A top-end entrant from Sharp, the 900W Sharp AX1100 oven incorporates a 1050W grill function and is possibly unique in having an on-board steam generator and water tank for “Steamwave” cooking.
Capable of producing steam in the temperature range 70 – 100o C, the Sharp AX1100 distributes this evenly throughout the cavity via the built-in nozzles. With a capacity of 27 litres (0.95 cubic foot) and two stainless steel steam trays entire menus can be prepared in one go. The water left behind takes some mopping up, mind – a “dry cycle” would have been a useful enhancement.
It’s easy to be swept away by the uniqueness of the steam functions, but the AX100 is a serious microwave oven in its own right. It’s a real looker in its black/stainless steel trim, is well-designed and put together and packs all of the functionality you could want. It has five power settings and 18 automatic programs including four nannyish-sounding Balanced Meal menus, four programmed defrost and four automatic grill menus. It also has a push-button door release and a sophisticated LCD alphanumeric display, which tells you lots of interesting stuff, but is a bit on the dark side and difficult to read in low light conditions.
Despite the absence of a turntable, heating is uniform and penetrating and commendably swift and quiet. All of the menus/functions have codes rather than plain English descriptions; you’ll find yourself constantly referring to the manual until you learn what they are. And one last irritation, the power lead is not really long enough; an extension cord may be an enforced additional purchase.
A classy high-spec performer with one unique selling point this should be on your radar if you’re in the market for a top-end machine.