Ding Dong Beep, the Microwave is Dead


I’ve always hated our microwave. It’s big, ugly and old. It was manufactured in 1986, back when I was in 7th grade. Unfortunately, it has always worked well, so justifying buying another one was difficult – until this week.

Midway through the heatup of Anne’s morning tea, it died. Hooray! Time to go shopping.

I asked around at work and got a recommendation for the Sharp R-520LK which looked pretty nice. It was on sale at Best Buy too. We splurged for a Consumer Reports subscription and checked out the ratings there, making a printout to take with us.

We were looking for a model that didn’t require a ridiculous number of keypresses to start the thing, a turntable, decent size, sensor cooking and maybe even a convection feature if it it wasn’t too expensive. A few models also featured inverters which allowed the oven to run at three separate levels, rather than alternating on and off like most do.

Our Saturday goal to go get a new microwave. We first went to Fry’s in Sunnyvale. Strangely, I saw another Yahoo buying a microwave there. After checking out the selection, we went to Sears in Cupertino. Then Western Appliance in Mountain View. Then Costco. Then Circuit City and Best Buy in East Palo Alto (strangely right next to each other, but convenient for comparison shopping). Then back to Fry’s in Sunnyvale. Then Lowe’s and finally Home Depot in Sunnyvale.

Best Buy was the only place where the microwaves were actually plugged in, so you could see how usable they were. Fry’s seemed to have the best selection. Circuit City had none at all. Sears had half of them displayed level with your legs on down, making it awkward to try to look at them. Costco had only 3, but one was the Panasonic 1.2 cubic foot Inverter model, which was a really good deal for a smaller unit at $99.

We ended up going back to Fry’s because we couldn’t remember if we had seen any GE models there. They had very few at Lowe’s or Home Depot too. CR rated them best overall, but they were suspiciously hard to find. The guy at Best Buy said that the Sharps were unreliable and CR agreed, saying almost 1/4 of them were returned. That’s really bad.

Finally, having seen quite a few, we spent 90 minutes looking online. Shipping for microwaves tends to be really expensive so our best bet seemed to be finding one we could buy locally or have shipped to a store. Wal-mart had a great deal on the top-rated GE JE2160 model at $188 + $15 tax. It will be delivered to the store in 7-10 business days. The next best deal was at a place called Etronics for $160 + $36 shipping, but that was for the black plastic model, not the fancy stainless steel model we got that generally sells for $30 more.

The only hesitation we had about ordering one online was that we kinda needed a microwave. Clearly, Man was not meant to live without magic boxes that emit radiation that makes stuff hot. The leftovers are piling up in the fridge. I’ve considered making a quick trip to work to heat things up or maybe getting to know the neighbors a bit. Our egregious inconveniences include having to take out frozen meat a whole day before a making a meal.

Clearly, we’re suffering here. So, in exchange for this valuable shopping advice on microwave ovens, anyone got one to loan for 7-10 business days? 😀


  1. 9 Stores to find the right microwave!? You’ve got to be kidding! Plus you have to wait 7-10 days more to get it! I’d bite the bullet and get one at one of the first 3 stores. Good idea to check with Consumer Reports though. They’re good at evaluating things like that.
    Hope you enjoy it whenever.

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