1) Sur la Table Microwave Popper
UPSIDE Made from heavyduty laboratory glass instead of plastic; can be used with or without oil; well lets butter melt onto popcorn while popping; dishwasher-safe.
DOWNSIDE Doesn’t work as well when filled to capacity (10 cups) as it does with smaller batches (about 6 cups); glass can crack or break if dropped.
2) Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper
UPSIDE Inexpensive; easy to use; compact; can be used with or without oil; sturdy plastic bowl can be used to reheat other foods.
DOWNSIDE Lid can be difficult to remove; opaque bowl prevents user from monitoring popping progress; bowl gets very hot during use and can scorch the popcorn a bit; not dishwasher-safe.
3) Cuisinart EasyPop Popcorn Maker
UPSIDE Multiple 10-cup batches can be made back to back without cooling time; working parts are removable and dishwasher-safe; handles stay cool.
DOWNSIDE Expensive; bulky; short cord; no well to melt butter; can scorch the popcorn a bit; tall (rather than wide) serving bowl is awkward to share.
4) Presto PopLite Gourmet Hot Air Popper
UPSIDE Large capacity (18 cups); speedy popping; does not require oil; includes optional buttermelting tray; multiple batches can be made back to back without cooling time; oil-free popping results in easy cleanup.
DOWNSIDE No on/off switch; hot unpopped kernels can fly out of the chute; not dishwasher-safe.
5) West Bend Kettle Krazy Popcorn Popper and Nut Roaster
UPSIDE Large capacity (24 cups); well lets butter melt onto popcorn while popping; can be used to glaze and flavor popcorn and nuts; popping popcorn visible -- and fun to watch.
DOWNSIDE Expensive; requires oven mitts to invert; bulky; not dishwasher-safe, and grease is difficult to remove by hand.
*Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in October 2010.