Sage Combi Wave 3-in-1 summary
Sage Appliances have a solid reputation on the tech front, so their take on a microwave was never going to be a bland offering. True to form, the gadgety Combi Wave combines excellent, reliable and easy-to-navigate microwave functionality, with a convection oven and air fryer, plus lots of handy cooking presets. While the cost is undeniably high compared to basic microwaves, for a combination model it’s actually good value, given the space-saving credentials of having an extra oven. The quality of the design is exceptional – great efforts have been made to elevate this from a practical microwave to an innovative cooking tool.
Available direct from Sage Appliances (£399.95)
- Read our review of the best microwaves
First impressions of the Sage Combi Wave
The Sage Combi Wave comes neatly packaged in mostly recyclable materials. It’s tightly packed to avoid any damage, with minimal use of polystyrene – it feels like the brand has taken extra care to reduce unnecessary packaging. The branded box looks stylish and the outer cardboard box perfectly houses the brand box, showing that care was taken to custom create a packaging solution. All packaging is of a high quality, with thick card, stylish designs and very little plastic.
Upon unboxing the Combi Wave, the overwhelming initial impression is that it is a premium appliance of a high spec. It was actually a little tricky to wriggle out as it was so tightly packaged, but once lifted from its nest, the overall aesthetic impact was that of a high tech, minimal and modern appliance, a far cry from white plasticky looking microwaves. Its brushed steel exterior, digital display and tactile buttons and knobs are universally appealing and instantly impressive. It’s given more impact by its sheer heft – this is a large appliance, albeit one packed with functionality.
We felt that the plastic touch buttons with colourful food icons that run down the side of the inner door weren’t necessarily in keeping with the rest of the aesthetic. However, they win on the convenience front as they are very easy to understand and use.
How easy is the Sage Combi Wave to set up?
The Combi Wave requires very minimal set-up, just a space in your kitchen next to a socket and about five minutes to de-robe it from its packaging and plug it in. The manual is detailed and easy to navigate, with lots of cooking instructions for the various functions, although a basic chip recipe for the air fryer was a notable omission (saying that, Sage has some very fancy recipe cards to make up for it).
The dimensions of the Combi Wave are 51.9 x 51.3 x 31.6 cm, making it feel like a very compact appliance given the number of cooking options available to you, however it will need ample work surface area to comfortably house it.
Usability and functionality
You can get started on the Combi Wave microwave functions without having to refer to the manual – it’s very intuitive thanks to the clearly labelled buttons and knobs, large digital displays and stripped back functionality. You turn the dial to set the function (e.g reheat, defrost) and turn the timer to set the number of minutes. This allows you to scroll back and forth, rather than having to continually push a button. When you’re set, you just hit a large ‘start’ button. This intuitive functionality – despite this being a complex and sophisticated machine – was one of our favourite things about the Combi Wave.
That said, you really get the most out of this machine if you refer to the manual and various online resources, including the recipes, videos and user guides that are available on the Sage website. With enough time, ingredients and guidance, you will be able to branch out and create a huge variety of dishes that are very far away from any preconceived notions of ‘microwave dinners’.
We did need to use the manual in order to get our head around the air fryer and convection oven functions. The air fryer option requires the use of the metal trivet pan included, which has legs that fold out to elevate it while your food cooks. We found the tray to be quite small, with enough space for chips to serve two adults and two children at a push, depending on how hungry your family are.
The oven space itself is fairly diminutive, and lots of our larger roasting tins and trays didn’t fit. We found that a 20 x 20cm square roasting pan or oven dish was a good size for the convection oven. The fact you need to use a small metal trivet with the convection oven limits its capacity further. Its official capacity is 32 litres – this is adequate for general microwave cooking but the oven space is much smaller than your standard kitchen oven.
The microwave settings are comprehensive and include defrost, reheat, cook from frozen standard settings, along with preset options for specific dishes like popcorn, butter softening, chocolate melting, plus there are keep warm functions and safety features like a child lock.
It’s also a powerful machine, with 1100W for microwave, 1500W for convection. This is an impressive wattage for a machine that is compact and discreet when in operation. The ‘smart’ microwave itself directs cooking power to where it’s most needed by using a ‘power smoothing invertor’ to control waves and create the most even cook, according to Sage.
