Sunday, March 06, 2011

In the old days, microwave ovens had dials. You turned the dial to the amount of time you wanted it to run, and then it ran. Life was simple.

These days, microwave ovens have lots of buttons. Yes, there are more features, but it's also much more confusing, especially for the simple use case.

The microwave I have has the best of both worlds. For the simple case, it uses a dial. For the extra features that are rarely used, it uses buttons. The dial has a good feel to it, and it has discrete stops (not continuous). The stop size increases as the time increases:

  • From 1 to 10 seconds, it's rounded to the second.
  • From 10 seconds to 1 minute, it's rounded to 5 seconds.
  • From 1 minute to 5 minutes, it's rounded to 10 seconds.
  • From 5 minutes to 10 minutes, it's rounded to 15 seconds.
  • From 10 minutes to 30 minutes, it's rounded to 30 seconds.

Consider the alternatives. If it had been linear, with high precision (1 second), I'd have to turn the dial for a very long time to reach 10 minutes. In addition, my compulsive behavior would have me fiddling until it's exactly 10:00 minutes, not 9:57 or 10:02. If it had been linear, with low precision (10 seconds), I'd have no good way to specify durations such as 15 or 45 seconds. I'd end up running it and watching it the whole time, stopping it at the right time.

I love using this microwave oven. For most needs, I can turn the dial, then press Start. Rarely do I have to use the other buttons.

Update: [2013-03-14] The updated model is the Panasonic NN-SD997S, $187. There are also some less expensive ones as well that feature the dial.