Product Type: Panasonic microwaves
Newest Review: ... got, forcing the company to eventually pull that microwave off the market! Decked out in brushed stainless steel, the Panasonic NN-C... more
The Perfect Panasonic Oven?
Member Name: Nar2
Advantages: Powerful, packed with Panasonic features, good touch buttons, good cavity & flat bed idea.
Disadvantages: Not enough rungs, complicated instructions, pricey & rear unit bulky.
As before however, what I needed was a large oven cavity to accommodate the kinds of cooking I do, from baking to meat dishes, roasts and the odd full size family chicken, of which I use the bones and carcass thereafter for soup, as all good traditional cooks do. The oven would have to be compact and combination in design, really only be suitable for one or two people using it even though at the time with a secondary microwave oven already located elsewhere in the kitchen, my mind was swayed between a Hotpoint convection fan assisted built in oven to replace the old Bosch, or a combination microwave, but using the oven most of the time. After looking at alternatives by Sharp, Sanyo and Delonghi, my money went on the Panasonic NN-CF778S. For the fact that it comes with a limited time 5 year guarantee upon registration and for the other fact that it has a drop down door - bringing back good memories of our first Panasonic microwave back in the 1980's that lasted for 15 years, - and its drop down door taking up less space than conventional side opening doors.
At cost the Panasonic NN-C778S cost me £249-00 from Scottish Hydro and elsewhere online, this appliance commands a high price of between £250 to £300. For your money you get a top spec combo microwave unit sprinkling with features like generic Panasonic's Inverter technology, three different levels of their preset Chaos defrost functions and amidst cooking programs and a four attachments to be used with the oven, all of it is wrapped up in a shiny silver and brushed stainless steel design that looks utterly professional and high class.
==Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec==
* Model: Panasonic NN-CF778S 1000 watt convection microwave oven.
* 27-litre family size capacity.
* 2 shelf cooking facility & clip on drip tray.
* Inverter technology & flatbed design with drop down door.
* Energy save function & Chaos defrost.
* Stainless steel exterior & interior.
* Comes with flat bed glass tray, metal grill pan tray, arcing ring & slotted grill tray.
* 6 Power levels, auto weight cook functions, 3 heat setting grill option.
* 1300-watt grill element & clip on drip tray.
* Energy efficiency rating A, maff setting E.
* Size: 53cm by 53.5cm and 33cm height.
* Limited registration 5-year warranty offer.
* Cost price £249-00 from Scottish Hydro, £280 to £300 online from sellers (example £285 from Tesco.com).
When it comes to design, quality and features, it may help to read the user manual that comes with this product even if you have owned a combo microwave oven before. The Panasonic NN-C778S kind of moves the game on where microwave design is concerned, even if it is a little at a time. You won't find a turntable in this model for example, which I found disconcerting at first and reminded me strongly of a Samsung microwave that first came to the market in 2001 lacking a turntable with a great tendency to burn food or not even properly cook it without a turntable rotating a plate whilst the microwaves cooked the food. I recall the seething reviews that the Samsung got, forcing the company to eventually pull that microwave off the market! Decked out in brushed stainless steel, the Panasonic NN-CF778SBPQ certainly looks professional enough.
The basic and general layout of this Panasonic oven is simple to use though and it is relatively easy to forget what you might be used to where glass plates are concerned. This time you get a glass plate for sliding into the base of the Panasonic's flatbed oven and it has walled sides, almost reminding me of a square Pyrex brownie glass tray, but made of clear glass as opposed to Pyrex's generic orange tint. By pressing activation buttons on its smooth black touch control panel to the right hand side of the main control panel and then twisting the seamlessly smooth jog control dials for increment timings or adjusting the temperature of the oven, depending on the choice you are using, it doesn't exactly inspire new technology if you are used to sole buttons on past ovens. To Panasonic's credit however, the two main jog dial controls beautifully press in and pop out for safety as well as provide difficulties for inquisitive little fingers and even though there is the default Panasonic child safety lock built in as standard, the two dial controls strongly remind me of the "solid state" radio controls from Sony products from the 1970's and my last Delonghi combo microwave oven a few years ago had the same kind of control mechanisms - Is a step back to two-stage controls compared to press buttons, the right direction to take?