One huge boon of the Combi Wave is how quiet it is. Lots of care has been taken to make this as discreet as possible when in use. The whirr of the motor itself is barely audible and there are volume options for notifications. The ‘ping’ sound effect to notify you that cooking is complete sounds more like a modern subway train reaching a station than the traditional mechanical chime or bell of a microwave.
Even the ‘soft close door’ is designed to be 80 per cent quieter. As part of this design, you need to give it a good shove to close it fully, but it does close very tight.
From a practical point of view, the digital display is easy to read and the parts of the microwave are easy to remove or wipe clean. The accessories – such as the air fryer pan – clean up very well. From an aesthetic perspective, the matte metal shell, shiny modern buttons, minimalist look and timeless design would suit most kitchens.
Moisture retention is one area where microwave cooking can seriously fail. Conversely, this is one very impressive feature of the Sage – food does not lose its moisture in the same way as it does with a traditional, overbearing microwave. Considering its power, you would expect a machine of this wattage to really nuke food, but in actual fact it cooks very sensitively.
One of our ultimate tests of a good microwave is how well it cooks a baked potato. We were surprised to see how much moisture had been pulled out of the potato during cooking, with condensation filling the inside of the microwave. The potato skin looked shrivelled too – we didn’t have high hopes. However the inside was very soft with a lovely creamy flesh. The skin itself tasted almost baked. A very good finish, and somewhere close to the unparalleled quality of a potato baked in the oven the traditional way.
We found the reheat and defrost functions to be slow but effective. We defrosted chicken pieces using an incremental method of pushing the button for 1.5-minute bursts, although you can set a timer. The chicken thawed evenly, with no cooked spots, however you do need to keep a close eye on the process.
Reheating consistently impressed, whether we were warming up a bowl of soup, wedge of lasagne or bowl of porridge. An oven-cooked dish of macaroni reheated to perfection in around two minutes, with no moisture, flavour or texture lost in the process. The reheating options were some of the most flexible, offering different power percentages according to what food you were cooking. On the other hand, some of the preset options were a little rigid and limited to certain weights with no ability to adjust.
The air fryer function is good but requires some practice and the right recipes to achieve the best results. It’s important to turn the food and remove as much moisture as possible before adding it to the pan. A lot of the success lies in getting consistently prepared food, for example chips that are very uniform in size, and not overcrowding the dish, which is difficult given its small capacity. We cooked both frozen and hand-cut fries – both turned out well, with golden, crispy exteriors. Like all other Combi Wave functions, the air fryer works speedily, so as with the defrost function, a few minutes over optimum time will cause the food to overcook, resulting in hollow, dry frozen fries.
The convection oven is easy to operate, much as you would a standard oven with a digital display. We hit the ‘oven’ button to switch to convection mode, then set the temperature and timer. Before hitting ‘start’, we removed the glass microwave plate and added the trivet rack (alternatively, the air fryer pan doubles up as a roasting tin).
What the Combi Wave lacks in oven space it makes up for with speed – it heated up to 180C within 5 minutes, quicker than a standard domestic oven. We cooked a lemon drizzle cake in a silicone loaf tin, but found it took 5-10 minutes longer than the stated cooking time to bake through. However, the finished cake was excellent – with a crunchy, golden exterior, fluffy light texture and caramelised flavour, minus any burnt corners that caught in the heat.
The Sage Combi Wave is an impressive appliance that packs a lot of cooking power into a relatively small footprint. It would be an ideal choice for families who need extra oven space and cooking capacity, or similarly people with small kitchens who want a microwave that will work harder than your average.
We really rate the ambition of the design – Sage is a true premium brand but in this appliance, they have created something that really revolutionises a multi-cooker approach. There is very little to fault.
Sage Combi Wave specifications
Model number: SMO870BSS4GEU1
Construction Materials: brushed stainless steel
Dimensions (WxDxH): 51.9 x 51.3 x 31.6 cm
Settings: Smart Cook, Smart Defrost, Smart Reheat, Fast Combi, Cook From Frozen, Air Fry, Oven, Microwave, Grill, A Bit More™, Child Lock,+30 Instant Start, Turntable Off, Shortcuts
Warranty: 2 years warranty
Accessories: Combi Crisp™ Pan Trivet
Wattage: 1100W microwave, 1500W convection
Defrost function: yes
Preset options: yes
Dial or button timer: both
Microwave recipes and tips
This review was last updated in February 2021. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@.