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Samsung NE58H9970WS Slide-In Induction Chef Collection Range with Flex Duo Oven review: Samsung's stylish induction range boasts futuristic cooking power

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Induction ranges heat up pots and pans using magnetic fields. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Spanning 30 inches across by 26.3 inches wide, the smooth black top surface of the Slide-In Chef Collection Induction range houses a total of four circular burners. Specifically there are two 7-inch hot zones on the left side (front and back), while the righthand portion holds a smaller 6-inch burner (in back) plus a massive 11-inch burner up front.

Additionally a small, rectangular digital display indicates the power level (separate from labels on the burner knobs themselves) of all four cooking areas. It will also highlight whether a particular burner contains residual heat (with a lower case "h").

What's really wild though is how Samsung has added a string of blue LED lights embedded around parts of each burner, termed "virtual flame". The idea here is for these lights to reflect off of your premium stainless steel induction cookware, creating the illusion of gas flames. In practice I thought the effect was quite striking though I wish the LEDs could increase or decrease brightness depending on the power level you've selected.

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Virtual Flame in action. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Be warned though that if you love to cook off lots of pancakes, french toast, bacon, sausages or other breakfast treats, this may not be the stove for you. That's because unlike its gas-powered cousin the Samsung Slide-In Chef Collection Gas Range , it lacks a large center oval burner or bundled griddle pan. Compared with gas cooktops, however, and similar to electric ranges, this smooth induction surface is a cinch to wipe down and keep clean. This is especially true since the appliance's countertop experiences indirect heat, not direct heat like conventional ranges.

Performance

In keeping with the promise of induction's greater cooking power, the Samsung Slide-In Induction Chef Collection Range demonstrated impressive cooking capabilities. Using the appliance's 7-inch burner, boiling 67.2 ounces of water (to 209 degrees Fahrenheit) took an average of just 5 minutes 43 seconds. Likewise the stove's large 11-inch burner brought 112 ounces up to 209 degrees Fahrenheit (just below boiling point and starting at 75 F) in a mere 7 minutes 24 seconds.

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The Samsung Induction Range boiled water ridiculously fast. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

This is the first induction range we've tested, so we need more context to judge this Samsung unit among other induction cooktops, but next to the standard electric ranges we've tested, this Samsung has the swiftest boil times we've yet measured. We will update this review as we test more induction ranges, as well as gas cooktops, but Samsung has at least delivered on the promise of faster boiling through induction compared with standard electric ranges.

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The Samsung's big induction burner was swift at heating up water as well. Tyler Lizenby/CNET
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Frying eggs on this range was a delight while crisping up bacon and baking muffins at the same time was no sweat. Brian Bennett/CNET

Achieving blazing hot temperatures is just part of this range's story. One of my favorite aspects of cooking with induction are the extremely low power levels you can select. The ability comes in especially handy when simmering delicate cream sauces or melting chocolate and butter, ingredients which either scorch easily or break if you're not careful. For example, I was able to crack a couple of eggs into a pan with the burner set to "simmer" (number two on the dial) and turn my back to wash a few dishes while they cooked.

This is a technique I would never attempt with an ordinary electric range since by nature their design (using a heating element which in turn heats a ceramic hotplate) is horribly unresponsive compared with comparable gas or induction cooking surfaces.

The Induction Chef Collection's oven also had its bright spots, specifically thanks to its Flex Duo partition worked. Just like the Samsung NE58F9710WS Slide-In Electric Range , which also featured the same technology, I was able to prepare two radically different food types in the oven simultaneously. In my case it was broiling a tray full of bacon (at 400 degrees F) while baking blueberry muffins (at 325 degrees F). To my surprise neither the bacon nor the muffins exchanged flavors or aromas despite plenty of smoke and oily sizzle on the bacon's part.

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Flex Duo lets you do things like oven fry bacon and bake muffins at the same time. Brian Bennett/CNET

I was much less wowed by the Chef Collection's convection baking performance. Double racks of biscuits I baked using the standard Bake mode (with convection) were mostly uniform, though very underdone. It was a far cry from convection results we saw from the Dacor Renaissance 30-inch Wall Oven . Dual racks of biscuits the appliance produced were both evenly and pleasingly browned.

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Dual rack convection baking yielded even but underdone results. Brian Bennett/CNET

Dual rack biscuit bakes (without convection) displayed the usual weaknesses of many ovens, namely uneven cooking. In the Chef Collection's case the top rack tended to be more browned than the bottom. I also roasted chickens in the Slide-In Induction Chef Collection Range for good measure and the results confirmed the oven can reliably cook a tasty bird without any issues.

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Turning off convection helped the top rack of biscuits brown better but less than the bottom rack. Brian Bennett/CNET
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The Samsung Slide-In Induction broiled burgers relatively quickly. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

On our tests the Slide-In Induction proved to be better at broiling hamburgers than baking biscuits. The oven had the power to complete cooking six hamburger patties in an average of 14 minutes 54 seconds. That's a tad slower than the LG Single Electric Oven, but faster than many other ranges, including the GE Artistry Series Electric and GE Free-Standing Electric . I also noticed that burgers the Chef Collection produced were nicely charred on the outside yet still moist and juicy inside -- a trait I personally relish.

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Test burgers came out seared but juicy. Brian Bennett/CNET

Conclusion

Samsung's $3,699 Slide-In Induction Chef Collection Range is certainly a luxurious step up from its less expensive sibling, the $2,499 Samsung NE58F9710WS Slide-In Electric Range . Not only does the appliance sport the same attractive stainless steel design, premium controls and handy Flex Duo split oven abilities, it brings the enhanced performance only induction technology can deliver, including fast boil times and responsiveness -- once the sole domain of gas-powered ranges.

Of course you can't deny that the product's sky-high price tag is sure to be a stumbling block for all but the most die-hard fans of induction cooking. If you want induction at a lower price, there are alternative appliances such as GE's Profile Series 30-inch Slide-In Induction and Convection Range ($3,200), which can be had for a little less cash. The GE range also packs its fancy cooking technology into a compact 30-inch frame just like the Samsung. Still, if money is no object, you love induction cooking and you're turned on by this oven's Flex Duo multi-tasking capabilities, then the Samsung Slide-In Induction Chef Collection Range is the clear choice.

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