Top critical review
I love convection cookers...just not this one
September 9, 2018
We have been using this kind of convection cooker for over 20 years because of the ease and speed. I can't say enough about cooking using these appliances and have suggested them to dozens of friends. I am even helping a dear friend learn to cook himself with a unit I compelled him to buy a month ago (different one).
I know that of which I speak. I have had three Sharper Image 8217s (love them), a NuWave (meh) and two others of varying quality. I understand that all things do fail even after years of happy use, so buying a new one every three years or so is fine with me. Unfortunately, I allowed myself to believe that the specs and design of the "Upgraded 2018 Air Fryer" matching as they do, the 8217, would make it a suitable replacement for that venerable, but difficult to find product. Those specs are an issue.
It is my belief that the listed specifications are a work of impressive fiction, potentially crafted by an aspiring young writer provided only with a photograph of the unit and the accurate specifications of other devices, those units fabricated by teams of mechanical engineers more interested than the team that created the "Upgraded 2018 Air Fryer”. What vision did this up-and-coming talent hope their team might actually achieve? Did they see their own engineering team similarly to the computer heroes depicted in Tracy Kidder’s The Soul of a New Machine? When I think of other convection cooker engineering teams (and I do) I believe that they must employ the kind of taciturn verbalisms that so resonated in Sam Shepard’s depiction of the flawed, but capable Chuck Yeager in the film of Tom Wolfe’s "The Right Stuff." His, and their, dedication to the task was obvious. It required no fanfare, just knowledge that the achievement - either breaking the sound barrier, or designing a competent convection oven that both blows air…and actually gets hot - was sufficient reward.
But I am forced to contrast the dedication of those other giants to images thrust into my mind’s eye by the abject failure of this oven. It does not heat sufficiently. The air it blows is like unto the whisper of a summer breeze upon a sun-dried field of wheat. Breathy. Warm. Useless.
While the low fan speed defeats the unit’s ability to self-clean after it has “finished cooking,” that same failing does however, succeed in making it easy to manually clean. Very little spatters within its well-blown (not by the fan) glass bowl due to the surpassing gentleness of the fan. I am forced to entertain the possibility that reduced spatter was the goal of the well-touted “Upgrading.”
Perhaps the design team marches to a different drum. I imagine a group of disinterested frat-boys, tortured by ennui, waiting for their individual shots at “making the real money” on Wall Street, or as deserving social media influencers, skateboarding over ramps constructed of engineering texts. I envision no crack of dawn risings for them. Up at 11AM after a night of heavy partying and hooliganism, then desultory arrivals in the office, their feet dragging all the way, shoulders hunched, arms alternately lurching forward and back with each step, eyes rolling at the sheer “unfairness” of their having to miss the “epic” week-long party because their stupid boss said they had to work. But is it possible that though disinterested they could still have the last laugh? Could they turn this soul-crushing task, this daily, willful dis-acknowledgment that they were “better” than this job, back upon a world that needed to, and by all they revered, WOULD pay attention to them? Could they build a convection cooker (for some reason, who cooks when you can just Uber to theSCLOOSHBar) that looked EXACTLY like the best unit while miraculously providing absolutely and literally NONE of its capabilities? Could they do it? Did they dare try? Is it possible that they banded together as one to achieve the impossible? No more the late arrival for this steel-honed crew of worthies. In at 8 am. Out at 10pm. More technical conversations from home via teleconference after quick energy shots. They could DO this. Party requests unanswered. Focus previously unexperienced. A breakthrough. ‘ What if we match both a low-wattage heating unit to a low powered fan and wire them
in a dependent series so that no matter what, the heater can’t do anything useful because of the fan. And we make it still require the same power! Maybe we can use a USB desk fan.’
How many of them were there on this team, this band of engineering rebels? I cannot know. But I cannot keep from feeding this fantasy because I can imagine no other way that this product could be constructed to look so perfect while being also so useless. In itself, this was an achievement for it broke through the decades of my experience to dupe me into lazily purchasing the "Upgraded 2018 Air Fryer.” Yes, I believed that it could take the place of its Right Stuff-like predecessor during the well-anticipated annual Labor Day cooking fest that I so look forward to each year.
It could not. It did not.I am ending my relationship with this cooker. I am terminating it “with extreme prejudice.”
I hate this cooker.