: 1.3 cu. ft. | Power
: 1050 Watts
Evenly heats food
Extremely easy to use
Heats food very fast
Earning the highest score out of any microwave that we have tested to date, the hOmeLabs HME010002N is our new favorite when it comes to these products. This product delivered a phenomenal performance when it came to heating up food, evenly heating up all of the prepared food that we placed in it, such as chicken pot pies, individual servings of lasagna, frozen burritos, or Hot Pockets. Not limited to processed food, this microwave also did a commendable job at evenly heating up a mixed plate of leftovers using its "Sensor Reheat" function. This microwave is also very fast at heating up food and is quite easy to use, having a variety of pre-programmed functions that are very effective and one-touch buttons that automatically start the microwave. On top of all that, the hOmeLabs is about half the price of our previous award winner, the Panasonic NN-SD745S that it ousted from the top spot.
However, this product didn't deliver an amazing performance when it came to defrosting food. We attempted to use the "Defrost by Weight" function to thaw a 1 lb. roll of ground turkey and the "Defrost by Time" function on a frozen muffin, finding both food items to be heated very unevenly and far from satisfactory. This microwave also lacks the ability to operate as a standalone timer — a surprisingly handy feature once you become accustomed to it. Regardless of these pitfalls, we still think the hOmeLabs is the best microwave you can get and the perfect option for most people.
Read Full Review: hOmeLabs HME010002N
: 0.9 cu. ft. | Power
: 900 Watts
Great at frozen burritos
Fantastic for frozen lasagna
Easy to use
Shopping for a top-notch microwave but don't want to zap your bank account? The 73773 by Kenmore is a fantastic value option, providing overall excellent performance at a much more budget-friendly price than our Editors' Choice award winner. This all-around performer heats food rapidly and evenly, earning it one of the top scores of the entire group. It also is very easy to use, with single-touch buttons and presets that are decently effective.
While this model doesn't quite defrost or heat as evenly as our top choice, the Kenmore retails for far less, making this product the perfect choice if you are shopping on a budget and looking to spend a little less than the top-tier models retail for.
Read Full Review: Kenmore 73773
Another Great Budget Pick
: 0.9 cu. ft. | Power
: 900 Watts
Good for defrosting
Great for heating leftovers
Just narrowly bested by the Kenmore, the Westinghouse WM009 is another great pick for those searching for a value buy. This appliance does an amazing job of defrosting food items, although it is slightly slower than the other award winners at heating up food. It's a snap to use and will heat your food evenly. On top of that, it is simple and intuitive to use, with preset functions that are surprisingly accurate and effective.
However, it's also oddly deficient at heating up a frozen burrito, despite its superior defrosting performance in our other tests. Additionally, it will also take just a tiny bit longer than some of the other products out there. Despite those setbacks, this is still an excellent value microwave and a great option for those looking to save some cash, especially if you don't plan on heating up frozen burritos on a regular basis.
Read Full Review: Westinghouse WM009
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Displaying 10 Products
The top models in our tests: Panasonic NN-SD745S, Westinghouse WM009, and Kenmore 73773.
Why You Should Trust Us?
At TechGearLab, we buy all the microwaves we test to ensure that our reviews are completely unbiased and put in the work to make sure it is the most comprehensive review you can get. Our testing team of Austin Palmer and David Wise have extensive experience reviewing kitchen appliances, having tested out close to 250 different products ranging from juicers, food choppers, food processors, blenders, citrus juicers, ice cream makers, water filters, and microwaves over the past three years.
We have spent tons of time developing a thorough test plan to compare these products, even going so far as to design a custom kitchen thermometer grid to easily measure how evenly the interior of various microwaveable food items is heated. We spent close to 100 hours comparing and scoring the performance of these products — eating way more frozen burritos and Hot Pockets than anyone ever should. Additionally, we also had a group of judges provide input on the quality of the heated food and the interface of each product. Finally, we objectively compared how quickly each microwave can heat up something by measuring the temperature increase in a controlled volume of water.
Related: How We Tested Microwave Ovens
Analysis and Test Results
We bought the top microwaves available and put them through the wringer, comparing their performance at everything from heating up frozen burritos to how fast they could heat up water. We directly compared the results in a side-to-side test to determine the overall scores, ranging from 0-100. Our testing process was split into four metrics — Heating, Defrosting, Ease of Use, and Speed — with over 15 different tests spread among the metrics. We detail how each model did in each test in the following sections, assigning a subscore for each metric that was then used to compute the overall score and rankings.
