Samsung NE58F9710WS Slide-In Electric Range with Flex Duo Oven review: Flexibility from the Flex Duo oven
Given that you can buy a range for less than $400, Samsung needs to give you a lot of bang for your buck to justify the NE58F9710WS's $2,299 sticker price. That price might shock you at first, but it falls relatively in line with similar slide-in range models. It's obvious, however, that with this range, Samsung at least attempts to give you extra value. Additions like the Flex Duo oven, which gives you the option to make individually-controlled double ovens out of the large, single oven cavity, make this range stand out from the pack. Couple that with a gorgeous, responsive touch screen and great cooking capability and this Samsung is on the right track to win your vote, assuming you're not on a tight budget.
Budgets matter, however, and Samsung is angling for a luxury market. Slide-in ranges are relatively new and are hot items in appliances right now. If you like the range but don't think the Flex Duo divider is worth $500, check out the $1,799 Samsung NE58F9500SS/AA. It's identical to its more expensive stablemate in all ways but without the Flex Duo feature. It doesn't have an app or smartphone connectivity like the
The usual elements
Generally speaking, even the most basic, bargain-basement range will include a cooktop, controls, an oven, a broiler, and a storage drawer. These general elements aren't what's interesting, nor do they drive up the price on their own. Rather, additions and improvements to these basic components are what separate this $2,299 Samsung range from a $400 model.
Let's start at the top, or what would have been the top. The NE58F9710WS is a slide-in range, which is different from more traditional free-standing ranges. A free-standing range can go anywhere, in between cabinets or standing on its own. Slide-in ranges are relatively new, but represent appliance manufacturers' attempts to make ranges look sleek, modern, and integrated with your kitchen in a way that previously would have required you to get a drop-in cooktop and a separate wall oven.
Naturally, dimensions matter. Countertop height is generally 36 inches and the depth, including the lip, measures 25 inches. The NE58F9710WS is just over 26 inches deep, including the handle on the oven door. The height is adjustable from 36 inches to 36 and four-fifths inches so that you can be sure the cooktop lip fits just on top of your counters.
The other important dimension for a slide-in range is width. For a truly built-in look, you'll need to measure your counters or cabinets to make sure that it fits snugly within that space. This Samsung is just under 30 inches wide. As with all large appliances, if you're not doing a major kitchen renovation, it's important to take careful measurements of your space before shopping, especially for a slide-in range where dimensions are so important.
Given that slide-in ranges are designed for a seamless fit with your countertops, the controls must move. Traditionally, freestanding ranges include their controls on a back panel, located behind the burners and the very rear of the appliance. With the NE58F9710WS -- and most slide-in ranges -- the controls move to the front of the oven, creating a sleek visual effect.
The NE58F9710WS features a gorgeous touch screen to control the oven and heavy, professional-looking dials to operate the cooktop. This range's touch screen uses Samsung's Guiding Light control technology. It illuminates only the mode-specific controls at your touch, and goes dark after a period of inactivity. Overall it's a sleek-looking control center that doesn't draw attention to itself until you want it to.
Granted, forward controls are easier for children to access. You can lock the NE58F9710WS's touch screen, unfortunately not the dials. The dials do require you to push them in before turning them, an action that might prove difficult for some smaller children. Unlocking the panel isn't difficult, but it requires you to press and hold a button on the touch screen for three seconds continuously. This gesture feels like it requires enough finesse to serve as an effective tamper deterrent.
The sleek appearance of the touch screen is matched by the glossy, black ceramic cooktop. This electric cooktop features five burners, a break from the more traditional four-burner set. The fifth burner isn't really a burner at all, however. Rather, it's a warming unit with three temperature settings controlled via the touch screen. I wish the warming unit were a regular burner, which would give me the option to use it for warming or to actually cook food on it. This is a small complaint, as Samsung has more than compensated for this with greater functionality on the other four burners.
You can operate the two, 7-inch, 1,800-watt burners on the cooktop's left side either individually or united as one, creating a bridge that's perfect for griddles. They're becoming more common, but are by no means the norm currently.
The NE58F9710WS also includes a triple burner. Other manufacturers have different names for this, such as Electrolux's Flex-to-Fit burners. The Samsung's triple burner is made up of 6-, 9-, and 12-inch burners located concentrically and features 3,000 watts of total power. This gives you a lot of room to customize your cooktop. You can cook with smaller pans on the front burner by activating the centermost portion. Or, for large pans or rapid boiling, you can activate all three from the same control dial.
