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Toshiba EM131A5C Review

An excellent all-around product with a large capacity, this model is exceptional at defrosting and being convenient to use
Toshiba EM131A5C
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:   $170 List | $127.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Excellent at defrosting, convenient
Cons:  Large, expensive
Manufacturer:   Toshiba
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Aug 19, 2020
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 9
  • Heating - 40% 6
  • Frozen Foods - 30% 7
  • Defrosting - 20% 9
  • Ease of use - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Delivering impressive results across the board, the Toshiba EM131A5C is one of our favorite microwaves that we have reviewed. This larger microwave quickly and evenly heated all sorts of different types of food and has plenty of user-friendly and convenient features and functions. It did particularly well at defrosting frozen items completely without cooking them. This appliance is one of our favorites, and we highly recommend it to anyone searching for the best of the best.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Toshiba EM131A5C
This Product
Toshiba EM131A5C
Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $170 List
$127.99 at Amazon
$112 List
$104.29 at Amazon
$95 List
$90.32 at Amazon
$75 List
$74.99 at Amazon
$130 List
$95.00 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Excellent at defrosting, convenientExcellent with packaged frozen foods, compact, very easy to useEasy to use, relatively inexpensive, excellent with prepared frozen itemsInexpensive, smart home integration, compactStylish in a retro way, good with frozen items
Cons Large, expensiveSo-so with mixed leftoversStruggled to defrost the ground turkeyLow power, Echo device required for some functionsPricey, lacks some features
Bottom Line An excellent all-around product with a large capacity, this model is exceptional at defrosting and being convenient to useFor those with limited kitchen space, this is the best compact model we testedThis product had mixed results overall, failing to distinguish it all that much from other productsThis compact model is a great value and features smart home integrationIf you are looking for a product that will look great, delivering an art-deco flair to your kitchen, you won't be disappointed
Rating Categories Toshiba EM131A5C Kenmore 70929 Toshiba EM925A5A AmazonBasics Microw... Nostalgia RMO4AQ
Heating (40%)
6.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Frozen Foods (30%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Defrosting (20%)
9.0
8.0
2.0
6.0
7.0
Ease Of Use (10%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Specs Toshiba EM131A5C Kenmore 70929 Toshiba EM925A5A AmazonBasics Microw... Nostalgia RMO4AQ
Watts 1100 900 900 700 800
Cubic Feet 1.2 0.9 0.9 0.7 0.9
Dimensions 20.5" x 17.1" x 12.8" 14.5" x 17.7" x 11" 19 "2 x 15.9" x 11.5" 17.3" x 10.1" x 14.1" 11" x 15" x 19"
Turntable Diameter 12.4" 11.2" 10.6" 10" 10.5"
Internal Dimentions 13.1" x 15" x 9.5" 9.3" x 12.4" x 13.6" 12.3" x 13.7" x 8.7" 10.9" x 6.9" x 10" 12.5" x 13.5" x 7.75"
Child lock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Toshiba EM131A5C is one of the larger and more expensive options we have tested, so it isn't the best option if you have a smaller kitchen or are shopping on a budget.

Performance Comparison


This model is one of our all-time favorites in this category of...
This model is one of our all-time favorites in this category of products.
Credit: Laura Casner

Heating


The EM131A5C got off to a decent start in our first round of tests, delivering above-average results. We compared and scored how evenly this microwave heated a mixed plate of leftovers, canned soup, and some slices of pizza, as well as looking at the speed and evenness of heating by measuring the temperature increase in a beaker of water and making a heat map with marshmallow fluff.


While most of the marshmallow spread in the heat test heated up consistently, we found there is a solid hot spot in the center of the sheet, causing it to darken significantly more than the rest, to the point of burning.

The Toshiba 290002 marshmallow cream prior to microwaving.
A very prevalent hot spot appeared in the middle of the heat map...

The Toshiba EM131A5C did much better in the speed test, raising the 125 mL of water a whopping 110.6°F after 45 seconds of microwaving. Unfortunately, the performance of this product decreased again when it came to our leftover test. We used the sensor reheat function on our plate of green beans, sausage, and potatoes and found that it barely heated up the food and there was a significant temperature discrepancy between the different types of foods.

Regrettably, we found the 3 types of food differed quite a bit in...
Regrettably, we found the 3 types of food differed quite a bit in temperature after heating.
Credit: Laura Casner

This appliance also didn't do that well with the pizza, with the crust coming out on the cooler side while the cheese was scalding.

The crust was quite a bit cooler than the rest of the slice.
The crust was quite a bit cooler than the rest of the slice.
Credit: Laura Casner

Fortunately, the Toshiba EM131A5C did significantly better with the canned soup, heating it to the perfect serving temperature upon following the heating instructions.

The Toshiba EM131A5C does a great job with premade frozen items.
The Toshiba EM131A5C does a great job with premade frozen items.
Credit: Laura Casner

Frozen Foods


The Toshiba EM131A5C did even better in our second series of tests, heating up premade frozen foods evenly and effectively. We scored performance by using a group of thermometers stuck into different areas of a Hot Pocket, personal-sized frozen lasagna, and a frozen burrito and comparing the differences in temperature.


This microwave did exceptionally well with the Hot Pocket, heating it almost perfectly with an average difference of 7°F between the left, right, and center. It did almost as well with the frozen burrito, with the average temperature difference only increasing to 13°F between the different areas.

The center region was just a bit cooler than the ends.
The center region was just a bit cooler than the ends.
Credit: Laura Casner

However, it only did about average with the frozen lasagna, showing marked temperature differences across the entire lasagna.

The Toshiba EM131A5C defrosted the entire block of turkey.
The Toshiba EM131A5C defrosted the entire block of turkey.
Credit: Laura Casner

Defrosting


It was in our defrosting metric where the Toshiba EM131A5C stood out from the rest of the competition, easily delivering one of the best overall performances we have seen out of any microwave to date. In this metric, we attempted to defrost a one-pound block of ground turkey using the appropriate settings.


This microwave perfectly defrosted the entire block without cooking it in just under 10 minutes, notifying you to flip the meat halfway through defrosting.

We like how convenient and easy to use this Toshiba microwave is.
We like how convenient and easy to use this Toshiba microwave is.
Credit: Laura Casner

Ease of Use


Our last round of tests looked at the ease of operating the EM131A5C, where it scored quite well. We compared the ease of using the interface, how well the preset functions worked, the internal lighting, and if it slides around on the countertop during normal use.


This microwave has a +30 Seconds button that automatically starts once you hit the button, as well as quick start functions for 1-6 minutes. It has a solid internal light and stays in place easily and doesn't move at all when opening, closing, or pushing buttons.

All in all, we highly recommend this Toshiba model.
All in all, we highly recommend this Toshiba model.
Credit: Laura Casner

It can be used as a standalone timer and we found the popcorn preset to be quite effective, with some kernels just beginning to overcook at the end of it but none burning.

Value


While we think the Toshiba EM131A5C is an excellent product, it is one of the more expensive options out there, precluding it from being a great bargain buy.

Conclusion


If you want a large capacity and high-power microwave that does an excellent job with frozen foods, then this should be one of the first options you consider. It performed almost perfectly in our defrosting tests and heated most foods very evenly.

David Wise and Austin Palmer