Last week, Amazon announced 14 new devices, including the next-generation Echo Dot, a smart plug (which can turn any appliance, like a coffee maker, into a smart device), and even an Alexa-enabled microwave. The $60 microwave — a product from the site's private-label brand, AmazonBasics — elicited some interesting responses.
Pre-order: AmazonBasics Alexa-Enabled Microwave, $60
*Becomes available on November 14.
1. It can be used hands-free.
Some critics are asking why we need a microwave that takes voice commands. But if you've ever had, say, raw chicken juice on your hands and needed a few tablespoons of melted butter, you know why. Ditto if you've ever wanted to stop the microwave while you're draining a pot of pasta. With the option to say, "Alexa, add 30 seconds to the microwave," you don't have to worry about getting goo or bacteria on the control pad.
Note: It's important to point out that the microwave itself does not have built-in voice control — it simply works with a nearby Echo device.
2. It takes the guesswork out of microwaving for you.
These voice commands go beyond adding time and stopping the microwave. The appliance has presets for things like heating up coffee, cooking frozen vegetables, and reheating rice. You just say the command and the machine knows what to do. And Alexa is always getting smarter, so more and more presets will get added over time.
3. It'll order popcorn for you!
If you eat as much microwave popcorn as I do, this will be exciting to you. Using the Alexa app, you can choose from selected popcorn brands and sign up to allow the device to automatically reorder popcorn. Whenever you make popcorn, the microwave will tally it up and track how many bags you have left. When you're running low, it will automatically reorder more for you.
4. It's kind of the perfect size.
I don't need a microwave that's big enough to hold a turkey. I don't have space for a microwave that big! And I think most of you are in the same boat. This one is nice and compact (17.3 inches by 14.1 by 10.1) and holds 0.7 cubic feet. Just look at how small it is compared to that utensil crock in the photo above. If you ask me, it's the Goldilocks of microwaves.
5. It's on the cheaper end, but still has some bells and whistles.
I firmly believe that the sweet spot for a microwave is in the $30 to $60 range. (You certainly could spend a lot more on one, but you don't have to.) While most microwaves in this price range are totally fine, they usually lack some special functions. But this one has a bunch! In addition to that hands-free stuff and all those presets, the microwave has 10 power levels, a kitchen timer, a child lock, and more. Not bad for 60 bucks.
What do you think? Will you be pre-ordering this new microwave?