Pros: Many handy features, handsome to look at, smaller footprint
Cons: Continual beeping at the end of cooking becomes annoying
During the 30 years I have been married my husband and I have owned numerous microwaves. Some have failed in less than a year (Emerson), while our most recent Sharp Carousel microwave gave us many years of service before the magnetron went out.
Purchasing a new microwave was not quite so easy for us because we had our kitchen remodeled 5 years ago and our custom cabinets were designed to hold the Sharp Carousel microwave. I needed a microwave that I felt was reliable, but also one that would fit into this space. (To make matters worse, we have a maple "Trim Kit" that fits onto the ends of this microwave cubicle!).
I found the most help at my local Home Depot store. The salesman was extremely cordial with excellent customer service. He went out of his way to find me a microwave that would work for us, even checking the websites of Sears and Best Buy. He even called Sears (he used to work there), to see if they could get me another Sharp in the "Bisque" color, but it was not available in the size I needed.
Made in the USA?
I asked the salesman if any microwaves are made in the USA, and he said only GE are. I was surprised to hear this! I can't remember the date he quoted me, but he said soon 99.99% of all GE products will be made in the USA. He went on to tell me that GE has opened 15 new plants, doing business in New York, Ohio, Kentucky, (and other states I can't recall), and they opened a $100 million research center in Chicago.
This man seemed very "in the know" and claimed to have spoken to the higher ups at GE. He told me GE felt their parts made overseas were "inferior", and that they would have more control over their products if they were made in the US. He said the costs would go up (which they have), but GE felt consumers would pay the higher costs if they knew GE was bolstering the US economy by employing American citizens.
This information swayed me to purchase this GE JES1456 microwave. Sadly, when I got home I read the words "Made in Indonesia" on the bottom of the box! However, the manufacture date on the inside of this oven is 2009 so I am hoping newer microwaves are indeed being made in the USA.
The JES1456 Microwave
This is a nice looking model. It was available in white, stainless or black, I chose black. It has a smaller footprint, measuring 22" wide, 12" high and 16" deep. (The dimensions on the box don't completely agree with my measurements, but I measured it just for this review). Many of the microwaves I looked at were 25 plus inches wide. It has 1100 watts of power and a 1.4 foot cubic cavity.
The bottom front of the microwave reads "GE" and the center reads "Sensor Microwave Oven". The entire face is black with touch pad controls to the far right, as with most microwaves today. The silver colored controls read:
Popcorn, Potato, Beverage, Vegetable, Reheat, Auto/Time Defrost, Time Cook, Timer on/off, buttons 1-6 "express cook", buttons 7-9, power level (with a lightening bolt symbol), 0 (display on/off), 30 sec, clock, am/pm scroll speed, clear/off, and start/pause.
The inside has a nice sturdy clear glass turntable, and the large door latch and release is on the far right. It makes quite a bit of noise when the latch is pressed to open or close (you notice these things when you have a sleeping baby in the home!).
When cooking or defrosting you need to enter amount of time required, but the Express Cook and Add 30 Sec buttons start cooking immediately, as do the other sensor features for cooking certain foods. When defrosting you need to enter the weight of the food you are thawing. Defrosting works best on levels 2 and 3. Power level 1 is great for warming food or softening butter.
Our old Sharp microwave had a minute button, which I used a lot. This GE model actually has 6 buttons that work in the same manner. This is why the numbers one through six also read "Express Cook". When you press any of the express cook pads from 1 to 6, you get that amount of time at the highest cooking power (level 10). If that is too hot for you, you can change the power level from 1 to 10 as the time is counting down.
The "Add 30 Sec" button is extremely handy. It can quickly add 30 seconds to the time each time it is pressed, or it can simply be a quick way to set 30 seconds of cooking time.
What About the "Sensor" Features?
I've never owned a microwave that claimed to "sense" anything. This model is supposed to sense the humidity released during cooking. It will adjust your cooking time. I only know which buttons are the sensor featured buttons by referring to my manual. It states the specialty buttons (popcorn, beverage, potato, vegetable, reheat and defrost) have the sensor features.
If when using the sensor features your food is undercooked you can simply use the "Time Cook" button for additional cooking time. When using the sensor buttons you need to be sure you are using microwave safe containers that are covered with vented lids or plastic wrap. If steam can't escape your food could over cook.
In all honesty, I don't notice any difference in the quality of my food using these special sensor buttons. Baked potatoes and frozen vegetables come out the same as they always have.
We don't use the microwave for cooking as much as we used to. It is mainly for heating up coffee, leftovers, cooking frozen dinners, or popping a bag of popcorn. Cooking popcorn was always hit and miss, and I had to stand right there and listen to the kernels popping or it would burn.
This oven has a wonderful feature for customizing your popcorn cooking! You can actually adjust the cooking time to your specific brand of popcorn. You can add or subtract 10 to 30 seconds! We burn a lot less popcorn using this feature. Very nice.
I love many of the handy features this GE JES1456 microwave offers, and for the past few months it has been a good oven for us. There are several features that I feel are unnecessary, such as the "am" and "pm" symbol on the clock, and the "Food is Ready" display that reminds you there is food in the oven.
I admit I occasionally forget I have a cup of reheated coffee in the microwave, but the beeping that occurs every minute until the door is opened or the "Clear/Off" button is pressed becomes very annoying.
There is a nice "Start/Pause" feature that lets me stop the cooking process without opening the door or clearing the cooking time, and I find this very handy! I've never owned a microwave with this feature and I am a bit spoiled by it. There are those times when I am in the middle of cooking something and I get interrupted, so this feature comes in very handy.
If you have small children there is a child lock out feature, and that is new to me as well. Remember we haven't owned a new microwave for quite a few years, so maybe lots of microwaves have these features now, but it was new to me.
The interior and exterior are easy to clean using a damp cloth. The inside surface is shiny and is easier to wipe clean than the surface inside of our old Sharp Carousel model. The outside is very shiny as well, and I am a bit concerned that the slightly raised touch pads will become dull over time (or wear off), but so far they are holding up. I wash the glass turntable in my dishwasher.
This microwave was priced at $169.00, and it comes with a standard one year warranty. I purchased the Lowe's extended warranty for $99.00 that gives me an additional 4 years, for a total of five years of warranty. The Lowe's warranty covers all parts and labor and there are no "trip fees" to pay. Since we live 25 miles from Lowe's we generally get stuck with a $75 trip fee for service calls.
This extended warranty seemed very reasonable and well worth the cost, and I generally don't buy extended warranties. Considering the other reviews of this model aren't very positive, I may be very happy I opted for the additional coverage, but so far we have been quite pleased with this microwave.