The QOOQ a simple idea – a tablet designed for the kitchen packed with recipes and videos of how to cook. A simple idea, but one I questioned the need for. I often use my iPad in the kitchen; albeit very carefully, in its case, sitting on the table. Along with some other bloggers we set off to Paris for the day to visit QOOQ HQ to test it out.
The QOOQ (pronounced cook) sits in a rugged coloured plastic case, red is the most popular, but aubergine and green are also available. It has a stand to prop it up. It is about the same size and shape as an iPad, with a slightly wider screen which, also, is 60% thicker than the iPad.
Interestingly the QOOQ was manufactured before the iPad, and also is made in France, a matter of great pride, and probably contributes to its popularity in France – debunking the myth that affordable electronics can only be made in the far East.
The French version has been on sale since 2009, with around 4,000 multimedia recipes. The new English version has fewer recipes in the catalogue about 3,700 – still a sizable collection, and a new QOOQ will come with 1,000 ready installed. You can buy new content via subscription, or on a piece by piece basis.
The selling point of the QOOQ is firstly its durability, rugged, tougher and more spill proof then an iPad, and secondly, the huge amount of content and interface. I liked that it would learn from your taste – you can tell it ingredients you dislike (fennel for me, rabbit for Ed), rate recipes and after a time it will learn enough to suggest recipes you should enjoy.
A number of chefs have filmed the videos, which accompany many of the recipes,demonstrate techniques and tips, many in real time – you can literally cook along with them, and this is the main selling point of the QOOQ, making it popular with less confident cooks and in cookery schools.
The interface is intuitive (although I found myself trying to use iPad gestures to control it), it is easy to find recipes, watch the videos, search for ingredients and browse the magazine content. Ingredients for recipes can be scaled up and down easily, shopping lists can be sent to your smart phone. The QOOQ contains an internet browser, video & music software and can also be used as a digital photo frame.
However the current English version is actually an American version, with the associated ingredient names and measures, because of the ability to scale quantities we saw some odd amounts (measuring in quantities of eighths of a tablespoons of cream?) Videos have also been dubbed with an American voice, and the style has a distinctly transatlantic feel.
There are a few technical mistakes – equipment listed that is not used, mixups over ingredient names. As mistakes like this are found they can be corrected and updated data sent to each QOOQ, so they will disappear (apparently the French users are proactive with submitting errata).
We also felt a few features were missing from the software – too many gestures to navigate to recipes and no way to quickly switch from recipe to recipe. I’d also like to be able to add my cookbooks to the database, and a collaboration between major publishers and QOOQ could be very interesting and beneficial for all, maybe the authors could film some videos?
The QOOQ runs on a Linux platform, currently there is no ability to add extra software and add ons, I think a shame as it is an excellent tablet for a child.
Overall I think the QOOQ is an excellent idea, and I am very interested to see how the English version develops, but currently I do not think it is quite polished enough for the market.
The QOOQ is £289, subscription to the entire recipe database £7.90 a month.
Fuss Free Flavours was the guest of QOOQ on my day in Paris.