GE JES1334 1100 Watt Microwave--Pretty Good for Not-Love!

Nov 5, 2011
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Works great for basic cooking, easy to use, not too pricy.

Cons:Didn't like the white, some of the settings seem silly.

The Bottom Line: If you're looking for a solid, not-too-complicated, easy-to-use microwave, this is a good choice.

One of the things we left behind when we made the leap from Utah to the east coast was our microwave.  Well, it wasn’t really ours, per se—it was built-in above the range, and belonged to the company that owned the apartment.  So we arrived in the east sans microwave.  Something we knew we would have to remedy quickly.  Our first night in the new place had us eating battered fish and stuffed clam shells from Captain D’s. 

Our second night found us at Home Depot.  Now, we usually don’t shop Home Depot for reasons unimportant to this review.  But we were new in town, and we knew exactly where Home Depot was because it was the very place where we’d turned in the Penske truck.  So Home Depot it was.

We didn’t have a long list of microwave requirements.  It needed to be big enough, powerful enough, affordable enough, and have a turntable.  Anything else?  Icing.

When I first laid eyes on the GE JES1334 1100 Watt machine, it was not love at first sight. At 1.3 cubic feet, it’s big enough, but I didn’t want a white microwave.  I don’t even know why, considering our oven, fridge, and dishwasher are all white.  But it’s not what I wanted, and so I passed over it, trying to find something else reasonably priced that fit our needs.

There was nothing else.  So the JES1334 came home with us, probably not feeling too special or loved.

After unpacking (holy nuke-proof packing materials, Batman!), we set the new nukemobile upon the counter.  And glared at it.  It’s white, it doesn’t look fancy, sleek, or cool.  My hot-looking stainless toaster looks down its nose at the white plasticness of it.  I’m reminded of my niece’s play kitchen.  Dang.

The first task, after set-up, was mastering the buttons.  While I often do read the manuals, fact is, things don’t stick in my brain well, so it’s important that things be somewhat intuitive or sensible.  Complicated combinations and illogical settings don’t work for me.  Luckily, this microwave is pretty user-friendly, and, while once in a while I have to think before using, it has not yet thwarted me.  Not bad, considering it’s now had a couple of months to do so. 

Basic, every day use is easy—pop whatever in, close the door, hit “time cook” (or “time defrost), choose the power level (from 1 for warming to 10 for boiling, with 10 being the default if you don’t select a power level), tap in the time desired, and voila!  There you go, no fuss, no muss.  In fact, this microwave works best when we’re doing nothing fancier than point-and-shoot cooking.  Other stuff?  Well, that’s where we tend to get into just a tiny bit of trouble.

My first try at presets or programs (or, as GE calls them, “convenience settings”)?  The auto-sensing defrost.  Supposedly, this microwave can perform either timed defrost (choose “time defrost,” then tap in the time) or “auto-sensing” defrost, which involves inputting the weight of the item to be thawed, allowing the machine to automatically defrost.  The problem?  Each time I’ve used the auto defrost setting, foods remain frozen in the center.  When I shoot for a second try, they wind up cooked on the edges.  Timed is better, in my experience.  Another problematic “convenience” setting?  Popcorn.  The popcorn button (which starts the microwave instantly without pushing start) results in burnt popcorn every time.  There is a way to push one button to reduce the popcorn time or another button to increase, but goodness, really?   Seems a lot of work to try to make something that was already easy even easier.  Instead of fiddling with that, we’ve experimented with timed cooking until mastering the chore.  3:10 at power level nine, if you’re wondering.  For Pop Secret, anyway.

Other “convenience” settings?

Beverages:  press the liquids button once to heat 4 ounces, twice for 8 ounces, or three times for 12 ounces and the microwave starts instantly.  Fine for hubby’s coffee, but of no other practical use to me. 

Reheat: for leftovers, I guess.  Pop them in, enter the serving size and food type (there’s a menu for choices), and . . . well, and you wind up with food that may or may not be the temp you want.  I skip this feature now, and just tap in the time I want.  Better control, more likely to have things turn out the way I want them.

Cook:  much like reheat—put in the food, choose the type and weight, and off you go.  Again, I find just choosing my own time and power level gives me more predictable and desirable results.

Express Cook:  just press one of the six “express cook” buttons and that’s how long it cooks, i.e., press the six, and your food cooks for six.  Press the one, it cooks for one.  You get it.  Not sure of the point, it takes one button push out of the equation. 

30 Seconds:  that’s right, it’s a button for either adding thirty seconds to an already-started cook-job, or for just cooking something for thirty seconds.  I really don’t get it.  But that’s what it does, and . . . yeah.

In addition to the fancy “convenience” settings, this microwave does have an advance prep/delayed start button, with which a cook job can be scheduled as much as 12 hours in advance.  I’ve not used this yet because I haven’t prepared anything that could go 12 hours without refrigeration first.  But I’m sure I will figure out something that needs to be set up in advance for later cooking.  Something more exciting than popcorn. 

Fanciness aside, the GE JES1334 works just fine as a microwave.  The easy-to-clean turntable is a breeze to pull out and just as simple to put back in.  The surface and interior are as easy to clean as any white, plastic kitchen appliance.  It’s no louder than any other microwave I’ve had, and it does its job just as I would hope.  As is usually the case with microwaves, the cord is quite short (perhaps three feet), which will certainly determine placement.  Footprint is average for a microwave of this ilk, with 1 ½ x 2 feet the approximate space it will eat up.  At 12 inches high, it should slide well under any above-counter cabinet.

And that’s pretty much that.  It’s a solid microwave, it does what a microwave is supposed to do, and it does it well.  If you’re into the fancy buttons, presets, and programs, this microwave has them.  And if, like me, you’re not so into those things?  Never fear—they’re easily bypassed in favor of more “traditional” microwaving.  Either way, this machine does the job.

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