The first thing I thought of when I saw this new microwave was when the iMac G3 came out in 1998. It turned the idea of what a computer could be and should look like on its head. The new Spoutnik microwave is much the same. It's round with a see-through dome, colorful, and has new features that make old microwaves look like dinosaurs.
While the blinding colors will perk up any kitchen, the circular dome shape also adds a new modern look. Going beyond the looks however, that circular dome shape changes the way the user interacts with the microwave
The circular shape takes up less space on the counter, but still accommodates an 11-inch turntable allowing plenty of room for most items. It has a one-touch lever that opens the dome to a 65-degree angle so you can perfectly position the dish. Once closed, the dome stands 12.9 inches tall, so go ahead and put that taller glass in.
The other benefit of that pop open dome is it also allows you easier access to clean the microwave in case you heated that bowl of soup without a cover; it avoids all those nooks and crannies that get ignored in the square microwave.
As an avid lazy cook, that does sound appealing.
The Spoutnik does have other interesting features besides its shape. It has an illuminated ring that is red while cooking and turns blue when the dish is done. Whether this is keyed to the temperature of the dish, which would allow you to stop the cooking and start eating before the timer goes off is unclear, but that would be an interesting way to prevent overcooking.
The LCD control panel is minimal with basic cooking functions like defrost, low, high and reheat available at one touch. Like any other microwave you can also preset a time or use a quick start button.
The Spoutnik has a 700kw power output and 230V-50Hz consumption. There are also three vibrant colors — Blue Odyssey, Ultraviolet and Green Flash.
It seems that many companies are learning the lesson that creative and functional design changes are just as important as the core job an item has to perform.
Sadly, if you're already sold on the new generation microwave you may have to wait — it has just debuted for sale in the U.K. retailing for £179 (US趿). If it takes off cooks everywhere could soon stop being square and get modern with their microwaves.