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- 1 Buying the Right Microwave Oven
- 2 Panasonic Microwave Oven Reviews
The microwave oven is perhaps the most popular electronic kitchen appliance around the world. It’s found in homes, office spaces, restaurants, you name it.
It has evolved from one with start and light buttons and two controls knobs to those with several power levels, preset auto-cook options, increased wattage, and convection cooking and sensor options. The features available in microwave ovens exceed what was on the market a decade ago.
The number of companies manufacturing microwave ovens has increased since the first domestic countertop microwave oven was introduced by Amana in 1967. We reviewed four Panasonic microwave ovens since Panasonic has a reputation for manufacturing durable and high-quality products.
|Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SD945S Stainless Steel Countertop/Built-In with Inverter Technology and Genius Sensor, 2.2 Cubic Foot, 1250W||Prime||More Details|
|Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN936B Black Countertop with Inverter Technology and Genius Sensor, 2.2 Cubic Foot, 1250W||Prime||More Details|
|Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN686S Stainless Steel Countertop/Built-In with Inverter Technology and Genius Sensor, 1.2 Cubic Foot, 1200W||Prime||Buy Now|
|Panasonic NN-GN68KS Countertop Microwave Oven with FlashXpress, 3-in-1 Broiler, Food Warmer, Plus Genius Sensor Cooking– 1.1 cu. ft, Stainless Steel/Silver||Prime||More Details|
To read the reviews, click here.
Buying the Right Microwave Oven
In terms of size, microwave ovens are separated into four categories:
The sizing is usually measured in cubic feet. On one end of the spectrum, you have compact microwave ovens with capacity under one cubic foot, while the extra-large models come with more than two cubic feet.
Then there are the external dimensions. Microwaves that don't take up too much space can be 10 by 18 inches, side by side. Larger models can be 14 by 20 inches side by side. The depth generally also increases as the ovens get bigger.
It’s good to know how much counter space you can allocate before buying a microwave oven. It’s not the lightest kitchen appliance to move around. Besides, most of the tasks that microwave ovens are supposed to do are daily requirements. This means that finding a permanent place for yours on the kitchen counter is important.
Types of Microwave Ovens
Countertop microwave ovens, like those reviewed in this article, are the most popular. They can be made for residential or commercial use. Many popular food joints still use microwave ovens to prepare and warm up food.
This category of ovens has a lot of variety too. As already explained, multiple sizes are available. Features will vary and so will the wattage.
Over-the-range microwave ovens may require professional installation. They’re recognizable by their extra width, compared to countertop models, and slightly higher prices. The wattage is quite similar to that of countertop models which means that these aren’t necessarily more powerful, even when talking about high-end models.
One of the main reasons why some people prefer this type of microwave ovens is the lack of space. Over-the-range models can be installed above the range. They can also replace the oven hood, due to the fact that they feature vent systems, and can also help as an extra light source.
Built-in microwave ovens are mostly used in custom kitchens. They can have the same wattage range as the previously mentioned styles and the same sizes too. That being said, the design is what makes all the difference.
Some are built to be hidden in cabinets while the others are built to be walled-in. They will almost always require professional installation. Know that the ovens of this type tend to cost considerably more than the rest, even when it comes to low-end models with limited capacity and low wattage.
Hybrid microwave ovens occupy a special place. You will often find that some manufacturers offer the option of installing countertop microwave oven as a wall-in or built-in appliance.
This may seem cool but it does involve some extra costs that may not always be worth the money. For one, you might not be able to install a hybrid microwave oven anywhere you want. You would need some additional components and perhaps even a special cabinet provided by the manufacturer.
It’s all about getting the right measurements and honoring the design of the cabinet. Considering all that, it’s possible that hybrid cabinets can cost as much as built-in cabinets once you get all the extra bells and whistles and pay the installation fee.
Related Content: Types of Microwave Ovens
Compared to standard and convection toaster ovens, microwave ovens are better if you want to lower your electric bill. They range between 600 and 1,200 Watts while the toaster ovens routinely go to 1,800 Watts.
