Pros / The Hamilton Beach EM0331MZC-X2 tied for the best performance for cooking popcorn.
Cons / It scored low in our potato cooking test.
Verdict / This microwave is reasonably-priced, larger than most and was impressive on many of our tests.
The Hamilton Beach EM0331MZC-X2 is large and has more power than most in our lineup, which might make it more family-friendly. It also had a perfect popcorn score. Since popcorn is one of the most common uses for any microwave, that's kind of a big deal. There were some that had fewer unpopped kernels than this one, but some of those had burned areas toward the center of the popcorn bag. This microwave cooked almost every kernel and had no burned sections – the perfect combination.
The performance when cooking potatoes was lack luster. We found a few raw portions here and there. That can always be remedied with a little extra cooking time, but a potato button should offer great results on potatoes.
It was decent for consistency. There was about 15 degrees of difference between one side of the plate of pizza rolls and the other. Again, not the best we had seen. The marshmallow test yielded a pretty even brown color from one side to the other, displaying no discernable hot spots in the microwave.
This microwave passed the capacity test easily because it is larger than average with its 1.1 cubic feet of capacity. It still only uses up about 20 inches worth of counter space, which is a good combination.
One thing worth noting with this microwave is the lack of customer support. If you contact Hamilton Beach they send you somewhere else and it is really hard to find on online manual or really anything else in the way of answers when you need them. That could get annoying over the years of ownership. Combined with the short warranty period on all parts of this microwave it just feels sort of like the customer is abandoned after purchasing this product. This microwave is inexpensive, so that might make it worth the potential aggravation of hunting down customer support. For a product with better customer support, check out the Samsung MG14H3020CM.
The Hamilton Beach EM0331MZC-X2 was not perfect on every test, but it was perfect on popcorn. It also has a relatively large capacity that might work well if you need a microwave that can handle larger quantities. The lack of customer support might eventually annoy, but this is still a decent value considering the price.