This midsize microwave looks better and has a few more useful features—including a mute option, automatic reheating, and a door handle instead of a button—than similar ovens.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $125.
If your countertops are a little tight on space or you want to save some money, this slightly smaller version of our favorite Toshiba works well and has most of the same great features.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $90.
The Toshiba EM131A5C is usually the most affordable microwave that has a full stainless (or black stainless) front finish, rather than the typical glossy black plastic with partial stainless trim. This model also has a door handle, which is easier to open and to clean than the button-style release on most cheap microwaves. Best of all, you can mute the microwave—a rare feature that lets you stealthily reheat midnight snacks without waking up the rest of the house. Like most microwaves, the Toshiba also has a number of express-cooking options, and it heats food quickly and pretty evenly.
You could also consider the Toshiba ML2-EM25PAE. It has most of the same features as the EM131A5C, but it’s a bit smaller and doesn’t have a sensor for auto-heating modes.
But these Toshiba microwaves likely won’t work better or last any longer than other microwaves you’ll find for a similar price. There’s a ton of evidence that they’re essentially the same microwaves as most models sold by GE, Whirlpool, Sharp, Amazon, Magic Chef, Black+Decker—the list goes on.
This is the only countertop microwave we tested that clearly outperformed the mass of cheaper models. Otherwise, the features and controls are pretty similar.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $140.
Okay, not all microwaves are carbon copies of one another. Panasonic still makes some of its own ovens, and the models with inverters are really good, including the midsize Panasonic NN-SN67HS. In our testing, it heated faster and more evenly than every other microwave. We aren’t convinced that the Panasonics will last any longer than the mass of cheap Midea clones, and if you’re just making popcorn and reheating leftovers, you might not notice the superior performance anyway. The core microwave comes in most of the common sizes, from compact to extra-large, and in a few different finishes and control styles.
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