Microwaves above the 1,200 Watt mark are sometimes reserved for commercial use. That said 1,200 watts is more than enough to handle tough repetitive tasks. But, if you want more raw power, there’s nothing stopping you from getting yours, except your budget perhaps.
Wattage is important for a number of reasons. The higher the wattage rating the more powerful the microwave oven is. This also means that it’s likely to have extra cooking functions while also cooking, defrosting, and making popcorn faster.
What Features to Look for
What do most people use their microwave ovens for? Reheating, defrosting, and making popcorn. As much praise as some microwave ovens get for their cooking ability, the majority of people use them for those three simple reasons.
Therefore, reheat and defrost are two programs that every microwave oven should have. However, you won’t find the popcorn button on every microwave oven. But, as long as you can set the temperature, time, and follow the instructions on the bag of popcorn, most microwave ovens will do a good job.
Other programs may include: frozen dinner, baked potato, tea, broiler, pizza, etc. Keep in mind that most of these advanced cooking functions still won’t be on par with what a good toaster oven can deliver. That’s due to the nature of how microwave cooking works.
That being said, it can be nice to have a bit of versatility. At the very least, additional programs can offer you a good starting point. This means that you can spend less time researching temperature levels and correct power settings.
One more interesting feature that you might want to look for is a steam measuring sensor. Automatic steam measuring sensors take steam readings from inside the oven to determine whether or not the food is done before the timer reaches its limit.
If the food is cooked, according to the program and readings, the sensors can turn off the oven prematurely to avoid overcooking the food.
Safety Features and Build Quality
Although most conspiracies involving the harmful effects of microwaves in cooking have been debunked, there are still some safety concerns. While microwaves don’t have a particularly negative impact on the food they cook they can still be harmful to you if the waves escape the confines of the oven.
Therefore, it’s very important that the microwave oven you plan on buying has a few safety features or at least very good build quality. When it comes to build quality, it’s all about the moving parts, or the microwave door.
Make sure that the door is solid and that it’s childproof. Childproofing a microwave oven door may involve either making the door harder to pull open or, in more high-end models, lockable with a keypad code.
Safety features also include interlocks. Interlocks prevent the microwave oven from working when the door opens. A microwave oven can have more than one interlock. Three is usually the highest number. Each additional interlock acts as a failsafe for the previous one.
Turntables: Rotating vs. Sliding
Rotating turntables are still the most popular choice in most microwave ovens. The reason why they’re so popular is their efficiency. When the food gets spun around inside the oven, it gets blasted with microwaves on all sides and cooks evenly.
Some microwave ovens may feature a side-to-side sliding turntable. While this also helps provide better coverage, it’s not considered necessarily superior. Slow rotating turntables seem to work better.
You may also want to check if the microwave oven has a removable turntable. Removable glass plates make it easier to clean the microwave oven. Most medium, full-sized, and extra-large microwave ovens should have this feature. In the case of compact models, most turntables are fixed.
The Role Brands Play
Two things often come to mind when looking for any type of appliance. How good is a brand’s track record compared to others and how high the premium is? There are many manufacturers of microwave ovens, which is both good and bad.
It’s good because with diversity comes diversity in pricing. It’s bad because some manufacturers have to resort to using lower quality parts to stay afloat. Big brands can sometimes get away with minor drops in quality.
That being said, the reputation is often well-earned. Buying a microwave oven from brands such as Panasonic, Bosch, LG, and other big players can give you peace of mind in that the device is well-built and that you won’t have any serious problems with it.
Is the price higher? Usually. But keep in mind that microwave ovens are getting fancier by the day. And, big brands will always get the first crack at new innovative technologies, which could be another perk.
Understanding Inverter Technology
Inverter technology is something you can usually find in more advanced and high-end microwave ovens. This technology introduces a new heating process which is better equipped to handle cooking on power levels lower than 100%.
You see, in most microwave ovens, even though you can set the power at 30% or 50%, the oven doesn’t actually maintain that power. Instead it switches often between full power and no power to have the desired average output.
With inverter heating this is no longer an issue. Inverter technology allows microwaves to maintain whatever power level you choose, without having to alternate between 100% and 0%. This means that the output is constant and the food cooks more evenly. It’s also the reason why some high-end models can even help you poach delicious fish or make an extra fluffy omelet with minimum effort.
