Convenience of use
Out of the box, the resemblance between the PowerChef Connect from Schneider and the i-GeniMix from Thomson is striking. There is no doubt that the two multifunction cookers are both from the same Chinese manufacturing plants. In addition to the choice of the color of the hull, the engine block of the PowerChef is similar in all respects to that of the i-GeniMix: its narrow dimensions – especially in width – allow it to nest easily on a work surface. This engine block is able to accommodate a bowl with an overall capacity of 4.5 liters and 3.5 l useful, considered sufficient to cook for a maximum of 8 people according to the manufacturer. The good eaters that we are rather estimate the capacity of the device to treat 6 small eaters.
The PowerChef bowl is judiciously equipped with a central handle – absent subscribers on the i-GeniMix -, which makes it easier to pour food into a serving dish when the bowl is hot than with two side handles.
The bowl only shows 1.5 kg on the scale. The engine block weighs only 4.8 kg. And if this weight seems far too light to support the vibrations of the robot during the mixing phase, for example, the suction cups installed under the engine block still ensure good stability.
The bowl lid is also identical to that of the Thomson food processor. It is transparent – it is appreciable to follow the evolution of the preparation –, light and slides very easily in its hinges. It provides a small hole to insert ingredients during cooking.
What impresses most about the PowerChef Connect is its large 7-inch touchscreen, which is angled slightly towards the user to provide good readability. The interface is identical to that of Thomson’s i-GeniMix; only the color of the menus changes.
For the rest, this interface gives access to 500 recipes, organized in alphabetical order or by type of dish (accompaniments, appetizers and spreads, drinks, desserts, fish/meat/vegetarian starters, ice cream and sorbets, one pot, pasta/fish/meat/vegetarian dishes, sauces, soups and soups, pies, quiches and salads). A search bar is also included.
The interface therefore provides the same information as an i-GeniMix: preparation time, cooking time, number of guests, list of ingredients, recipe sequence, etc. If the set seems complete, we are still a little perplexed by the number of actions to be carried out in a single step. We much prefer the step-by-step approach of Vorwerk’s Thermomix and Bosch’s Cookit: one step, one action! It is much more readable and more intuitive for the cook.
We find on this robot-cooker a series of automatic programs (knead, steam, simmer, grate/slice, cleaning). These modes automatically adjust the program duration and the cooking or blending temperature when necessary.
Inevitably, a manual mode is also part of it allowing you to define the duration (from 1 s to 90 min), the speed of rotation of the blades (up to 12 + a turbo speed) as well as the temperature (between 37 and 130 °C in steps of 1°C). It is partly on this point that the PowerChef Connect differs from the i-GeniMix, on which the temperature adjustment is made in steps of 5°C. Schneider’s robot cooker is more precise.
This is also true on the scale accurate to the nearest gram – that of the Thomson robot is accurate to 5 g. This effort of accuracy and precision is very pleasant; amateur pastry chefs should appreciate. They will nevertheless have to be vigilant in light the G on display. The scale has difficulty in stabilizing the weighing display, which could compromise a recipe if the sugar is poured too quickly into the bowl. Still, the reliability of the scale is perfect: we compared the results displayed with those obtained with our precision scales and the difference never went beyond 0.2 g.
As you will have understood, the overall interface of this PowerChef Connect does not pose any major problem. If we put aside the few translation errors, the jumble of the steps and the slight delay in the display of the weighing, the screen is responsive, the menus are clear, the information and recipes are numerous. .
Do not be fooled, however, the overall finishes of the device leave something to be desired. The wheel that officiates under the screen has a little play and seems to be poorly fitted. The plastics used on the accessories seem a little fragile to us and we can expect them to wear out quickly. And precisely, the accessories provided are almost identical to those discovered on the Thomson robot. We therefore find an interior steamer basket, an XXL steamer tray, a whisk, a 4-blade knife and a vegetable grater. It is once again very clever on the part of the manufacturer to provide this accessory which is missing from many food processors, including the Thermomix.
In cooking, the PowerChef Connect is just as long as the i-GeniMix from Thomson, which is still faster than the Monsieur Cuisine Smart from Lidl. Both devices take a long time to heat up. The Schneider takes about 15 min to go from 20 to 40°C (5 min less than the Lidl robot), 11 min to go from 40 to 55°C and 26 min to go from 55 to 95°C. These durations may seem endless, but it is especially important to see that in simmering the robot works not to exceed low temperatures, like most of the robot cookers in our comparison. It even tends to be generally between 1 and 4°C below the expected temperature (36°C instead of 40°C; 54°C instead of 55°C; 91°C instead of 95°C) . The i-GeniMix was more accurate with oscillations of just 0.2°C.
Browning behaves quite differently: the robot tends to rise very quickly in high temperatures. When asked to 130°C, its temperature reached almost 200°C in less than 2 minutes. Wanting to go too fast, the robot heats up too much. But as was already the case on the Thomson robot, the temperature ends up going down very slowly. This drop is observed after 8 min of heating.
In general, our probes revealed quite significant differences in browning: between 103 and 150°C at different points in the bowl. But once the temperature has dropped too much, the PowerChef Connect picks up again and climbs again around 190°C, to then drop. And so on…
So certainly, the Lidl robot is much slower, but the temperature differences observed in simmering and browning are much lower. The Monsieur Cuisine Smart is more precise and more homogeneous.
Capacity of the bowl and central handle.
Integrated scale accurate to the nearest gram.
Guided recipes and general interface.
Temperature that lacks homogeneity in browning and heats much too much.
Sound level when simmering.
How does grading work?
With its PowerChef Connect, Schneider is making a successful entry into the food processor sector. This food processor, similar to Thomson’s i-GeniMix, has a few good points (clean design of the robot, worked interface, bowl finishes). All this helps to provide a decent user experience. But not everything is perfect: the materials leave something to be desired, the cooking temperatures lack precision and the heat is not uniform when browning. In this, it is only a simple alternative to Lidl’s Monsieur Cuisine Smart, which is difficult to access outside the distributor’s operations.
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