The Kenmore 80333 has all of the features we were looking for at a reasonable price. It is the best option for most people, with its large capacity, high wattage and collection of smart, time-saving features.
You can input all of the time and power level settings yourself, but you don't have to. There are options for both sensor cooking and sensor reheating, so the microwave will gauge how much time it needs to cook individual foods by how much steam is escaping from them. Sensors do all the work, so you can forget about what you are cooking and do something else while the microwave prepares your food.
There are presets for specific foods, including popcorn, veggies, pizza, potatoes and beverages, so all you have to do is enter quantities; you don't even have to fiddle with the number keys. Just push the specified food's button. There was one microwave we compared with even a few more preset buttons so if you want the most presets possible, consider the Insignia NS-OTR16SS8.
The melt/soften button helps to deal with things like ice cream, chocolate and butter in a gentle way, softening them without overcooking them. The start button on this unit doubles as a sort of quick key. Press it to immediately start a full-power cycle for 30 seconds, or twice to start a one-minute, full-power cycle, and so on. There are also actual quick keys that start a cycle with just one button – for one, two or three-minute intervals. You don't even have to follow up with the start key. You simply press one key.
All of the time-saving keys are optional, of course. If you want to be specific about cooking times and cooking levels, you have full control.
It's a relatively minor thing, but this machine lets you turn off sound. If you have young kids that need naptime or anyone that works odd shifts in your home this will be valuable. The Kenmore 80333 also can turn off the turntable, which seems minor until you try to cook a large dish in your microwave oven. It will collide with the walls and door every time it goes around if the turntable is on. Some of the ones we compared do not allow you to turn it off.
We like that this one offers a selection of lighting levels and fan levels, too. These are not vital features either, but it is nice to have some control based on ambient light and the level of smoke in a room. You can use less energy and have only as much fan noise as absolutely necessary with this microwave. Not all of the units give you that control.
When the fan is set at its highest speed it will move 300 cubic feet of air a minute. That is better than the average of the ones we compared, though there was not a huge range among this specific group of products.
One drawback with this machine is its warranty, which is not at all special. We like the units that guarantee the magnetron for a longer time. If that major component breaks it can cost almost as much as a new machine. This unit just has one year of coverage on everything.
The 80333 comes in four different finishes, which means one of them will likely work perfectly with your existing appliances. You can choose from white, black, stainless steel and black stainless steel. Another nice design feature is the included shelf. This is already a spacious microwave, but the shelf essentially doubles your capacity, should you need the extra space.
The Kenmore 80333 has a pretty basic warranty, but is excellent in all other ways, including lots of cooking power and lots of ways to harness that power. With sensor cooking and reheating, this microwave basically sets up cycles for you – jJust push one button and you are on your way. You have lots of control over fan speeds, light levels and your choice of presets for popcorn, veggies, pizza, potatoes and beverages. You even have your choice of colors for the perfect pulled-together look.