Amidst the many, many (manymanymanymany) announcements Amazon threw out at its special event here in Seattle today was its brand new Alexa enabled smart oven.
The Amazon Smart Oven is actually a four-in-one device that is a microwave, convection oven, air fryer and food warmer. The Smart Oven features voice control, so you can tell it to “cook one chicken breast,” as well as a scan-to-cook feature to automatically cook packaged foods. The Amazon Smart Oven is available for pre-order (bundled with an Echo Dot) for $249 with delivery starting in November.
The new smart oven is similar to the Alexa powered microwave Amazon announced at its event last year in that they are both what the company calls “reference models.” This is shorthand for saying that even though they are for sale, Amazon made these devices more to demonstrate what an Alexa powered device is capable of and how easy it is to build Alexa into hardware.
But there are a few drawbacks with Amazon’s Smart Oven. The voice control and scan-to-cook capabilities, while neat, also show off some of the shortcomings of the appliance. Just like the Amazon microwave, the smart oven must be paired with an Alexa device in order to make voice control work, so you can’t just use it out of the box on its own (hence the bundled Dot). And the oven does not have a built-in camera, so you have to use your phone or some other camera-equipped Echo device to read the barcode for scan-to-cook.
The most obvious comparison for the Amazon Smart Oven is the June oven. Both are multiple cooking devices in one, both feature cloud-based automated cook programs specific to different types of food, and both have temperature probes that plug into the device itself to monitor the internal cooking temperature of your food. Oh, and by the way, Amazon’s Alexa fund invested in June.
But the June costs $700, more than twice the amount of the Amazon smart oven. Sure, the June has more cook types (dehydrator, roast, etc.) and computer vision to automatically identify your food, but how much of that will consumers think they actually need when compared to the Amazon Smart Oven? Especially since Amazon’s device is not only a convection oven, but also sports a microwave, which the June does not. And more importantly, what happens when Amazon features its own oven on the front page of its massive retail site?
With the holidays approaching, we’ll soon find out.