Table of Contents
- The Best Choice – Sage BMO700BSS Quick Touch Crisp
- Value-for-Money – Russell Hobbs RHM2574
- The Cheap Choice – Cookology Retro Microwave RETDI20LCR
- Beko MOF 20110
- Toshiba Microwave Oven ML-EM23P(BS)
- Sharp YC-MG81U-S
- Panasonic NN-CT585SBPQ
- Microwave Oven Buying Guide
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- Features – Manual control panel allowing you to set cooking times up to 35 minutes to ensure your...
1. Cookology Retro Microwave RETDI20LCR – The Cheap Choice
A most successful effort of combining style with efficiency, Cookology’s RETMA20LCR features appealing retro looks with contemporary microwave technology. Let us take a closer look.
At a Glance
- Brand: Cookology
- Model: RETDI20LCR
- Microwave Type: Countertop, Freestanding
- Dimensions: 10.2 x 17.3 x 14 inches
- Weight: 24.3 lbs
- Turntable: 10 inches
- Microwave Capacity: 20 Litres
- Retro Style and Cream Finish, Opens with a Chrome Handle
- Comes with a 10-inch turntable for defrosting and cooking family-sized portions
- Warranty/Guarantee: 1 year
- Power: 700 Watts
- 10-inch Turn Table
- Timer: 0 – 35min Timer
- Defrost: 0.2 – 1kg
- Black Glass Door
- Left Opening
- Power Levels: 5
Medium Low (Defrost)
Rated Input: 1150W
Rated Output: 700W
Microwave Frequency: 2450MHz
Anyone that has ever used a microwave will easily see that RETMA20LCR carries all the basic features – nothing missing, nothing fancy either. Its manufacturer, a UK fast-developing brand, has gained a reputation for budget-friendly good quality appliances, and surely this model lives up to this standard.
The RETMA20LCR stands out for its retro style and cream finish, reminding of the first domestic appliances of this sort launched several decades ago. Still, you don’t have to worry about getting just looks with this model: it is reliable, easy to use (even for people with the least experience), with intuitive controls for both defrosting and heating.
Also, note its spacious interior. It will easily cater to the needs of couples and families with its 20-litre capacity. A nice addition is the quite large 10-inch turntable, which allows you to fit rather large plates in its interior and heat up family-sized portions.
Nothing more than that though. RETMA20LCR is and reliable, stylish, entry-level microwave, offered at an excellent price for its construction quality and looks. Do not have any expectations for any advanced bells and whistles, though, cause you will be disappointed.
If you are the type of buyer that is scared off by really low prices and good looks for fear of poor quality, you have nothing to fear with Cookology’s RETMA20LCR: it combines great quality and offers all the basic microwave features at an excellent price – while adding style to your countertop.
The Beko MOF 20110 is quite expensive but certainly worth the money and is a compact appliance.
Its capacity is fairly small, and there is no grill or oven, but if you are looking for a basic microwave with uncomplicated controls, which cooks well, then this is a great buy.
At a Glance
- Brand: Beko
- Model: MOF 20110
- Colour: Stainless-steel
- Weight: 24.3 lbs
- Dimensions: 13.4 x 17.2 x 10.1inches
- Power: 800 Watts
- Capacity: 20 Litres
- Timer: Digital Timer
- Microwave Power Levels: 5
- Defrost Function
- Door Type: Glass
- Door Opening: Swing left
- Interior Light
- 10-inch Glass Turntable
The Beko is compact and basic but still has 8 auto-programs: Reheat, Vegetables, Fish, White Meat, Pasta, Potato, Pizza and Soup. You select the quantity, and Beko picks the cooking time.
You can cook on five different power levels, defrost by weight or time and press the Start button for full power in 30-second increments. You can also cook in two stages, one after the other. The Beko defrosts quickly and well.
Cooking on the auto program is easy, you select it from the eight programs using the knob and press Start. You also use the knob to select cooking weight: 200, 400 or 600g.
It features a clock, kitchen timer and child-safety lock. The design is simple with a stainless steel control panel and black glass door. There are six control buttons and a knob. Inside the door, there is a sheet to remind you of the eight auto-programs.
The Start and Stop buttons are a little awkward to use as they are located above the knob, and the Start button is on the left rather than the right – which is great for left-handed people! Also, note that the glass turntable is a nuisance to clean, but luckily the Beko plate is safe to put in the dishwasher, as is its roller ring.
