The Panasonic NN-SD377S compact microwave has some of the more unusual features among products we reviewed. It possesses a generous number of preset programs and offers a somewhat larger size, two characteristics that earn it our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award.
It is available only in stainless steel and the control panel uses a dial, which is not particularly intuitive. Nonetheless, this compact microwave oven is a versatile and feature-packed kitchen appliance that comes through with what it promises.
This compact microwave has the most preset programs available among our top-ranked products, although you would not be able to tell at once from the control panel. The spare-looking control panel lets you choose from several preset cooking programs by pressing buttons multiple times to activate different programs. The Panasonic NN-SD377S is not the only compact microwave oven that works this way, but this design means that there are fewer actual preset buttons on the control panel and all but the popcorn preset are contained in the one Auto Cook button.
You can select from these preset programs: popcorn, oatmeal (auto cook 1), beverages (auto cook 2), breakfast sausages (auto cook 3), fresh vegetables (auto cook 4), frozen vegetables (auto cook 5), potatoes (auto cook 6), soup (auto cook 7) and frozen entrees (auto cook 8).
The Auto Cook button actually contains almost all of the preset programs. One of the problems with this setup is that only the number appears on the compact microwave oven’s display, so it might take a little while to remember which number stands for which program. Like most compact microwaves, there is a sticker inside the door that explains the Auto Cook menu. You may not use some of the preset programs that often (sausage and oatmeal come to mind), but the other programs are useful indeed.
The Auto Reheat on the compact microwave is used to reheat leftovers based on servings. The numbers 1-4 represent the number of servings you want to reheat. These numbers are based on weight, so if you prefer really large or really small servings, you will want to adjust how many you select. If you want to reheat a plate of food, you would count this as 3-4 servings.
The multi-stage feature on this countertop microwave allows for multiple cooking levels at different times and includes stand times and delay starts. You can set up to five stages. Some food, like baked potatoes, should be left to stand for several minutes after the compact microwave is finished cooking. To set a stand time, first select the power level and cooking time, then press Timer/More and select the time. To set a delay start (up to 90 minutes), press Timer/More, set the time then select the power level and cooking time. After setting all of the stages, press Start and the compact microwave will run through the stages in the order they were set.
You use the dial in the middle of the control panel to set the weight of food and the cooking time instead of using the more common number pad. When you're ready to cook something manually, set the power level by pressing the Power Level button. Pressing the button once sets the power to 100 percent, twice is 90 percent and so on. Once you have the power level selected, use the dial to set the time and press Start. If you want to cook at 100 percent power, you don’t have to press Power Level. You can just turn the dial to set the time and then press Start.
You can use the Quick Min button instead of the dial to set the cook time. This button will allow you to quickly set the cook time for up to 10 minutes, or use it to add time during the cooking process. When you press Quick Min once and then press Start, the compact microwave will run for one minute at 100 percent power. You can select another power level and use the Quick Min button instead of the dial to set the time in one-minute increments.
Like many other countertop microwaves, this one has the highly desirable option of a child safety lock. While this does not actually lock the door, it locks the operation of the compact microwave oven. There is no icon on the control panel showing which button to use, but it is explained clearly in the manual. Press Start three times and the word Child appears in the display, letting you know the microwave now is locked. To unlock the compact microwave, press Stop three times. The display will again show the clock.
The design of this stainless steel microwave is unlike any other product we reviewed. It has the fewest number of buttons because there’s no keypad. The few buttons actually protrude instead of being flush with the surface. This compact microwave is one of the largest and most powerful, although not by much. It is 0.8 cubic feet and has 800 watts of power. The white text on the control panel is uncluttered and easy to read, especially since it is set against a black background.
The manual you get with this compact microwave oven is comprehensive and explains things clearly. It is also available online under the support section of the website. It gives hints on how to use the features for the best results.
It also has a section called Microwave Shortcuts. These are tips on how to use the different power levels for cooking various foods, including roasting nuts, skinning tomatoes, toasting coconut and melting chocolate. Another helpful section includes cooking techniques. It lists many common terms used in cooking and explains why each one does or does not work in a compact microwave. It gives useful information on how to prepare your food before using the compact microwave to cook it. This includes weight and size information, whether to cover it or poke it, and even how to arrange the food while it is being cooked. There’s also a conversion chart between ounces and tenths of a pound, which is useful when you need to input the weight of the food into the microwave.
The Panasonic website provides information on troubleshooting, technical specifications and even a few FAQs for this compact microwave. This information is not as comprehensive as it could be, but they do provide an email form and a telephone number for any additional help you might need.
The Panasonic NN-SD377S is a reliable compact microwave with great features. As long as you like the idea of using a dial to control the weight and time, this countertop microwave is a great choice if you're looking for a stainless steel appliance that will look good with the rest of the kitchen.
This compact microwave has many unique presets.
The compact microwave is only available in stainless steel.
This is a great little microwave, as long as you do not mind the limited color option.