Related: Buying Advice for Microwave Ovens
Our favorite microwave of the group, the hOmeLabs falls right in the middle when it comes to prices — significantly less expensive than the more expensive appliances we have seen, showing you don't need to spend a premium to get a great product when it comes to microwaves. However, if you are shopping on a more limited budget, then you should consider either the Westinghouse or the Kenmore. This pair of bargain options performed almost identically, so we would recommend looking at both and getting whichever one is selling at a lower price. While it didn't quite do well enough to claim an award, the Toshiba EM925A5A is another solid option to consider if you are shopping on a budget. It finished right on the heels of the Kenmore and the Westinghouse and costs a little less, though it isn't the best at defrosting. However, if you don't defrost things all that often, then this is a solid choice if you aren't looking to spend too much.
The Panasonic NN-SD745S heating up a test plate of leftovers.
Heating up food with little to no effort is the main reason that you are going to buy a microwave. Period. Whether you are heating up leftovers from last night's dinner or zapping a Hot Pocket for a quick lunch, you want a microwave that is going to quickly and evenly heat your food to the desired temperature. This metric is so important that it comprises 40% of the total score — a model that does poorly in this metric is something that we would definitely caution against buying. You can see how the models stacked up in the chart below.
We heated identical frozen burritos, trays of lasagna, and Hot Pockets in each model of microwave, then used an array of cooking thermometers to evaluate how uniform the food was heated. We also reheated a typical plate of leftovers, simulating a Thanksgiving dinner, as well as chicken pot pies to test each model on a variety of different food types and see how they did. Finally, we generated a heat map with a plate of melted chocolate to look for any inconsistencies or dead spots while the microwave was heating.
The top-performing models in this set of tests are the hOmeLabs and the Panasonic NN-SD745S, both earning an 8 out of 10 for their stellar performance.
The hOmeLabs started out with a fantastic performance in our Hot Pocket test. We heated the Hot Pocket for two and a half minutes and found there to only be an average temperature difference of 2.1°F between the three zones that we measured. However, this wasn't quite the top performance we saw, with the NN-SD745S being slightly superior with only 1.9°F of variation, but both products produced excellent pocket sandwiches.
This product did a great job quickly and evenly heating up a Hot Pocket.
The performance of the hOmeLabs dropped a little when we moved on to some other types of heat-and-eat food — such as a chicken pot pie, an individual-sized frozen lasagna, and a frozen burrito — but still did very well overall, finishing in the top of the group. There was just a bit more average temperature variation present in these food items, on the order of 10-12°F.
The lasagna was heated evenly across all the zones.
This appliance continued its exemplary performance into our leftovers test. For this evaluation, we relied on the "Sensor Reheat" function of the hOmeLabs to set the proper time. The plate of food was heated fairly evenly, although the items closer to the center seemed to be slightly warmer than the rest. This product finished out this metric with an almost perfect showing in our heat map test. It completely melted the chocolate in its entirety, with only a single singed spot hampering its otherwise flawless showing.
Only a tiny burned spot kept the hOmeLabs from earning a perfect score.
Moving on to the other top performer when it came to heating up food, the NN-SD745S
did a great job at heating up our sample Thanksgiving dinner an even amount, with the green beans being just a tiny bit warmer than the other food items. It also did a great job at heating up the pot pie, easily heating it to the necessary temperature of 165°F, and having less than 10°F of temperature variation between different zones. However, where this model truly excelled was our frozen pocket sandwich test and our heat map test. We heated up a Hot Pocket brand sandwich using the "Frozen Pocket Sandwich" setting and then measured the internal temperature with an array of kitchen thermometers.
This model made an exceptional Hot Pocket.
had the smallest temperature variation between the thermometers, with less than 2°F of difference. This model also had a very uniform chocolate heat map, melting the entire plate evenly with no cold or burnt spots.
However, this Panasonic model fell a little flat on our frozen burrito and frozen lasagna test, failing to heat the burrito to 160°F and both the lasagna and burrito having wide temperature variation across.