The Beko MOF 20110 is compact and affordable, if you are just looking for a basic microwave with a set of programs, this is ideal and a good buy.
Offering no less than 10 power levels and great cooking flexibility, Toshiba’s ML-EM23P(BS) is affordable, easy to use and reliable; what more can one ask?
At a Glance
- Brand: Toshiba
- Model: ML-EM23P(BS)
- Power: 800 Watts
- Number of Power Levels: 10
- Turntable diameter: 10.5 inches
- External dimensions: 19 x 15.6 x 11.5 inches
- Internal dimensions: 12.4 x 13.7 x 8.7 inches
- Instant cooking: cooking time selection, from 30 seconds to 6 minutes
- Oven Capacity: 23 Litres
- Low-Noise Operation: 50 dB
- 5-blade fan
- Child lock function
- Warranty: 1-year manufacturer warranty
Toshiba is widely known for its advance technological solutions and creative design, which is also a fit description for the ML-EM23P(BS).
Designed to be as easy to use as possible, this microwave wonder comes with a pre-programmed menu, making things extremely easy for types of food that are usually heated or defrosted in a microwave, like popcorn, bacon or eggs – everything with a simple touch.
In fact, one of the most distinctive characteristics of this model is its shapeless “soft-touch” buttons. While really responsive and futuristic in their style, they do not have a distinctive pressure point, which means that, at first, you are not exactly sure whether the appliance has actually received your command. In time you get the hang of it, but I think Toshiba needs to look into that.
Another smart feature is the multi-stage cooking, designed to simulate the heating result of a gas burner. It adjusts the heating power and cooking time in 2 cooking stages and get the perfect cooking for your recipe or fancies. For example, you could use a 90% microwave power for 2 minutes and a 60% microwave power for 10 minutes for a juicier result. You can even configure as much as 3 different cooking patterns like this and have the appliance remember them; you can then use them at will with a simple move!
Defrost works both by time and weight.
Microwave ovens are seldom a problem when it comes to noise since they operate no more than a few minutes. But in some cases, especially in families with infants that are light-sleepers, this characteristic may be important. Well, if you are indeed concerned with the noise level, note that its 5-blade fan design produces 50dB, which is equivalent to a casual discussion in a quiet room.
Another great feature is its easy-to-clean glass turntable, usually with nothing more than a damp cloth. You can also simply remove the turntable and wash it.
From heating up food, defrosting and boiling liquids, to multi-stage cooking, Toshiba ML-EM23P(BS) will cater to your needs, for a most reasonable price.
A truly great option for large households, the Sharp YC-MG81U is powerful and cleverly designed for easy use. A few “heads-up” are necessary though.
At a Glance
- Brand: Sharp
- Model: YC-MG81U-S
- Weight: 40 lbs
- Internal Dimension: 13.7 x 14 x 8.9 inches
- External Dimension: 20.2 x 15.6 x 11.8 inches
- Capacity: 28 Litres
- Installation Type: Counter Top / Free Standing
- Colour: Silver
- Voltage: 230 volts
- Wattage: 900 watts, 1100W grill
- Special Features:
Ceramic Enamel Cavity
Touch control panel
Enamel ceramic cavity
8 automatic programmes
11 levels of power
Full touch control electric panel
Kitchen Timer Eco Function
Child Safety Lock
- Cooking Programmes
- Included Components:
Grill Rack (High/Low)
Quick Start Guide
The first thing one notices about the Sharp YC-MG81U is its stylish sleek silver finish, contemporary handle-less design, digital touch controls, black door window, as well as its large interior cavity (28 litres), which can easily hold large bowls, dishes and plates, with a 12.4-inch removable glass turntable (which can be placed without problem in a dishwasher).
Naturally, this takes a toll on the space of your countertop, making YC-MG81U one of the largest models of our list.
Still, being a microwave oven designed primarily for families, its large dimensions would hardly be an issue in a big kitchen with a spacious countertop.
Design-wise, we loved the blue LED display, which also serves as a clock or kitchen timer when the oven is not active. The interior features a scratch-resistant ceramic enamel coating, making its cleaning easy and carefree.
