As I've professed several times here on AC, I'm a big smart home fanatic. I've got far too many Google Assistant speakers scattered throughout my home, almost all of my light bulbs are Philips Hue ones, smart plugs are a necessity, and I use a Nest Thermostat for controlling my apartment's heat and air conditioning.
So, imagine my excitement when Amazon unveiled its AmazonBasics Microwave last fall. The idea of an Alexa-enabled microwave was something I got instantly hyped about, and now a few months later, I've finally had the chance to go hands-on with one and use it for myself.
I've had to bring my expectations down to Earth a bit, but even so, this is still a great little microwave that eats up its dumb competition.
Let's get cooking
Bottom line: The AmazonBasics Microwave is, well, a microwave. It's compact, has a max power of 700W, and doesn't look half-bad. Alexa integration is fun and sometimes convenient, but not always the most useful. However, with a price similar to non-smart microwaves, you might as well get this over anything else.
- Simple, compact design
- Digital clock is always up-to-date
- Automatic popcorn reordering
- Alexa is fast (when it works)
- Voice commands don't work if the door has been inactive for too long
- Alexa button only works with Echo speakers
- Regular-sized popcorn bags don't fit
AmazonBasics Microwave What I like
No matter how many smart features Amazon packs into this thing, the AmazonBasics Microwave is just that — a microwave. If it's not good at doing that, it's not worth the money. Thankfully, this is a reliable, perfectly functional compact microwave that works exactly how you'd expect.
Due to the small size, the max power output is 700W. That's lower than 1000W and higher options that you can find for a little bit more money, but those more powerful microwaves are also bigger. If you've got cramped counter space and don't plan on nuking a full-sized turkey anytime soon, 700W is fine. You might have to adjust cooking times for some frozen foods, but that's the case with any 700W microwave and not a knock against Amazon's specifically.
You'll find your usual list of physical buttons on the right side, including a large number pad, 10-stage power level adjuster, time and weight defrost settings, a preset popcorn mode, and even a kitchen timer. The bottom row houses your pause/stop and start/+30 seconds buttons, along with a dedicated Alexa one (more on that later).
There's a lot of added functionality here that you won't find on traditional "dumb" microwaves.
The design of the AmazonBasics Microwave doesn't stand out as anything overly flashy or different from any other microwave. It's one of those smart home devices that completely blends in with the rest of your home, and I love that.
There is one distinctly different thing, though — the digital clock. It's incredible.
On just about every microwave, you need to manually reset the clock when the power goes out and change the hour during Daylight Savings. Since the AmazonBasics Microwave is connected to the internet, it automatically adjusts the time on its own. That might sound like a small feature, but it's one of those quality of life things that's so nice to have and something I'll miss when I go back to using my dumb microwave.
Now, let's talk a bit about Alexa integration.
After a simple setup process using the Alexa app on your phone, you can control the microwave hands-free using voice commands. Some examples of this include:
- Alexa, turn the microwave on for two minutes
- Alexa, reheat one cup of coffee
- Alexa, microwave 1.5 ounces of popcorn
- Alexa, add 30 seconds to the microwave
When these commands work, they work well. Alexa is usually fast with understanding your command and performs your requested action quickly. If your hands are dirty from something you're cooking or you want to control it from the other room, these can be quite helpful in the right scenario.
And, last but not least, you can have the microwave automatically reorder popcorn for you when you're running low. It determines this based on how many times you use the popcorn button or ask to microwave popcorn and your current supply (managed via your Amazon account). When it automatically orders more popcorn, you'll get a 10% discount. I'm not sure I'd ever use this, but it's fun to have nonetheless.
AmazonBasics Microwave What I'm not a fan of
That's the thing, though. Those Alexa commands don't always work how they should. The virtual helper is usually speedy with processing your command and making the microwave do its thing, but especially if you haven't used any of the voice controls for a while, it can hang up and take a while to do the thing.
Someone suggested to me that the draw to the microwave's voice commands might not actually be using it in the heat of the moment, but putting something in the microwave hours in advance so it's ready to go when you want to use it (e.g., putting water in the microwave overnight so you can have hot tea water prepared to go in the morning).
Unfortunately, that's not possible. If the microwave door has been closed for more than 10 minutes, Alexa voice commands won't work until you open and close it again. I guess it's a useful safety feature to have, but I'd love for there to be an option to disable this.
Speaking of Alexa, remember that dedicated Alexa button on the microwave? Instead of saying, "Alexa, microwave for two minutes," you can press the button and say "microwave for two minutes." As it turns out, you need one of Amazon's Echo speakers for this to work. Since the only Alexa-enabled gadget I have in my apartment is the Sonos Beam, I wasn't able to use this feature.
Lastly, I want to once again mention the size of the microwave. This is designed to be a compact option, but at just 0.7 cubic feet, it's too small for full-sized popcorn bags. Amazon says you can put a three-ounce bag in it, but when I tried, the bag immediately got stuck on the sites of the microwave and didn't fully pop as it should have. Something to keep in mind.
AmazonBasics Microwave Should you buy it?
For all the complaints I have with this microwave, its saving grace is easily its price.
At just $60 MSRP, it costs about the same as similarly-sized and powered dumb microwaves. With that being the case, you might as well get this and have the benefit of Alexa, automatic popcorn reordering, and the always up-to-date digital clock.
Even if the Alexa integration doesn't always work as well as I'd like, you're getting a much more capable microwave without spending substantially more money for something that's far more limited with what it can do.
I'd love to see Alexa's performance become more reliable through software updates, as well as a larger microwave in the future, but for now, this is a good start.
Let's get cooking
A small, low-power, smart microwave.
The AmazonBasics Microwave is, well, a microwave. It's compact, has a max power of 700W, and doesn't look half-bad. Alexa integration is fun and sometimes convenient, but not always the most useful. However, with a price of similar, non-smart microwaves, you might as well get this over anything else.
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