Panasonic – A Brand You Can Rarely Go Wrong With
Panasonic is a reputable manufacturer and its line of microwave ovens is right up there with other top manufacturers. The Panasonic NN-SD945S is considered by many to be the manufacturer’s flagship microwave oven with inverter technology, and for a good reason.
It has a ton of smart cooking features, great power output, impressive cooking and warming speeds, a high capacity, as well as a consistency in its power output that’s hard to match. It may not be the cheapest one on the market, but it is a microwave oven that is easy to use. It is versatile and can last for years before showing signs of wear and tear.
Panasonic Microwave Oven Reviews
All models have 10 power levels and a 1 year parts and labor warranty with an additional 5 years for the magnetron tube (parts only).
1. Panasonic Stainless Steel Microwave Oven NN-SD945S
This is Panasonic’s flagship microwave oven with inverter technology. It is loaded with cooking features, precision heating, and lots of power. It is also made of stainless steel which not only gives it a certain appeal in any kitchen décor but also good durability.
You can find the Panasonic NN-SD945S in two sizes - the 1.6 cu. ft. and 2.2 cu. ft. Both microwave ovens boast 1,250 Watts of power which gives them great cooking power. The extra power lets you do everything faster whether you’re simply defrosting something or trying to cook a larger meal.
And, because the NN-SD945S features inverter technology, you can also poach fish and bake various desserts. This also means that the variable temperature controls are highly accurate and your food cooks evenly.
Another very cool feature is the Genius sensor. Panasonic uses this technology in quite a few microwave ovens. The Genius sensor is essentially a microchip that measures steam. Based on various parameters and depending on the program used, the steam readings will prompt the microwave oven to either extend the cooking cycle or shorten it.
It’s a nice feature to have if you’re not sure how long to cook something or at what power level to cook it at.
When it comes to prepping, the NN-SD945S can be your best kitchen helper. Not only does it have all the classic programs for boiling and defrosting, it also has a keep warm feature. You can press that button if you’re not ready with the rest of your ingredients and the microwave will keep the dish warm without overcooking it.
The turbo defrost feature is another interesting program. This is also made possible by the inverter technology and can considerably speed up the defrosting of large quantities of frozen food.
The intuitive controls are easy to use even if you’re new to microwaves. Each program has its own dedicated button. And, some programs also offer multiple level settings. The popcorn program has three while the sensor cooking program (Genius sensor) has 19 levels, each one used for specific food groups and dishes.
A dial can be used to set the time and weight (for the defrost function), as well as to navigate the sensor menu. You will also find a delay start option and the quick burst button on the control panel. The latter allows you to microwave in 30 second intervals. You can use it repeatedly up to 5 minutes.
The turntable is 15” in diameter. It occupies a large portion of the oven and is fit to support large quantities of food. But this shouldn’t surprise you too much given the 2.2 cu. ft. capacity of the oven. This Panasonic model was clearly designed for people who cook in large quantities.
One of the main highlights of this microwave oven is the Genius sensor. Sensor cooking has come a long way, and Panasonic has done a terrific job maximizing its performance in the NN-SD945S model. The sheer number cooking settings is also equally impressive.
Not necessarily a bad thing, the NN-SD945S is very power hungry compared to other similarly sized models. That being said, not everyone is looking for a microwave oven that can rival a toaster oven in power consumption.
2. Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN936B
The Panasonic NN-SN936B countertop microwave oven is a nice alternative for someone on a budget who still needs some smart cooking features in their favorite kitchen appliance.
One of the most important features of this 1250 Watt microwave is the inverter technology. If you’re not a fan of the cyclic power dropping and you would like the microwave oven to maintain a genuine low-level temperature, then you would probably be pleased with this model.
Another nice feature about this microwave oven is the Genius sensor. It is used in the sensor cook program which has 14 levels. Each level is programmed to handle specific foods. Make sure to check the owner’s manual to see how and when to use them if you want to make the most of the smart cooking mode and get accurate steam readings.