As to the power of the model, well you surely will not be disappointed by that. With a 900-Watt heating power and a 1,100-Watt grill, both easily controlled by the touch control digital panel. The grill can be used both combined with the microwave oven “Grill & Microwave” in multiple modes, namely “Grill Only”, and “Microwave only functions.
The grill, though, while a nice addition, it does not perform as well as the oven. In other words, if you think of buying this because of its grill, then don’t. It is surely not efficient enough for regular use, being a bit slow.
The oven, on the other hand, is amazing. Note that you have 11 levels of power, affording amazing cooking flexibility for almost anything that can be cooked, defrosted and heated up, not just the foods usually put inside a microwave oven.
Still, you also get 8 automatic programmes for most of the usual microwave “suspects”: popcorn, pizza, jacket potato, frozen vegetables, plate reheat, beverage reheat, as well as the defrosting mode, working both with time and weight. You can also activate the child lock to minimise the risk of toddler accidentally turning the microwave on. For a more energy-efficient and environment-friendly function, activate the Eco mode.
Its operation is quiet enough but be prepared for a lot of beeping, which, in most cases is pretty helpful (reminding you, for example, to take the food out of the oven after it is done), but it can be annoying when you use it while others are sleeping nearby.
The Sharp YC-MG81U is an amazing microwave oven, with a grill that requires a lot of improvements to reach the same standard of efficiency. Still, is ideal for large families that do not intend to use the grill regularly.
5. Russell Hobbs RHM2574 – Value-for-Money
Another family-friendly option, Russell Hobbs’ RHM2574 comes complete with a grill rack and a baking tray. Let us see though if its impressive selection of features is worth its price.
At a Glance
- Brand: Russell Hobbs
- Model: RHM2574
- Weight: 44 Lbs
- Dimensions: 19.6 x 20.2 x 12 inches
- Capacity: 25 litres
- Special Features:
5cm wide removable glass turntable
Stainless steel interior
Button and dial controls
- Material & Colour: Stainless Steel
- Wattage: 1100 watts
- Door Orientation: Right
- Number of programmes: 10
The Russell Hobbs RHM2574 is one of those appliances that lure the eye with its looks without letting down closer inspection. Featuring a great 25-litre capacity, it is designed for large households and can be easily used by an inexperienced user, while making things easier for the cook of the family. Note that it is also equipped with a child’s safety lock and a user-friendly control panel, which includes a clock and a digital timer.
Stylish, with mirrored door finish and a sleek dark-stainless steel casing, for easier cleaning and elegant style, it combines microwave cooking with grill function and a fan-assisted convection oven, thus affording great cooking flexibility and preparing a wide variety of dishes that involve heating, roasting, crisping and browning with a single appliance. Its turntable removable glass turntable is 12.5-inch wide easily holds large plates and bowls, and it is also equipped with a grill rack and baking tray.
The door though is a bit difficult to open, at least at first. Personally, I had no problem putting a bit more effort, to it, but an elderly may find that a bit frustrating.
Besides, you get a 900-Watt microwave power (1,100 Watts for the grill) and no less than 10 auto cook programmes, which means that even a totally inexperienced user can easily prepare a hearty meal. The fan-assisted oven performed well enough, making it easy to prepare a large meal for big families or people who love to have people around several times a week.
We admit that we did not actually expect much of the grill, being somehow disappointed by similar models. It performed better than other models, that is for sure, but it is still a bit slow. A great addition, but only if you intend to use it primarily as a microwave oven. The weight and time defrost excelled at all our challenges.
Should we wish to answer to the question posed in the introduction, then yes, Russell Hobbs RHM2574 is worth its price, especially if you have a large family or invite people over often and love to prepare meals for them.
Moving up the scale, even more, we present the Panasonic NN-CT585SBPQ, a full-sized, combination microwave oven and grill with a 27-litre capacity. The design is simple but solid, the controls easy to manage and what is most important, it cooks well.
At a Glance
- Brand: Panasonic
- Model: NN – CT585SBPQ
- Dimensions: 12.2 x 20.5 x 15 inches
- Capacity: 27 Litres
- Glass turntable: 14 inches
- Colour: Stainless steel
Microwave: 1000 Watts
Grill: 1300 Watts
Convection oven: 1300 Watts
- Weight: 28.7 Lbs
- Voltage: 230 – 240V
- Power frequency: 50Hz
- Multistage memory: 3 Stages
- Delay/ Start/ Stand: 9 hours 59 minutes
- Temperature range: 100 – 220Cο
While known for its impressive design and pioneering looks, Panasonic opted for a simpler design with this brushed stainless-steel finished microwave oven. This material is great though, for it doesn’t show fingerprints.
