Kitchen appliances with touch controls drive me crazy

Kitchen appliances with touch controls drive me crazy

Simon Balissat
Zurich, on 24.08.2021
Translation: Octavia Hurst
Finally, I have an induction stove in my new apartment and direct control over the heat in the pan. Theoretically. But it turns out touch controls are far too sensitive to be useful. I say they're the worst kitchen invention ever.

«Beep, beep, beep,» my stove warns me like a ticking time bomb. Again, it has automatically deactivated itself. Nothing works any more. I only lifted a lid and some condensation dripped onto the touch controls. Time to wipe everything dry with a rag and then turn on each cooking plate individually. That’s easier said than done. For each plate, I touch the touchpad at least three times. Then I have either level 1 or level 9. If I want a level in between, I have to «click through» the levels. With a knob, this would have been exactly one step. Above all, this is proof of one thing: bad design.

Touch controls have no place in the kitchen and should be abolished. Whether it’s on the stove, oven or dishwasher, they’re frustrating and add no value.

Touch controls are too complicated

Turn on, select cooking plate, set to desired level, then move to the next plate. That’s at least three steps too many. In that time, the pasta water has long since overflowed in the rush, the sauce burned. With a classic knob, I need exactly one work step. Even wackier are the touch controls on my oven. I used to be able to set the temperature and then the mode with two knobs. I now have to trudge through submenus, past salmon recipes and self-cleaning programmes just to set the oven to 180 degrees top and bottom heat.

Touch controls are too error-prone

Cooking is never a tidy affair. Flour, salt, fat and water splash over the stove. Things spill even if you’re the cleanest person. It’s too much for the touch controls to handle. Either the device takes on a life of its own, like the HAL 9000 on-board computer in «2001: A Space Odyssey», or it refuses any input. That’s what surprises me the most. Don’t kitchen manufacturers test their appliances? The decision to use touch controls should be reconsidered in the practical test at the latest. It may look great, such a flat surface, but it’s not usable.

Touch controls are inconvenient to clean

While cleaning, I’ve accidentally turned on three stovetops or activated the muffin programme. As great as a flat, smooth surface is to clean, it also gets dirty very quickly. Forensic experts would have a field day with the fingerprints on my oven. But in the kitchen, cooking should come first, then cleaning.


The solution to all these problems is the trusty knob. It’s more accurate, less error-prone and easy to clean. What annoys me the most is that history repeats itself. Check out this device, a Minimoog synthesiser from the ’70s. What stands out?


Right! They’re all knobs!

This synthesiser from the ’80s looks quite different. There’s no trace of control knobs on the Yamaha DX7; digital keys were all the rage and were supposed to be the future.


And now a model from the year 2021.


Full of knobs.

Because it’s easier, more intuitive and faster to use. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any synthesiser enthusiasts among kitchen appliance developers; otherwise touch controls would’ve never found their way into the kitchen. I’m hoping that a change of thinking will take place. Because touch controls definitely have no place in the kitchen.

Image Minimoog by glacial23, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Yamaha DX7 image by deepsonic from Switzerland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Simon Balissat
Simon Balissat

Teamleader Editorial, Zurich

When I flew the family nest over 15 years ago, I suddenly had to cook for myself. But it wasn’t long until this necessity became a virtue. Today, rattling those pots and pans is a fundamental part of my life. I’m a true foodie and devour everything from junk food to star-awarded cuisine. Literally. I eat way too fast.


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