Microwaves are evolving in both function and design toward a more versatile, all-purpose cooking appliance. While standard microwave ovens are still widely used, some larger models have the advantage of dual modes of cooking as a microwave or convection oven. These combo units offer a wider range of cooking processes - thawing, baking, steaming and roasting.
New designs include the microwave “drawer,” a top-loading unit that pulls out from below the countertop. Other space-saving configurations allow microwaves to be installed inside or below cabinets, on islands or combined with ovens and hoods.
All models have timers and cooking settings, but higher-end microwaves offer more pre-set and programmable options as well as improved displays. Other advanced features include multiple racks, child-safety locks and sensors that turn off the unit when food is cooked. In some models the turntable has been replaced with a mechanism that rotates the microwave’s direction so multiple dishes cook evenly.