Where general performance is concerned, this appliance gets easier every time you use it, but it still takes a good read of the user manual if you're not sure. After nearly a month's ownership I am still reading the user manual every so often and still treating the Panasonic with kid gloves. This is purely because of the previous experience with the Panasonic John Lewis combo microwave and note that a few other things have changed. Outside the product, the Panasonic NN-CF778S comes well recommended by the Good Housekeeping Institute and recently won a "Best Buy," from Which?
As a microwave, the Panasonic NN-CF778 is plain sailing, even if you still have to cover every open vessel with a cover to avoid boiling over or splatters. Cooking, reheating and defrosting can be done to a high and reasonably quick standard - but even with its claimed 1000 watts of heat power, I don't find the Panasonic to be any better than my budget Panasonic microwave only model and when it comes to the lower power of my budget Panasonic microwave that lacks "Inverter" technology! The inverter technology that Panasonic promise here links up with a more compact heating inverter that supposedly heats up food faster and more equally, especially on lower heat levels. This doesn't just mean you still get simmer, low, warm, medium and high heat levels but also counteracting the three stage defrost levels that equally offer up an extra three heat levels idea for reheating foods like bread, meat or fish.
Panasonic also claim that Inverter technology takes 3kg off the weight of the product in question - but if all of this was so true, the rear of this oven wouldn't suffer so much in so far as endless bits of metal and fan vents that has been placed as an after thought with no regard to making the actual rear of the Panasonic's exterior that little bit more compact. As for the weight, well it was muggings that had to carry it into the home in the box and out of the box; this oven weighs in excess of 20kg, which hardly moves the game on, when Panasonic's so-called Inverter technology promises their appliances to be lighter.
However, I can't but feel a little disappointed for the £250 I've paid. From its look, the Panasonic NN-C778S certainly looks professional enough, but when it comes to using the fan assisted oven, the preheat function often confuses me because, as with the microwave function you still have to press a button and dial something before starting. In oven model, you have to dial the temperature in first and then dial in the time duration for cooking. However as handy and large as the green LED's are in the display, the NN-C778S tries to take over with the preheat function if you look at the display intentions showing up. Forgo that and you can dial the temperature in and press start to get cooking, rather than preheating and pressing start before the actual cooking prep - and with only 250° centigrade as its total heat output on offer, it takes the Panasonic a couple of minutes to preheat the cavity before food can be cooked. A micro pad of all buttons would be far quicker to programme here than the nonsense of pressing a single button and then having to use the dials - and over the use with a convection fitted oven with a single control dial - the Panasonic here isn't as quick to operate no matter how bling the whole thing looks - even if the food I've cooked comes out sizzling and well cooked.
Panasonic would like to think they have reinvented the interior for example, but I was surprised to find that the interior doesn't have the easier to keep clean black enamel paint in my budget oven, but rather all shiny silver stainless steel. It makes little difference with the light that stays on throughout operation, only making the interior look that little bit brighter once the door is opened, revealing gleaming, shiny walls whilst food stains are relatively easy to take off with just a damp cloth and a little gentle washing up liquid. The back of the oven has a self cleaning catalytic coating, so there's no need to further clean it although the top of the oven shows off flush fitting grill elements that Panasonic suggest you turn on once in a while for them to burn off any deposits of old food sticking to them. To those with the traditional microwave oven with a turntable, the whole process of use eventually becomes easy with the lack of a turntable and whilst the flat bed is easy to use, the glass tray that Panasonic include can be optionally used, making it easier to use just the plate that your food is on - provided that it is microwave safe and relatively heat resistant in the first instance.
There are particular further restrictions in using the Panasonic as a convection fan assisted oven once you open the drop down door and there's an outer PVC black drip tray that is supposed to be included with this oven, which I didn't find in the box to counteract any steam water evaporation through use (although it did arrive today in the post). Although the flat sides of the oven allow a good capacity, the metal slotted shelf grill you get can only be put in two height positions, the tallest having only a 6cm depth between it and the elements at the top. At a push you can put frozen chicken or fish fillets in, but use tinfoil instead of using the grill alone as you'll find food sticks to the metal grids. Nothing new there that you would find in a conventional oven alone - but I would have liked to see more rung height adjustments here rather than the two that allows the slotted grill and the grill pan underneath to slide into. Also the drop down door is light enough to pull down and shut back up, but it isn't weighted, so you can't place any food or implements on top of the door - so unlike our past 1980's drop down door on our old Panasonic - whilst the hinges are thin to the eye and don't inspire longevity.
