"Alexa, cook me dinner."
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Soon you'll be able to, according to Amazon, who announced yesterday that it's releasing a smart oven (along with a bunch of other cool smart products, including new Echoes). We asked our kitchen and cooking editor, Cassidy Olsen, to weigh in on whether the fancy new oven is worth buying, plus what else you can expect from Amazon this fall.
Besides being a four-in-one device, the big draw of the Amazon smart oven is that it connects to any Amazon Echo device so you can use voice-control. That means you can ask Alexa to start or stop cooking, to preheat the oven, or to use one of the 30 presets that the oven comes with (like popping popcorn).
Another highlight is the oven's scan-to-cook capability. You can scan the barcode of almost any packaged food and your oven will cook it automatically without you having to manually enter anything. It even has a built-in temperature probe to monitor your food's internal temperature so it knows when it's finished. And when your food is ready (or when the oven is preheated)? Your oven will notify you so you don't even have to get up and check.
"The smart oven—which actually appears to be a multi-functional microwave oven—combines two features that consumers absolutely love right now (convection cooking and air frying) with a tried-and-true appliance, the microwave," Cassidy says, adding, "Air frying is actually just convection cooking on a smaller, hotter scale, so the technology is the same (and labeling them as different is a bit of a misnomer), although it doesn’t surprise me."
"Most similar appliances we’ve seen, including the Breville Smart Oven and Ninja Foodi Oven, build themselves around a toaster oven instead of a microwave," Cassidy explains. "The microwave base appeals to non-cooks and those who still need to get their food in a hurry, but as we explain in our roundup of affordable microwave ovens, luxury microwaves rarely perform better than their inexpensive counterparts (they’re all the same on the inside)."
And of course, you can't ignore the price. At just $249 (which includes a free Echo Dot), the Amazon smart oven is less than half the cost of many other smart ovens currently on the market. For instance, the popular June oven is $700 while KitchenAid's smart oven is over $3,000.
While Cassidy says she's holding judgment until she gets her hands on the oven herself come November (her review to follow!), she's hopeful. "This isn’t some cheap appliance, like we saw with the AmazonBasics microwave, which is available for just $60," she says. "At $250, it’s comparable to the price of our favorite toaster ovens, but definitely expensive for a microwave. I’m curious to see if the air frying function can actually perform on par with our favorite air fryers—we’ve been disappointed by the air fry functions on other multi-cookers we’ve tested, including the Instant Pot air fryer and Ninja Foodi oven."
The smart oven is currently available for pre-order and will be released on November 14.
The smart oven isn't the only thing Amazon is coming out with—the retailer announced 15 (!!) brilliant new products at its annual event. While one of those is the upgraded Amazon Echo (which will have even more features and colors), there are a few even cooler things on the horizon. Like the Echo Frames, which let you speak to Alexa via your eyewear, or the Echo Loop, which is a ring that gives you notifications by vibrating on your finger.
We're also looking forward to the Echo Flex, which is the tiniest Echo yet and plugs directly into a wall outlet, and the Echo Buds, which are essentially Amazon's take on AirPods (wireless earbuds that you can use to communicate with Alexa). And parents may be interested in the Echo Glow, a smart lamp that changes colors and is a very affordable $30.