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Hands-on Gear Review
Kenmore P90D23AP-WJS Review
Price: $90 List
Pros: Great for frozen burritos, easy to use, fantastic for frozen lasasgna
Cons: Subpar at defrosting
Bottom line: The best model you can get without breaking the bank
The Kenmore P90D23AP-WJS is a great microwave, earning the second-highest score overall. This model is one of the easiest and most convenient to use and does a good job at heating up food. On top of that, it has a list price that is less than half of the top scoring model, earning the Kenmore our Best Buy award. This is one of the best bets out there if you don't want to break the bank just to zap some food.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Microwave Ovens of 2018
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Kenmore did a great job throughout our testing process, doing well in the majority of tests and not displaying any glaring flaws. This model made some of the best frozen burritos and lasagnas of the group. If you are trying to save some cash and make a lot of prepared frozen food, then this is the microwave for you — college students, I'm looking at you.
We took the top ten microwaves that you can buy today and put them through the test, devoting over 150 hours to research and testing to help you find the perfect microwave. Our test was split into four separate weighted metrics: Heating, Defrosting, Ease of Use, and Speed. We conducted over 15 distinct tests spread across these metrics and assigned a subscore in each metric for each model of microwave. The following sections detail exactly how the Kenmore performed in each test, whether it was good or bad.
This was by far the most important metric when it came to evaluating these products, as simply heating food is what the majority of people will use these for. Heating made up 40% of the overall score, and the Kenmore did well, earning a 6 out of 10. You can see how this compares to the other models in the graphic below.
We tested by heating up a plate of leftovers, making lasagna, a frozen burrito, and a Hot Pocket in each appliance, as well as by making a heat map with molten chocolate. We evaluated performance by looking at the temperature profile of each food item, seeing if it hit the necessary temperature and how much it varied. The Kenmore did exceptionally well at heating up an individual portion of lasagna, actually tying for the best out of the entire group with the Oster
There was only about 3.8°F average temperature variation between different areas of the lasagna, and all areas hit the required temperature listed on the package direction. The Kenmore also did very well at heating up a frozen burrito, making the second-best burrito of the group — just narrowly being beat out by the Sharp.
All areas of the burrito exceeded the required temperature, but the left side and center were noticeably hotter than the right, averaging about 10.7°F temperature difference. However, this model didn't do as well at heating up our plate of leftovers, consisting of green beans, mashed potatoes, and chicken tenders. We found that the Kenmore did a below average job, in some cases finding discrepancies of up to 20°F between different chicken tenders.
The Kenmore did a little better with the chicken pot pie, doing the third-best behind the Panasonic NN-SD745S and the LG. It only had an average temperature difference of 10°F, with all regions of the pot pie exceeding the required temperature stated by the package of 165°F.
It did about the same with the Hot Pocket, averaging a temperature difference of 6°F between the different areas. This put it in a tie for fourth-best Hot Pocket with the Breville and the LG. The Kenmore finished out this metric with a solid score in our heat map test.
We melted a thin layer of chocolate onto parchment paper that was trimmed to match the turntable on the Kenmore and let it cool. We then heated it for 60 seconds and looked for even melting — no cold or burnt spots. The Kenmore evenly melted all of the chocolate, except for a strip around the outside of the circle about a quarter of an inch thick. This model was only beat out by models that completely melted the entire chocolate disc, like the LG, Panasonic NN-SD745S, and the Westinghouse
Ease of Use
Ease of Use made up 30% of the overall score and consisted of evaluating the interface on each product, the quality of lighting, whether or not it slid on the counter, if it had quick buttons, if it could be used as a kitchen timer, and the effectiveness of the presets. This is the set of tests where the Kenmore truly shined, earning the top score of 8 out of 10. You can see where the rest of the models fared in the following chart.
The only aspect of this metric where the Kenmore scored below average was stability, with it sliding a tiny bit on the counter when the door was opened or closed. This model has a great interior light, making it easy to keep watch on your food while it's being heated and has a good keypad. It also can be used as a kitchen timer — you can even run a separate timer while you are heating up food. We particularly liked that this model has a "+30 seconds" button that will automatically start the machine, as well as quick buttons, For example, pressing "2" on the keypad will automatically put two minutes on the microwave and start it.
The Kenmore did about average in terms of preset buttons, doing slightly better at baking a potato than microwaving a bag of popcorn. The middle of the potato was still a little on the firm side, but perfectly edible, and the side was perfectly baked. The thermometers showed an average of 9.9°F of variation across the left, right, and center areas of the potato, a little bit more than the better scoring models. The popcorn produced was mediocre — about 60% of it tasted fine, though a little dry, and the remaining amount tasted distinctly burnt. It also left behind a decent number of kernels, about 5%.
Not as commonly used as simply heating food, our defrosting metric encompassed how well the defrost by weight function worked on each of these products, as well as if they had any other option for defrosting. This metric made up 20% of the total score, with the Kenmore not delivering a particularly stellar performance, earning a 4 out of 10. You can see how this compares to the rest of the group in the chart below.
The Kenmore has the typical defrost by weight option found on most machines, where you enter the weight of the food item and it will estimate the time required, and has a defrost by time option, where you manually enter the time desired.
We tested how well each product did at defrosting a 1 lb roll of ground turkey and a frozen muffin. We placed the roll of ground turkey in the microwave, and entered the weight for the defrost setting. The Kenmore estimated 11:28 to defrost and stopped in the middle, beeping to notify you to flip the turkey. It didn't do an amazing job, only sufficiently defrosting about 7 ounces of turkey. However, you could break apart the remaining semi-frozen section without too much effort and it didn't inadvertently cook any of the turkey.
The Kenmore performed slightly below average at defrosting the muffin, heating up the bottom much more than the top,, worse than the evenly heated muffins produced by the Panasonic NN-SD745S, Panasonic NN-SU696S, and the LG.
The final metric of our test, speed, made up 10% of the total score. To test this, we heated a known quantity of water for 30 seconds, and recorded the temperature rise. The Kenmore did alright, earning a 6 out of 10. You can see how the other models compared to this in the chart below.
The Kenmore boosted the temperature by 35°F, just slightly less than the 37°F of the top model.
This model is a fantastic value, earning the second-highest overall score of the group and having a list price that is under a hundred bucks.
The Kenmore is a great pick for those shopping on a budget, doing decently well across the board. This model particularly excelled at making some of the prepared frozen food items, such as Hot Pockets, burritos, lasagna, or pot pies. We would recommend this model for someone who doesn't want to spend a ton of cash on a microwave, performs well, and is easy to use.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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