2009 appliance trends
High-tech, "smart" appliances use electronics both for a more efficient
operation and to perform functions unheard of only a few years ago: fridges that make dinner suggestions or tell you what you’re out of; ovens and dishwashers that can be programmed to come on at a time that's convenient for you; built-in computers, televisions, MP3 player docks and many other, now almost routine high-tech functions.
At the same time, simpler values are being reflected in appliance design, like the desire for fresher food, simpler and healthier cooking methods and lower energy use. And quality, even in midpriced appliances, has never been higher. Here’s a survey of some of the newest bells and whistles out there.
Stainless steel is king for a reason: Not only is it chic and sophisticated but it also goes with almost any kitchen style and won't go out of date any time soon. It is also hygienic and durable. At least one company, Jenn-Air, has
brought out "oiled bronze" to give stainless a run for its money. It evokes a beautiful, warm tone, especially in a suite of appliances.
Small appliances are equally hightech: Mixers, food processors and coffee makers (as well as espresso and cappuccino makers) are all being made to high standards but are coming down in price.
As enthusiasm for bottled water fades built-in water filters are taking off: The most sophisticated ones can filter out contaminants as well as chlorine and sediment. The newest SubZero units feature air purification that "scrubs" interior fridge air every 20 minutes or so, eliminating odours, viruses and bacteria, as well as gases that can hasten food spoilage.
Ovens, cooktops, and ranges
Steam ovens are leading the way in the newest healthy, energy-efficient methods of cooking, sealing in nutrients and flavour and cooking quickly.
LG built-in cooktops and wall ovens contain a touch screen that provides a wealth of information -- such as a recipe bank -- and can often be programmed to automatically set the oven temperature.
Induction cooking is the newest energy-saving technology, especially safe on a built-in island or counter since the cooktop quickly heats pots but stays cool to the touch.
Some conventional radiant-heat cooktops now offer constant heat rather than cycling on and off, for more even cooking.
Oven drawers, like fridge drawers introduced a few years ago, provide a
convenient under-drawer position for an island or beneath a regular wall oven. Space-saving double-wall ovens feature two separate ovens in the space of one.
Some microwaves include a convection setting, for even cooking and browning, but without the energy consumption of a full-sized oven.
Another type features a radiant-heat lamp for warming foods safely for up to 90 minutes.
At last, time-delay start makes real sense: As many municipal electric utilities move to graduated electricity use, you can set the dishwasher to run late at night when rates are cheaper.
Extra-capacity units can wash up to 16 place settings in the same space as a conventional 12-place unit, with larger tubs and stronger spray motors.
Sensor units test water cleanliness and adjust to provide only as much water and cleaning time as needed. The GE SmartDispense unit can be filled once every two months or so with liquid detergent and dispenses exactly the right amount based on water hardness, level of dirt on dishes and the cycle you choose. GE also recently introduced a clothes washer with the same feature.
High-power scrubbing units use multiple power jets to eliminate prescrubbing to avoid wasting water.