Moving downward on the appliance, we come to the oven. On the most basic electric range, you'll have an oven with an average capacity of about 4.8 cubic feet with a broiler, two oven racks, and five rack position options. Like most other appliances, ovens have been getting bigger and bigger, and manufacturers like Samsung have tweaked the traditional range/oven models to give you not only more space, but more usable space.
For instance, the NE58F9710WS has 5.8 cubic feet of oven capacity, three racks, and seven rack positions. In addition, these racks have been updated to include a split rack and a gliding rack, on top of the traditional flat wire rack. This isn't the largest oven on the market, by any means. The LG LRE3027ST Smart ThinQ Range boasts 6.3 cubic feet of oven capacity. Still, 5.8 cubic feet is nothing to scoff at, and most cooks should find it provides plenty of space. A large viewing window (20 inches by 11 inches) gives you the view to check on all of the food in your oven.
Larger capacity is important, but it's not the only thing that matters -- nor is it enough to set this range apart. Samsung also included a hidden bake element, closed door broiling, and dual convection capability. Having a hidden bake element is a huge asset as it makes for easy cleaning as well as greater use of your full oven cavity. It means that the heating coils reside under the floor of the oven cavity, rather than on top of the floor itself, leaving a smooth, uninterrupted surface. This gives you better access to wipe up spills, but also gives you the ability to put a rack on the very bottom level of the oven without it sitting on top of the heating element, a position which would likely result in burnt food. This hidden bake element also allows for conveniences like steam cleaning.
The bake element is not to be confused with the broiler, which you'll find mounted on the top of the oven cavity. Unlike the LG range with its infrared broiler, the NE58F9710WS boasts a more traditional, electric coil broiler. If you don't need your broiler to function as a grill would, the Samsung's is fine, and I'll discuss it further in the performance section. What is different about the Samsung's broiler, however, is that it's designed to run with the door closed. Many traditional electric ovens require the door to be cracked during broiling, which presents a significant burn risk for households with children or curious pets. With closed door broiling, this risk is alleviated.
In addition to the easy-to-use control panel, Samsung has another convenience feature in this oven's integrated meat probe. This probe plugs directly into the oven, allowing you to program it to cook meat to a specific temperature, rather than relying on a timed cook. Setting food to cook to a specific time is an imperfect science, especially because no two roasts are exactly alike. Cooking to a prescribed temperature is far more accurate and hassle-free. I found the probe extremely easy to use, and its readings were as true as I hoped for. I'll talk about this more in the performance section.
The bake element, broiler, and probe are nice, but where Samsung really hits it out of the park in a way that no other brand has yet comes in the form of the Flex Duo divider. With the Flex Duo technology, you have the option to turn the large oven cavity into two individual spaces. This is made possible by the insulated divider panel that slides onto a dedicated rack slot inside the oven. With Flex Duo, you can set the temperatures of the two ovens individually with little to no carryover heat or aroma.
With the divider in place, you get a 2.4-cubic-foot upper oven and a 3.3-cubic-foot lower one. We'll discuss the performance of the Flex Duo technology in the performance section, but I appreciate the flexibility it offers as well as the energy-saving potential. This is a competitive option, especially considering the fact that many manufacturers are putting double ovens in ranges. With a static 36-inch double oven, you get around 2.2 cubic feet in the upper oven and 4.4 in the lower, but you're limited to those capacities. Plus, in most of those ranges, you lose your storage drawer to make room for those double ovens. With the Flex Duo, you get the best of all worlds with a large oven and the option to make two smaller, individually-controlled ovens. And you still get to keep the drawer.
This is a good thing, as the NE58F9710WS's drawer is meant for more than just storage, though that's certainly an option, too. This Samsung range features a warming drawer that has three temperature levels: low, medium, and high. You control the drawer via the touch screen. As an added safety feature, the drawer turns off automatically after three hours.
The warming drawer offers an additional function in that it houses the Flex Duo divider. This divider is heavy and cumbersome, but since it creates two ovens out of one, I want it to be sturdy. Once the divider cools after use, you can remove it and slide it into a gliding rack located at top of the warming drawer compartment for out-of-sight storage, yet easy access when the time comes to use it.
You won't find a manual lock lever on the NE58F9710WS. Samsung has replaced it with a motorized version. The oven door will lock automatically during self-cleaning cycles, but if you're the cautious type who locks the door during baking, you'll have to consult the manual for instructions as it requires a bit of finesse.
