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Microwave roundup: Our reviewed models in brief

Microwaves are simple kitchen appliances that can require a surprising amount of research before you buy. That's why we're here. We review 'em so you can find the best one to suit your needs.

The microwave is a common fixture in today's kitchen. And while many models haven't advanced very far beyond the requisite popcorn setting, finding a replacement can still be a daunting task. Before making a purchase, consider the following: would you prefer a countertop or a built-in microwave? What size microwave do you want and can your kitchen accommodate it? And, of course, how much are you willing to spend on a new microwave? Prices can range from the most basic $40 model to extremely customized oven-microwave combos for $5,000. For more buying tips and information on microwaves in general, visit my microwave buying guide.

Since we're here to help you make an informed decision about your appliances, we're always on the lookout for new microwaves to review. And we decided to compile this list of models we've already reviewed so you can comparison-shop with ease. So, here's our ever-expanding roster of reviewed microwaves and their key features and functionality.

Amana AMC2166AS Microwave
This $219 countertop model is a basic microwave with straightforward functionality. It boasts a large, 1.6-cubic-foot internal capacity and 1,200 watts. It has default settings for popcorn and other commonly microwaved foods and sensor modes for cooking fresh or frozen vegetables and for reheating leftovers. The AMC2166AS is a no-frills appliance that can feed a family -- provided you have enough room on your counter: 13 inches by 21.75 inches by 17.25 inches (HWD), to be exact.

Read the full review of the Amana AMC2166AS Microwave.

Panasonic Microwave with Inverter Technology NN-SD997S
Panasonic's $300 microwave with inverter technology is a midrange appliance with high-end features. Unlike traditional microwaves, inverter tech maintains a consistent low power to cook foods like eggs or fish more carefully -- this is supposed to keep your food from ending up dry or tough. It also uses a moisture sensor to cook 18 different foods, from oatmeal to ground meat. This 2.2-cubic-foot countertop microwave has 1,250 watts and an optional $180 built-in accessory kit. The Panasonic's external dimensions are 14 inches by 23.88 inches by 19.94 inches (HWD). That's a powerful appliance big enough to feed even the largest and hungriest of families.

Read the full review of the Panasonic NN-SD997S Microwave with Inverter Technology.

Sharp R-820JS Convection Grill Microwave
Sharp's $290 convection countertop microwave delivers 900 watts and has a 0.9-cubic-foot capacity. The external dimensions are 12.13 inches by 20.5 inches by 19.75 inches (HWD). This compact model would suit the needs of a smaller family with limited counter space. It offers a lot of presets, but the Sharp's settings rarely performed as expected. Overall, this convection microwave will cook more slowly due to its lower wattage and more evenly due to its convection heating technology. It has dedicated grill and roast functions, which sets it apart from other models. It also comes with an elevated grill rack so you can cook burgers and other meats more effectively.

Read the full review of the Sharp R-820JS Convection Grill Microwave.

Whirlpool WMC50522AS Microwave
For $279, this Whirlpool microwave offers 1,200 watts and a very large internal capacity of 2.2 cubic-feet. It also comes with sensor heating for select items, but doesn't offer advanced heating technology like the Sharp's convection or the Panasonic's inverter. Overall, it's a fairly standard microwave with high wattage and is capable of feeding a lot of people with ease. You can also pay an extra $120 for an accessory kit that converts this model into a built-in microwave. Just don't forget to measure your counter or cabinet before you buy; you're gonna need at least 12.56 inches by 24 inches by 19.63 (HWD).

Read the full review of the Whirlpool WMC50522AS Microwave.