Builders Show Goes High Tech - Twice

Builders Show Goes High Tech

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Beyond the "blue sky" prototypes on view at the Builders Show, majap suppliers unveiled several high-tech products that will be in stores this year.

GE's Advantium built-in, to be available in the company's upscale Monogram line as well as under the GE brand, has been redesigned with a drop-down door. Expected to retail in the $1,699 to $1,899 range, the Speedcook oven features more than 100 preprogrammed cooking selections.

Other new GE products at the show were a complete line of Profile Performance gas and electric cooktops, including electric smoothtops with new electronic touch controls and gas smoothtop models with the burners set into a ceramic glass surface. GE also has a new gas smoothtop range with an electric warming zone between the burners, a TrueTemp oven, and a warming drawer.

In refrigeration, GE showed new Profile Performance side-by-sides with contoured doors, brighter interior lighting, and storage drawers with individual controls, plus a new 18-cubic-foot bottom-mount with slide-out freezer door.

New laundry appliances were a 24-inch Spacemaker pair, now with 2.7-cubic-foot capacity and stainless-steel tub, and the Precision Care washer, with electronic controls to customize wash settings and water usage, and matching dryer with Dryel cycle. Also new was GE's largest-ever over-the-range microwave oven, a 1.6-cubic-foot unit offering 1,000 watts of power.

GE's Monogram line added a new 36-inch all-refrigerator model and matching 36-inch all-freezer. All built-in Monogram side-by-sides now have SmartWater filtration systems.

Monogram also introduced a new stainless-steel vent hood for use over an island, a gas cooktop with continuous grates, a white digital electric cooktop, and two new outdoor grills -- a 48-inch unit with radiant burners and a 24-inch model with stainless-steel burners.

Maytag is highlighting speed cooking in its Jenn-Air line and improved food preservation under the Maytag brand. The new Jenn-Air Accellis 5XP wall oven, described as "the first of [Maytag's] major appliance division's residential, 'rapid cook' products," cooks via rapidly moving hot air, up to five times faster than a conventional oven, without sacrificing quality, according to the company.

Two years in development, the oven features a curved handle and curved glass door, and will sell for about $3,500 when it hits retail stores late in the second quarter.

Also new from Jenn-Air is that brand's first outdoor grill, using technology derived from Maytag's recent acquisition of Dynasty Range. The unit will be available this spring in the $1,499 to $1,699 range, depending on options.

In the Maytag line, the company unveiled its new ClimateZone food-storage technology: sealed refrigerator storage drawers that use a sensor and fan system to keep various food categories at optimum temperature and humidity levels so the food lasts longer, according to Maytag.

Three settings are available: meat/ fish/poultry, fresh produce, and citrus. A digital readout shows the temperature inside each drawer. The initial refrigerators using the ClimateZone technology, 27-cubic-foot side-by-sides, will be in full distribution by late March.

New at the Builders Show from Whirlpool was that company's entry into the rapid-cook sweepstakes: the SpeedCook oven. Due in late summer, the 1.4-cubic-foot oven combines microwave and convection technology. It was shown as a double-cavity unit with conventional oven below, available in 27- and 30-inch widths.

Also new from Whirlpool at the show were two new side-by-side Conquest refrigerators with icemaker and removable ice storage container built into the door rather than in the freezer compartment, freeing up more space. The 25- and 27-cubic-foot units also have contoured doors and fold-up shelves in both refrigerator and freezer sections.

Whirlpool officially introduced its Catalyst washer under its own brand at this show; the Catalyst technology premiered last fall in the Sears Kenmore line. Also new is the Senseon line of dryers, engineered so the drying time matches the time it takes to do a washer load. Dubbed "the fastest dryer in the industry" by the company, the Senseon dryer uses dual moisture sensors and an electronic temperature regulator to dry a full load in 30 minutes.

Whirlpool's KitchenAid division has expanded its Architect series to include a new 36-inch professional-style gas cooktop and a dual-fuel range with electric convection oven, plus a built-in 1.4-cubic-foot, 900-watt microwave/ convection oven with drop-down door. KitchenAid also showed off its first warming drawers, in 27- and 30-inch widths, offering a temperature range from 90 to 225 degrees.

New from Viking at the Builders Show was a 36-inch gas self-cleaning range, due in the second quarter, and an outdoor-approved built-in gas wok with a trivet that converts to a large burner. The company also showed a new trim kit for its side-by-side and bottom-mount refrigerators.

Among the other appliance firms exhibiting in Dallas, Marvel Industries introduced a new 98-bottle, full-length wine cooler with glass front, at $499 suggested retail, plus two beverage caddies with built-in refrigerators. The company also showed several "concept" products to test retail and builder reaction, including compact refrigerators with red, yellow, blue and green interiors, and chrome or brass trim.

Broan-NuTone unveiled a new series of Allure range hoods, said to have their sound levels reduced by 50%, and Broilmaster showed redesigned gas grills with a new electronic ignition system and stainless-steel warming rack. -- Cathy Ciccolella

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