Rounding out functionality, we have to talk about Samsung's Sabbath Mode and cleaning options. Most ovens, as a safety measure, shut off automatically if the appliance has been on for a particularly long amount of time. When an oven is in Sabbath Mode, the shutoff is disabled. This mode is hardly unique, but Samsung makes it easy to use and adds additional, welcome features in terms of lighting and temperature adjustment.
Traditionally, ovens with Sabbath modes turn the oven light off automatically, but Samsung gives you the option to leave the oven light on continuously. In addition, the NE58F9710WS gives you the option to adjust the temperature of the oven while it's in Sabbath Mode. The touch screen won't illuminate and nothing in or on the oven will turn on or off, in accordance with Star-K rules for this functionality.
The NE58F9710WS also comes with the traditional self-clean option, which cleans the oven by heating to extremely high temperatures, thereby incinerating any debris in the oven cavity and turning it into easy-to-clean ash. This method has fallen out of favor due to many articles about the damaging effects that self-cleaning can have on an oven. There's always the alternative of harsh, abrasive chemicals, but Samsung offers a better option with Steam Clean.
Our ovens go through some pretty rigorous use for our performance testing, and naturally, the NE58F9710WS oven was splotched inside with baked-on grease and residue. The steam clean didn't really make a dent in this mess, with or without detergent, even after three runs. It worked well to remove lighter debris and, given its relative inability with heavy soiling, I tend to believe that it works best if you employ it for frequent maintenance, rather than after lots of build-up.
Let's talk Flex Duo
While all of these redesigned features or revamped components make for an attractive, functional range, it's the Flex Duo that really sets the bar for this appliance. It's a really exciting design and, while it's not perfect yet, Flex Duo could be great for you in that it offers you the convenience of having a large, single oven cavity with the flexibility of having the option for two, individually-controlled ovens. So how does it work?
Once you slide the divider onto the designated rack, the range automatically recognizes that it's in Flex Duo mode and will only display Flex Duo options on the touch screen. This is further evidence of why the NE58F9710WS's user interface is so fantastic. It exposes the relevant options at the right time; no more, no less. For example, the top oven will only set to broil, convection bake, and convection roast. The bottom oven can bake with or without convection. When you select either oven, the screen will only display the section-appropriate functions.
Most convection ovens feature one fan, located at the center of the back panel of the oven cavity. In order to accommodate the divider panel effectively, the NE58F9710WS has two, located above and below the slot where the divider fits. When you use the oven in single-oven mode without the divider, the NE58F9710WS runs on true convection. When the divider is in place, the top oven runs with fan convection and the bottom with true convection.
What's the difference? With fan convection, the heat in the oven comes from a heating element, located on the bottom of the oven. This fan circulates that hot air for even browning and heat distribution. Ovens with true convection capability have an additional heating element so that the fan is blowing hot air into the oven in addition to circulating the heat created by the heating element. True convection's reputation is for greater heating efficiency. This may be true, but convection, in any form, is still more efficient than conventional, radiant cooking.
I found this accurate in my Flex Duo tests, wherein I cooked simultaneously at different temperatures, using convection. In both cases, the food came out as I expected. Cooking in the ovens without convection required nearly twice the cook time and still yielded poor results. Without the convection, baking cookies took twice as long and the end product was dry. The cookies were uneven when cooked without convection and the bottoms were overly brown before the centers were fully baked. Convection's even heat distribution makes for better baked goods.
The NE58F9710WS was an absolute joy to use. This is due, in large part, to the touch screen and Samsung's Guiding Light controls. From this screen, you control all oven functions as well as the warming burner and warming drawer. Buttons range from the expected, including bake, broil, convection bake, and convection roast functions. But they also include some unexpected options that may become favorites, like steam clean, bread proof, favorite cook, healthy cook, and temperature probe controls.
The Favorite Cook option allows you to store not only cooking temperature, but cooking time as well. You have three Favorite Cook spaces available for three presets. I could see this being especially useful for holiday or frequent bakers who will bake sheets and sheets of cookies at the same temperature and time.
The Healthy Cook feature offers you preset for things like rice casserole, baked potato, grilled chicken, salmon steak, or white fish filet. I'm not necessarily sold on this being a useful preset, mostly because the options are limited. That said, this does fall in line with Samsung's goals of worry-free cooking and, if you're prone to anxiety when you cook, you might find this a great bonus feature.
