About the size of a lunch box, the new Hot Logic Mini is billed as a "personal portable oven." The handy gadget is claimed to cook and heat food without drying it out, delivering a tasty meal with little effort.

Essentially a hot plate inside an insulated hot bag, the Mini transports easily thanks to its small, handled design. The top zips open to reveal an interior insulated with an aluminum lining, designed to retain heat from the built-in heating element.

To use the Mini, you simply place a container of food inside, zip it up and plug it in. Unlike a microwave, it works with a variety of containers, including metal, cardboard, plastic and glass. It heats up your food in approximately 60 to 120 minutes and then keeps it at a "pathogenic safe temperature" until you pull it out and eat it. According to Hot Logic, the system's gradual heating process cooks the food perfectly without burning it or drying it out.

"It's like a slow cooker with a brain," says Jake Wisner, Sales Manager for Hot Logic. "There's no programming required, no dials or buttons. Just plug it in and go about your business."

Hot Logic's website and press materials talk about "heating" food, but they don't say anything about "cooking" it, as you could in an actual slow cooker. To clarify, we sent an email inquiry about whether you could cook a stir-fry-style dish starting with raw vegetables and raw chicken.

"The Mini is designed to automatically heat/cook meals and then hold the meal at a pathogenic safe temperature until removed," responds Don Wisner, president of Hot Logic's parent company Haven Innovation. "Yes you can put some chicken stir fry in the Mini in the morning, plug it in, go about your business, and at lunch enjoy a hot delicious meal."

"In addition, all Hot Logic products are energy efficient and generally use less energy to bring a meal to serving temperature than the energy required using a microwave."

The system has theoretical potential outdoors – for heating food up on a picnic or camping trip, for instance – but it doesn't have a battery and requires a 120-volt outlet. So, you'll either have to be near a location with power or bring a portable power supply. Still, Hot Logic appears to believe in the Mini's potential as an outdoor tool because it will be showing it at the Outdoor Retailer sports trade show next month.

Unless Hot Logic adds a battery, options like the Trekmates heating system and other flameless ration heaters are more versatile for outdoor use, but the Hot Logic Mini could have appeal for campers that use a portable power supply. The Mini is also useful for heating lunch at work or other indoor locations where you don't have access to a kitchen.

The Hot Logic Mini launched in May and is available now for US$49.97.

Source: Hot Logic