So if you use the Panasonic for a few good hours with one food preparation, you may expect to find the exterior panels really hot to the touch. This isn't helped by copious air vents that allow the fan oven too cool down - the Panasonic may well be high tech when it comes to cooking foods, but the design of its body is far from modern when it comes to exhausting the hot air afterwards. As such it isn't the kind of oven that will fit properly in an enclosed space - unless you give it enough space for the hot air to circulate.
When it comes to the multi-cooking stages that the NN-CF778S offers, the Panasonic doesn't really bring anything new to the table. This is where the combination cook menus become overly complicated in theory - but not complicated once you get used to it. The Panasonic's helpful large display LED screen helps out a fair bit here as a bit of a bonus whenever one programme selection is made with decals lighting up showing me what I need to do beforehand in so far as the different trays are concerned. But in all honesty, it's a bit of a faff still having to remove the grill and all matter of metal for microwave cooking, then removing the glass plate before adding the grill pan and slotted grill as well as the arcing ring should you use further metal in the oven when in convection mode, and then after all that, stand about asking the Panasonic to restart its cooking procedure - as well as having to recheck the food when the Panasonic beeps intermittently - and just like past models, this one will beep 7 times after it has been used - or any seconds lower than this if you are impatient to get the food out and just open the door!
There are a couple of further downsides though. Although the glass plate that comes with the Panasonic as standard is dishwasher safe, neither the slotted metal grill or enamel metal pan is dishwasher safe, begging me to ask why when in this day and age, most ovenware is dishwasher safe!
The auto cook programs featured are much better thought out even though you'll still be left with doing combination cooking, using the enamel tray provided and swapping it around back to glass when required to do microwave cooking. There are no less than 19 programs featuring generic foods that microwave have been known to cook well and the English only user manual has loads of great recipes as well as very helpful charts to gleam info from. From fresh vegetables to jacket potatoes, breaded fish, chicken pieces, frozen and fresh pizza, whole chicken and even pastry programs, the Panasonic is never left wanting with its built in auto weight cook programs. However to go through with these programs, this oven isn't exactly "auto cooking" in its process, especially if you have to chop and change with the different settings and continuously weigh foods before you cook them as well as later standing nearby when the Panasonic stops intermittently for you to check the food as it cooks.
One further downside is that despite the huge number of recipes that the user manual gives, the operations section is brimming with warnings and tips. Therefore whilst it is handy to have the recipes, Panasonic should look at ways in which the user section could be easier to read and better thought out.
Finally, for all the Panasonic is compact to look at, it isn't really. You will need quite a large space to accommodate this oven and as such, although it is slim and flush fitting to the eye from the front, Panasonic have made little attempt to produce an oven here that is space efficient - especially when viewed from the side.
So, when all things are considered. although pricey at cost, the Panasonic NN-CF778S combination microwave oven has a few good design features and cooks to a reasonably high standard without being overly noisy and some may well love the pop up jog controls. The more you spend time with it, the more it becomes intuitive to use and if you are looking for a microwave combo unit that can accept large plates, the Panasonic NN-CF778S is super at accommodating them due to its rectangular flat bed design. The controls are very easily labelled with a large LCD screen that is clear to see and easy to understand.
However good the quality is on this model, elsewhere online, the NN-CF778S has been met with criticism where quality is concerned and I can see why. Panasonic have started to use lesser quality metal finishes on their microwaves and this is evident from online reviews by other buyers slating the door hinges and a perceived quality drop from previous Panasonic models. Although I haven't had problems as yet, I can foresee that the guarantee with this product may well be used before two or three years is up, if going by past experience. The perceived quality issue is a bit worrying however and that prevents me from awarding full marks for the Panasonic NN-CF778S. Certainly over the appeal of a larger cavity that a more conventional fitted convection oven offers, the Panasonic NN-CF778S is certainly worthy of more compact considerations - especially for one or two people as opposed to a family who would get the best out of a bigger built in unit. As a compromise to the latter type of appliance, this combo microwave oven isn't exactly perfect - and for a pricey Panasonic oven, it should be! Thanks for reading. İNar2 2012.
Summary: Classy, powerful and professional looking - just needs a little more thought.
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