Powerful for its size
Six Express Heat buttons
Custom memory function
Can’t fit full-size dinner plates
Tough to open door
Over-the-range microwaves come standard in many houses and apartments, but countertop microwaves are the way to go when you need a food-warming appliance for an office space or dorm room. The Black+Decker Digital Microwave Oven is sure to catch your eye thanks to its affordable price and sleek stainless steel design, but we had doubts about its small inner capacity.
To see if it’s worth buying, we put the Black+Decker Microwave to the test over the course of several weeks, using it to reheat all types of leftovers and to cook items like popcorn, potatoes, and more. Keep reading to see what we decided about this affordable appliance.
Setup: Plug and play
Because it’s a countertop model, the Black+Decker Digital Microwave truly couldn’t be easier to set up. Inside the box, we found three pieces—the microwave itself, the glass turntable, and the round ring that the turntable rests on. After pulling all the packing tape off the appliance, we simply put the turntable in place and plugged the microwave in.
From there, it was simply a matter of programming the appliance’s clock—a straightforward task that we figured out without the manual—and we were ready to start cooking.
Design: Extremely compact
The first thing we noticed when setting up the Black+Decker Microwave was that it’s extremely small, with exterior measurements of roughly 17 inches wide, 11.5 inches deep, and 10 inches tall. While the appliance is available in four sizes, we tested the smallest one, which has just a 0.7 cubic foot inner capacity.
If you have no frame of reference for how big that is—because, really, when was the last time you measured something in cubic feet?—the inner cavity is just over 10 inches deep and around 11 wide, and there are about 7 inches of clearance from the turntable to the roof of the cavity. Our full-size dinner plates are around 11 inches wide, and we couldn’t fit them inside the microwave. If you’re planning to use the microwave for everyday use, you’re going to have to stick to “salad” plates.
However, the good news about the microwave’s compact form is that it easily fits underneath our upper kitchen counters, and there was even room to place items on top of it, which could be handy in small kitchens where space is tight.
In terms of its design, the microwave has a black exterior with stainless steel accents around the front edges. The door opens via a push button, giving the appliance a streamlined, handle-free appearance, but we found that the button was tricky to press. We typically had to hold the microwave in place to prevent it from sliding backward as we pushed the door-open button.
There’s a control pad on the right side of the microwave’s front, and it has a sizable LED clock that’s easy to see at night. The buttons on the touchpad were easy to push, but the black glossy material does get smudged by the oils from your skin—within a week of use, you could easily tell which buttons we had been pressing the most! The good news is the touchpad is easy to shine back up with a cloth if the smudges bother you.
We were surprised to find that the little microwave often delivered perfectly warmed dishes without any extra nuking.
While small, the 10-inch turntable is easy to put in place, and we liked that it’s easy to remove and rinse if it ever gets dirty. During testing, we had some tomato sauce that “popped” when it got too warm, and we were able to simply rinse the glass piece with water and wipe down the interior of the microwave with a paper towel.
Another small design feature that we noticed was on the back of the microwave. There’s a thick plastic tab that protrudes right over the power cable, preventing the cord from getting awkwardly bent if the unit is pushed up against a wall. Given that we’ve ruined electronics in the past by bending their power cords too much, we think this is a smart little feature.
Performance: Not bad
At its max setting, the Black+Decker Digital Microwave only delivers 700 watts of power, which is significantly lower than our apartment’s Frigidaire Over-the-Range Microwave, which delivers 1,000 watts of cooking power. As such, we expected it wouldn’t be as efficient at heating food, but we were pleasantly surprised with its performance.
We regularly reheat leftovers using our microwave, and we can typically guess how long it will take to fully heat up a dish. When using the Black+Decker microwave, we always started at our go-to reheating times—for instance, 2 minutes on high for a medium bowl of chicken chili—and we were surprised to find that the little microwave often delivered perfectly warmed dishes without any extra nuking. There were a few instances when the leftovers were a little colder in the middle, but at most, they needed another 30 seconds or so to be fully heated. Given how much smaller it is than a standard microwave, it still packs a powerful punch.
