By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Melding artful form and efficient function, GE Appliance has debuted a 2003 product line that will support the kitchen's place as the centerpiece of the home.
With a heavy emphasis on its high-end Profile line, the company's kitchen offerings extend last year's sleek style points with clean lines, bold curves and sculptured handles.
Inside, GE continues to push the engineering envelope with advanced cooking technologies and, on the laundry side, a clothes care system that allows the washer to relay instructions to the dryer, so that the dryer need never be programmed manually.
The latter, dubbed Harmony, could serve as GE's answer to Whirlpool's successful Duet laundry pair. Unlike its predecessor, the Profile Harmony washer is top loading. Also unlike its predecessor, it communicates electronically with its companion dryer to preset dry cycles, based on selected wash options, for more efficient drying action.
The curved control panels are interchangeable for those who prefer their dryers on the left side, and feature LCD touch screens, while both units will be offered in dark platinum.
The washer itself has a 4-cubic-foot stainless steel tub and a Calypso-like HydroWash action in lieu of an agitator for gentler handling of clothes. Water levels are matched to load size for greater water and energy savings, and a Stain Inspector system optimizes wash cycles for 65 common stains.
The 7.3-cubic-foot capacity dryer has a stainless steel drum, as well as a DuoDry system comprised of two motors that respectively control airflow and tumbling action to ensure fast, even drying. The Harmony dryer also has four moisture and temperature sensors to prevent under- or over-drying.
The laundry pair is priced to retail around $2,000 and will hit retail stores in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, GE cuts cooking times for its new Profile oven platform by combining thermal, convection and metal-safe microwave energies all within one cavity. The unit automatically applies the correct combination of energies to optimize cooking performance, allowing foods to cook up to five times faster than traditional ovens could. That effectively halves the time it takes to roast a turkey and cuts bread baking time by two-thirds.
Besides speed modes, the ovens also provide traditional baking, broiling, roasting and true European convection options, as well as defrost, warm, self-clean and help modes. Other features include easy-to-use controls that automatically convert traditional recipes by entering food type, time and temperature, plus a Precise Air convection system fan that reverses direction for optimal air and heat circulation, so that pans no longer need to be rotated.
Like its other 2003 line mates, the Profile ovens boast bold curves and clean lines that lend them a "sophisticated appearance," GE said. Suggested retails range from $2,349 to $2,599 for single wall ovens; $3,699 to $3,899 for double wall ovens and $2,799 to $2,999 for the slide-in/freestanding range. Shipping begins in late summer.
Among more conventional cooking options, GE has also totally redesigned its freestanding Profile gas ranges, which now feature glass-touch controls and a contoured backsplash, four burner sizes with continuous grates, plus sculptured handles and stainless steel finish. The deep-recessed cooktops also boast a bowed design and sealed burners to help contain spills. Suggested retails range from $999 to $1,699, with availability slated for May.
On the refrigeration front, GE is betting on the growing popularity of bottom mount configurations by enhancing its 2003 assortment with a multi-flow air system for even temperature maintenance, plus a host of ergonomic improvements. These include a more accessible fresh food department with slide-out, spill-proof shelving, adjustable gallon-door storage and a SpaceSaver beverage rack that accommodates tall and odd-shaped containers.
Other features of the Profile bottom mounts include up-front digital controls with temperature read-out, an integrated icemaker with GE SmartWater filtration and, within the freezer compartment, three full-extension baskets for greater storage flexibility.
Price points will range from $1,199 to $1,699 when the refrigerators hit retail floors this June.
Elsewhere, GE is adding a stainless steel interior to its Profile built-in dishwasher, which already boasts a full-length, one-piece color wrap contour door; tower-less rack design that can accommodate up to 16 place settings; fold-down tines; and sound-dampening construction. Models will ship this spring, with suggested retails ranging from $649 to $999.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.