Dear Apple: Have you thought about appliances?

I hate my microwave oven.

If you were to take a stab at guessing why I hate my microwave oven, you might come up with “missing features,” or “how it heats,” or “that worthless popcorn button.” But it’s none of those things. I hate my new microwave because of my old microwave, and how this one isn’t that one, but should be.

So let me explain.

I had the perfect microwave oven, made by GE. The buttons were sensible, the build was solid, the cooking was even. I have used microwaves (my mother has one) that I couldn’t quite figure out entirely, such as how to set the power level. My old microwave allowed me to change the power level at any time by simply pressing “Power Level” and then a digit, such as 8, for 80 percent, even while the microwave was running. I did this all the time. Press, say, 3 for three minutes, and it starts running. Then, Power Level > 8 for 80 percent.

When it died, I replaced it with the same model, a few years newer. Same model number, same size, same price. When Apple does this, you get a more advanced device at the same price. When GE does it, apparently, you get a lesser device.

Or, more to the point, I now have a lesser device.

Skimping here and there, the build is less solid. The sensible buttons were altered just enough to be less sensible. Now, I can only set the power level before I start cooking and after I have selected the cook time. This means that if I wish to heat something for 2 minutes at 80%, I can’t press the (nice) express cook “3″ button (three minutes with one press) and then press Power Level > 8. No. I have to press: Cook Time > 3 > 0 > 0 >Power Level > 8 > Start.

Boo hoo, you say, poor Paul has to press seven buttons instead of three. In response to your lack of sympathy, three points.

First, why take features away? Why downgrade the product?  This is a later version of an existing product. Technology advances. Why give the customer less? How much money could that change actually have saved? That, coupled with the cheaper overall build, which I feel and hear every time I open and close the door, just reminds me every time I use it how I got a bad deal from GE on this.

Second, why make it harder to do something, rather than easier? The express buttons make the product easier to use; the power level quirk makes it harder to use, because one can’t use them together.

Third, it’s not seven versus three, it’s 700 versus 300, or 7000 versus 3000. I use 80% power almost all the time. I find that food heats more evenly on 80% power.

The moral of the story: I doubt my next microwave oven will be made by Apple, but you can bet it’s not going to be made by GE, either.

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