Samsung NE58F9710WS Slide-In Electric Range with Flex Duo Oven review: Flexibility from the Flex Duo oven

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The Good Excellent features like a dual oven and gorgeous touch screen make the Samsung NE58F9710WS Slide-In Electric Range with Flex Duo Oven a knockout.

The Bad It's an expensive range, and while it falls in line with the prices of other slide-in models, unless you plan to use the Flex Duo regularly, you may not be able to justify the cost.

The Bottom Line If you're not on a tight budget and like the idea of choosing between one or two ovens based on your needs, this might be an excellent option for you.

8.2 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Usability 8
  • Performance 8

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 LG LRE3027ST Smart ThinQ Range, but what this Samsung lacks in smart connections, it more than makes up for in smart design. The NE58F9710WS isn't a casual purchase and certainly falls within the high-end of nonprofessional ranges, but this is a highly recommendable oven for its price.

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.

The NE58F9710WS is a slide-in range, which means its designed to look fully integrated with your countertops. Colin West McDonald/CNET

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 heavy, stainless dials give this range a professional look. Colin West McDonald / CNET

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 cooktop has five burners imbued with great features, such as bridged capabilities, a triple burner, and a warming center. Colin West McDonald / CNET

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.

The Electric Range comes with the standard hot surface indicator on its cooktop. Colin West McDonald / CNET

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.

The 5.8-cubic-foot oven has more than enough space for your cooking needs. Colin West McDonald/CNET

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.

The Flex Duo divider gives you a standard, large oven and the option to turn it into two individually-controlled ovens. Colin West McDonald/CNET

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.

Frequent entertainers might get a lot of use from the warming drawer. Don't worry, the rest of us can still use it for storage. Colin West McDonald/CNET

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.

The hidden bake element makes oven cleaning a much easier task. Colin West McDonald/CNET

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.

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