Moving into a new house can be traumatic, especially when you realise you have disgarded many useful items (such as kitchen appliances) in the name of upgrading. In this situation I didn't have much time to research the new microwave I purchased, all I could go on was that it looked great and matched the design of the new kitchen.
Certainly a situation usually ending in disaster... fortunately I couldn't have been more wrong, the build quality and ease of use were amazing. Everything about it felt solid and for the easy heating of food a doddle; all that was required was a quick twist of the main timer nob and done.
As the days went on, I looked in the manual and discovered it was also a capable grill, not an afterthought. Several bacon sandwiches later, I wondered what this appliance couldn't do!
After living with this fantastic product for nearly a year now, it has never skipped a beat and has been bery easy to clean. If there is one criticism I have, it is this: some of the extra functions are tricky to set up, but the common requirements are very easy.
All in all, if you're in the market for a new microwave, this should be near the top of your list!
This combination oven does it all, defrosts, grills and microwaves and conventional oven with microwave. I have had this oven for just over a year and used it nearly every day with no problems. I use the combination microwave and convection for baking potatoes as when you cook using microwave alone you don't get the nice crispy outside skin as you do with convection and you get a really good result after 30 minutes. I haven't tried baking cakes in it yet but have had a very good result with a yorkshire pudding which rose up beautifully. I originally bought this oven as my old cooker broke down. Now I only use my old cooker for the rings on the top with my saucepans at Christmas. The defrost function gives you a choice for such things as chicken meat and bread and it is easy to defrost a couple of slices of bread for a sandwich in a couple of minutes although they do come out quite hot so you have to let them cool down before spreading with margarine or butter. A good all round oven.
Until a few weeks ago I had never used, let alone owned, one of these modern marvels called the 'Combi Microwave'. Standard microwaves, yes, but not the all-in-one product now widely available.
#~~~ WHY I BOUGHT IT ~~~#
The trigger for my purchase was moving house and leaving the old boring white standard microwave behind. So off we (my wife and I) trotted to Currys, as we needed something immediately and not 'delivered within 5 working days'. What we found on their shelves was a predominance of Combi Microwaves, which will not only microwave, but oven and grill too. Now that seemed like a great idea as we had no oven either at the time in our new home.
What actually made us buy this model? Well, one reason was the nice brushed stainless steel polished finish, and another big reason was that it was one of the few to have a continuous rotary dial to digitally set time and power levels. This feature is one I have always liked on a microwave as it saves having to press fiddly little buttons, and it beats the old mechanical timer rotary knob for accuracy in cooking.
The final reason for our purchase was that the (display) model had a tiny little dent, hardly even that really, in the top outer corner, where the outer skin had obviously been pressed slightly. It wasn't damaged, just not looking quite as good as a brand-new model. As the display model was the last one in stock, we negotiated a further discount on the already bargain clearance price, saving us 65% on the normal new price. Excellent!
#~~~ IN THE BOX ~~~#
You get the microwave itself with glass turntable and the ubiquitous turntable ring underneath, a grill rack which raises up the food being grilled - very useful accessory that, a defrost rack - a plastic tray with short legs on to allow air to circulate right round the food, and the instruction book.
The microwave has a plastic peelable label over the display area where the time and digital display appears, presumably to protect it while in transit. If you forget to take this off you'll be scratching your head wondering why the display is missing or not working, as we were!
#~~~ INSTRUCTIONS ~~~#
The instruction book provided is a welcome change from the modern-day trend for either appalling translations, pictures instead of words, or everything on a CD in PDF format.
It is clear, gives you step-by-step guides as to how to use the functions, even how to clean your microwave, and it runs for 30 pages. I'm not normally the sort of person to read instructions first, but this booklet was an exception as it was so easy to follow. I would certainly suggest that anyone using this microwave should read the instructions first as there are one or two things not readily obvious from looking at the buttons, for example the method of pre-heating the oven.
#~~~ FUNCTIONS ~~~#
We don't have children so are not going to need the 'Child Lock': but it's there, and simple to use by just pressing the 'Stop/Clear' button for 3 seconds to toggle it on or off.
Setting the clock was also simplicity itself and you can choose 12 or 24 hour clock, and using the rotary dial makes it much easier to set the minutes than pressing buttons repeatedly.
Simple microwave cooking, grill cooking, combination cooking, convection cooking (with or without pre-heating), multi-stage cooking, auto reheating and defrosting by weight or time are all described in the instructions and straightforward to use.
#~~~ IN USE ~~~#
The first thing we found with this microwave is that it is heavy, so spend a little time deciding where you want to put it, as moving it is not something you'd want to do very often.
You can place things on top of this microwave, such as the grill and defrost racks, which is useful. The heat vent which you need to keep clear is on the left-hand side only, so we placed the microwave just to the right of the cooker.
The rotary knob for selecting cooking time length and power, as well as convection heat, is sturdy and feels very robust, as do the ten buttons on the front (seven down the side and three at the bottom).
The opening mechanism is a flat press 'button lever' at the bottom - something I think is more hygienic than a pull handle, although it fooled us for a few seconds when trying to work out how to open the door.
If you're in the middle of cooking something and decide you need to add a bit more time to it, it's very easy, just press the 'Start' button once to add 30 seconds on.
The first time we used the convection oven function I kept expecting the inside to melt and nasty things to happen, being completely unused to the idea of a microwave being an oven. But it didn't, and instead I was amazed at the rapidity with which the oven pre-heated to 200 degrees. It took about 3 minutes, a vast amount less than a normal convection fan oven - the interior space being so much less.
In use, the convection oven works very satisfactorily and we have cooked items from scratch as well as reheating them, and have no complaints at all.
The microwave function is also, as should be expected, reliable, and though the instructions caution against cold spots and uneven cooking, we have found that everything we've used it for has cooked fine. We most often use it for heating mugs of milk or for cooking porridge.
I cannot comment on the grill I'm afraid (being honest) simply because we have not used it yet. I have no doubt that with the use of the supplied grill rack it would also work very well.
The microwave is easy to keep clean with flat surfaces inside and out. The only concern I would have is that with the tiny heating holes at the inner back of the microwave, if you suffered splatter it could be a pain having to put up with burning smells from the stuff you couldn't remove. This is something though that all combi-microwaves seem to suffer from - you just need to be careful to cover food when cooking it using the straight microwave function.
The interior light is very bright, the only downside to it is that it is not dependent on the cooking being activated, but rather, it operates when the door is opened. This means you cannot leave the door open permanently when not in use, as the light would then also be on all the time. About the only major gripe I have with it really.
Noise from the unit when in use is pretty reasonable, and the oven mode emits virtually no more noise that a built-in fan oven would. The digital beeping at end of cooking is loud enough to hear through the house.
The stainless steel exterior finish seems to wear very well and doesn't readily show grubby fingerprints and the like, which makes keeping the unit clean less of a chore.
#~~~ VALUE FOR MONEY ~~~#
The current price for this model seems to be at around the £129 mark, which for what you get is not a bad price, but I'd be tempted to try and find it cheaper. I paid £60 for it which was an absolute bargain, but it was ex-display and slightly marked.
Knowing what I know now, I would certainly buy this microwave even at the standard retail price, but we all like a discount of course!
#~~~ TECH STUFF ~~~#
Input: 240 volts
Output: 950-1000 watts
Dimensions: 51cm wide x 31cm high x 48cm deep
Short name: Kenwood CJ99SSA