Reporter: David Richardson

Prepare Eggs in a minute; Steaks in five, a whole roast in under ten, the freedom machine of the eighties the microwave oven"

In the 70's and 80's the "electric oven" as it was once called was hailed the home maker's hero. In the nineties it became the bachelor's best friend. Now, with better, cheaper designs on the market, the humble microwave has moved from simple re-heater to the cooker of choice...

When Microwaves first hit the market, they cost around five-hundred-dollars

In today's money that's more than Two-Thousand dollars.

Now, you can pick one up for as little as fifty dollars - cooking with just the press of a button

"Now, you certainly don't have to spend the lot on microwaves to get a good result." Says Ingrid

While there's a difference in prices, sizes, microwave power and energy efficiency that doesn't automatically reflect a difference in quality.

Consumer Group Choice put the top brands through their paces. Ingrid Just explains..

"Choice reviewed 16 microwaves and when we were reviewing them we looked at things like how intuitive the controls are, the space size within the microwave, how easy it is to see through the glass therefore how much lighting there is and of course how evenly the microwaves heat."

Of the sixteen tested, each was given a score out of one hundred...

these were rated the best..

Sharp R350RW

Score: 83

Cooking Performance: 87%

Price: $241

In third place the Sharp scored eighty three...

Cooking performance it rated eighty-seven, and all for two-hundred-and-forty-one-dollars.

Panasonic NN-ST680S

Score: 85

Cooking Performance: 89%

Price: $359

The Panasonic NN-ST680S was the most expensive in the top range, coming in at 359-dollars.

But despite the hefty price tag, it still finished second.

With a cooking performance of eighty-nine percent.

And an overall score of eighty-five


Score: 85

Cooking Performance 89%

Price: $179

At equal second, and the best buy of the bunch, this LG Model was only 179-dollars.

Scoring the same as the more expensive Panasonic, at half the price.

Panasonic NN ST557W (A)

Score: 88

Cooking Performance: 93%

Price: $199

But it was another Panasonic, the NN ST557W (A) that Choice ranks the best .

It scored 88, with a cooking performance of 93%

All for 199-dollars.

If you want something cheap and basic, Choice says you can't go wrong following these simple tips

"If you just wanting a basic microwave, things that people can look out for are ones that obviously fit your bench top that offer very even cooking and heating that are well lit inside so that you can check through the glass to see how the cooking procedure is going 30:23 intuitive controls and of course microwaves that are easy to clean." Says Ingrid

"You would be able to taste the difference but what I would suggest is the dishes you do in the microwave are suitable for things that need steaming, rather than browning." Says KerriePrice is one thing, taste is another. We asked Home beautiful chef Kerrie Worner to put three brands, from three different price ranges to the test.And the proof is, quite literally, in the puddingThat's right - Kerrie cooked the same meal in all three machines and produced the same result.

Her tips for cooking with a microwave, keep any meat moist.

"I've added a bit of cornflour and water at the end to the sauce and coat the chicken and perhaps use chicken thigh fillets because they've got a bit of fat in them. So they won't overcook and dry out as much." Says KerrieNo matter how easy, and how tempting, to set and forget, never 'Fire and Forget'...

"Always stir your food during the cooking process, so the food cooks evenly when the whole cooking times reached." Says KerrieAnd don't overheat... or 'Nuke it'...

"I just cook the meat at a medium high temperature, and so it's not cooking as fast." She continuesDespite years as a professional chef, Kerrie says the most important rule of all...is to know how to use your tools...

"You need to read the instructions, and find out how to use it properly, because you've got lots of tips through their cookbooks and the recipe books that come with it, are tested to be suitable for it."


"As long as you've got the same cooking times, same temperature, and the same dish they'll all be the same." Kerrie explains