The appliance industry has been dreaming up some amazing machines: mixers that can tell flour from sugar, coffeemakers that can talk, ovens that can do almost anything. It may sound like science fiction, but they'll all be in stores within a year.

Great Communicators
If your appliances could talk to each other, what would they say? Now, thanks to Sunbeam, we know. The company's new bedside clock and its coffeemaker use the revolutionary Home Linking Technology system to communicate through your home's electrical wiring. Ten minutes before your alarm goes off in the morning, the clock sends a message to the kitchen to start brewing coffee. If you forget to put water in the coffeemaker at night, a reminder appears on the clock. Now, that's a conversation piece. The stand mixer is even smarter; with the help of a separate console, it memorizes recipes and beeps when you've poured in enough flour or sugar. Yes, it can tell the difference between the two. (In stores early next year; prices not available at press time; 561-912-4496.)

Efficiency Expert
If you can drive and talk on the phone simultaneously, shouldn't your appliances be multitasking too? More and more of them are. Take Welbilt's Oven Chef 2000, in stores next month. It does the job of three separate counter-hogging devices: a bread machine, a microwave and a rotisserie. It mixes and bakes cakes, kneads and bakes bread, and cooks dinner with a combination of microwaves and conventional heating elements. You can program it to perform up to four functions sequentially, so it can defrost a frozen casserole, microwave it, bake it and then brown it on top. This may sound complicated, but don't worry: A voice prompting system talks you through each step and asks you to confirm the settings you've chosen. While dinner cooks, you'll have time to continue your high-tech night by catching up on e-mail, placing a bid on eBay and doing some after-hours day trading ($300; 800-872-1656).

Catch A Wave
GoldStar is putting a new spin on microwaves--literally. In traditional microwave ovens, streams of waves hit the food at just a few points. The company's latest line, on the other hand, is designed to send the waves spiraling around the oven so they bombard the food all over. GoldStar calls it Intellowave technology, and it results in more-even heating, defrosting and cooking, without hot and cold spots. The model shown here, already available in stores, has an enormous, 2.1-cubic-foot interior (big enough to hold a large casserole) and is unusually strong, deploying a remarkable 1150 watts of cooking power ($150; 800-243-0000).