* Prices may differ from that shown
6 months ago the microwave in our rented house caught fire (just a small fire thankfully) midway through sterilising our baby's bottles. Panicked at the thought of having to wait for the agency to pull their finger out and replace it (which would have been at the very least a week) and knowing that soon we would be moving to a house of our own I dispatched my husband to find a replacement immediately. Our budget was about £60 and we wanted something very simple and easy to use. He returned with this machine which had been reduced by 30% and was just over our budget- it usually retails at £99.99. First impressions were that it is quite an attractive microwave with a matt stainless steel finish which looks modern and smart. This is easier to keep clean than a shiny stainless steel appliance and it hides the dirt and dust quite well (I am a slattern when it comes to housework so this part is important!). It has a painted interior which I am informed by the product specifications makes it easy to keep clean. I havent noticed any difference between this and all the previous microwaves we have used in terms of wipeclean-ness, but to Hitachi this is a selling point and so worth mentioning. The plastic widget with wheels which you place the turntable dish onto is really fiddly and irritating however and I hate it, I always make my husband replace the dish as he has much more patience than I do! Capacity of the microwave is 23 litres, which to the non-technical among us means that you can fit a dinner plate in there, but not a big pyrex dish/baking tray/ turkey/leprachaun - should you wish to. This capacity is around the midrange microwaves, a more expensive microwave will get you three litres more, a cheaper one will get you 6 or so less litres. Its measurements are 28.7x48.5x38.8(H/W/D)cm (from the Comet website) and again this is a midrange size microwave, you can buy both bigger and smaller units. On the front of the microwave are two dials and a button to open the door. One dial controls the wattage or power of the microwave and means you can set it between 800w and 140w should you wish to; there is also a notch to set the microwave to defrost things. If you are a regular microwave chef perhaps this would be useful but as we generally only use the machine for melting butter for baking, cooking potatoes and reheating food we have only ever had it on full power. Performance is as you would expect, cold and uncooked things go in.....and come out hotter. It does tend to heat a little unevenly and more slowly than my old machine though - I just had to make two trips to make sure my rice pudding was thoroughly warmed. The other dial is for setting the time and this is where I have a major complaint-in common with a lot of other customers it seems. The dial has series of numbers around the outside, separated by dashes. The numbering goes 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-15-20-25-30-35 but the length of the dashes remain the same. So if you want to microwave something for 12 minutes or 17 minutes or 22 minutes you have to fiddle around with the dial and guesstimate whereabouts that elusive number might be. Even 2 and a half minutes can be tricky to find and set, which sounds petty but is very annoying for me as I have worked out exact timings to make food the perfect temperature for me/the kids and the machine can be out by up to 30 seconds each time. In addition the machine struggles with anything under 1 minute, either not starting at all or heating it for too long. To get butter melted (usually about ten seconds) on my old machine with a digital display was a simple process, but with this machine I have to stand and watch the process through the window or risk exploding butter/red hot bowl. Thats all you get. No automatic cook or defrost settings, which feels a little odd as although we never used them it was nice to have them there just in case- just like the fire brigade. The machine makes a proper ding when it reaches the end of cooking time, no beep, which I do prefer in general- especially as my new Bosch washing machine makes enough beeps for every appliance in the kitchen (see review!). So, do I like it? No. Do I dislike it enough to do something about it? No. Is it worth £100? No. Is it worth £60? No. I would expect to pay around £40 for this model, given that it is extremely basic and not actually brilliant at what it does. If you care about the being able to vary the power of the microwave over being able to time things accurately then this is the microwave for you. If you want to spend all that extra money thats up to you, but next time I am choosing the microwave. Note: This microwave is now available again at a discount...wonder why!
Short name: Hitachi MSU23