Following this duo of top-notch products, the Kenmore 73773
, the LG LCS1112ST
, the Toshiba EM925A5A
, the Panasonic NN-SU696S
, and the Westinghouse WM009
all earned a 6 out for 10 for their slightly above average heating score. While these models all received the same overall score for their heating performance, they performed wildly different in the individual tests in this metric — meaning you will want to look at the models that performed the best in tests that most closely match what you tend to use these products for.
The Westinghouse did the best of this bunch at reheating our plate of leftovers — all of the food types were piping hot and within a few degrees of each other. Following this pair was the other Panasonic model that we reviewed, the NN-SU696S, which just had a little too much temperature variation on our plate of leftovers, with a few of the chicken tenders being close to 40°F warmer than the mashed potatoes. The Toshiba performed very similarly to the NN-SU696S, except that there was a tiny bit more temperature variation, to the point where some of the potatoes began to border on crispy.
The potatoes on our plate of leftovers were borderline crispy in a few places.
The rest of the models — the Kenmore
and the LG
— all did a less than stellar job with the plate of leftovers, failing to evenly heat the same type of food. For example, the Kenmore
had close to a 20°F temperature difference between the head and the foot of a single chicken tender.
The Kenmore didn't do the best at heating evenly, with almost 20°F difference between the head and foot of some of the dinosaur chicken tenders.
When it came to heating up the pot pie, the LG
and the Toshiba
almost matched the performance of the Panasonic NN-SD745S, but had slightly more temperature variation. The rest of this pack all did an acceptable job at the pot pie, with the exception of the Westinghouse. This model did poorly, failing to hit the necessary temperature and having differences of over 40°F between different regions of the pie.
The story changed dramatically when it came to Hot Pockets, with the Westinghouse
doing the best job of this group, finishing just ever so slightly behind the Panasonic NN-SD745S
The Sharp exceeded the stated minimum temperature and did an alright job at heating the Hot Pocket evenly.
did a little bit worse, exhibiting an average temperature difference of about 6.5°F across the Hot Pocket. The rest of the models in this group (the Kenmore
, the LG
, and thePanasonic NN-SU696S
) all did close to average, exhibiting 10-15°F of temperature variation across the pocket sandwich, with the Kenmore
on the lower end of that range.
This group of 5 products also displayed a wide variation in performance in our chocolate heat map test, with the LG
doing the best, matching the performance of the Panasonic NN-SD745S
. The Toshiba
was right behind, delivering an almost flawless showing, but there were a few spots that we identified as being slightly warmer and almost approaching burning. Next came the Kenmore
, which almost matched the performance of the three top-scoring models, but left an unmelted board around the outside of the plate that was about a quarter-inch thick.
The LG evenly melted the chocolate, leaving no solid areas or burnt sections.
The Panasonic NN-SU696S
did a little worse than the Kenmore
, leaving a nickel-sized cooler spot in the exact middle.
The Kenmore, LG, and the Panasonic all did well at heating up a frozen burrito, averaging 8-12°F of temperature differences between left, right, and center of the burrito. The Westinghouse did terribly at heating up a burrito — the worst of the bunch — failing to reach the required 160°F and having almost a 65°F temperature difference between the left and the right side of the burrito. The Toshiba was a bit better, but not by much, also failing to achieve the minimum temperature and having a sizeable temperature difference between the left and right half of the burrito.
The Toshiba failed the frozen burrito test.
, Panasonic NN-SU6969S
, and Westinghouse
all passed the frozen lasagna test, with each model heating the lasagna past the required 160°F. The Kenmore
made the best frozen lasagna of the group in this review, with a minuscule amount of temperature variation across the different areas of the lasagna.
The Kenmore did a fantastic job at heating up a small frozen lasagna.
This pair was followed the LG
and the Westinghouse
with about 7°F of difference. The Panasonic NN-SU696S
had about 9°F of difference, with all regions exceeding 160°F. The Toshiba
did horribly in this test, with the middle of the lasagna only reaching a lukewarm 70°F at the conclusion of its heating cycle — well below the prescribed minimum temperature by the manufacturer.
