You’ve gotta love versatility. Panasonic has managed to squeeze nearly all the ways of cooking into one box. Okay, the Panasonic NN-DS596B Combination Microwave doesn’t have a barbeque or frying pan built in, but it will do all the microwaving stuff that you’d expect, plus bake or roast or grill and steam food.

There’s an upper compartment into which steam can be directly injected, providing all the benefits one associates with steamed veggies and all the rest. A grill tray works to cook both top and bottom at the same time, plus it can be set to bake or roast.

Panasonic NN-DS596B Combination Microwave

And it does all this in a surprisingly compact form factor. The unit is a 27 litres in capacity. Panasonic says that it is “ideal for apartment living or where kitchen space is limited.” Further saving space, the door opens downwards towards the front rather than swinging to one side or the other.

The unit also features “Flatbed technology”, which is apparently a good thing rather than the rotating carousels in the microwave ovens with which I’m familiar. Panasonic says that this frees “up greater oven capacity for larger dishes … making the oven simpler to clean.”

Panasonic NN-DS596B Combination Microwave

That certainly makes sense. I’d like to see how they ensure equal exposure to microwaves though.

Anyway, one thing that is equally delivered is power over time. Instead of attempting to achieve a “medium” level by switching between full power and off, Panasonic’s “Inverter Microwave” technology just runs continuously at 50%, and likewise for other levels of less than full power. Panasonic says that, consequently, it “delivers graduated power continuously so food is evenly cooked, preserving texture and flavour, without spill-overs, burnt edges and hot spots.”

Panasonic says that the Panasonic NN-DS596B Combination Microwave will be available from November this year at a recommended retail price of $859.