Panasonic NN-SN936B Review
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|Pros||Even heating, integrated heat sensor, large capacity||Excellent at defrosting, convenient||Excellent heating, great with frozen foods, large capacity||Good at defrosting meat||Easy to use, relatively inexpensive, excellent with prepared frozen items|
|Cons||Large, no time defrost, no volume adjust||Large, expensive||Expensive, so-so at defrosting||Not the most convenient to use, heating performance could be better||Struggled to defrost the ground turkey|
|Bottom Line||This is a top-tier appliance with a large capacity and very even heating||An excellent all-around product with a large capacity, this model has convenient features and is exceptional at defrosting||Offers unmatched performance for heating frozen food, and is one of the better products available for heating food evenly, without annoying hot and cold spots||This product pairs average results with an average price, failing to stand out from the competition||This product had mixed results overall, failing to distinguish it all that much from other products|
|Rating Categories||Panasonic NN-SN936B||Toshiba EM131A5C||Panasonic NN-SN67KS||Panasonic NN-SB458S||Toshiba EM925A5A|
|Frozen Foods (30%)|
|Ease of use (10%)|
|Specs||Panasonic NN-SN936B||Toshiba EM131A5C||Panasonic NN-SN67KS||Panasonic NN-SB458S||Toshiba EM925A5A|
|Wattage||1250 watts||1100 watts||1200 watts||900 watts||900 watts|
|Size||2.2 cu. ft.||1.2 cu. ft.||1.2 cu. ft.||0.9 cu. ft.||0.9 cu. ft.|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||19.44" x 23.88" x 14"||20.5" x 12.8" x 17.1"||20.7" x 12.3" x 15.8"||19.1" x 11.5" x 14.8"||19.2" x 11.5" x 15.9"|
|Internal Dimentions (WxHxD)||18.4" x 10.4" x 18.5"||15" x 9.5" x 13.1"||14.4" x 9.9" x 13.9"||13.9" x 8.1" x 12.4"||13.7" x 8.7" x 12.3"|
|45 Sec Heating Temp Rise||112 F||111 F||78 F||89 F||89 F|
Our Analysis and Test Results
As mentioned above, the NN-SN936 stands out with its impressively large capacity. This microwave has an impressive 2.2 cubic feet of volume, it should easily fit just about any microwave-safe bowl or plate you can find.
We began our comprehensive side-by-side testing process to see how each of these kitchen appliances did at heating up different types of food. This microwave did exceptionally well, earning one of the best scores of the entire group in this series of tests, worth 40% of the total overall score.
Heat Map Test
For our heat map test, we spread out a thin layer of marshmallow fluff on a circle of parchment paper trimmed to fit inside the microwave. The fluff was selected as an easy visual reference for areas that were getting heated more than others, as the discoloration is very apparent. This test accounts for 35% of the final Heating score.
The Panasonic NN-SN936 delivered phenomenal results, with barely any hotspots apparent after even six minutes of heating. It seemed to cook the fluff incredibly evenly, without any extra heat concentrated in the center — a stark contrast to most other models.
Heating Speed Test
To objectively compare the heating speed of each product, we used a beaker filled with 125 mL of water as our test subject. We placed this in the center of each microwave and measured the temperature increase after 45 seconds of heating to determine scores. This accounts for 20% of the total Heating score.
This product did extremely well, boosting the temperature over 111°F — effectively blowing the rest of the competitors out of the water.
For our leftover heating test, we used a plate made up of precooked sausage links, mashed potatoes, and green beans with the Panasonic's sensor reheat. This caused the microwave to heat the food for approximately 1:30, then decide to add an additional 15 seconds before calling it done. This test accounts for 15% of the final Heating score.
This product did very well, with minimal spread of temperatures throughout the green beans and mashed potatoes. The green beans and mashed potatoes also were very close in temperature, with only about 12°F separating their averages. However, the sausages did come out a bit on the warm side and required some time to cool before they could be consumed.
We heated up canned soup according to the manufacturer's directions for our next metric, which comprises 15% of the Heating score for each microwave. We were looking for soup that was heated to the perfect serving temperature in this test, deducting points both for soup that was too hot and too cold.
The Panasonic NN-SN936 did an impeccable job in this regard, heating the soup to just under 150°F — perfect for serving.
Worth the remaining 15% of the total Heating score, our last test focused on reheating pizza. We heated up the pizza, then used the IR temperature gun to compare both the level of heat and the consistency across each slice.
Regrettably, this product only delivered mediocre results in this regard. We saw a fairly large spread in temperatures, with some areas sizzling and some areas almost cool to the touch.
Our next testing metric focused on the efficacy of each microwave at heating up premade frozen items, like a Hot Pocket or a frozen burrito. We primarily focused on the evenness of heating, using a set of digital probe thermometers to assess performance. The Panasonic NN-SN936 did fairly well, earning an above-average score in this metric, which is responsible for 30% of the final score.
This product got off to a rocky start in the frozen burrito test, failing to heat the entire burrito above the minimum temperature stated on the package. It also had drastic temperature differences between the three zones, with an average difference of 33°F. Fortunately, the performance rebounded with the single-serve lasagna. This microwave delivered an almost perfect performance, with all zones sufficiently heated and less than 5°F of temperature variation across the different zones we tested.
The Panasonic NN-SN936 finished out with another strong showing in the Hot Pocket test. It heated all areas sufficiently and again had almost no variation between the zones, only showing an average difference of about 3°F. Even better, we liked that the Hot Pocket even had a slightly crispy exterior.
The Panasonic NN-SN936 continued to do very well in our defrosting metric, which is based on how successfully each appliance could defrost a one-pound log of ground meat. This accounts for 20% of the final score.
This microwave did very well, taking just under five minutes to completely defrost just a bit less than 12 ounces of the ground meat. The rest was easy to break apart but still fairly solid. However, we wouldn't have an issue tossing it in a pan. There weren't any browned or cooked bits. The microwave does beep partway through to alert you to flip over whatever you are defrosting but doesn't automatically stop.
Ease of Use
For the remaining 10% of the total score for each microwave, we rated and ranked the different convenience and ease of use features. The Panasonic NN-SN936 finished out our test with a slightly above-average showing for its decent suite of features.
This microwave has a decent amount of internal lighting and the typical "+30 seconds" button found on most models. It doesn't have a volume adjust but is big and hefty enough to stay in place on the counter even with some significant force behind a button press. However, it did a mediocre job with our popcorn test. We found that it started to burn the popcorn when we used the popcorn button.
Should You Buy the Panasonic NN-SN936?
If you are looking for one of the best microwaves around and want a larger appliance, then we highly recommend the NN-SN936. It heats and defrosts very very well, though it doesn't have the most comprehensive set of convenience features.
What Other Microwaves Should You Consider?
If you are looking for another top-tier option but want a more compact appliance, then we would suggest the Panasonic NN-SN67KS. It also does an excellent job with premade frozen foods or reheating items evenly. Another option would be the Toshiba EM131A5C. This appliance also scores very well overall and has a moderate capacity, larger than the Kenmore but smaller than the Panasonic NN-SN936.
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