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GE's kitchen suite for millennials is retro in design and price

Consumer Reports News: July 01, 2013 12:08 PM

You can't say that GE doesn't think outside the refrigerator box. When the appliance maker decided to target the millennial market it turned to someone in that cohort to design a kitchen suite that's both trendy and affordable. Created by a 27-year-old industrial designer, the GE Artistry Series turns back the clock from digital to analog and features appliances with a high gloss finish and chunky metallic knobs and handles. The four-piece suite will sell for $2,400.

The designer, Tomas DeLuna, focused on the features that consumers interact with most—handles, knobs and clocks. "Making the critical consumer touchpoints metallic, and set against either a pure, white gloss or black gloss finish, creates a look that is both familiar to our consumers, yet remains fresh and modern," he said in the announcement. "The design is authentic and contemporary with a nod to the past."

The suite, which will be available in late summer, features a conventional bottom-freezer refrigerator, $1,099, dishwasher, $499, over-the-range microwave, $219, and an electric smoothtop or gas range, $599. The refrigerator and dishwasher are Energy Star qualified. But in other ways the appliances are retro-tech without the digital touch screens and clocks typically seen on today's models.

Because it's not on the market yet, we haven't tested appliances from the Artistry Series but we have tested plenty of GE appliances with varying results. A conventional bottom-freezer refrigerator in the same price range, the GE GBSC0HBX[WW], $1,050, had very good temperature performance and energy efficiency but our testers found the layout, controls and lighting to be lacking so it missed our list of top refrigerator picks.

Our top dishwasher, a Kenmore, scored an 85 out of 100. The best score earned by a GE model, the GE GDT550HSDSS, $650, was 74. The dishwasher was excellent at washing and energy efficiency but not as quiet as others that scored better or as convenient to use. An over-the-range microwave priced similarly to that in the Artistry Series, the GE JVM1540DP[WW], $200, was excellent at heating and defrosting and quieter than most but was not as quick at heating water as models that rated better.

An electric smoothtop range, the GE JB705STSS, $1,000, did make our list of top range picks but cost $400 more than the Artistry range. It was excellent overall and superb at most cooking tasks in our tests. An $800 gas range, the GE JGBS23SETSS, missed the mark with mediocre high-heat and broiling results. We'll be interested to see if the Artistry ranges cook as good as they look.

Mary H.J. Farrell

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