The weather recently turned cold, and on more than one occasion we found ourselves craving hot chocolate. Both our 4-cup liquid measuring cup and the majority of our coffee mugs fit perfectly inside the microwave, giving us multiple options for heating the drink, and the appliance was able to bring 10 ounces of milk to the perfect temperature in just over 2 minutes.
Another often-cooked microwave food in our household is popcorn, which we regularly break out on movie nights. Unfortunately, our beloved Salbree Popcorn Popper was too tall to fit inside the microwave, but we were able to pop individual-sized bags of Orville Redenbacher popcorn with no problems. We used the machine’s popcorn button, and the 1.75-ounce setting was ideal for the small bag, leaving only a handful of kernels unpopped. However, the microwave did retain a super buttery smell for a few days afterward.
Other tasks we completed with the microwave included melting butter to bake chocolate chip cookies, warming water for tea using the beverage button, and even cooking a baked potato.
Features: Lots of preset options
The Black+Decker Digital Microwave was clearly designed with convenience in mind, as it features a wide array of preset cooking functions. Across the top of its panel, there are buttons for Time Cook, Time Defrost, and Weight Defrost, and you can also adjust the power level between 1 and 10—super handy when you need to melt chocolate.
There are also six “auto menu” buttons, including: Popcorn, Potato, Pizza, Frozen Vegetable, Beverage, and Dinner Plate. These settings aren’t necessarily the most intuitive to use—for example, the Frozen Vegetable setting measures food in ounces, allowing you to heat 4, 8, or 16 ounces of veggies, but the Beverage button gives you options of 1, 2, or 3 cups. Without reading the instructions, we wouldn’t have been able to figure out the various measurements, so we’d recommend familiarizing yourself with the manual first. We tested the popcorn, potato, and beverage buttons ourselves, and they all worked well, delivering the perfect amount of time to warm up our food.
The Black+Decker also offers Express Heat buttons, which we used regularly. With these functions, you can simply press numbers 1 through 6, and it will automatically start the microwave for that duration of time. (So 1 starts the appliance for 1 minute, 2 for 2 minutes, etc.) There’s also a +30 second feature on the Start button, allowing you to extend the cook time while the microwave is running. Our full-size microwave only has these Express settings for buttons 1, 2, and 3, so it was nice to have longer options. Because we often reheat leftovers for a few minutes at a time, the Express Heat buttons got quite a bit of use.
It easily fits underneath our upper kitchen counters, and there was even room to place items on top of it, which could be handy in small kitchens where space is tight.
Another cool feature on this microwave is its Memory function, which shares a button with the number 0. While a bit complicated to program—we recommend reading the directions, because it’s too many steps to detail here—this setting lets you program up to three custom cook times to start quickly. Personally, I often use the microwave to melt chocolate, so I programmed the first memory setting to run at 50 percent power for 30 seconds. It proved quite handy and saved me the hassle of dialing in the settings every time.
The Black+Decker Digital Microwave costs around $75, which isn’t bad as microwaves go, and we wouldn’t mind paying it considering how well the appliance works. However, there are larger countertop microwaves with stronger cooking power that cost less, so it’s not necessarily the deal of the century.
Black+Decker Digital Microwave Oven vs. Hamilton Beach Microwave Oven
The Hamilton Beach Microwave Oven (view at Walmart) is another popular countertop model, and it differs from the Black+Decker unit in a few ways. First, the Hamilton Beach Microwave is larger with a 0.9 cubic foot capacity that can accommodate dinner plates, and it also is slightly more powerful at 900 watts. The Hamilton Beach Microwave has a handle on the front to open its door, and it also costs less, retailing for around $55.
Ideal for small spaces.
Given its small size and inability to hold full-size dinner plates, this size of the Black+Decker Digital Microwave is a good option for dorm rooms, offices, or other small spaces.
- Product Name Digital Microwave Oven
- Product Brand Black+Decker
- MPN em720cb7
- Product Dimensions 17.3 x 10.2 x 13 in.
- Color Stainless Steel
- Power (Watts) 700W
- Capacity 0.7 cubic feet
- Warranty 1 year, limited