As I mentioned in the previous section, activating the Flex Duo option is as easy as sliding the divider onto the appropriate rack level. Using the oven in Flex Duo mode was highly intuitive, and I love the fact that there are two separate lights for both the top and the bottom sections.
The touch screen is gorgeous, responsive, and has plenty of options without cluttering up the interface. More isn't always better, sometimes it's just more, and I think Samsung is aware of this fact. In addition to the touch screen, I love the heavy dials that control the stove burners. Even on the burners with more than one setting, like the bridge burner or the front power burner with three size options, the markings around the dial make sense and are easy to understand.
We designed our test to assess what we consider primary oven functionss, 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 LRE3027ST Smart ThinQ Range and this, the considerably pricier, $2,299 Samsung NE58F9710WS.
Many ranges and cooktops come with turbo-boil or rapid-boil burners. These burners are higher powered and are often size-adjustable. The Samsung's front triple burner is effective, though not as effective as the LG's power burner, which brought a pot of water to boil in 12 minutes and 10 seconds, while the Samsung required 14 minutes and 32 seconds. The results flipped, however, when we performed the test with the smaller burners. The Samsung needed only 11 minutes and 53 seconds to boil water, whereas the LG required 15 minutes and 6 seconds. I was honestly surprised to find such variation between the smaller burners, but the quick boil time with the small burner nearly made up for the slower boiling on the large one.
Boiling requires high power from a burner, but what about foods that require lower power, such as when you're simmering? Here we made white rice and set the stove controls to simmer following each manufacturer's instructions, setting the burner to Low on the Samsung and 2.2 for the LG. The temperature on the Samsung burner began to drop halfway through, which is what we expect to happen when you go from boil to a simmer, whereas the LG's temperature remained nearly constant. This correlated in our taste tests. We preferred the Samsung's rice, which was appropriately white and fluffy. The LG's rice, while not scorched, was a little overdone and had a slight yellow tinge to it.
In a less formal test, I also reduced some balsamic vinegar on the Samsung. It took longer than on the LG, but unlike the LG's burners, which always seem to run hot, the Samsung's were easy to manage. This seems to be what separates the Samsung from the LG. The LG ran hotter, pretty much across the board, but this doesn't seem to be a good thing.
We found this especially true in our broiler testing. For this test, we broiled bone-in ham steaks. The broiler in the Samsung worked as well as I would expect it to. It isn't enabled with infrared like the LG broiler, but then the LG's broiler seemed to get too hot and burned the ham. Looking at the chart, you'll see that the Samsung, in addition to producing a better looking and tasting product, also cooked it faster, reaching a food-safe 148 degrees nearly a minute sooner than the LG broiler. The Samsung also heated the ham steak efficiently and evenly, but didn't burn the fat or meat in the process.
To test the ranges' convection roasting abilities, 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 Samsung roasted the chicken in 52 minutes, compared to the nearly 70 minutes required by the LG. Even though the time does recommend the Samsung, what matters most in these food tests is the end product of the food itself. Not only did the Samsung's chicken cook faster, but the end product was better, too. It yielded a chicken that had juicy, tasty meat and crispy skin.
Even though we only tested convection roasting, we tested with both convection and conventional baking. Conventional baking relies on heat waves radiating from the heating element below the 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 indicated they hit their preheated temperatures. This drop accounts for when we opened the oven door to insert the biscuits, which were the subjects of our baking tests. From that point, the temperatures gradually climbed back toward the prescribed marks.
Our data reflects the average oven temperature compiled from eight different thermocouples inside the unit. We're less concerned with the temperature accuracy of the oven than the end product, which is the result of temperature consistency. As you can see in the chart, when cooking without the convection the Samsung's average temperatures were closer than those of the LG. These rounded-out temperatures led to more uniform biscuits, where the biscuits cooked on both the top and bottom racks more closely resembled one another. This is in contrast to the inconsistency of the LG, which produced biscuits which were much darker on the top rack and lighter on the bottom rack.
Given that it's more efficient, convection baking can cook food at lower temperatures than more conventional baking, generally speaking. The LG oven automatically converts the temperature downward when in convection mode. For example, if you set the oven to cook at 450 degrees, the LG will bake at 425. The Samsung doesn't do this conversion for you. We adjusted the settings manually for testing, but this could still be a point in the LG's favor, especially if you're not comfortable changing the recipe.
