that defines most medium- and high-end electric models.
That said, this NE59J7850WS unit looks nice enough and it's easy to use. I like that it has four knobs for accessing the main burners -- you can access the fifth warming burner from the display panel. You can also adjust its powerful 3,000W burner to accommodate 6-, 9- or 12-inch pots and pans.
While the Flex Duo does have some unique oven modes like bread proof, dehydrate and slow cook, the removable divider is a key feature. Without the divider, the oven capacity is 5.9 cubic feet. Add it in, and you get a 2.7-cubic-foot upper oven and a 3-cubic-foot lower oven. The oven has subtle arrow indicators that tell you where to add the divider and it will chime when it's installed correctly.
New to this model, and arguably its most uncommon feature, is a latch that lets you open a smaller door on the top oven without letting air escape from the lower oven. The last Flex Duo we reviewed didn't have that feature, so you had to open the entire door -- even if you were cooking in the top and the bottom oven and only wanted to check on the food on the top oven. That's a vast improvement over the previous iteration, although it would be nice to be able to access the bottom oven separately, too.
If you've read some of our other oven reviews, then you know that we don't mess around when it comes to testing. That means that we do multiple rounds per cooking mode and type of food so we can tell you what to expect from each and every model. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta taste-test all that deliciousness.
Biscuits are typically our first stop when it comes to oven testing. We test single and double racks of buttermilk biscuits in both traditional and convection modes. The collage above shows traditional double-rack biscuits (top row) and convection double-rack biscuits (bottom row).
Like many biscuits before these, the traditional double-rack biscuits were cooked on the top rack and undercooked on the bottom rack. In many cases, the top rack is overcooked, but this Flex Duo model managed to keep that at bay. The convection double-rack biscuits look much more uniform and are about as close to the "biscuit ideal" as you can get.
The single-rack biscuits had the reverse problem. The traditional mode biscuits, pictured above on the left, look near-perfect, whereas the convection mode single-rack biscuits were seriously overcooked. I'd suggest using convection mode for multiple-rack baking and traditional mode for single-rack baking.
I also broiled a few batches of burgers in this oven. Broiling applies near-direct heat to food, so it's a common cooking mode for hamburgers, sausage and other things that you'd typically make on a grill. In order to track the broiling speed, I used one temperature probe per burger and monitored the time it took for all six to reach 145 degrees (that's roughly medium-rare/medium).
Compared with the other electric ranges we've reviewed, the Flex Duo was the fastest at 12 minutes and 19 seconds; it didn't hurt that the burgers tasted very good, too. On the other end of the spectrum, GE's $800 JB650SFSS took the longest at 16 minutes and 15 seconds.
In addition to these standard oven tests, I also cooked a bunch of other stuff to highlight the Flex Duo feature.
I began with simultaneously cooking bacon in the top oven and cookies in the bottom oven. While a bacon-infused cookie would probably taste delicious, this test illustrated that there was no "flavor leeching" between ovens. In other words, you can feel comfortable cooking salmon in one oven and brownies in the other without worrying that your baked goods will taste like fish.
I also made some frozen tater tots in the lower oven. The cooking instructions said to cook them for 22 to 29 minutes, so I started on the low end at 22 minutes. While they tasted fine after 22 minutes, they needed another 5 minutes or so to get that classic tater tot crispiness on the outer layer.
For the final oven test, I convection roasted a whole chicken at 425 degrees. The chicken weighed about 5.5 pounds and it took little over an hour to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. That's pretty quick. And even though I only sprinkled it with salt and pepper, it tasted very good -- juicy and tender.
Unlike the impressive hamburger broil results, the Flex Duo did not do particularly well at boiling a 5-quart pot of water. It took just over 13 minutes to reach a rolling boil, whereas Samsung's own $3,699 induction model took less than 8 minutes. The Flex Duo did do better than the pricier Flex Duo , though, which took more than 14 minutes to boil.
The smaller, 3-quart-pot test took 10 minutes and 40 seconds to reach a rolling boil. Once again, Samsung's induction model took the lead at under 6 minutes to boil. The $1,400 LG LRE3027ST took the longest out of the group at over 15 minutes.
Samsung's $1,899 Dual Door Flex Duo may not be the fastest water-boiler or the best single-rack convection biscuit maker, but its speedy and delicious hamburger broil and chicken roast results as well as its general ability to convert into whatever kind of oven you need, gives this range a ton of appeal. That's especially true when you consider that a lot of similarly priced ranges with comparable design, usability and performance only have one oven; you really can't beat that value. Don't overlook this adaptable appliance if you're in the market for a midprice electric range that can multitask on your behalf.