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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It came down to the knobs

Finally got to look at the LG range. Right away I did not like the idea of electronic controls for the rangetop burners. While this may be adequate, call me old-fashioned for thinking that traditional knobs represent a better interface.

This actually reminds me when cars started having electronic (or vacuum) controls for heating/air conditioning and dash instruments in the 1980s and how this progressively went back to straightforward dials. I believe this is a matter of understanding the relationship between a state to its range of possible values, and a dial with a pointer is much faster to read (or set). A burner set to 5 is harder to understand than medium.

The Brault & Martineau liquidation center in Brossard had a floor demo Samsung FTQ386LWX (FTQ386LWUX in the US) for $1299 including a 5 year service contract and delivery. This unit is very similar to the LG but much simpler controls with analog stovetop knobs. I was really impressed with the design, with true 3 fan convection (the oven elements are not used) and a HUGE 5.7 cu. ft. oven capacity and a warming drawer. Also the burners are the same ribbon type found in the Dacor and Viking (and other high-end appliances) and come up to full power in about 5 seconds.

So we get it on Thursday!

More on appliance warranties

Thanks to a very helpful sales rep at JC Perreault I found out why GE Profile is $200-$300 more expensive for what looks like the same range as the standard GE models -- Its the warranty on the Ceran cooktop. The basic GE appliance warranty only covers 1 year on the ceramic cooktop, whereby the Profile covers it for 5 years.

Comparing different appliances I thought all ceramic cooktops were covered for 5 years, so I guess I was wrong. More points in favor of the LG, with a 2 year base and 5 year warranty on the cooktop.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Warranties of high end "architect" vs. low-end appliances

When we moved into the house in Brossard, we fully intended to put in a "dream kitchen" with high-end appliances with dual ovens and a gas (or induction) cooktop. Since the range crapped out we thought again about doing this, so I started pricing high end equipment from Dacor, DCS (my preference), Wolf, Thermador and Viking. The better-half's cousin has a huge Viking in her house in Connecticut and having used it, I can attest to its quality.

But the pricing...ouch! the best deal on a DCS 30" dual fuel was $4500, with Dacor and Viking even more expensive. Even "mid-high-end" Bosch was hovering around $2,200 as with the mainstream brands like KItchenAid Architect or GE Profile.

So aside from looking like it belongs in a commercial kitchen, what justifies double and triple the price for a high-end appliance? Certainly not the warranty.... All of the high-end brands offer a meager 1 year standard (except Wolf, which is 2 years). And 3rd party service contracts offered by the dealer are typically more expensive the higher the selling price the final cost of a high-end appliance is pretty steep indeed. And they don't seem to be any more reliable than the mainstream brands. So more points to the LG range with its standard 2 year warranty.

When I bought my high-end audio equipment at least I could justify spending $2200 for my Bryston B-60 amplifier because it came with a 20 year warranty.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fed up with crappy appliances

Our 6 year old Kenmore range (model no. C970-657081 manufactured by Frigidaire) broke yet again over the weekend. Two columns of the touchpad for the oven, including the "Start" button, stopped taking any input, rendering the oven completely useless. (Only the 1, 4, 7, and Cancel buttons work). The rough estimate from Sears service was $261.99 for a new control module and $275.99 for a new touchpad (!) and $120-180 for the service tech labor.

A quick check on-line showed that I am not alone with this problem. Check out this thread on fixitnow.com.This was the 3rd problem we have had with the stove. The first was a defective drawer and the second was the oven thermostat, both fixed on the Sears service contract. Needless to say my opinion of Frigidaire and Kenmore products are pretty bad, not to mention the prohibitive parts prices. Our last stove, a Hotpoint (made by Camco in Montreal), never had any problems for about 18 years....

So we are shopping for a new range. As I am baking a lot of bread, oven size and convection quality are really important. From what I dug up on the 'net, GE, LG and Samsung seem to get high ratings for performance and reliability. I don't really like the all-electronic controls of the LG, so I'm leaning towards the Samsung FTQ386LWX.