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A must have on the kitchen’s work surface or tucked behind a cupboard door, today’s microwaves do much more than simply defrosting ingredients or heating up a ready-meal. Here’s how to decide which features you need in your next microwave.

Child Lock

One-touch settings including pizza, popcorn and potatoes — plus a child-lock feature allows parents to keep kids from accidentally turning it on. Toshiba

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The wattage, or power, of a microwave will determine the speed of cooking time and how evenly the heat will be distributed through the oven. Most microwaves clock in at 600 to 1,200 watts — the more powerful the oven, typically the pricier it is. Busy family cooks and people who rely on their microwaves to reheat large dishes and cook meats will benefit from higher wattage.

Multifunctional

This Sharp microwave and grill combo cooks, grills, browns and crisps food. Sharp

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Some microwaves are multi-tasking and can do much more than reheat leftovers. Models that also have grills may be perfect for fans of cheese on toast. Others include convection ovens and grills, allowing cooks to use all three applications for one dish — ideal for people who want to cut down on cooking time for more complex dishes and meats but still get oven baked flavor and crispness.

Small but Mighty

This Panasonic oven measures just 33 x 44.3 x 25.8 cm, and comes in black or silver. Panasonic

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Another important thing to think about is size. As wattage goes up, so does size, so if you have a small kitchen or a lack of cupboard or counter space, look for a lower wattage model. The higher the wattage, the larger the oven; still, compact microwaves are still quite powerful and many models come with great features such as presets for popcorn, jacket potatoes and frozen meals and more.

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