Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Emerson MW8998B

Last year sometime our Microwave died. The next time we were at Target I picked up a microwave. I literally went down the aisle, picked one that looked good and put in the cart and paid for it.

No research. No Consumer Reports. No google.

Microwave. Cart. Visa card. Done. Check-that-off.

I chose it because it :

A. Was Smaller
B. Was black
C. Seemed to have numbers 0-9, etc on the controls.

This was a really bad idea.

We got it home, started using it and quickly realized how hard it was to enter a time and just have the stupid thing cook something. There seemed to be an "express cook" feature where you could press numbers 1-6 and have it cook something for 1-6 whole minutes but there wasn't a way to enter 2 minutes and 37 seconds and start cooking while watching the timer count down to 0:00 like every MICROWAVE I'VE EVER SEEN DOES.

I figured it had to be me being stupid so I searched the 7 page manual in 15 languages for "timed" cooking and other such topics.


I did find that if you pressed the "start" button by itself, the oven would cook for 30 seconds and you could cook popcorn by pressing one button.

In the past year I have found no way to cook food for anything other than 1-6 minutes or 30 seconds by using the handy number keys. This usually results in chilly food or a smoking pile.

I didn't think this was going to be a big deal until I cooked rice for 4. That's 2 cups of rice, two cups of water and 8 minutes in the microwave.

This used to be simple enough:

Press "8" followed by "0" followed by "0" and then press start.

No, now you need to be a computer programmer. Press "4", cook four minutes and when done press "4" again OR press 2 and 6, etc. Ohh and be there waiting for the first cycle to stop.


How about those tasty microwave breakfast sandwiches I buy once it while? The instructions read "microwave for 40 seconds". Not 30, not 60 but 40. It turns out they are right. 40 seconds is perfect.

I asked the boys what they do to get around the "40" second rule and they were clever. Youngest son presses express cook for "1" and grabs the handle when 20 seconds are done. For Oldest Son this is too much math and too much waiting. He does the "30" second option and eats the sandwich partially chilly.

I cheated. Having read the instruction manual, I used one of the three "memory" slots for "0:40". But now I have to remember to Press "Memory" 3 times, twirl in place and say "there's no place like home" three times and press start.

Tonight I found a new secret. The buttons for "common foods" allow for lengths of time greater than 6 minutes. I discovered that if I press "Frozen Vegetables" three times, that equals "8:00". The display reads "16.0" and an LED lights for "Oz" and another little tiny chef hat LED lights. I have no idea what this means but when I press start, 8 minutes comes up on the display.

Somewhere in China, someone is laughing at me.

3/30/09 UPDATE
This entry has taken on a life of it's own and remains the only entry that people actually comment on. The Comments fall into two categories:

1. If you press the power button, the numbers all work like you suspect they should.

2. What the hell is wrong with you, I love this microwave. It saved my life.

Thank You for the many comments on "1". And you "2" people: You all work for Emerson, don't you.


Anonymous said...

First off: You're right, this is the dumbest control interface for a microwave. I picked mine out the same way. It is *tear* my first microwave, and I purchased it roughly the same way - it was the least expensive one of its size on the shelf after ~30 seconds of looking.

I thought you'd like to know how to input an arbitrary cooking time:
Press the power button once and then hit the number keys the way you would on any other microwave followed by the start button. Hitting the power button once will display the current power setting, not change it... and for some reason also allow you to input the time you'd like it to cook. ta-da. Enjoy your arbitrary cook times with your exceptionally stupid microwave.

suburbanstories said...

Thank You. That worked!

Anonymous said...

Thank you!!! I just bought this microwave for the same reasons as the 2 of you and had the same problem! Plus, I followed the instructions for popcorn-only 1/3 pops! I will never buy anything made by Emerson again.

Anonymous said...

OMG! I thought I was the only nitwit that couldn't figure this godforsaken microwave out. So nice to know that there are others out there that were totally challenged by this microwave. And thank you for enlightening me on how to do timed cooking.... my life is now complete.

Anonymous said...

omg thank you. Man did I feel dumb.

Now my chicken pot pie is cooking properly

Anonymous said...