Following the middle pack, the Samsung MG14H3020CM
earned a 5 out of 10 for its overall average heating performance. This model actually did very well at heating up the plate of leftovers — almost as well as the Panasonic NN-SD745S
, but not quite. It did much worse at heating up the pot pie, doing a below average job as it failed to heat it up the pie evenly, with some areas over 190°F and others below the required temperature of 165°F. This Samsung
did a little better at heating up a frozen pocket sandwich (Hot Pocket) and frozen lasagna, doing an average job at both. However, this model of microwave did exceptionally terrible in our frozen burrito test and in our heat map test. The burrito had a ton of temperature variation throughout, with a small sliver that was not up to temperature. Looking at the heat map, it was immediately clear why this happened. The heat map showed a clear bullseye pattern, with the center and the outer ring remaining solid with the middle ring melting.
The Samsung MG14H3020CM did a terrible job in our heat map test, producing a very clear bullseye pattern, alternating between solid and melted rings.
Finishing out the bottom of the group in our heating test, the Breville BMO734XL
and the Samsung MS11K3000AS
earned a 4 and a 3 out of 10 respectively. These models had tons of temperature variation across most of our tests, in extreme amounts. For example, the Samsung MS11K3000AS
had close to a 70°F difference between the center and the right side of the burrito, and the Breville
had over 30°F between the left side and the center.
The interfaces varied across these products, using different screens, dials, and buttons. Some were clearly superior to others.
Ease of Use
For this metric, making up 30% of the total score, we looked at the various features and functions that these machines have to make your life easier. We evaluated how effective the preset settings were, whether or not there were quick buttons present and how they worked, the quality of the interior lighting and timer, as well as if the appliance would slide around on the counter when the door was opened or closed or when a button was pressed. For the preset effectiveness, we made a bag of popcorn and baked a potato in each model, precisely following the manufacturer's directions, and rated the results. You can see how all of the models ranked in the graphic below.
The Kenmore and the Toshiba led the group when it comes to being convenient and easy to use, both meriting an 8 out of 10.
model had some of the best quick buttons, with a "+30 second" button that would automatically start the microwave, as well as one-touch buttons to quickly start the microwave — pressing the "3" button automatically put three minutes on the machine and started it. The Kenmore
had a great interior light, could act as a kitchen timer independent of heating food and had an alright keypad. This model also did about average when we tested the presets, popping almost all of the popcorn on the popcorn preset, but leaving a drier and slightly burnt taste compared to some of the other models.
The Kenmore left very few kernels unpopped, but the popped ones tasted slightly overdone.
It did a little better at baking a potato using the potato preset. This model allows you to input a rough weight, though there were no beeps to flip the potato. It produced a potato that was perfectly cooked on the sides, but slightly firmer than we would have preferred in the middle. This model didn't have the best anti-slip feet going, and it would slide slightly on the counter when we opened and closed the door.
The Toshiba has similar quick buttons so the Kenmore, with the number keys 1-6 automatically starting the microwave and putting that amount of time on the clock. It also has a "+30" button for when your food needs just a little bit longer. It matched the Kenmore when using the "Potato" preset with a few spots that were a little on the firm side, but did even better with the popcorn, burning none of it at all. It's pretty easy to see your food while it is being heated with a solid amount of light and the keypad layout is decently intuitive and easy to use, though the "0" key is in a bit of an odd spot.
We liked the keypad layout on the Toshiba, with the exception of the somewhat off location of the "0" key.
Following the Kenmore and the Toshiba, the Breville and the hOmeLabs earned the next highest score in terms of ease of use, all earning a 7 out of 10.
The hOmeLabs got off to a good start in this metric by having presets that are both accurate and effective. The potato was baked all the way through, with the ends being cooked perfectly and the middle just bordering on overcooked. This product almost got burned in our popcorn preset effectiveness test, with the popcorn just starting to think about burning towards the end of the time period set by the "Popcorn" button. There was some slight discoloration and a slight tinge of a burned flavor, but the popcorn was overall quite tasty.
The popcorn almost burnt when using the preset function, but the microwaves stopped just in time and the popcorn still tasted fine.
This microwave has both a "+30 Seconds" button and single-touch features for buttons 1,2, and 3. This means you can hit the "1" button and the microwave will put one minute on the clock and automatically start. Unfortunately, this model doesn't have the best visibility to see your food while it is heating and can't be used as a standalone timer.
The keypad is very intuitive and the microwave doesn't slide around when a button is pressed, even on smooth surfaces.
has an exceptionally bright light inside and will turn it on when the door is opened. The Breville
has a "+30" button, but lacked the quick buttons. These models were both very solid on the counter, with the Breville
refusing to budge when the keypad was used or the door opened.
