Extremely cheap microwave oven has Alexa, listening

Ah, right. Got it.

I usually give microwaves a pass on Occam’s Kitchen Razor (“Logic boards should not be multiplied without necessity”) because they do their thing via quantum mechanics and maybe a circuit board is helpful for preventing the universe from getting torn asunder. But there isn’t really anything stopping one from designing a microwave with two analog dials, one of which controls the power level and one of which is a timer. You might need a little transistor circuit to do the power level (I believe microwaves do this by duty-cycling), but the timer could even be mechanical.

Is there really a good reason for the absurdly complex UIs in most microwaves? I can’t say I’ve ever used (or trusted) a defrost-by-weight feature or a popcorn button.


You are all on the wrong track.
What matters most about a microwave is not how its controls work or even its price, but how cute it is.

Check out this baby in the mint green color way:

I don’t need another microwave. But I’d buy this one and keep it as a pet.


Fully agree. Sad to say, mine is not equipped with analogue dials, though. It does have a touchpad set of buttons like a phone pad for putting in times and a few other buttons for things like ‘time cook’ and ‘power level’ and ‘auto defrost’ which is basically power level 6 and that’s it.

The time entry method builds the time from the least significant digit, so entering 1 = 1 second, 10 = 10 seconds and 100 gives one minute. This means it can do weird things like cook for 99 seconds, but if you enter 100 it cooks for one minute.

I believe it will also cook for 1 minute and 99 seconds if asked. Like I said - weird.

The two most used (every single day at least once) bits of kit in my kitchen both have clockwork timers. Toaster, steamer.

An AI continually bathed in microwave radiation? I think I read this one in Amazing Stories…


Meh, I don’t mind. If I were going to sell my soul, I would at least want to get voice-controlled auto-reheated coffee out of it.

And, like everyone else I would rename the most used options after family members. Or current political nincompoops (ie. potato = Doug Ford, water = Ajit Pai). Can’t wait till some edge-lord decides to use civil rights leaders or some-such.

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It would keep you warm for the rest of your life, so it does have that going for it. (if kept as a pet)

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They used to be, but a chip and membrane keypad is cheaper, (the rest of the bells and whistles are mostly for marketing purposes). :roll_eyes:

My mom cannot have meat labels on her microwave oven… Even a graphic of a chicken, she puts a sticker on.

Iconography of the item she is cooking, she can’t tolerate. Never mind she cuts the chicken, in some cases pulled off the skin and removed giblets… but to see a chicken leg icon… nope, turns her stomach.

Add in the Alexa support (she hates that whole concept of eavesdropping smart home devices)… yeah… hard pass.

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And how will the cup get there?

Plus, Alexa is always getting smarter…

Minus, someday it will be smarter than you.

I’m still trying to figure out whether or not you can connect any other device to the microwave via Bluetooth. Say, use your phone for a richer UI, or the cliche barcode microwave instructions on the TV dinner, scanned with your phone.

For a while I though you needed to know the device’s private code, but I can’t find that anymore in the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit documentation.

Commercial microwaves are often like this, plus they distribute the waves by rotating the antenna under the bottom shelf instead of using a turntable, which frees up room in the main compartment.

There used to be one with a barcode reader and a updateable database of frozen dinners. So you could swipe the code and it would do all the stop/start setting and reminding to stir.

I thought about getting one for my elderly father, but the company went belly up shortly after I learned about it.

Since we’re apparently in the mood for “correctness” today, let’s start w/ the 1st paragraph under the “Features” tab of the sale page:

Sentence 1: “AmazonBasics Microwave simplifies cooking by letting you microwave using your voice and an Echo device.”

Correct person wonders: how does cooking become “simplified” by adding a voice and an additional device (Echo) to a technology that formerly required no voice and no intermediary device?

Sentence 2: “Just say, ‘Alexa, reheat one cup of coffee,’ and Alexa will start reheating with the appropriate power and time settings.”

Correct person wonders: Alexa is the one doing the reheating in this scenario, huh?

Sentence 3: “Quick-cook presets mean there’s no need to guess cook times or heat levels when you’re defrosting vegetables or microwaving a potato.”

Correct person wonders: Isn’t this, like, pretty much the same feature set that almost every fucking microwave comes w/ out of the box? Isn’t there some term used in industry for when one company straight up snags the ideas of another?

Sentence 4: “Plus, Alexa is always getting smarter and adding new presets.”

Correct person interjects: My ass. Hey, Alexa, talk to this parrot for the next few years!


They still make 'em.

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Well, in the sense that that’s true of everything, sure. But you don’t need quantum mechanics to understand microwave absorption, or how a magnetron works. Microwave cooking can be pretty adequately explained in terms of water molecules acting as mechanical tuning forks at around 23 octaves above middle C; there’s no quantum transition involved.

(If you’d never seen a water molecule, you’d need quantum mechanics to work out that figure, but I’m fairly sure GE just determined it empirically)

The idea that microwaves are sci-fi devices is just a mass hallucination rooted in the original marketing from the 1950s. We all know an ancient microwave with a clockwork timer works just fine, yet we’re mesmerized to believe that this technology is so peculiarly exotic that, without the most futuristic control system possible, we’d blow ourselves into the zeta dimension trying to reheat a mug of coffee.

I actually bought one of these, but then I noticed a fatal flaw: I have kids. If Alexa thought she heard them say to turn on the microwave, she would do so. And a microwave with no food inside is a fire hazard.

Heck, I wouldn’t put it past my teenage son to tell it to turn on the microwave as a joke, not knowing what could happen.

I shipped it back. (It was also very small, surprisingly.)

This is how one sets things on my dishwasher.

For models without display:
To enter options mode:

  • 1 With the door closed, press the On/Off button to turn the unit on.
  • 2 One of the wash cycle LEDs will be flashing.
  • 3 Press and hold down the > button, then press and release the Start button. Now release the > button.
  • 4 The “Clean” and one other LED will be flashing. You are now in options mode.
  • 5 Press the > button to select the option you would like to adjust.
    To set amount of Rinse Aid:
    Note: If your glasses have spots on them, you need more rinse aid. If your glasses have streaks on them, you need less rinse aid.
  • 1 Follow the prior instructions to enter options mode.
  • 2 With the “Clean” and “Rinse Aid” LEDs flashing, press the < button to change the amount of rinse aid dispensed.
    0 LEDs flashing = rinse aid is OFF
    1 LED flashing = lowest amount of rinse aid dispensed
    2 LEDs flashing = medium amount of rinse aid dispensed 3 LEDs flashing = highest amount of rinse aid dispensed
  • 3 Press Start to save your setting.
    To turn Extra Dry Heat ON or OFF:
  • 1 Follow the prior instructions to enter options mode.
  • 2 With the “Clean” and “Sanitized” LEDs flashing, press the < button to turn Extra Dry Heat ON or OFF.
    0 LEDs flashing = Extra Dry Heat is OFF 1 LED flashing = Extra Dry Heat is ON
  • 3 Press Start to save your setting.

Now, granted, it doesn’t have a display because it’s the cheap model, and therefore, the equivalent model in 2019 is unlikely to have networking capabilities, but if it did, and Bosch was intelligent, I wouldn’t be looking up blink codes in a manual.

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Also arises in identical models (i.e. under the skin) when one is under-counter and the other is “bulit-in” - i.e. has a matching kitchen cupboard front that obviates the possibility of a display.

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