The Russell Hobbs Inspire microwave is a straightforward, easy to use appliance. We tested a model with a black finish, but it’s also available in white, so one of the two colourways should fit in with your kitchen décor.
It’s a 700W appliance, which is a lower wattage than I’d usually recommend in a microwave. Ordinarily, I’d suggest going for a 1,000W appliance. Lower wattage microwaves take longer to heat food and can leave dishes unevenly cooked. But this was not my experience with the Inspire, which cooks both evenly and efficiently and has six easy to use power settings.
Price & availability
The Inspire is available from a number of online retailers, at slightly different price points.
Russell Hobbs’ RRP is £74.99 but there are better deals available. Asda is selling it for £67.96. Amazon currently has it for £63.84. Very is currently selling it for £62.99. But the best price we can find at the time of writing is from JD Williams, which is selling it for £59.99.
Bear in mind that prices may change as we head towards Black Friday, so it’s a good idea to check all of those retailers to make sure that you’re getting the best possible deal.
Bargain microwaves tend to be fairly functional in appearance but the Inspire is well-designed, with some nice touches. Its finish is shiny, reflective black, with a large silver-coloured handle and two matching dials set into a textured panel on the front.
Russell Hobbs also sells kettles and toasters in the same design, if you’re interested in a matching countertop set.
The top dial features five settings: low, defrost, medium low, medium, medium high and high. The bottom dial is the timer, which goes up to 30 minutes, in one-minute increments. After ten minutes, it swaps to five-minute increments.
If you’re used to a digital display, it’ll take time to get used to twisting and setting the timer: you’ll initially spend some time leaning over at countertop level, peering at the small markings before it becomes second nature.
In fact, the dial is the only aspect of the design that we take issue with. It’s not the easiest thing to read from a distance, and the dial itself is difficult to turn with wet hands.
Inside, there’s a turntable and glass platter. The microwave has a 17-litre capacity: the turntable itself has a diameter of 24.5cm and the internal space is 19cm high, which means it can take an average sized (11-inch, round) dinner plate heaped with food, or a large bowl.
And when the food’s done, the appliance won’t beep incessantly until you go and release your dinner. It just dings once, which is a pleasant, old-school alert.
Like many people, I tend to use a microwave on the highest setting, hope for the best and try to remove the food before it explodes. Partly, this is laziness and partly it’s a dislike of reading appliance instructions and working out more complicated digital programmes.
However, the Inspire’s two dials are so easy to use that even the laziest reheater can warm smaller volumes of food without hovering over the appliance. There are five heat settings – plus the defrost – so it’s easy to estimate how quickly it’ll heat the food and choose the right setting to penetrate to the centre of the food without causing an eruption.
The medium setting is roughly half the power of the highest setting and once you know that, it’s easy to estimate the temperature you need.
Whether or not the Inspire is for you depends on how you use your microwave. If you tend to use your microwave to cook more complicated dishes and make use of pre-set programmes, then this is not the appliance of your dreams.
However, if you use your microwave primarily for re-heating cooked food and for defrosting, this will be a great buy. The simple settings mean you’re likely to get better results than when using a feature-laden appliance you’re don’t want to spend time figuring out.
If you want a simple microwave that’s easy to use and cooks food evenly and well, this is the appliance for you. People hoping to expand their microwave culinary skills should opt for something with automatic cooking programmes.
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