“The only time having the voice command is useful is when you’re doing the finishing touches.”
- Solid performer
- Makes great popcorn
- Sleek design
- Alexa connectivity hit-or-miss
The Sharp Smart Microwave is sleek, works well, and can take 70+ commands from Alexa. This makes us wonder if all appliances need to jump on the voice command wagon as our homes get smarter. This isn’t the first time we’ve tested our cooking skills with a connected countertop appliance, but it’s not going to be the last.
A silver lining
As far as microwaves go, this Sharp model is, well, sharp. The front of the microwave, model SMC1449FS, is bathed in stainless steel, and the black push pad with white lettering and blue start button adds to its appeal. This model would definitely feel at home in an updated modern kitchen.
Measuring 12 x 20.3 x 14.9 inches) and weighing a whopping 29.8 pounds, the microwave isn’t the biggest we’ve encountered. But it’s not the smallest either. The 1.4 cubic feet model does take up a fair amount of counter space, so keep that in mind if you don’t have a lot of room, but if you place it under cabinets, there should still be plenty of room between the top of the microwave and the bottom of a cupboard.
Alexa, make me some popcorn
The smart microwave works with Alexa. That is different than a product that has Alexa inside. You can tell your Alexa device to tell the microwave to do something. And sometimes it actually does it. Sounds like a game of telephone, doesn’t it?
We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the beginning. There are three ways to pair Alexa devices (like the Echo Dot) with the microwave: Zero touch (Wi-Fi handles the job), barcode (scan it with your phone), or user guided (manually add it in your Alexa app by following the steps). Regardless of how you make a connection, Wi-Fi is essential, which makes sense. How else would Alexa and the microwave communicate?
The chicken wasn’t rubbery, with parts of it cooked.
We tried all three ways on multiple devices and found that Wi-Fi is the easiest for anyone who already has an Alexa network of devices. If you’re just getting started with Alexa, the bar code option works well. A note about Wi-Fi: Once you connect the microwave to your Wi-Fi network, it will use that information to program the clock. For some reason, our internet is on East Coast time (it has to do with or internet provider), so the clock is ET. We tried to program the clock manually, and as long as the Wi-Fi is connected, the clock defaults to ET.
You can give the microwave 70 set commands (it does not respond to improvisation). Before you can tell it to do anything, you have to actually put the food in the microwave, close it, and then ask it to perform a command. The only time the voice command is useful is when you’re doing the finishing touches on one dish and need to heat some vegetables or something else in the microwave, so everything will be warm when you serve it.
In our tests, the performance was hit-or-miss using Alexa and left us more frustrated than anything else. We could maybe get it to work half the time, and where we were in the house didn’t seem to make a difference. We tried standing right next to the microwave — sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.
The main event
The good news is that the Sharp microwave does everything else really well. We tested the 1,000-watt microwave for a couple of months and can report that it’s a solid unit. We particularly liked the defrost, potato, and popcorn settings — three options we are loath to use normally for fear they will ruin our food.
We put chicken breast on the carousel in the microwave to defrost, entered the weight, and let the microwave do the rest. When we took it out about nine minutes later, the chicken wasn’t rubbery, with parts of it cooked. After letting the chicken rest for a few minutes, we were able to cook it with ease. We were equally pleased with the potato setting. A medium-sized spud came out with the perfect softish inside in about eight minutes. We stuck it in the toaster oven for that crispy crust, and we had a delicious potato that took about 15 minutes from start to finish.
Sharp teamed up with Orville Redenbacher for it popcorn setting — and we were able to pop a perfect bag of popcorn. We bought a package of Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn, put a bag in the microwave, and pressed the popcorn button once. The time changed on the microwave digital numeric pad, it popped for about three minutes, and that was it. None of it was burnt, and there were minimal kernels at the bottom of the bag. The interesting thing is that the popcorn didn’t sound like it was popping a lot.
The Sharp Smart Microwave is a bit better with Alexa commands than the initial Amazon Smart Oven. However, the technology hasn’t improved all that much. Don’t let the “works with Alexa” claim be the reason you buy this model.
Is there a better alternative?
There are a few other microwaves that work with Alexa that are less expensive and smaller. If a microwave that works with Alexa is essential and you want a larger, more powerful option, get this one. However, if the Alexa connectivity isn’t a must, there are plenty of microwaves available that don’t cost as much.
How long will it last?
Microwaves should last between nine and 10 years. Read our guide on appliance longevity to learn more.
The Sharp Smart Microwave SMC1449FS comes with a one-year warranty for parts and labor. The warranty covers the magnetron tube for an additional four years. As is the case with all warranties, it’s important to take proper care of the microwave.
Should you buy it?
At about $170, the microwave costs more than the same model that doesn’t have the Alexa feature. If you’re going to purchase it on its merits as a microwave, we say do it (or save some dough and get the SMC1442CS version). If you’re buying it for the Alexa feature, it’s not quite there yet.
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