Microwave ovens have become the kinds of indispensable kitchen appliances almost every home relies on. From reheating leftovers to nuking a quick frozen dinner, cooking food in a microwave is just about as easy as it gets.
In terms of quality and performance, most microwave ovens on the market today are much of a muchness. Not the most inspiring of appliances, but handy, convenient, and versatile nonetheless. However, there is the occasional exception to the rule, which pulls in nothing but top reviews from customers and critics alike.
One example is this Hamilton Beach 1.1 cu ft microwave, which is simply a great microwave at a great price.
The truth is, the average reviewer on the lookout for a decent microwave oven isn’t too interested in a long list of complex features and unnecessary settings. They simply want a compact countertop model that occupies minimal counter space and gets the job done heating food reliably and consistently - simply put, a right microwave oven for one's home.
Precisely what this Hamilton Beach microwave was designed to do, but how does it perform when put to the test?
Hamilton Beach Microwave: No Setup Required
No nonsense with this particular microwave - you simply remove it from the box, connect it to a nearby socket, and you’re good to go. Of course, after giving it's interior a quick wipe for basic hygiene purposes, then you’re ready to start cooking.
There’s really nothing involved in the setup process other than setting the clock to the correct time. Something that has a tendency to be a challenge with many microwaves, but not with this Hamilton Beach appliance. And just for the record, you have the option of choosing between 12- and 24-hour formats - whichever the occupants of your house prefer.
Design: One of the Classiest Hamilton Beach Microwaves
Boasting just about enough room to accommodate a standard dinner plate, the Hamilton Beach 1.1 is an extremely compact piece of kit for the equally compact kitchen. As a result, it’s hard to see any buyer struggling to find space to position it in their kitchen, as it’s hardly an obtrusive device.
With its stainless steel exterior and sleek touchpad control panel, it has a fairly sophisticated yet understated appearance. Though, if you need an oven that is as aesthetic as functional a retro microwave oven could also appeal to you. To get back to this Hamilton Beach oven, it’s presented predominantly in a matte black finish, which is pleasing to the eye and easy to keep clean. The whole thing is weighty enough to give a feel of quality and value for money, though without becoming so heavy as to become awkward.
The stainless steel exterior has also been designed to stay cool while in use, so you don’t have to worry if you have pets or small children about the place.
Hamilton Beach Microwave: Cooking Capacity and Capabilities
The comparatively small size of the Hamilton Beach 1.1 leads to the assumption it cannot handle a great deal with each cooking cycle. In reality, you can stack a fair amount of ingredients on its turntable, and it still gets the job done comfortably.
The door opens smoothly, and the glass turntable isn’t in any way jerky, which again gives a sense of quality and performance. Hit the start button to operate the motor, preset, and heating dishes is a surprisingly quiet affair - a rarity for affordable microwaves under 150 dolars price bracket.
Performance and Power
If looking to go to extremes, you can pick up a microwave from countless other brands right now for about five times the prices of the Hamilton Beach 1.1. But in terms of versatility and general cooking performance, I guarantee you will not get five times more for your money.
While this Hamilton Beach microwave is a relatively simple affair, it has the kind of all-around performance that rivals that of the best microwave ovens money can buy. Boasting a full 1000 watts of power (see also these slightly more powerful 1100 watts microwave ovens and the ovens with under 900 wattage), it offers a range of power levels for heating a wide variety of foods and a bunch of preset buttons for added convenience.
One particularly useful feature is the express buttons, which enable you to set the microwave cooking for anything from 1 to 6 minutes at the touch of a button. It may seem like a fairly rudimentary feature, but it is so much easier than manually setting the time and power level when using it regularly. There’s also a button for a quick 30-second blast of heat, which is also very useful.
Choose the appropriate cook time, and when the countdown completes, Hamilton Beach puts out a far subtler beep than most comparable microwaves. Rather than a deafening alarm of an unnecessarily high volume, it’s a much mellower affair with this microwave oven.
One-Touch Cooking Options
Some of the preset buttons are more useful than others, though they perform surprisingly well for such a simple and affordable microwave in all instances. The one-touch cooking options available via the touch panel include popcorn, baked potato, frozen dinner, beverage, pizza, and reheat.
For me, the pizza, popcorn, and baked potato settings performed best of all. While expecting a particularly crispy baked potato or pizza crust out of a microwave, the results are not nearly as chewy or soggy as often tend to be the case.
The oven was tested with a bunch of frozen dinners. This Hamilton Beach oven got the job done with much more consistency than many comparable microwaves. None of the usual issues with frozen centers and overcooked edges when heating frozen leftovers and TV dinners.
Throwing together a batch of popcorn also could not be easier.
As you’d expect, there’s also a defrost feature, but it is not something that I tend to use. In my experience, I've found it practically impossible to defrost anything in a microwave evenly, so I tend not to bother. Putting the feature to the test with the Hamilton Beach, it was the same story as always - edges that were too warm to be safe and an interior that froze solid.
Though I will not hold this against it, as I have yet to come across a microwave with a truly useful defrosting option.
Hamilton Beach Digital Microwave Oven: Price
Priced similarly to most entry-level microwaves and toaster ovens around right now, you cannot fault this thing in terms of value for money. You get the impression right out of the box that this is a kitchen appliance of genuine quality. If you’re the kind that favors simplicity over superfluous features, this really could be the last microwave you’ll ever need.
And given the fact that it is often up for grabs for no more than about $70, it’s a bargain in every sense of the word.
In terms of its cooking power, versatility and user-friendliness, it’s hard to find any real fault for such a low price (see also microwaves under 200 bucks). It even has a fantastic child lock feature that locks the touchpad, meaning the little ones can’t get themselves into trouble while doing their thing in the kitchen. One of several features this thing boasts that you wouldn’t normally expect at such a price.
Sure, it doesn't have convection cooking capabilities - see top convection ovens - or anything else that takes its functionality beyond that of a standard microwave. But that’s exactly the point with this Hamilton Beach microwave oven, which has been designed with simplicity and performance in mind. Hence, as far as overall value for money is concerned, it is hard to think of anything that delivers more bang for your buck.
Hamilton Beach Countertop Microwave Oven: Pros
•Instantly ready to use with no setup required
•Exceptionally affordable at around $70 or less
•Very impressive power and general cooking performance
•A wide variety of helpful one-touch settings
•Easy to reheat food and cook frozen food evenly
•Elegant and sophisticated matte black exterior
•Decent capacity for such a small appliance
•A safe device for households with children
•Ships complete with a one-year warranty from the manufacturer
Hamilton Beach Countertop Microwave Oven: Cons
•Slightly too small for larger family meals•Lacks convection oven capabilities
Specs at a Glance:
Hamilton Beach Stainless Steel Countertop Microwave Oven
17.09 x 14.25 x 22.2 in.
0.9 cubic feet
Stainless steel in matte black
This ultra-affordable Hamilton Beach 1000 Watt Microwave delivers everything you would expect for this kind of money and a fair bit more besides. By far, one of the best Hamilton Beach microwaves launched to date and well worth checking out.
If you can live without all of the advanced features and optional extras of a higher-priced appliance, this thing is in a league of its own in terms of all-around value for money.