Ease of use
Out of the box, the similarity between Schneider’s PowerChef Connect and Thomson’s i-GeniMix is striking. There is no doubt that the two multifunction kitchens both come from the same Chinese manufacturing plants. In addition to the choice of hull color, the PowerChef engine block is similar in all respects to that of the i-GeniMix: its small size – especially in width – allows it to nestle easily on a work surface. This engine block is capable of accommodating a tub with an overall capacity of 4.5 liters and 3.5 usable liters, which is considered sufficient for cooking for up to 8 people according to the manufacturer. The good eaters we are rather value the device’s ability to handle 6 small eaters.
The PowerChef bowl is cleverly equipped with a central handle – no subscribers on i-GeniMix -, which makes it easier to pour food into a serving dish when the bowl is hot than two side handles.
The bowl shows only 1.5 kg on the scale. The engine block weighs only 4.8 kg. And if this weight seems too light to withstand the vibrations of the robot during the mixing phase, for example, the suction cups installed under the motor block still guarantee 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 it flows very easily in its hinges. It has a small hole to insert the ingredients during cooking.
What is most striking 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 alphabetically or by type of dish (accompaniments, appetizers and spreads, drinks, desserts, fish / meat / vegetarian appetizers, ice creams and sorbets, a jar, pasta / fish / meat / vegetarian dishes, sauces, soups and broths, pies, quiches and salads). A search bar is also included.
The interface then provides the same information as an i-GeniMix: preparation time, cooking time, number of guests, list of ingredients, sequence of recipes, etc. If the set seems complete, we are still a little perplexed by the number of actions to be taken in one 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 food processor a series of automatic programs (kneading, steaming, simmering, grating / slicing, cleaning). These modes automatically adjust the program duration and cooking or blending temperature when needed.
Inevitably, it also includes a manual mode that allows you to define the duration (from 1 s to 90 min), the rotation speed of the blades (up to 12 + a turbo speed) as well as the temperature (between 37 and 130 ° C in increments of 1 ° C). It is also on this point that the PowerChef Connect differs from the i-GeniMix, on which the temperature is regulated in steps of 5 ° C. The Schneider food processor is more accurate.
This also applies to the scale accurate to the nearest gram: that of the Thomson robot has an accuracy of 5 g. This effort of accuracy and precision is very pleasant; amateur pastry chefs should appreciate it. However they will have to be vigilant in the light the G on the screen. The scale has difficulty stabilizing the weighing display, which could compromise a recipe if the sugar is poured too quickly into the bowl. However, the reliability of the scale is perfect: we compared the displayed results with those obtained with our precision balances and the difference never went beyond 0.2 g.
As you will have understood, the overall interface of this PowerChef Connect does not pose major problems. If we put aside the few translation errors, the jumble of steps and the slight delay in the display of the weight, the screen is responsive, the menus are clear, the information and recipes are numerous. .
Don’t be fooled, however, the overall finish of the device leaves something to be desired. The wheel that operates under the screen has little play and appears to be mounted incorrectly. The plastic used for the accessories seems a bit fragile to us and we can expect them to wear out quickly. And precisely, the supplied accessories are almost identical to those discovered on the Thomson robot. We therefore find an internal steam basket, an XXL steam pan, a whisk, a 4-blade knife and a vegetable grater. It is once again very clever of the manufacturer to provide this accessory that many food processors lack, including the Thermomix.
In the kitchen, the PowerChef Connect is as long as Thomson’s i-GeniMix, which is even faster than Lidl’s Monsieur Cuisine Smart. Both devices take a long time to warm 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 infinite, but it is above all important to see that when boiling the robot works not to exceed low temperatures, like most of the food processors in our comparison. It also tends to generally be 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). i-GeniMix was more accurate with oscillations of only 0.2 ° C.
Browning behaves quite differently: the robot tends to rise very quickly at high temperatures. At the request of 130 ° C, its temperature reached almost 200 ° C in less than 2 minutes. Wanting to go too fast, the robot gets too hot. But as has already happened on the Thomson robot, the temperature ends up dropping very slowly. This drop is observed after 8 minutes of warming up.
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 and rises again to around 190 ° C, and then drops. And so on…
So surely the Lidl robot is much slower, but the temperature differences observed during simmering and browning are much lower. Monsieur Cuisine Smart is more precise and more homogeneous.
Bowl capacity and central handle.
Integrated scale accurate to the nearest gram.
Guided recipes and general interface.
Temperature that lacks homogeneity in the browning and overheats.
Sound level when cooking over low heat.
How does the evaluation work?
With its PowerChef Connect, Schneider is making a successful entry into the food processor industry. This food processor, similar to Thomson’s i-GeniMix, has some positives (clean robot design, machined interface, bowl finishes). All of which helps 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 uneven when browning. In this, it is just a simple alternative to Lidl’s Monsieur Cuisine Smart, difficult to access outside of the distributor’s operations.