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Circuit Breaker

Tovala launches a lighter, redesigned second-generation smart oven

Still with meal pods

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Image: Tovala

Tovala announced the second version of its eponymous oven today, featuring a complete redesign and a new version of its meal’s packaging. Like the original, the updated Tovala oven steams, bakes, toasts, and broils food, and while it can cook whatever you put inside, the company would recommend users subscribe to its $12 proprietary meal service

The oven looks different, but the really big change is the introduction of three sets of physical controls: the top is for choosing the baking mode or seeing what step the meal is on; the middle tells you the temperature the oven is at and allows you to preset it; and the bottom tells the time left for cooking. Although the oven relies on Wi-Fi to pull information about the prepackaged Tovala meals, users can still operate the oven and its buttons without a connection.

The new oven also weighs significantly less: 19 pounds versus the first generation’s 31 pounds. It can still hold four pre-packaged meals, which is how the company describes the oven’s cooking space.

Unlike other systems, the Tovala also doesn’t claim to use AI or machine learning to identify food and when it’s done cooking. One meal is one serving, and to cook them, you scan a QR code on their packaging through the oven’s built-in scanner. The meals are specifically designed to cook properly in 20 minutes or less.

Image: Tovala

The redesign comes with an increased price of $349 over the prior model’s $299, even though it doesn’t include new functionality. While other smart ovens have entered the market, like Brava and the second-generation June, none of them steam food like Tovala. Brava and June have a full accessories market for their ovens, including air fryer baskets and meat thermometers, whereas Tovala says it has no interest, at least not right now. The company doesn’t see its customers as wanting to fiddle around with extra parts, the team tells me.

Ultimately, the smart oven market seems to be maturing with both June and Tovala launching the second generation of their devices in the past year. Tovala is betting its meal plan is going to be the key to its success, while June seems to think people want to cook their own food, just with the guarantee it won’t burn. Maybe there’s a market for all of them.