This story is part of our continuing coverage of CES 2020, including tech and gadgets from the showroom floor.
CES is always full of gimmicky gadgets with little, if any, practical use. However, a nearly final prototype of a heated lunchbox from Netherlands-based Heatbox caught our eye. The battery-powered lunchbox can heat food in about 8 to 12 minutes using just 20 milliliters of water.
While that might seem like a long time compared to the minute or two that it would take to heat your lunch in the office microwave, there are advantages to reheating your food with steam. The microwaving process dries out reheated food quickly, while also robbing the food of some of its nutritional value.
Steam heating helps retain flavor and moisture, making your food taste better. You can select any one of three streaming programs depending on what you’re cooking inside the Heatbox: Small or lighter meals at the lowest setting, average-sized meals at the medium setting, and larger and dense meals work best at the high setting. You can either control the Heatbox through a button on the front of the device or through its companion app, the latter of which can further customize the heating time beyond the standard eight-minute heating time.
The Heatbox charges via USB, and the company says you should be able to heat at least three meals at the lowest setting on a single charge. The water used for the steaming process is separate from your food, so you can fill the Heatbox with the necessary 20ml of water at home without worrying about it leaking or making your meal soggy, the company claims.
One area where some might find the Heatbox a little less convenient is its size and weight. At 9 inches long, 6 inches wide and 3 inches tall and nearly three pounds, while roughly the size of a lunchbox, it might be larger and heavier than most lunch bags that we’re accustomed to. But for what it does, and how well it seems to work (Heatbox can’t bring food onto the CES floor due to show policies), we think that’s a fair tradeoff.
As of right now, the Heatbox team expects the lunchbox to retail for around $200 when it starts shipping in late summer. The company already raised more than $90,000 on Kickstarter last year but is also offering the Heatbox on pre-order from Indiegogo starting at $144.
As with any crowdfunding product, we must warn you of the inherent risks of supporting such projects. Be sure to check out our post on spotting and avoiding crowdfunding scams before you buy.
Follow our live blog for more CES news and announcements.
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