This smart oven has a TV that lets you watch what’s inside

For years now, Microsoft and others have tried to convince us that the appliance our kitchens have been lacking is a fridge that can phone Sainsbury’s automatically and replenish itself when you run out of milk.

The Hoover Vision oven looks like a TV at first glance

There are several such “smart refrigerators” on the market but none has really taken off – partly because of the unnecessary expense but also because of the dubious practicality. Unless your pantry, your bread bin and your vegetable rack can also go online and fill themselves up, your shopping list will remain a work in progress.

But what about a smart oven? The latest generation takes the idea of a cooking timer that you set before you go out a stage further, by letting you control it over the internet, from wherever you are. Not only can you control the knobs but also see how the food is doing, via a camera in the oven cavity.

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Perhaps more usefully, they can take some of the guesswork out of cooking by way of setting their own time and temperature according to the nature and weight of whatever it is you’re trying not to burn.

Most of the major manufacturers now produce models with varying degrees of smartness. Nearly all are of the built-in variety, some designed for under-counter use and others for mounting at eye level.

Those that are sufficiently smart to connect to the internet are hard to find for much less than £1,000, but for around half that you can have a cooker with a settings panel which vaguely resembles the electronic programmer on your old video recorder.

Typical among these is the £450 Samsung Prezio Dual Cook, which has no physical knobs but instead a touch panel that lights up like a spaceship. Like a few other modern ovens, it has dual zones, so you can roast potatoes on the top shelf at a higher temperature than the joint below. The LED display tells you when you need to remove them.

You don’t even need to set the temperatures in the first place, because Samsung lets you select a menu from a list and adjusts itself. It’s a system not unlike that on higher-end microwave ovens.

You still need to weigh a joint of meat before putting it in the oven, though. If you want to relieve yourself of that burden, Whirlpool will for around £1,000 sell you a model with a sensor that does it for you.

But for all-round automation, the Hoover Vision is the plat du jour among cookers. No LED panels here; the entire glass door is replaced by a video screen that looks at first glance like a small TV set, and at 19in from corner to corner, is actually the size of one. The oven controls are integrated into the screen, as are video recipes and personalised programs, which you can store for future use.

The video technology also extends to inside the cavity, where a high definition camera offers a choice of views of the food as it cooks. You can see this on the front screen – which in truth is no different to looking through a glass door – or on an app on your phone, while you’re still on your way home.

Bosch has also embraced the age of the app. Its range includes a £1,300 model that you can talk to via Amazon Alexa and programme with recipes that transfer their cooking settings directly to the oven.

However, it is reliability and longevity that you most want from an oven, and the latter is always going to be compromised by the inclusion of transient technology that might look as silly as an eight-track stereo in a few years’ time. So the recipe here is not to be seduced by technology for its own sake.

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