The Breville wouldn't slide on the slickest of countertops.
did decently well in our preset test, doing a good job at making popcorn and baking a potato using the presets. The Breville
left behind a decent number of kernels, but we found it to make the best tasting popcorn out of the entire group.
Next were the majority of models, with the LG
, Panasonic NN-SD745S
, Samsung MS11K3000AS
, and the Westinghouse
all earning a 6 out of 10. These models all have some sort of light inside that will turn on when the food is being heated, but the Samsung MS11K3000AS
was much dimmer, making it harder to see the food. Out of this group, only the Westinghouse
had the capability to act as an independent kitchen timer. We liked the interface on the LG
, finding that that dial on the Panasonic NN-SD745S
was a little irritating to use. The Samsung MS11K3000AS
lacks a keypad, using a large group of presets instead, something we found extremely annoying and was the worst interface of the entire set. The Westinghouse
has a keypad, but doesn't have a cancel/stop key to retract a mistake, instead of requiring you to hit reset and start from scratch. The Panasonic NN-SD745S
, Samsung MS11K3000AS
, and the Westinghouse
wouldn't slide on the counter when opening or closing the door or using the keypad, but the LG
would slide about a quarter of an inch every time we opened or closed the door.
The LG would slide on a smooth counter every time we opened or closed the door.
The Panasonic NN-SD745S
and the Westinghouse
did the best out of this group of 5 in our preset effectiveness test. The Panasonic NN-SD745S
produced better popcorn than the Westinghouse
, heating it close to perfection and only leaving about 27 leftover kernels. The Westinghouse
only left 19 kernels, but overcooked the popcorn, making it taste a little burnt. The Westinghouse
did redeem itself with the baked potato, heating the perfect potato that was one of the best out of the entire group. The Panasonic NN-SD745S
did alright at baking the potato, but left the center a little harder than we would have liked.
The potato should have been baked a little longer than the preset button on the Panasonic NN-SD745S recommended.
The preset effectiveness on the LG
was just slightly behind the Panasonic NN-SD745S
and the Westinghouse
. The LG
left more popcorn kernels behind than the Panasonic NN-SD745S
and created popcorn that didn't taste quite as nice.
However, the LG
overcooked the potato on the bottom and on the left side, lacking a notification to stop and flip the potato like other models.
The Samsung MS11K3000AS
did slightly worse than the LG
when it came to presets. The popcorn tasted fine, but it left over a hundred kernels behind without popping. It also left the center of the baked potato a little raw, though the left side was perfect and the right was just slightly underdone.
While this model did evenly heat the potato, it was still a little undercooked.
Rounding out the back of the pack for ease of use, the Samsung MG14H3020CM
and the Panasonic NN-SU696S
earned a 5 and a 4 out of 10 respectively. You can see inside the Panasonic NN-SU696S
while it's running, but there is no light when the door is opened. This Samsung
has a light, but it's really hard to see the food inside with its mirrored exterior.
The mirrored exterior of this model made it impossible to see inside, but handy to check your reflection.
Neither of these models could be used as a kitchen timer, and both had an alright keypad. The Panasonic NN-SU696S
would slide a little bit when the door was opened and closed, but the Samsung MG14H3020CM
was solid as a rock on the counter. These both had a "+30 Seconds" button, but it would not automatically start heating and neither had any one-touch quick buttons.
The Samsung MG14H3020CM
left behind a larger number of kernels compared to the Panasonic NN-SU696S
, but none of them were burnt tasting. The Panasonic
did an average job at baking a potato, significantly better than the Samsung MG14H3020CM
which left the center completely raw.
To test the defrosting by weight function, we thawed a frozen muffin in each model.
Defrosting made up 20% of the overall score for these products and was a much smaller group of tests than heating. We rated these products on how effectively they could defrost a 1 lb roll of ground turkey — if the microwave could satisfactorily defrost a muffin. In addition, we looked at what type of options were available to choose from when it came to defrosting, such as defrosting by time or by weight. You can see how all of the products scored in the following graphic.