Turbo defrost option is also included. Thanks to the inverter technology, the power consistency helps speed up the defrosting process of all sizes of frozen food items. And you can fit a lot in this microwave oven, too.
The large 2.2 cu. ft. model is not only spacious but it also has a 16.5” glass turntable. It is lighter than you would expect which means that rotating heavier food items won’t be an issue. A good turntable is the key to cooking and defrosting food evenly.
You can set the oven to work for 30 seconds at a time; this is the shortest setting. You can then use the more or fewer controls to adjust it based on the program and the power level. For each power setting you can choose between 10 levels.
Power level adjustability is very important in a microwave oven. It helps prevent both undercooking and overcooking. And, it’s even better when inverter technology is also available since it guarantees that the levels will remain constant throughout the process.
The user panel has a simple keypad design. Similar to many other Panasonic microwave ovens, the Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN936B also has a child lock feature which should prevent most unwanted accidents.
As far as the design and build quality are concerned, this model is as sturdy as they come. The microwave oven is on the heavy side and it is built like a tank. The door has a solid design which creates the perfect seal. It can withstand heavy use without showing signs of wear and tear that might lead to microwave radiation leaking out of the oven.
Of course, for all its smart features, the oven looks great on paper and performs even better in real life. It can still cover all your basic tasks, too, including making popcorn, defrosting, and keeping your food warm after it’s done. Even the popcorn program has three levels which you can experiment with if you like your popcorn to have a special taste.
Since this model was made for people that really work their microwave ovens, it isn’t just heavy and solid but it’s also big. The overall dimensions are 23.88” x 19.44” x 14” (W x D x H). It’s big, bold, as well as powerful and highly efficient.
Listing every single feature that makes this oven a good buy would take too much time. However, its affordability is one of the main highlights. Moreover, the Panasonic NN-SN936B is built to last and offers features and options on par with more expensive Panasonic models. To top it all off, it has a spacious cooking chamber.
For some people this oven may be overkill. If you’re not interested in the smart cooking feature and the Genius sensor, then this oven might be a bit too much. Likewise, if you’re not cooking for an army, you might want to get a model than takes up less space.
3. Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN686S
If you’re looking for a versatile microwave oven, then the Panasonic NN-SN686S model might be the one for you. It is designed for fast cooking and meal prepping and it won’t occupy too much counter space.
Similar to most Panasonic countertop microwave ovens these days, the NN-SN686S features the acclaimed inverter technology. Whether you’re trying to make popcorn, melt butter, boil water, or defrost meat and veggies, the power level will remain constant throughout the process. This makes it almost impossible to get unevenly defrosted food since there’s no guesswork involved and no power level fluctuations.
This model is not only affordable, but also more compact than others. Yet it has the standard 1,200 Watts of power. The overall dimensions are 12.2" x 20.7" x 15.8" (H x W x D).
In regards to settings, this model doesn’t disappoint. While it may not be as advanced as the more expensive models, it still makes full use of its Genius sensor. This means that sensor cooking is included and there are 14 preset programs or levels for you to choose from.
The inverter technology also accommodates another feature named inverter turbo defrost. For this program, you can also input the weight of your frozen food or ingredients in order to maximize its efficiency.
The keep warm feature is obviously present, as it should be in any microwave oven. There’s also a button that puts the microwave in the popcorn mode.
Note that it is a removable turntable, meaning that cleaning the microwave oven should be easy.
- 1200 Watts
- 1.2 Cu. Ft.
- Presets: 14
- Exterior Dimensions: 12.2" x 20.7" x 15.8" (H x W x D)
The balance between price, footprint, and raw power might be very appealing to many home cooks. This microwave oven can do a lot without much hassle thanks to its patented inverter technology and a good combination of features and preset programs.
4. Panasonic NN-GN68KS Microwave Oven with FlashXpress Broiler
Panasonic continues its history of innovation with the manufacture of the NN-GN68KS Microwave Oven with Inverter Technology and FlashXpress Broiler. This microwave was introduced in July, 2019. As with the other Panasonic microwaves we reviewed, this unit features Inverter Technology and Genius Sensor cooking. However, it has two features the others don’t have – a grill setting and a combination microwave/grill function.
The Panasonic NN-GN68KS Countertop Microwave Oven with FlashXpress Broiler is a compact unit available in one size – 1.1 cu. ft. In terms of power, the microwave is 1000 Watts and the broiler 1100 Watts. A dedicated circuit is required when operating this unit.
One of the biggest drawbacks to microwave cooking is that food is not always evenly cooked. To rectify this, Panasonic started manufacturing (other companies then followed suit) microwaves with Inverter Technology. This technology creates a uniform amount of power to thoroughly and evenly heat foods.
Another feature of this microwave is the Genius Sensor. This sensor measures the amount of steam produced when cooking. It then signals the microprocessor to lengthen or shorten the cooking cycle at the correct power level.
The Sensor Reheat feature can be used to warm leftovers such as casseroles, soups, and stews.
However, it cannot be used to reheat bread, meat pie, pastry products or frozen foods.
There are ten Sensor Cook settings (oatmeal, breakfast sausage, omelets, soups, potatoes, fresh vegetables, rice, quinoa, pasta and fish fillets). To use this feature, press Sensor Cook, then the number that corresponds to the food being cooked (there is a chart in the user manual).
The grill function can be used to reheat crispy foods such as chicken nuggets or pizza or make grilled cheese sandwiches. Au gratin dishes can be placed on the wire rack.
When the grill feature is activated, heat radiates from the two infrared heating elements at the top containing the food on top of the rack. It is not necessary to preheat the oven. It should be noted, that only the top of the food will be grilled. Therefore, if you want the bottom grilled, it will have to be flipped over. An auto grill function can be used as well as setting a specific time for gilling.
The combination feature allows the microwave and grill functions to operate at the same time. The performance of this setting has received mixed reviews. Some consumers prefer to use the functions separately for certain foods.
There are two methods available for defrosting: 1) turbo defrost and 2) manual defrost. For frozen foods, Panasonic's Turbo Defrost feature accelerates defrosting time and thaws food evenly and quickly. To use this feature, press TURBO DEFROST, enter the weight of the food (maximum is 6 pounds) and press START. Manual defrost (Power level 3) can also be used. The instruction book has a chart with the appropriate time setting for a certain type of food and its weight.
Another feature of the Panasonic NN-GN68KS is multistage cooking. For example, power level 9 can be set for 5 minutes, level 5 for 2 minutes, and level 3 for one minute. However, this function cannot be used with automatic modes such as popcorn, coffee/milk etc.
Other dedicated cooking features are coffee/milk, popcorn, and frozen foods.
As with our other Panasonic microwave oven reviews, this unit has Inverter Technology and the Genius Sensor. Unlike the others, the Panasonic NN-GN68KS has a grill function that can be used separately or in combination with the microwave. It also has a large array of dedicated functions and convenient features such as Quick 30, Add Time, Delay Start, and Coffee/Milk reheat. Although the sensor reheat and sensor cook functions are available, cooking and reheating times can be set manually.
The type and number of functions of the Panasonic NN-GN68KS adds to the cost of the unit.
If you only want to use a microwave to cook frozen dinners, defrost and reheat foods, and you have a toaster oven, a compact microwave might be a better fit for your culinary needs.
Related Content: Panasonic Compact Microwave Oven
However, if this Panasonic microwave/grill is on your short list, there are a few downsides to consider prior to making your final decision. The main issue is that it is not terribly user friendly.
- The Power Level button has to be pressed until it reaches P0 to keep your food warm.
- This microwave oven does not have a numeric keypad. Instead, buttons (10 seconds, 1 minute and 10 minutes) have to be pressed repeatedly to obtain the desired level/temperature setting.
- Even though the unit is equipped with a separate feature that can be selected to cook for 30 seconds, it cannot be used along with the 10 second, 1 minute and 10 minutes settings. For example, if you wanted to cook soup for 1 minute 30 seconds, you could not press the 1 minute button and the 30 second button. You would have to press the 1 minute button and the 10 second button three times.
- There’s a learning curve with this unit. For some dishes, you’ll probably need to refer to the user manual until you have the settings committed to memory.
- The interior light is dim.