A gadget to slow-cook, and one to fast-forward

James Poniewozik, The New York Times’ chief television critic, discussed the tech he’s using.

As a television critic, do you have a favourite television set, video projector or audio system?

I’m superagnostic about the sort of screen I use. I suppose this might be strange for a TV critic, but it also reflects the way people watch TV now — I’ll watch shows or screeners on anything from the 55-inch TV in my living room to my phone on an exercise bike. My main work setup (my desk at home) is a laptop, a small LED TV set, and an iPad that I use as a second screen for streaming shows.

More important to me than the screen are the peripherals: I have Apple TV and a couple of Rokus around the house, but I’m still most loyal to my TiVo DVR — I’ve had one almost since they went on the market in 1999.

What do you like about it, and what could be better about your setup?
Because I have so many shows to keep up with, it saves time: Any second I spend watching a commercial is time wasted. (This is the respect in which my TV habits are probably least like average viewers — I rarely see ads.) TiVo still has a far better interface than any cable company set-top box I’ve encountered.

Beyond your job, what tech product are you currently obsessed with using in your daily life?

I love gadgets, especially in the kitchen. (Don’t get me started on my pressure cooker.) Most recently, I got a Joule sous vide immersion circulator for my birthday. It’s a little wand you stick in a container of water to heat it to a precise temperature and keep it there.

Meaning if you want to cook a steak to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, it will cook it to precisely 130 degrees Fahrenheit, edge to edge, and not a degree more. (You seal up the food in vacuum wrap or a Ziploc bag.)

What do you and your family do with it?
Just after I got it, our oven broke, and it’s taken forever to get it fixed. As a result I’ve been using the Joule for everything: meats, poached eggs — you can put sweetened condensed milk in a Mason jar and the Joule will turn it into dulce de leche overnight.

How has it blown you away?
Not only is it precise and almost entirely hands-off, it slow-cooks meat in a miraculous way. It can turn a chuck roast into a butter-tender, medium-rare steak.

What could be better about it?
Unlike some other immersion wands, the Joule has no controls — you operate it entirely through an app. (I could operate it from anywhere with a phone connection.) It makes the machine smaller, and gives it a cool, minimalist Apple-device look, but I don’t love needing to have Wi-Fi to cook a piece of salmon. Plus, I assume the Russians are using it to spy on me.

When you’re not watching TV and just want to read a book, do you use an e-reader or the old-fashioned print version?
I use both. I actually find that having a physical book makes me more likely to focus on and finish what I’m reading, but more and more often I default to the Kindle just because of the ease of downloading the e-book. (Even if it then stays on my device unread.) I was a late adopter of the device, though, and for years used the Kindle iOS app instead. I read the first four books of George R R Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ on my iPhone. My swiping thumb got a workout.

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