Redeeming itself from its poor heating performance, the usually lower scoring Samsung MS11K3000AS
tied with one of our Best Buy award winners, the Westinghouse WM009
, for the top score in this metric, both models earning a 7 out of 10. These models both had similar performance at defrosting the turkey roll, with practically the entire pound being defrosted without any of it being cooked, though the Samsung MS11K3000AS
did accomplish this about three minutes faster.
Only this small amount remained slightly frozen after defrosting in the Samsung MS11K3000AS
Performance varied substantially when it came to defrosting a muffin, with the Samsung MS11K3000AS
doing much better than the Westinghouse
. The Samsung MS11K3000AS
was basically throughout, while the Westinghouse
which had an extremely hot side and an extremely cool side. Both of these models can defrost by weight, but the Westinghouse
has a speed defrost option.
Following this top performing pair, the Panasonic NN-SU696S
came next, earning a 6 out of 10 for its defrosting capabilities. The Panasonic NN-SU696S
did well at defrosting the roll of ground turkey, but not quite as well as the Westinghouse
or the Samsung MS11K3000AS
. The Panasonic NN-SU696S
had some almost cooked parts and was just a little harder to break apart than the top models. The Panasonic NN-SU696S
did do much better at defrosting the frozen muffin, heating everything except the very bottom of the muffin.
The top of the muffin tended to be slightly cooler than the rest.
Next were the LG LCS1112ST
and the Panasonic NN-SD745S
, both meriting a 5 out of 10 for their defrosting abilities. The LG
did better than the Panasonic NN-SD745S
at defrosting the roll of ground turkey, but not as well as the Panasonic NN-SU696S
. There were a few warm parts in the LG
's roll of ground turkey, compared to the completely cooked sections in the NN-SD745S
's. However, the NN-SD745S
did one of the best jobs of the entire group at defrosting a frozen muffin, evenly heating it throughout and just lightly melting the chocolate chips. The LG
did almost as well, but the top portion was just a little bit cooler than the rest of the muffin, dropping its score. The LG
has a quick defrost and a weight defrost, while the Panasonic NN-SD745S
only has a defrost by weight.
The remainder of the models — the hOmeLabs, the Toshiba, the Breville, the Kenmore, and the Samsung MG14H3020CM all scored below average at defrosting, earning a 4 out of 10. The hOmeLabs, Toshiba, and the Breville did the worst of the bunch at defrosting the roll of ground turkey, leaving the bulk of it too frozen to easily break apart. In the case of the hOmeLabs, we had to run a second defrost cycle to get it to the point where it was easy to break apart, which actually cooked a significant amount of turkey. The other models did a little better, but not by much.
These models all did roughly the same at defrosting a frozen muffin, with the Samsung MG14H3020CM
doing slightly better than the Toshiba
, and the Kenmore
, with the hOmeLabs
delivering the worst performance of the bunch. These models all had defrost by weight functions and only the Samsung
lacked a quick defrost function by time.
We measured the speed of each product by recording the temperature rise in 250 mL of water after 30 seconds.
Microwaves are all about conveniently and quickly heating up food, and our final metric focuses on the latter. We heated up a set amount of water in a beaker in each model for 30 seconds, and compared the temperature rise between to determine scores. This metric made up 10% of the overall score. You can see how speedy the models were in the chart below.
The Panasonic NN-SU696S
, earned the top score of 7 out of 10 in this metric. This model boosted the temperature of 250 mL of water about 37°F in 30 seconds.
Next were the hOmeLabs
, the Panasonic NN-SD745S
, and the Kenmore
, all earning a 6 out of 10. These models increased the water temperature by 35°F, 36°F and 35°F respectively.
The hOmeLabs isn't the fastest microwave, but it is still above average when it comes to heating up food quickly.
Following these, the LG
and the Westinghouse
all did about average, meriting a 5 out of 10. The Westinghouse
drove a 34°F temperature increase in the water, just a hair better than the 33°F created by the LG
both boosted the temperature of the water by about 32°F after the 30 seconds — enough to earn both appliances a 4 out of 10 for their somewhat lackluster showing, though they did beat both of the Samsung
models. The MG14H3020CM
earned a 3 out of 10 for boosting the water 28°F, and the MS11K3000AS
earned a 2 for increasing the temperature by a measly 25°F.
Some of the top models that you can buy today.
It can be difficult to find the perfect product. Hopefully, this review can alleviate that pain and help you find the model that best suits your needs and your budget.