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How smart are they? 10 new-wave countertop appliances, tested |

How smart are they? 10 new-wave countertop appliances, tested

It won’t be long before all of our kitchen gadgets are tethered to our phones via WiFi or Bluetooth. The Post tried 10 smart countertop appliances to see how they would fit into a normal kitchen routine. Here’s what we thought of them.



(Jennifer Chase/For the Washington Post)

June oven ($1,495). A WiFi-connected convection oven with image-recognition technology and a built-in scale on top. The device can identify more than 25 types of food, from bacon to cookies, and cook them precisely and automatically. juneoven.com

PROS: If you put a food in the June that matches one of its automatic presets, it will instantly know how to cook it. The oven can be twice as fast as a traditional one, and in­cred­ibly consistent. (When June toasted a batch of pine nuts without burning a single one, a colleague nearly wept with joy.) A built-in food thermometer monitors meats with precision and connects to the oven, so June will alert you when your food is at temperature. June’s internal camera beams video to your phone so you can watch your food cook — and the app turns that video into a time-lapse that you can share with others.

CONS: Takes up a lot of counter space. It’s not a full-size oven, so you can roast a chicken but not a turkey.


(Jennifer Chase/For the Washington Post)

Drop ($76.75) is a Bluetooth scale that walks you through recipes on your smartphone. You rarely have to use a measuring cup, because it tells you exactly how much of an ingredient you need by weight. getdrop.com

PROS: Elegant design and a very easy-to-use app interface. If you’re short on one ingredient, you can weigh it, and Drop will rebalance the entire recipe to keep the correct ratio.

CONS: To add your own recipes, you need to enroll in the “Drop Creator” beta program.


(Jennifer Chase/For the Washington Post)

Behmor Connected Brewer ($189.95 on Amazon) is a WiFi-connected drip coffeemaker that can be controlled remotely through an app. behmor.com

PROS: The easy-to-use app gives you a high degree of control and precision over your brewing temperature and soak, but it’s also easy to use for people who aren’t as particular. The product has an Amazon Alexa command, so if you have an Echo, you can tell it to make your coffee.

CONS: Everything is controlled through the app, so if you don’t have an Echo, you might be fumbling with your phone in your bleary-eyed desperation for caffeine.


(Jennifer Chase/For the Washington Post)

Hapifork ($59.90 on Amazon.com) is a utensil that tracks the number of bites you take. It buzzes in your hand if you eat too quickly. www.hapi.com/product/hapifork

PROS: A helpful tool for people who are trying to eat more slowly for medical reasons, or to lose weight.

CONS: It didn’t work as promised. I often had to exaggerate the motions of eating to get it to recognize many of my bites.


(Jennifer Chase/For the Washington Post)

Cinder ($399; preorder on Indiegogo.com) is smart grill that allows you to cook with precision through a Bluetooth connection and an app. The device will ship in October. www.cindergrill.com

PROS: It works kind of like sous vide does, but faster: You can heat your rib-eye to precisely 133 degrees, medium-rare, for a perfect steak, and you don’t have to pay attention to it. Cinder will hold your food at temperature for two hours afterward, so your food won’t overcook while you work on other things. The app is easy to use, and the machine’s nonstick surface is easy to clean.

CONS: The “sear” function on the device isn’t going to give you as nice a crust as a cast-iron pan would.


(Jennifer Chase/For the Washington Post)

Teforia ($399 at Nordstrom) is a beautifully designed loose-leaf tea brewer that uses radio frequency identification — a tag that can communicate information via electromagnetic waves — in its branded tea packets to set the brew time and temperature. You’ll be seeing RFID used in many more kitchen gadgets in the coming years.
teforia.com/infuser

PROS: You don’t have to go through an app to use it — simply wave the tea packet over the machine and put the leaves inside. The tea is delicious. You can brew multiple cups of tea from the same packet, and the K-cup-like packets are compostable. It would be ideal in an office setting.

CONS: You have to buy Teforia-branded tea for the RFID to work.


(Matt Brooks/The Washington Post)

Pico Brew ($799) is a system that simplifies home brewing. It’s like a more-complicated Keurig for beer: You insert the PicoPak of grain and hops and let the machine do its thing. picobrew.com

PROS: You can brew beer in half the time, with half the skill required for the traditional way. PicoBrew has partnered with many top breweries so you can buy their PicoPaks and replicate their beers at home.

CONS: It can be tricky to set up, and it’s less brainless than the other devices — you can definitely screw up your beer if you don’t follow the steps carefully. The machine requires a lot of cleaning.


(Jennifer Chase/For the Washington Post)

Perfect Co. scales ($72 to $77 on Amazon.com) are digital and guide you through recipes without using measuring cups. makeitperfectly.com/kitchen

PROS: There are three models — one for blender recipes such as smoothies, soups and baby foods; one for cocktails; one for baking — and each comes with the appropriate accessories (though you’ll need your own blender). Each one can be used with any of its related apps. It has a fun interface.

CONS: You have to use either a Perfect Co. recipe or go through the steps of teaching the app your own recipes.


(Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post)

Nomiku Sous Chef ($149) is a WiFi-connected sous-vide circulator — a device that cooks vacuum-sealed food in a precisely heated water bath — that can read the RFID tags in Nomiku-branded, subscription-delivered convenience meals. (Price includes a mandatory initial $80 in meals; after you spend $300 on meals, the price of the device is credited to your account.) souschef.nomiku.com

PROS: Sous-vide food cooks in its own juices, and it’s very precise — if you want a medium-rare steak, you’ll get one. The convenience-food subscription doesn’t re-up until you’re down to your last four packets, so you won’t get inundated with food you don’t need. You can also use it to cook from scratch.

CONS: You’ll go through a lot of plastic (though there are reusable sous-vide bags). If you’re cooking from scratch, you’ll have to sear the food after it cooks to give it texture.


(Jennifer Chase/For the Washington Post)

Pantelligent ($129) is a smart pan that enables you to monitor its precise temperature through an app. The app walks you through how to cook certain recipes and when to stir and flip. pantelligent.com

PROS: Would be ideal training for a novice cook.

CONS: Most of the app’s recipes, so far, are basic — fried eggs and grilled-cheese sandwiches, for example. The app lacks flexibility: When I made a recipe for chicken piccata and had more chicken than could fit in the pan, I couldn’t do a second batch of chicken without restarting the entire recipe. The app also has a somewhat grating robotic voice.

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