Of course everybody realized that the new oven platform of BSH brands Bosch and Siemens was the biggest news this year in the appliances sector at IFA Berlin. But on the first and second day the specialists were busy and only on the third day it became clear what the announcement really meant. The news is that the new ovens are the first wave of a totally new platform. The current platform was seven years old, and when in recent years competitors Electrolux and Miele achieved great successes with new platforms, BSH was expected to catch up. And they did, in a big way. The usual reasons for a new platform were mentioned: new functions which could not be fitted in the existing platform, greater variety, uniformity, connectivity and so on. One outcome of the design process was more hidden in the usual discussions, and BSH took everybody by surprise: competitors and press were evenly flabbergasted. So what was the surprise? The next level of cooking automation. By mounting a humidity sensor and cleverly integrating it in the software, a whole new set of functions becomes available. Of course the temperature probe is not new. But many foods cannot be properly measured with a probe, so the (always clever) German engineers studied other indicators and came up with humidity. It turns out that for many foods the amount of released moist is a very good indicator of the cooking process. Many times the moment where the moist level in the cavity reaches a plateau you need to turn down the heat.
Remember that in many of the current recipe functions in ovens you have to enter the weight of the food and this allows the computer to roughly estimate the cooking time. Now, you can actually measure the key moments in the process and have a much better accuracy with less parameters to enter. BSH promises that for all the built in automatic functions the result is optimal. As there was no time to try yet, we’ll have to believe them for now.
There are other aspects of the new platform: new are new combinations of standard oven functions, microwave and additional steam. Top model is, you guessed it, the combination oven with all the three functions. This is especially useful for reheating meals, as the speed of the microwave combines with the moist control of the steam function. A spokesperson gave an example: reheating by microwave gives you some 55% of original taste, where the combination easily 80%.
It is interesting that in many European markets the microwave functions in the primary oven had disappeared in recent years, in favor of a separate microwave. Nothing wrong with this, but you miss the many combinations of traditional oven functions with microwave speed. And, when many of these combinations are automated, you’ll enjoy it even more.
Still, there is one drawback: the 100% steam of a dedicated steam oven cannot be combined with the microwave function. The additional steam function has three levels: 30, 60 and 90 % steam. So if you do a lot of vegetables and fish, the main foods you’ll cook in a steam oven, you might be better off with two ovens.
There are a lot of new product requirements realized with the new platform. Now, the steam generator is hidden in the back and the water reservoir is over the cavity. You can take it out when the control panel opens up to the front. The door is less thick while offering the same level of protection. Now, many programs need no pre-heating: combining the different heating modes in the beginning of the cycle gets the oven up to working temperature very fast before circulation heating takes over.
The resulting range can be a bit confusing: there are five main oven types which all come in standard heights of 60 and 45 cm. Standard oven, oven with additional steam, oven with full stream, oven with microwave, and the top model oven with additional steam and microwave. The full-steam-only oven (without normal oven functions) comes only in 45 cm. And then there is a new version of the built-in espresso maker, using the new design and user interface, as well as a traditional microwave.
And, did we mention that there was an app? Just as with about any other appliance on the fair? It is a new release of the existing app which was shown last year.
The other big surprise, although more for insiders, was the relaunch of famous design pioneer Braun. Their small appliances unit was sold to de’Longhi, two years ago, and now there is a full set of new products in the famous Braun design style. If you are not a designer you might have forgotten that Braun was the company who shaped modern design in audio and video as well as small appliances. Their head designer Dieter Rams and his colleagues produced many groundbreaking designs; they made even a juicer look like an art product. The big black book with all Braun products is present on any designer bookshelf, and it is no secret that Apple products are very much ‘inspired’ by Braun. Braun used to be part of Proctor & Gamble (still the owner of the brand) but what works for shavers and toothbrushes, might not work for household appliances. So now, with the appliances business transferred to a new mother which is in the business itself and determined to make Braun a success again, the brand can tap into a large customer base which still remember that Braun once was the symbol of good taste.
And, seeing the new products, they still are. They are immediately recognized by their modern geometric style and the name is telling: Identity Collection. There is a jug blender, a food processor, a hand blender, a food steamer and a steaming system and the old times are back: they are the best looking of them all.
There is also the tribute collection: a series of slightly redesigned existing products which pays homage to the sixty years of Braun design.
A new product at Dyson: a robot vacuum, the 360 Eye. As we expect from Dyson they added a series of innovations: caterpillar tracks so the vacuum easily rides over carpets, always a problem zone; a new 360 degrees camera system, the famous Dyson D2 digital motor for much more suction power and the inefficient rotary sweepers are replaced by a brush bar over the full width of the vacuum.
As said before, this year is the first time that Whirlpool is present at IFA, with their German brand Bauknecht. Whirlpool used to focus on Eurocucina in Milan, but they changed their mind. They tested the waters last year with a trade-only event outside the fairgrounds, and now, as the Berlin fairgrounds got an extra hall, they have a midsize hall to themselves. Their famous induction oven (an oven with a removable induction hob inside the oven, for faster heating) was seen in action for the first time. Quite new was UltimateCare: a new air flow in the dryer, not only from the back but also from the bottom up, created a kind of air cushion for your most delicate fabrics. The bottom air inlet pushes air into the drum in a twice-a-second frequency.
There are also new, more rounded paddles in both the washer and the dryer, and the new drum pattern in the washer creates water cushions, again for delicate fabrics. In cooling there was a four-door SBS with illuminated handles (so you can find your drink in the dark) and two freezer compartments which also can be set to cooling. Another standard width model offers a chiller compartment: due to two extra fans the freezing process is shortened by almost two-thirds. The Zen top loader washer is the quietest in the market due to a direct drive motor.
In dishwashing, the existing Whirlpool innovations PowerWash (extra sprayers from the back) and PowerDry (faster moist removal during drying) were shown.
by Paul Roggema