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Frigidaire FFCE2238LB - my new microwave works great (but has one very annoying feature)
May 22, 2011
by Mona Ladyconsumer
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Lots of features - some of which are very useful.
Cons:The "alert" system drives me batty!
The Bottom Line: I recommend this microwave. It's large, powerful, and full of features.
Sadly, my 22 year old microwave finally died last year. It was very sad as we relied on that machine every single day. But boy have microwaves changed in the last two decades!
Recommend this product?
Our new machine (The Frigidaire FFCE2238LB) has been a terrific replacement, with much more power, and many more features than our old microwave.
This is a large microwave. 2.2 cu ft, it contains a 16" turntable. That means that even my biggest oval-shaped platter can fit inside this microwave, and have room to spin around. Outside dimensions are 24" wide, 21" deep, and 14" high. This is a counter-top unit; make sure you have the space to accommodate!
As far as power goes, this is a 1200 watt machine. I'm not sure what my old microwave was, but this one is far more powerful. I have learned to adjust my thinking when it comes to how much time is required for certain tasks. In my old microwave, a bowl of soup typically required 3 minutes to heat. In this machine, 2 minutes and 15 seconds does the trick. When following packaged meal instructions, they frequently say something like "heat 11 to 14 minutes". I used to follow the top of the timing range; now I follow the bottom of the range.
This microwave has a bunch of features, some of which have proven quite useful, and some of which I will probably never use.
Easy set buttons from 1 to 6
Press any of these buttons on their own (not followed by any other buttons) and they become "express cook" buttons. So, pressing the 3 makes the microwave go on full power for 3 minutes. There's also a "+30 sec" button that can be pressed while the microwave is in use, to add as much time as you want (in 30 second increments) to the current timer. This button is also an easy set button - meaning that if you press it on its own, the microwave will start cooking for 30 seconds.
I use these buttons all the time, but they come with one disadvantage. They can only be used with 100% power. And once the microwave is on, you can not adjust the power setting. So if you want to cook at lower power settings, these buttons are useless, you will have to enter data the old-fashioned way (press the power button, use the number keys to set your desired power level, press start, use the number keys to enter the cook time, press start again).
Defrosting can be done by weight, or by time. I use the time button and this is another example where I have had to adjust my thinking about how long things take. Defrosting a pound of chopped meat takes about a minute, not the several minutes my old machine took.
Multi Stage Cooking
Use this feature when your recipe calls for cooking on one setting for some amount of time, then changing the setting for the remainder of the time. Simply press the power level button, enter the first stage's power level, then the first stage's cook time. Press power level again, and enter the second stage's power level, and cook time, then press start. In this way, you cook your casserole on full power for 3 minutes, then switch to half-power for 7 minutes. It's a nice way to meet your recipe's needs, without having to break in the middle. However, the system allows 2 stages, only; it would be nice if it allowed more stages.
Microwave popcorn comes out perfect every time, using this setting.
This is a setting I thought I would use, but it turns out to be more work than it's worth. If I'm heating water to make tea, I know that a minute per 8 ounces of water will be fine. If I have two 8 oz. cups, I can easily press the 2 button. I don't need the system to "calculate" the time for me, which is how the beverage button works. You tell it how many cups of liquid you're heating and it heats it for you.
Another feature I thought I'd use a lot, but I really haven't. The idea is to be able to leave your cooked food for a half-hour, and have the system keep the food warm, by staying on, at a low setting. But, honestly, microwaved food usually stays pretty hot after it's cooked. So even if I don't get to the food for a while, I find that just leaving it covered, in the microwave keeps the food warm enough, without having to run the machine constantly for that half-hour.
I have used this feature with mixed results. In theory, the system detects the level of moisture coming from the cooked food, in order to know if it's done, or not. The system is programmed to "understand" potatoes, frozen veggies, fresh veggies, frozen entrees, meat, fish, and bacon. So, to cook bacon in this setting, press the Sensor button, then 7 (bacon is 7th on the list or programs). You'll have to press the 7 once, twice, or three times, which tells the system that you're cooking 2 slices, 4 slices, or 6 slices. Then the microwave will do its thing, and stop when it thinks your bacon is cooked.
But the problem I have is that the system doesn't know if I like my bacon crisp, or soft. The same thing with the meat setting. It doesn't know how well-done I like my meat.
So, while this feature is convenient, I find better results by taking control of the situation myself. I use the timing I think is correct, and check the food periodically, rather than rely on the machine to "know" when it's done.
So there you have it - a bunch of features, some of which are more convenient than others.
There is also one feature missing, that surprised me, and one "feature" that's a major annoyance, and one that's a minor annoyance:
There is no way to turn off the turntable. I was very surprised by this. I would have thought that there are times when you don't want your food to spin, or are using a platter that only fits one direction. On the other hand, this hasn't actually been an issue; even my largest platter fits perfectly on the 16" turntable, and can spin without any problem.
One minor annoyance - the microwave door opens by pressing a button. My old microwave had a handle that you pulled to open the door. I prefer the handle to the button. Granted, the handle could break, I suppose. So maybe the button is a more sturdy mechanism, I just find it a bit awkward to have to reach for the button and press it in, rather than simply grabbing a handle and pulling.
And now for the major annoyance: there is no way to adjust the volume or the intensity of the alert when your food is finished. Three extremely loud beeps announce that your food is ready. Then - every 8 seconds - the same three extremely loud beeps announce that your food is still ready. I understand giving a gentle reminder to say "hey, don't forget, you have cooked food in here". I would love it, if every 30 seconds, it gave one small beep. But ringing loudly every 8 seconds is ridiculous. Sometimes you're busy doing something else, and can't get to the microwave at that moment. I don't need it "yelling" at me!!
We paid $179 at Brandsmart, and got a $20 manufacturer's rebate. Its black, gray, and white exterior fit nicely with my kitchen décor. (It also comes in white and stainless steel).
Overall, I'm happy with this machine.
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