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Microwaves and Their Bells and Whistles

Boy oh boy. I really didn’t know what I was in for when I started looking for a new microwave. These handy kitchen appliances have really come a long way in the last few years. In fact, some of them are so advanced now you could probably replace your built-in oven!

The problem I had when I was researching for a new one is that there is so much on the market to choose from these days. You can have microwave ovens that double as toasters, will roast, broil and bake for you not to mention all the other added features manufacturers are constantly thinking up.

The first thing of course, is to decide what you want from this appliance and you can find out more about that on my microwave buying guide page. However, for this page on my website I’m going to let you in on some of the “bells and whistles” you can expect, from the most basic to the most complex.

On The Inside

turntableIf you intend to buy a more basic unit I personally think it’s best to look out for one that has a turntable inside. You won’t be spending a lot of money and therefore you won’t be getting the best that microwave cooking technology has to offer, but having a turntable will help ensure that your food and drinks are heated evenly. Some models have turntables that can be removed for easy cleaning, but the cheapest on the market are more than likely going to be fixed so this is worth thinking about.

Of course, if you intend to go for a higher end microwave and want to do things like broil, roast and bake, many manufacturers offer additional accessories such as baking racks and trays or you can even get models that will include “spit” accessories for the perfect roast chicken.

Space is another important consideration, especially if the whole family is going to use it. So always check out the inside dimensions, and be aware of the turntable as it reduces the effective height!

Controls and Options

Panasonic NNSD681S control panelThe controls are where I aim to go next. For some people touch-pad controls make life easier but for people who have trouble with movement or their hands are on the large side, dial type controls might be the best option.

Some of the features I think are important for any microwave are those quick one-touch options. Things like popcorn, pizza, beverage, reheat and defrost are really useful to have especially if you’re “eating on the run”. In general these functions do exactly what they’re supposed to do, the pizza setting for instance helps to keep your pizza crisp and we all know the famous popcorn button. Defrost however is, well, the problem area with microwaves. Some models work really well but others basically start heating instead of defrosting.

Setting the time and different programs is something all manufacturers seem to re-invent over and over again. You’d think they have figured out the easiest way to do this by now, but apparently things can always be done better. Personally I like the dial type for time setting but I could also live with some of the push button solutions. It’s worth looking into though, especially if you have a preference.

For the more complex models there other options such as how you would like to cook your food. Some models come with convection type technology, in which case you can opt to cook that way, or you can even make use of steam! However, do bear in mind these more complex microwaves will cost more.

From the Outside

Design is important to a lot of us and no matter what your personal preference is it is worth considering the shape of your microwave. The last thing you need is for it to arrive at your door only to find it won’t fit in the space you had planned for it. This isn’t exactly a feature but it is worth thinking about (and don’t forget about the clearance you need!).

Another important aspect from the outside is the way in which the handle is designed. Some microwaves come with pull-out handles that either sit to the side of the door or at the top and others have a push button type handle. Again, it’s your choice but having a handle sticking out can be a bit of pain (literally) if you don’t have much space.

All in all, the decision is yours and as I have said the choices are pretty much limitless. Just keep in mind what you want from your microwave and make sure you check you’re going to get everything you need before hitting that all important “purchase” button.

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