Solidly built, with highly responsive controls, it is surprisingly compact for an oven of such great capacity – namely 27 litres. Included is a wire grilling rack, plus an enamel tray that can be used for both grilling and baking. Both can be stored neatly in the microwave when not in use.
The Panasonic is simple to use, the controls are intuitive, and you couldn’t get better cooking results. It has a high-quality performance which you would expect from a more expensive model. There is a displayed scrolling text guide for operation, explaining how to use the microwave but you can turn it off, if not needed.
The grill is suitably powerful: the magnetron, which is the device inside the oven that makes microwaves, can only be switched on or off. You can’t turn it down to low power. However, the Panasonic NN-CT585SBPQ boasts an inverter, which means the magnetron uses power from an alternate current. This way, the 6 power levels can be precisely controlled instead of just being switched on and off. Defrosting is also excellent for this price range.
On the downside, the length of the power cable which is only 1-metre long is placed high up on the right-hand back of the oven. You will probably need a cord extension to place the appliance at an optimum position.
The grill performs well for a microwave oven extra feature. Slow compared to autonomous grills, but faster and more efficient than any of the ones in the cheaper models. Note that it is probably much stronger than any other microwave oven grill you have probably tested, so check your food frequently if you don’t want it to get burned.
Cleaning is easy, both internally and externally. Noise level is acceptable, and much of the annoying and pointless or excessive beeping of other models will not bother you in this case.
A bit pricier but not unreasonably so, Panasonic’s NN-CT585SBPQ features amazing power, great capacity, ease of use and comes with a grill that is surprisingly efficient.
7. Sage BMO700BSS Quick Touch Crisp – The Best Choice
Ok, granted, the Sage BMO700BSS Quick Touch Crisp is not exactly cheap or budget-friendly, but it is a highly advanced microwave-grill wonder with a massive selection of cooking programs to choose from. Equipped with a crisper pan for all-around cooking and intuitive controls and proving highly reliable, we simply could not leave out of our list.
At a Glance
- Brand: Sage
- Model: BMO700BSS Quick Touch Crisp
- Weight: 35.3 Litres
- Dimensions: 12 x 20.2 x 17.5 inches
- Capacity: 25 Litres
- 2-inch Turntable
- Voltage: 240V
- Power/ Wattage (both for Oven and Grill): 1000 Watts
- Special features:
Integrated Crisper Pan
A Bit More Button and Child Lock
The Quick Touch Crisp is a microwave-grill combi with a polished stainless-steel finish. It boasts an 11.4-inch Crisper Pan on legs which fold down for grilling and fold away when you want the pan down low, or for storage. It has an inverter which regulates microwave power to create more even heating.
You can cook in a basic manner or select the Smart Cook/Grill, Smart Reheat or Smart Defrost modes from the control panel on the right. There are ten shortcut buttons located just inside the door: One is for saving your favourite program, and one is for grilling, the rest are for popular foods: beverages, baked beans, baked potato, pizza, grilled cheese, caramel, melting chocolate, softening butter. The written menus allow you to easily choose the food type; you can do virtually everything from roasting vegetables to toasting nuts.
Needless to say, for a model of this price range, you expect features like the clock, the kitchen timer, and the child safety lock are a given. Also, note that the Quick Touch Crisp provides you with the option to choose whether weight is displayed in grams or ounces.
The controls and features are really impressive and easy to use. Our favourite? The ‘A Bit More’ button! The controls on the Sage Quick Touch Crisp are great. The knob on the left control’s items on the left of the screen and the knob on the right control’s items on the right.
A good way of testing a microwave grill is to try cheese on toast. Sage has a Grilled Cheese program which uses the Crisper Pan to heat up in the microwave in order to brown and crisp foods so that they don’t become mushy. It is great for pies, pizza and pastries. It first pre-heats the Crisper Pan for three minutes; then the instruction manual advises you add a slice of bread, buttered on both sides, halfway through the six-minute cooking time, turn it over and add cheese.
