Search this site:


June 7, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: Oven interface and display

OvenAlan Clarke from London, England writes:

This oven looks very high tech. Sometimes a high tech interface is one that has the fewest knobs and as many modes as possible. In the picture, you will see that the oven has two identical unmarked knobs and one unmarked button.

On this oven, everything you do is context-dependent, and the only way to operate the oven is by looking at the display for feedback; which would be fine if the display was actually visible.

However, since the display and the knobs are all at the very top of the unit, and the kitchen designer has placed it directly below an overhang in the worktop, the only way I can set the oven or check on the progress of something cooking is to get down on my knees.


from that angle it looks like a big robot face

Posted by: gmangw at June 7, 2006 12:18 AM

This is an amazingly stupid oven disign.

Posted by: Dylan at June 7, 2006 12:41 AM

Didn't your realtor explain that you were moving in to a house built by Oompa Loompas?

Posted by: abcdario at June 7, 2006 12:49 AM

not really broken with the oven, but broken with whoever put it there.

Posted by: stargate525 at June 7, 2006 01:23 AM

This was installed for a sight-deprived (ie. blind) person.

Basically, put food in oven, press buttons, turn knobs, when you start to smell smoke, take it out. Maybe eat it later, or call dominoes.

Posted by: Mr Magoo at June 7, 2006 01:41 AM

I know that Mr. Magoo is joking, but in reality, I think this has the potential to be very dangerous.

The operation of an oven needs to be dead simple, because you need to be able to shut it off quickly if something goes wrong.

Furthermore, why the needless complexity? You set a temperature, it goes to that temperature. You change the temperature, it cools off or warms up to get to that temperature. That's all an oven is supposed to do.

An additional layer of complexity with electric ovens is the switch between bake and broil modes, and maybe the addition of a timer, but even that isn't that complex. what on earth do you need context-dependent menus on an oven for?

Posted by: Glenn Lasher at June 7, 2006 07:03 AM

There's a doctrine in the law called the half-completed rescue. You don't have to rescue someone, but if you do, you can't quit without trying.

Nobody's saying that oven design is broken, but it sure could be better (context-dependent menues might be one improvement), but you can't start to make it better and add in new problems.

Posted by: Sean at June 7, 2006 11:26 AM

I'm not entirely sure why someone would need a few inches of extra space in front of their oven. To me it just seems like the cook now has to stand that much further back from the cooking surface, reach that much further over a hot area and has just increased the potential for accidents.

Posted by: lefty-chef at June 7, 2006 11:48 AM

Trade it in for a Dutch oven.

Posted by: Capt. Wafer at June 7, 2006 12:30 PM

It's not possible to intelligently comment on the user interface of the oven since it's not visible in the picture. It might be completely inutitive for all we know.

I do agree that the oven is installed in the wrong place, however. It's clearly one of those that are supposed to be mounted in a cabinet higher up on the wall.

I'd suggest that this is more of a misuse of the product by the designer than it is a failure of the interface itself. You certainly can't blame the interface designer for that.

Posted by: Steve at June 7, 2006 01:11 PM

Exactly. Get a rotary saw and lop off the overhang. Problem solved.

Posted by: Fuzzy at June 7, 2006 01:35 PM

From the picture this appears to be a Whirlpool built in stove...possibly a Gen2000? Image search on that and you might get a better image of what the UI looks like. Or submitter could just tell us.

Posted by: Eddie at June 7, 2006 03:19 PM

The inability to see the controls appears to be an issue with the designer of the kitchen in putting an overhang over the stove.

The issue of modal controls on the stove is difficult to comment on without seeing how it actually works. But in general, modal controls for appliances aren't a good idea.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at June 7, 2006 05:03 PM

good stretching exercise

Posted by: Kyle at June 7, 2006 05:20 PM

Great big WTF for computerizing simple appliances. Are gas water heaters the only thing left that will work when the electricity goes out?

Posted by: Paul at June 7, 2006 07:51 PM

It's not so much a broken oven, but more like a badly designed kitchen top.

The photograph is taken at such an angle to make it look worse. I would say that 90% of ovens have the controls at the top. It's the kitchen top over hang that is the culprit!

Posted by: Johnsy at June 8, 2006 04:57 AM

"It's not so much a broken oven, but more like a badly designed kitchen top."

No, it's a badly-designed *kitchen*. That oven isn't designed to go under a stove in the first place -- it's meant to be put in a wall, with the controls just below eye-level, like this:

Posted by: rich at June 8, 2006 01:14 PM

That unit does not appear to be designed to be used in that position. Apart from a computerized oven being unneccesary, the designer is at fault for placing it in a position where it is not visible.

Also, why is there the overhang. The added space seems to be too little to be useful, but still gets in the way.

Posted by: freedomlinux at June 8, 2006 02:11 PM

As most have pointed out, the oven is not broken. I have this one myself, and is is great- easy to use. I have it installed correctly, at a higher level, so I can quite easily see the menu and controls. Definately the kitchen archetect (if you can call him that) screwed up. Maybe the homeowner insisted on this. But I wonder, if this is in someones private kitchen, how did Alan Clarke from London, England get this photo? Hmmmmm.

Posted by: Arthur Dent at June 8, 2006 03:16 PM

"Are gas water heaters the only thing left that will work when the electricity goes out?" by Paul

Guess what? A plumber told me that new gas Water heaters are going to have electronic ignition, so even they aren't going to work in a power failure.

My moms new oven has electronic buttons and she has trouble getting it to work.

Like Lefty-chef and Fuzzy said, Get rid of the overhang.

Posted by: Timm at June 9, 2006 02:07 AM

Steve and rich got it in one, but didn't finish the thought -- neither the cooktop nor oven are designed for this installation - What we got here is a G-damned Fire Hazard. Bet there was no city inspection, and that one was required by law. Take it apart and fix it - ASAP. If you wanted a stove over an oven, why the hell didn't you just buy one???

As far as the menus - I hate complex, context-sensitive menu systems, i.e. the BMW "I-Drive". I'll bet most posters here have no trouble with them and quite enjoy such, and I hope that those that do soon have to try help their Granny figure out same!

Posted by: nobreedr at June 9, 2006 02:09 PM

The reason for computerizing ovens is to give you the extra features of the oven shutting off or turning itself on at a certain time. My parents have a late 70's oven NEXT to their stove that has all the same features as the computerized one, but they are all different knobs so it's easier to use and the controls are all at eye level so they can be used easily. But I like ours almost as well. It is attached to the stove and has 5 knobs on the front, 4 clearly labeled with burner diagrams (4 circles, one operated by knob filled in) and the fifth obviously the only one left, belonging to the oven. It has an electronic clock and timer, but you don't have to interact with it at all to cook anything.

Posted by: Brian at June 19, 2006 12:20 AM


some oven designer's been playing too much "Sandbox of God" (an awesome indie-game!)

Posted by: Wazoo_22 at July 5, 2006 10:24 PM

Comments on this entry are closed

Previous Posts: