Our five-year-old microwave oven was slowly losing heating power so we decided to replace it. (This post is about replacing it, not fixing it, so if you are sanctimoniously sniffing about how we really should have disassembled, troubleshot, and hunted down parts for it, please read this online repair guide, all 44,995 words of it, and let me know when to send over the old oven.)
Where was I? Oh, yes.
About 20 years ago I bought a small Sharp Carousel microwave oven and liked it so well that our subsequent three microwaves have been Sharp Carousels. The Carousels have gotten a little bigger over the years — they now can accommodate a large dinner plate — and that's always seemed to be the perfect size for us. I do three things with the microwave: melt cheese in tortillas; heat up leftovers; and defrost meat. Zorg sometimes makes popcorn.
Each time I've bought a new Sharp Carousel, I've consulted Consumer Reports, which recommends some other brand instead. This time they recommended two Kenmores and a Panasonic, so I checked those out on Amazon.com and at Sears' site.
It turns out that in "real world" testing, they're lemons. People wrote the kind of reviews that take full advantage of the shift key and the upper rows of the keyboard. It seems that, in spite of having all the wonderful features favored by Consumer Reports, these microwave ovens have one problem that Consumer Reports didn't test for: they break down after just a few months. Reviews for the Sharp Carousel, while not raves, generally concluded that the Sharp is a basic workhorse.
On this round of microwave shopping, I had one big surprise. Or was it a small surprise? It turns out that Consumer Reports doesn't even rate microwave ovens as small as the Sharp Carousel. It rates a much larger Sharp in the "mid-size" category (apparently for people who roast turkeys in their microwaves) and no Sharps at all in the extensive "full-size" category, which has ovens that would probably have suited the needs of the witch in the Hansel & Gretel fairy tale.
To even locate a Sharp Carousel online I had to resort to the Sharp website, getting model numbers from there that eventually made it possible to track it down on Amazon.com. Turns out it now goes by the name of the Sharp Compact. The Sharp arrived today. It's just a tiny bit larger than its predecessor but with (bless their souls) the exact same glass turntable, so now we have an extra for when one needs to go in the dishwasher.
Thank you, Sharp, for rescuing me from unnecessary "progress." Now if Adobe would only come up with a version of PageMaker for Mac OS X...