The result is scrumptious, both chewy and crispy at the same time. The Crisper Pan holds up to three slices of bread, and you can keep an eye on it as the appliance is well lit inside the cavity.
There are similar modes for other popular foods and dishes. To cook a frozen pizza, for example, select the Pizza program, there is a choice of fresh or frozen, choose whether to pre-heat the Crisper Pan and select the quantity of one to six slices. A single slice takes six minutes.
Sage even has a shortcut program for the baked potato, just follow the instructions and use the Crisper Pan down low. When you turn the potato at half-time, you can judge whether it may need more cooking time. The results are excellent, just like an oven-baked potato.
For food items which don’t have their own program, it is a case of trial and error. For example, defrosting pitta bread means manually selecting the power and defrosting time. However, setting the microwave is intuitive: turn the power knob to Defrost which will show onscreen, then use the right-hand knob to adjust the time. If not completely done, try the ‘A bit more’ button for an extra 10 seconds defrosting time.
Last, cleaning the Crisper Pan is simple as it is dishwasher-safe, while the noise level is more than acceptable.
If you can afford it, this is a really great buy. Its gourmet features will appeal to the dedicated cook and the controls are easy to handle. Make sure you need all the fancy bells and whistles before spending such a considerable sum of money.
The microwave oven surely changed everything when it was first launched almost 70 years ago. It allows even the least experienced user to cook, heat up food or pre-cooked meals, defrost frozen food, reheated coffee etc. in a flash, with one or two simple moves.
Nowadays, microwave ovens are an indispensable appliance to every modern kitchen, used even by people who never cook for themselves. Microwave ovens come in a wide variety of sizes, types and features, and with considerable differences in overall performance and price.
This small buying guide will help you keep an eye out for what really matters.
Measure Your Space
The first thing you should do, even before setting your budget, is to measure the space of the microwave spot. If you want a countertop, free-standing type, then a couple of inches more or less usually are not a problem, but if you opt for a built-in you will need an accurate measurement.
Naturally, the bigger the size of the microwave oven, the bigger its capacity, but often, the actual capacity of the oven is much lower than the one stated by the manufacturer – sometimes even 50% lower.
Set a Budget (by Selecting a Microwave Type)
Microwaves today have a pretty wide price range – from £50 to several hundred pounds. Needless to say, countertop microwaves are by far the cheapest, with their price getting higher depending on their interior capacity and features.
A specific type of microwave ovens, known as over-the-range microwaves, are more expensive, for they are installed above the range or cooktop in place of a range hood. Hence, they function like countertop microwaves, while eliminating smoke, steam and cooking odours, using a built-in ventilation system. This highly advanced type of microwave oven starts from around £170.
Built-in models are usually even more expensive, starting from around £360 and reaching as high as £900 or more.
Key Characteristics and Features
Needless to say, the bigger number of features is, in most cases, the reason behind higher prices. But you need to figure out whether you actually need these extra features and are prepared to pay extra for them.
Some microwave ovens have a heating sensor, designed to measure the steam emitted by the heated food and turn off the microwave at the optimum time, thus ensuring perfect cooking. This feature is valuable for singles or couples that have barely any idea about cooking.
Microwave Power – Wattage
Obviously, the higher the wattage, the bigger the cooking power, but you will have to see differences of 150 watts or more for a real difference in heating time.
Turntable – Tray
Almost all microwave ovens have a turntable nowadays. It is very important, ensuring uniform heating. Those who haven’t, use a rectangular tray that slides from side to side. This type is usually better for bigger microwave ovens and families, who often use large casseroles or platters during their meals.
Shortcut keys make it ridiculously easy to cook or heat up some popular options, like oatmeal, pasta, stew, popcorn and frozen vegetables – even grits.
This is very helpful. A quick key (usually 60-second or 30-second one) allows extending the pre-set cooking time with a simple tap while keeping the same power level. It also makes it easier for you to make adjustments to the settings since tapping the button more than once extends the heating time even more.
Racks allow you to cook several dishes at the same time, thus saving you time. They can also improve convection cooking, by defusing heat under the cooking dish.
On the downside, racks often take a lot of space.
Cooking, Grilling, Browning
Some advanced microwave ovens have modes that enable conventional cooking, grilling and browning, thus serving as proper ovens aside from microwave one. Still, make sure these modes function properly because in some cases they are just for showing-off and consumer-trapping.