Wow...we have loved this microwave and had no problem working it. I grew up with a microwave that had a power button you had to press so you could enter the exact time you wanted. I really loved the features of the 1-6 minute and 30sec start buttons! I am glad you all figured it out though. :-P I'm just sad we have to sell our now that we moved to a place that has an over the stove microwave...

Anonymous said...

Lady, you're crazy. I bought this same microwave and I think it took me all of about 15 seconds to figure out that I had to press the button before entering in a time. Granted, I do have an engineering degree, but surely it must not be *that* hard.

Maybe it's not in the manual because it's so obvious?

Reading the comments here reminded me of Mike Judge's movie "Idiocracy." Ow! My balls! Looks like we're already on the way there...

suburbanstories said...


Scylla said...

Thank you. I just inherited said microwave: Friend bought it expecting to be laid up, but then she went into labor right away, instead. I had no idea how it worked. I managed to heat up coffee and leftovers with the 30-second and one-minute settings, but, of course, I was curious as to what else it did and plugged in the model number to Google to find a user manual. I'm sure there's still a user manual somewhere, but it's nice (and FUNNY) to know what I'm up against.

Anonymous said...

I just inherited this particular microwave as well, sans manual, and your comments gave me an idea. I tried this and it worked - if you hit the Power button multiple times, it changes the level of power (10, 9, 8, etc.). Then input your time, and start. Hopefully that should help the guy who was trying to cook rice!

Anonymous said...

I don't see what the big deal is..we just bought this same microwave and have had no problems at all..if you want to cook something for say 40 mins. push the power button once then punch in 40:00 or if you need to stir what you're cooking halfway thru then punch in 20:00 stir the food then punch in another 20:00..also the 30 second thing is funny coz all you have to do is push start and it heats up the food for exactly 30 seconds..we fixed popcorn first and it popped nearly every kernal and did not burn the popcorn..btw the cooking cycle ended just as the popcorn stopped popping!

3 Little Monkeys Jumpin' on the Bed said...

If you press the power button first, you can input any numbers you want, overriding the one-touch feature.

Anonymous said...

Thank you one and all for figuring out how to use this refugee from kitchen hell.

I have the use of it (without handbook) in my relatives' guesthouse and they are in all other respects the kindest, warmest & most intelligent people I know - how they came to possess it I will never know - all their other appliances are perfectly 'normal'

My only contribution to this valuable online knowledge base is to mention that before finding these notes online I discovered the Start button timer is incremental and you can get a 1 hour setting by pressing the thing 120 times.

Anonymous said...

You all sound quite lucky to me. Mine died after 2 months and I hadn't bothered to keep the receipt. I'll be researching my next one!

Ron said...

Wow! I just ordered this subject microwave. 900W @ $72.99 shipped / no tax. Hell, I can sell it on Craigslist if it proves beyond my wife's mental capacity. Ummmm....I doubt that'll happen though.

Ron said...

Update: This microwave is falling-down-easy to program and use. Never even opened the manual. I honestly can't imagine WHY anyone would have even a slight problem using it. As easy as tying one's shoes. Errr....maybe THAT"S difficult for some too.

suburbanstories said...

I wrote this in 2007 as just another entry in my rather obscure blog only to find that this entry somehow rose to the top of the search for "MW8998B" in google.

It still amazes me that people comment here and even more amazing to me are comments defending this microwave. I could never understand this as it seems illogical to me.

Take "Ron" above for example.

Seemingly, Ron went out and found this Microwave for a good price and then decided to tell the world that he did. I guess in the instant update, facebook, twitter world we live in, this some how makes sense.

However what doesn't make sense to me is the return visit.

"Ron" came back to tell us how stupid we are for not intrinsically knowing to press "power" before pressing a time.

Really? You came back to defend a 3 year old model of a microwave that you picked up for $73?

I think there is something else going on here. This just doesn't make any sense.

Anonymous said...

A really good microwave, 900 Watt,stylish and intuitive. Never even opened the manual. Removed from the carton, plugged it in, and good to go. Amazon's selling these new with shipping, no sales tax, @$72.99. Unbelevable! Worth tah on Craigslist used!