The Brava Oven is available for preorder for $995. It will begin to ship in November.Tyler Lizenby/CNET
Countertop ovens are like the fancier, Ivy League cousins to the toaster oven -- they use new technology to perform basic cooking tasks like baking, broiling and toasting on your kitchen counter with more accuracy and automation than a regular oven. The category has become a fixture at the annual Smart Kitchen Summit, a tech show that centers on innovation in food. Countertop ovens such as the bar code-scanning Tovala Smart Oven ($223 at Amazon) and the food-recognizing June Intelligent Oven are just some of the products that have made a case at the Summit for how they will make cooking easier and faster.
There are three lamps at the bottom of the Brava and three lamps at the top.Tyler Lizenby/CNET
At this year"s event, we got a hands-on look at the Brava Oven, a Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-enabled appliance that uses a mix of visible and nonvisible light to cook dishes. There are a total of six lamps in the oven that use what Brava calls Pure Light Cooking. The lamps use infrared energy to transfer heat to the food you"re cooking rather than heat the air inside the oven cavity.
The layout of the lamps allows for multizone cooking, too. That means you can place three different ingredients that require different cooking temperatures inside the oven, and you can set a separate temperature for each section of the oven.
The Brava is available for preorder online for $995. Company representatives at the Smart Kitchen Summit said they will begin to ship out units in the first half of November.
Though the Brava uses light to cook food, you"ll be able to set cooking temperatures for your food like you would with a normal oven. There will also be presets on the Brava that you can select to automatically cook 60 combinations of protein and vegetables based on the zoned cooking idea.
The Brava is a hefty appliance that would take up a good chunk of room on your counter: It"s 11.3 inches tall, 14.1 inches wide and 16.7 inches long. Unlike on the June or the Tovala, the touchscreen control panel for the Brava is located on the top of the oven rather than on the front. The top of the Brava includes a heat-safe surface on which you can sit your pan, which Brava says gives some counter space back to the home cook.
Like the June Intelligent Oven, the Brava has a built-in camera inside so you can use the oven"s app to watch your food cook in real time. However, you can"t control the Brava from the app; you have to use the control panel to operate the oven.
Brava and other smart countertop ovens are designed with similar goals: to make it easier and faster for you to prepare a full meal that will be cooked perfectly every time. Because of their size, you"ll probably have to be willing to get rid of something on your countertop to make room for them. But to some degree, that"s the point of all these countertop ovens. They make waves because of internet connectivity, app control and built-in cameras, but at their core, they do a lot of basic tasks that could replace your toaster, your microwave and even your full-size oven.