You might not put much thought into which microwave you buy. Many of us just pick one with enough wattage to heat things like soup quickly and evenly. But when one comes along claiming it can cook faster and more effectively than your oven and also act as an air fryer, you have to sit up and listen.
Sage’s the Combi Wave 3-in-1 does all that and quite a bit more. With more power, settings and functions than you can possibly imagine, it’s so much more than just a microwave. If you’ve been dreaming of owning a mini oven or air fryer but don’t have the room, you’re staring the solution right in the face – if you’re willing to stump up the cash.
Sage the Combi Wave 3-in-1 review: What you need to know
At its heart, the Combi Wave is a premium combination inverter microwave with a range of preset functions for cooking, reheating, defrosting and more. It looks similar to its predecessor, the Quick Touch Crisp, and has many of the same presets for things like cooking bacon, melting chocolate and popping corn.
It does come with a few significant upgrades, though. These include a few different quick cook presets, a dedicated air frying mode and the fast combi mode, which alternates between convection cooking, microwaving and grilling to cook foods faster than most ovens.
The Combi Wave delivers 1,100W of microwave power, while the convection oven element is a beefy 1,550W. The internal capacity is 32 litres, which is larger than most family-sized microwaves, and it measures 519 x 513 x 316mm (WDH), meaning you’ll need a generous amount of worktop space to put it on.
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Sage the Combi Wave 3-in-1 review: Price and competition
This is by no means a cheap or even mid-price microwave. It’s a premium, multifaceted product with a price tag to match – £400.
If you’re looking to spend a little less, Panasonic’s NN-CD87KSBPQ combi microwave comes in slightly cheaper at £349. It offers similar smart functions for oven cooking and air frying (although it doesn’t explicitly call it this) and has a little more internal capacity – a generous 34 litres instead of 32 litres. It’s nowhere near as good looking as the Sage, though.
If looks are as important as price, the smaller Samsung MC28H5013AK combi microwave is a more affordable option that’ll still look great in the kitchen. At £199, it’s half the price of the Combi Wave, although you’ll be sacrificing capacity (28 litres) and power (900W). The functions on this microwave also differ but it still comes with an impressive array of smart quick cook features and a deodorisation setting, which works as a sort of manual fan mode, forcing old, smelly air out of the microwave. So it’s still worth considering if £400 is a bit of a stretch.
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Sage the Combi Wave 3-in-1 review: Design
At first glance, there’s a lot going on with this appliance but the main thing that hits you is the sheer size of it. It has a huge worktop footprint, and there’s a massive fan at the back. So if you have a small kitchen or minimal counter space, now might be a good time to stop reading.
If you can find enough space for it, though, it cuts quite a dash with its brushed chrome exterior. It does pick up fingerprints easily but it looks as modern as can be with its large blue-backlit LCD.
On the front you have a selection of quick-start presets for things like the fast combi function, air fryer and ‘food menu’, as well as two large dials for adjusting things like time, temperature and weight. Both the buttons and dials are made from a textured metallic material and operate beautifully, with a slick, premium feel.
This feeling of luxury continues on to the soft-close door, which isn’t something you know you need until you’ve used it. It’s noticeably nicer to open and close than my everyday, mid-price microwave which like most others, has a rather clunky open and shut mechanism.
Just inside the microwave door to the right, you’ll find even more buttons for functions such as melting butter and chocolate, as well as a keep-warm mode and favourites. The interior is big enough to fit even wide dinner plates thanks to that huge 32l capacity and the inside light is nice and bright, making it easy to keep tabs on how your food is cooking. All of this, plus the smooth, stainless steel interior means cleaning is relatively easy, too.
Not much has changed with the design of the crisping pan and oven trivet since the previous version. The pan is made from a non-stick material and has foldable legs to adjust the cooking height. The trivet is essentially a circular oven grill shelf and, despite being made of metal, is designed to be microwave safe.
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Sage the Combi Wave 3-in-1 review: Performance
Looks aside, there are a plethora of features to dig into here. In testing, we focussed on the most commonly used functions of every microwave, as well as the Combi Wave’s unique features.
The microwave element performed as well you’d hope a £400 appliance might. It’s relatively intuitive and easy to change things like cook-time and power level and I didn’t find myself reaching for the instructions every five minutes trying to figure out how to do the basics.
Cold leftovers from the fridge reheated fairly evenly, and I was able to quickly select the power level I wanted without fuss. In fact, this microwave has an on-screen guide, directing you to the best power percentage based on what you’re doing with it – 70% for reheating, 50% for melting, 40% for defrosting etc.
I tested reheating on both the recommended power setting, as well as 100% power and, while 70% heat distribution did give results that were a tad more even, neither setting left food with cold innards and a boiling hot exterior. The same goes for things like ready meals and packet rice, which heated in super fast time.
The fast combi function, which is designed to cook more quickly than most conventional ovens, also lived up to expectations. You can choose from a preset or simply adjust the cooking time and temperature manually. With this mode, you can cook for up to an hour and a half at a time, from 150 to 230 degrees Celsius.
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Preheating takes a mere three minutes and, in some cases, foods took less than half the advised cooking time to be fully done. Using the provided cooking pan, the Combi Wave reheated a croissant to crispy perfection in just one minute, while an entire pack of chicken tenders were done in just 13 minutes as opposed to the 20 minutes stated on the packaging for ovens. Most importantly, food came out as crisp as it would in the oven.
In fact, with the ability to cook anything a convection (fan) oven can, from biscuits and cakes to an entire roast chicken, the Combi Wave could very well replace your oven. The only limitation being its tabletop size. Sage has even put together a handy recipe e-book for anyone looking to make the most of all the features. Even if you don’t intend to follow any of the recipes, it still serves as inspiration for all the things this appliance can do.
The air frying function, on the other hand, is a bit of mixed bag. Due to the capacity of the cooking pan, you can’t cook as much as you would in a conventional air fryer; there’s enough room for two generous portions and that’s your lot. In testing, homemade chips and nuggets came out okay – not great but not terrible and certainly not as good as the top-end Tefal Genius 2-in-1 airfryer.
On the other hand, the Sage did cook faster and more evenly than cheaper air fryers we’ve previously tested, with a single pan of chips taking only 25 minutes.
The only real issue I discovered during testing was that some of the quick-cook presets have limited options for weight adjustment. For example, the preset for rice only allows you to set it for 250g or 500g and there’s no clear way to adjust this without doing some maths and going a manual route, which requires some trial and error. Similarly, the bacon preset can only be adjusted for two to four slices.
This isn’t a huge issue because the main fast combi, microwave and air fryer modes offer everything you could possibly need in the way of customisation. But as Sage has made the decision to include these smart food menu settings, it would be helpful if they offered a little more flexibility.
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Sage the Combi Wave 3-in-1 review: Verdict
A few niggles with rigid presets means the Sage Combi Wave isn’t perfect, but it’s not far off it. Not only does it work exceptionally well as a microwave, heating food through evenly and consistently, it’s a decent mini oven and air fryer, too.
It is on the expensive side but considering it combines three functions in one, £400 is actually a pretty reasonable price to ask. If you want some additional oven space, as well as a powerful 1,100W microwave, I can’t recommend this enough. It’s fast and impressively easy to use.