Toshiba EM131A5C Review
Pros: Excellent at defrosting, convenient
Cons: Large, expensive
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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.
The Toshiba 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 up 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 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 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.
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.
Fortunately, the Toshiba EM131A5C did significantly better with the canned soup, heating it up to the perfect serving temperature upon following the heating instructions.
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 up almost perfectly. There was only 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.
However, it only did about average with the frozen lasagna, showing marked temperature differences across the entire lasagna.
It was in our defrosting metric where the Toshiba EM131A5C really 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.
Ease of Use
Our last round of tests looked at the ease of operating the Toshiba 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.
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.
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.
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 up most foods very evenly.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer