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Microwave reviews

How do models with grills compare to conventional microwaves?
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01.Introduction

sensor microwave

We review over 20 microwaves priced between $120 and $700. 

Our rigorous testing reveals which microwaves are:

  • best at defrosting, reheating, and cooking
  • the easiest to use.

We also compare four models with grills.

On this page, you'll find information about:

Are you only reheating the forgotten coffee, last night's meal, or defrosting chicken for the last-minute dinner idea? If so, you're underusing your microwave. Most microwaves these days offer many auto cook and sensor cook/reheat functions that can make cooking a breeze. We highly recommend you make time to read your new microwave's manual to get the most out of the appliance and avoid a partially cooked chook while defrosting, an overflow of reheated coffee or an exploding egg.

If you need to cook more than the basics and have limited space, then a combination microwave oven that can bake and crisp may be a better choice.

What's inverter technology?

A typical microwave's magnetron (the gizmo that creates the microwaves) at, say, 50% power will cycle between being on at full power and completely off for 50% of the cooking time. Inverter technology continuously uses 50% power for the whole cooking time – so no on/off power cycling and (at least in theory) more even heating of your food. But while inverter technology may sound impressive, in practice we've found it doesn't always guarantee top performance.

Reliability

The brands in our What to Buy list ranked highly in our 2013 reliability survey. Sharp doesn't rate as well for reliability as LG, Panasonic and Samsung, but loyalty to the brand is high, with 91% of owners saying they'd be likely to buy a Sharp again.

Brands tested

  • Breville The Quick and Easy BMO300
  • Breville The Quick Touch BMO634
  • Breville The Big Easy BMO234
  • Breville The Compact and Simple BMO100
  • Kambrook KMO400
  • LG MS3840SR
  • LG MS3840SRSK
  • Omega OM30GX
  • Omega OM30X
  • Panasonic NN-GD682S
  • Panasonic NN-SD691SQPQ
  • Panasonic NNSF550W
  • Panasonic NN-ST663WQPQ
  • Panasonic NN-ST671S
  • Panasonic NN-ST641W
  • Samsung ME6124ST
  • Samsung ME1113TST/XSA
  • Samsung ME6104ST
  • Samsung MS34F606MAT
  • Sharp R330YS
  • Sharp R350YS
  • Sharp R395YS
  • Sharp R60A0S
  • Smeg SA35MX
  • Smeg SA37X
  • Westinghouse WMG281SF
  • Whirlpool GT286BLM

How we test

Performance Fiona Mair, home economist from the CHOICE test kitchen, uses the sensor program – or the auto program (or manual mode for models without this option) – to test the microwaves. She defrosts minced meat and a whole chicken because, in both cases, it's easy for parts of the food to start cooking if the auto-defrost time is too long, the power program is poorly designed or the oven's microwave distribution is not even. Fiona cooks broccoli to assess the oven's ability to cook vegetables. She reheats a solid, high-fat food (quiche) to measure whether the oven heats evenly throughout and to a high enough temperature. And where there is a grill, she toasts bread to see how evenly the element cooks.

Ease of use Fiona checks that controls are intuitive, easy to operate and the instructions easy to follow. She also checks the effectiveness of the light and whether the viewing window is large enough and easy to see through. The interior and exterior are assessed for cleaning – do the surfaces wipe clean easily and are there small holes and seams that can accumulate dirt?

Want to know more about microwaves, brand reliability or other kitchen appliances? See our Kitchen section.

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