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GE Profile Series 2.2 Cu. Ft. Countertop Microwave Oven review: This microwave has a magic button

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The Profile Series cooks frozen lasagna evenly, though the cheese wasn't as melted as we'd like. Ry Crist/CNET

All things considered, I think that the Profile Series did a pretty good job. With every test, the lasagna came out evenly cooked, more so than we saw with a lot of the other microwaves that we've tested. My only complaint was that the top layer of cheese wasn't ever fully melted, but the dish was still warm and cooked through, and certainly within the margin of error, given that the box recipe calls for almost 15 minutes of total cooking time.

Things were starting to look a little better for the Profile Series, especially when I wasn't forced to rely on the presets. I ran through two of our oddball tests: raw hamburger meat and nuked-from-scratch omelets (no, not at the same time). While not recipes I'd ever cook for myself, the Profile Series did a nice job with both of them. The microwaved burger was as gooey and disgusting-looking as I expected, but it also tasted a lot better than it looked, as the Profile Series managed to cook it evenly without ruining the texture.

At low power levels, the Profile Series is capable of handling delicate foods, like eggs. Ry Crist/CNET

As for the eggs, the Profile Series produced a fluffy, tasty little omelet. I wouldn't expect to win any points for presentation with it, but it would certainly make for an acceptable breakfast. If you have any favorite recipes that rely on your microwave's low power settings, rest assured that the Profile Series should be able to handle them.

The Profile Series can handle defrosting, too. Using the "Weight Defrost" setting on frozen chicken, I found that the Profile Series was able to bring my poultry back to a comfortable 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with none of the extreme hotspots that we saw other microwaves produce. After a rough start to my tests, the Profile Series seemed to be turning things around. Little did I know, it was just getting started.

We've eaten a lot of reheated pizza here at CNET Appliances, and this was some of the best. Ry Crist/CNET

Bringing leftovers back to life
For my last test, it was time to return to those moisture sensors -- specifically, the Reheat setting, designed to automatically resuscitate last night's leftovers. My leftovers of choice were slices of pepperoni pizza that had been chilling out in the fridge overnight. After my experience with popcorn and potatoes, I was convinced that the Profile Series would leave my slices undercooked.

I was wrong. The Profile Series nailed this test time and time again, cooking the pizza just as well as any other microwave that we've tested, and doing so at the touch of a button. It didn't matter if I was cooking one slice, two slices, three slices -- my pizza always came out piping hot, with gooey, stretchy cheese, crisp pepperoni, and a satisfyingly chewy crust. Best of all, I never needed to think about how long the pizza needed to cook. I just threw whatever portion I wanted into the microwave, hit the Reheat button, then let the machine do the rest.

These results were so impressive that I decided to investigate further. The reheat function is designed for single servings only, but I was curious -- what would happen if I pushed its boundaries a little bit?

That Reheat button is the ace up this microwave's sleeve. Colin West McDonald/CNET

I started off with something pretty simple: Salisbury steak. After cooking a family-size batch in the oven, I let the dish sit in the fridge until it was nice and cool. From there, it went straight into the Profile Series. I hit the Reheat button, crossed my fingers, and watched.

Sure enough, the sensors did their job, figuring out that I was challenging them with something a little trickier than a few slices of pizza. After about two minutes, the microwave beeped, and the display told me my food was ready. I grabbed my fork, dug down to find a piece buried at the bottom, and tried a bite. It was perfectly reheated. Not content to stop there, I whipped up a nice, dense potato cheddar casserole, easily enough servings for a large, hungry family. After baking it for an hour, then letting it cool off in the fridge, I attempted to reheat it using the Profile Series' sensors. Five minutes later, I had a perfectly reheated, ready-to-serve casserole.

Would the Profile Series really be able to automatically reheat this entire platter of enchiladas? Ry Crist/CNET

This almost seemed too good to be true. We've tried out moisture sensors in other models before, but none of them had even come close to performance as impressive as this. I wanted to push the limits even further, so I brought out the big enchilada. By this, I mean that I literally brought out a party-sized tray of chicken enchiladas that had been sitting in the fridge for a few hours. In general, I don't recommend microwaving anything that sits in an aluminum tray, but after determining that the platter was microwave-safe, I decided to push forward with the test (still, don't try this at home).

Thanks to the Profile Series' ample capacity, the entire tray fit neatly into the microwave. The turntable was even still able to turn. The microwave did its thing, its sensors struggling to figure out what the heck I was trying to cook. They worked at it for over eight minutes before the machine abruptly stopped cooking and beeped angrily at me. There was an error message on the display reminding me that Reheat was for single servings only. I deflated a little bit. Perhaps I had flown a little too close to the sun. But then, I opened the microwave up. In spite of the error message, the Profile Series had still managed to reheat the entire tray of enchiladas just as perfectly as it had done with the pizza, the steaks, and the casserole.

A little on the mushy side, but they were like that to begin with. Ry Crist/CNET

Clearly, Reheat has its limits, but still, these results left me beyond impressed. In all the microwaves that we've tested, it's been a struggle trying to find features that I actually think I'd use on a regular basis, or ones that would make me want to use my microwave more. With the Profile Series' sensor-based reheat function, I think I've finally found a feature that meets both of those marks.

So, is it worth it?
It's hard to say whether or not I would recommend this microwave. At a price of $359, it's one of the most expensive models that we've looked at so far, and in terms of general, every day microwaving, it wasn't able to consistently outperform more affordable alternatives like the Amana AMC2166AS and the Panasonic NN-SD997S. Some of those competitors boast convection, inverter technology, and other advanced features that you simply won't find in the Profile Series microwave.

Still, none of those "advanced" features really blew us away. In most cases, the difference they made in our cooking experience was actually rather marginal. The same can't be said for GE's sensor reheating function. It's a true killer feature, and unlike some of the other moisture sensors that we've tested, it works really, really well. Best of all, it's the kind of thing I could actually see myself using. Microwaves that claim they can cook entire chickens or bake a loaf of bread are interesting, but how often would you actually use those features -- and how confident would you be in the results?

If you live off of leftovers, and could see yourself using the sensor Reheat button on a regular basis, then this is a machine that definitely deserves your consideration, even at the price. If, on the other hand, you just want a microwave to make standard fare like popcorn and frozen dinners in, then you're probably better off saving your money and going with something less expensive. As for me, I'm probably sticking with what I've got -- for now, anyway. After gleefully reheating everything I could in the Profile Series, I can't deny that GE might finally have me expecting more from my microwave.

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