GE’s Kitchen Hub is a smart home display right where you need it: above the stove

While appliance manufacturers like Samsung and LG are putting computer screens into fridges these days, GE Appliances decided to put one elsewhere — above the stove.

The Kitchen Hub is a 27-inch smart hub display that can be installed above your oven and also works as a functioning ventilator. We got to tinker with the appliance at CES 2018 and were impressed with not only the innovation, but the functionality.

The Kitchen Hub, which will be available to buy in fall 2018 at a price of $600, seems like a logical place to put a screen in your kitchen. After all, when you’re in your kitchen, you’re often cooking. And when you’re cooking, you’re often looking at what’s simmering on the stove, and are in need of some type of help (recipe check) and/or entertainment (Michael Jackson playlist on Spotify). This appliance takes care of all of it. The Kitchen hub has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and is equipped with Z-Wave and Zigbee. It also serves as a literal hub that controls all of your smart-home devices, whether they’re GE-made or not.

The hub looks like a large TV above your stove, and you can definitely use it for that if you wish. You can also listen to music (there’s a decent-sounding speaker that stretches along the bottom of the appliance), watch recipe videos, check the weather, connect to your other appliances, and make video calls. While it has a camera on the front of the device so you can video chat, it also includes one underneath that faces the burners on your stovetop. That means that you can call grandma using the Google Duo video chat service, ask her whether you’re cooking the risotto family recipe correctly, and show her video of what’s cooking on the stove.

Shawn Stover, vice president of GE Appliances, thinks the camera could also eventually serve as a tool for interactive cooking classes. “A lot of things are possible from a video standpoint,” Stover told Digital Trends.

Across the bottom of the home screen are several large, easy-to-use buttons that you tap to get where you want to go. There’s a cloud button for weather, a phone button for video chat, a music note button for music, a video button to access your preferred list of movies, and a spoon button to access a list of preloaded recipes. A U+ button lets you connect with other GE smart appliances so you can take a look at whether your GE washing machine cycle has completed, for example. You can also sync your Google Calendar to get reminders on the device, as well as do all kinds of customizable things.

It comes pre-loaded with several of the usual apps, plus the ability to customize by adding apps of your choice. It utilizes a voice assistant called Geneva, who can talk to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Those with Alexa speakers can say to the device, “Alexa, tell Geneva to start the dryer,” and you’ll be able to get your clothes dried, if your dryer is also a connected appliance. It doesn’t quite do it all — you’ll still have to take those clothes out and fold them.

While the Kitchen Hub was in demo mode for the show, we found the screen to be extremely user-friendly, and at eye-level, the placement just makes sense.  The sound is decent, considering it’s a speaker on a kitchen device, and the display is clear. An LED light strip along the front of the bottom of the appliance is bright and illuminates your stovetop well.

Stover said the ventilation system is strong enough to protect the screen from heat damage. We will update you when we have a chance to install it in our test kitchen. For those of you who have your microwaves above your stove, good news: Stover said that Kitchen Hubs with microwaves behind them could be down the road.