The Swan Vintage SM22030 is a compact and straightforward microwave that stands out from the crowd thanks to an attractive retro design.
Features are quite basic but there's a good array of automatic programs with cute on-screen icons to select the type of food, so it lacks the cheap feel of a generic supermarket microwave.
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If the Swan was a car it would be a Nissan Figaro because of its dinky size, its retro styling and its attention to detail. Our review sample had a lovely mint green paint job but it's also available in black, cream, bright red, powder blue, orange or bright lime green.
But it's not all retro. For example, there's a bright digital display. This comes into its own when selecting one of the 12 built-in auto cooking modes. This brings up a dozen cute little icons. So it's retro in a thoroughly modern way, a Jetsons microwave if you will.
There are five other cooking modes: defrost, microwave low, microwave high, high and speed cooking. It also has a 60 minute digital timer and a clock.
The capacity is only 20 litres and it uses a 27cm glass turntable rather than a flatbed design, so you won't be able to fit large dishes in it.
The Swan's design brings a smile to your face and the controls are simple and cute. The knobs – for choosing cooking mode and weight or time – are straightforward, if rather cheap and clunky feeling. The icons on the display though bring a futuristic look: lord knows what a fifties housewife would have made of it.
We started testing by defrosting a pitta bread by weight. The minimum weight was 100g, which is a bit too high, so we stopped the microwave early and found that it had defrosted fine in less than a minute, but the underside was soggy despite having turned it over half-way through defrosting.
The start and pause/cancel buttons felt like they should have been swapped around. Having the start button on the bottom-right and the cancel button slightly to the left is much more common. So we kept hitting the wrong one, cancelling a program instead of starting it. Annoying but you'd soon get used to the layout.
We went on to cook a large (600g) jacket potato, using the relevant auto cook mode. This is where the 12 icons come up on the display and you have to squint a but to spot the difference between a steak and a pizza because the pictures are so tiny.
Jacket potato selected, it gave a choice of just two sizes: 450 or 650g, nothing in between. It said it would take just over 10 minutes to cook.
Unsurprisingly for an 800W microwave and a large potato, this wasn't long enough. We let it rest for a bit and then zapped it for a further 2 minutes at full power to finish the job. The results were a respectable microwave jacket potato: quick and edible but not a patch on the crispy jacket of spuds cooking in an oven or combi.
We also noticed that the door didn't stay fully open but swung back on itself a bit, which was annoying. That all said, the Swan did offer a pleasant alternative to the usual budget microwaves with their cheap looks and uninspiring features.
Maybe. If you want a small, budget microwave but you don't want something that screams "cheap" then this is a good alternative to a supermarket special. It looks cute and the controls are simple and pleasant to use. It's not terribly powerful, but what do you expect for the price?
If you're willing to spend a but more, consider the Sage the Quick Touch for its excellent foodie and not-so-foodie features.
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The retro-styled Swan Vintage SM22030 is a fun alternative to boring-looking budget microwaves.