Once again, the steep drop on the chart represents our opening the door to put the biscuits in the oven. The Samsung never recovered temperature after the steep drop, while the LG slowly climbed back to the preset. Again, however, the end food results matter more than the numbers in these tests. While the Samsung's temperature stayed low, it still produced more uniform, well-cooked biscuits than the LG. Even still, the LG's biscuits tasted better, and so convection cooking seems to have proven its worth in both units.
I tested the bread setting in the LG oven's favorite's preset, and so I also baked an identical loaf in the Samsung for comparison. The Samsung doesn't have a bread preset, so I just followed the recipe. I wanted to see how the ovens handled single, large-volume items. The Samsung's bread was our favorite of the two, and it seemed to circulate the heat better than the LG. This was evidenced by the fact that the Samsung's bread was browned and crisp on all sides, whereas the LG's bread was really only browned on the top.
In addition to our more standardized tests, which apply to all ovens and ranges, I ran some additional tests with the Samsung because of its bridge and Flex Duo oven. I preheated a griddle and filled the entire pan with pancake batter to create what we affectionately called our "giant pancake." Why a giant pancake? I thought that it might be a good visual to show how the burners heated when in bridge mode and whether it made a difference, based on the browning pattern.I was right. The pancake was darkest near the front of the range and got progressively lighter further toward the back of the rear burner. This is as I expected. Even though I set the burners to the same level, I thought that more heat would be concentrated at the front of the bridge. The back of the griddle contained a slightly underdone pancake, but then again, this is an unrealistic test in terms of scale. For your normal size pancakes, the bridge works well.
To test the Flex Duo component, I baked cookies at 350 degrees in the top oven and a cast-iron french bread at 450 in the bottom oven, both with the convection enabled. I had performed these tests at home in my own oven individually to create a control sample. The results from both ovens were satisfactory. The cookies baked in the prescribed amount of time and weren't overdone. The same was true for the bread.
I wondered if the bread in the bottom oven would bake differently if the top oven wasn't in use. I baked an identical loaf of bread in the bottom oven with the top oven off and found that the results were nearly identical. This was a good sign and gave me confidence in Samsung's claims about the Flex Duo divider, which seems to work exactly as promised.
I also tested the integrated meat probe. To do this, I bought a small pork tenderloin. I inserted the Samsung's temperature probe according to the manual's instructions, but for a second reference point, we also inserted one of our own temperature probes, which connected to a calibrated reader. The Samsung probe's lowest temperature reading is 100 degrees (though the tenderloin was far colder than that), so don't expect to see degree-by-degree updates until the meat's internal temperature reaches 100 degrees. The FDA recommends cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
The Samsung's probe registered the meat hitting that temperature in 37 minutes, while our probe didn't hit the mark until 39 minutes. At 37 minutes, our probe read 156.5 degrees. Either way, after the prescribed 5 minutes of rest time, carryover cooking brought the temperature to 167, which is normal and well within the healthy range. I was impressed with the probe's accuracy. Steve, our lab expert extraordinaire, has seen a temperature difference between the probe and other thermometers of between two and six degrees. That the difference here was only two degrees impressed us.
Maintenance, support, and service
The NE58F9710WS defaults to a 3-hour self-cleaning cycle, but you can adjust it upwards to 4- or 5-hour cycles, depending on the level of oven soil. Pressing start will cause the oven to automatically lock itself, and the lock won't release until the oven has cooled. For daily maintainance or to clean small messes, you also have the option to Steam Clean the oven.
The Samsung comes with a one-year warranty for parts and labor and a five-year limited warranty for the cooktop. This is a fairly standard warranty, and Samsung also includes a support page which has links to e-mail or chat support as well as FAQs and service center locators.
With the NE58F9710WS, Samsung definitely seems to be leaning into a luxury market in terms of nonprofessional ranges. At $2,299, it's a lot to pay for a range, even with all of the inclusions, such as Flex Duo and the touch screen. If the Flex Duo isn't appealing to you, the NE58F9500SS/AA retails for $1,799 and is identical except for the divider.
Even then, Samsung is asking a lot from you in terms of price. I might be more interested in this appliance if the range was dual fuel, with a gas cooktop instead of an electric smoothtop, yet retaining the electric Flex Duo oven. As it stands, it's not for me. That said, it's a beautiful range with excellent performance. If you're in the market for a sleek-looking slide-in range that offers flexibility and function as well as style, this is a great option.
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