Induction heating cooks rice more evenly and efficiently, using an electrical current to heat the entire cooking pan, not just the bottom of the rice cooker. This means that rice cooks evenly without any clumping of the finished product. Since the entire pan is heated, induction rice cookers are also a bit faster than their closest fully-featured competitors, micom rice cookers.
On the flipside, you'll pay a premium for consistency: induction rice cookers are the most expensive kind on the market. Unless you're a true rice lover, you may also find that induction rice cookers have far more settings than you'll ever truly need. They're also a bit bigger and bulkier than other units, so be sure you have the counter space to accommodate a larger appliance.
The Zojirushi NP-NVC10 Induction Rice Cooker and Warmer (Est. $400) cooks rice to perfection, experts and owners say. This rice cooker uses induction heating, pressure cooking, fuzzy logic and artificial intelligence to do all of the thinking for the cook. Artificial intelligence is a technology that "learns" from previous rice cooker usage to adjust the cooking cycle for the best results, including addressing seasonal water and room temperature differences to maintain rice texture and consistency. Many reviewers say they hesitated for years before finally "biting the bullet" and shelling out the cash for a Zojirushi induction rice cooker, and now wish they hadn't waited so long.
There are as many menu settings on the Zojirushi NP-NVC10 as anyone will ever need, including white (regular, soft or harder), umami, mixed, sushi/sweet, porridge, brown, germinated brown, steam-reduce, scorch, rinse-free and quick cooking. User rave about this rice cookers 24-hour programmable timer function -- you can fill the pot and tell the rice cooker when to turn the rice on so it is done when you are ready for your meal. The platinum-infused nonstick inner cooking pan changes the cooking water's quality to create sweeter-tasting rice. The 1-liter (5½ cup) unit is 8½ by 15½ by 10 inches. There is also a 1.8-liter (10 cup) version.
SacredRice.com calls the NP-NVC10 "the best the market has to offer," and owners sing the praises of the model as well. Many say it turns out rice that's "as good as it gets," and that the keep warm setting produces rice that's tasty and well-textured for hours after it's cooked. However, a few reviewers say they don't feel the NP-NVC10's performance justifies its hefty price tag.
If you have your eye on induction rice cookers but want to spend a little less, the Zojirushi NP-GBC05XT (Est. $235) offers the same technology with a smaller capacity and fewer features. You won't get the platinum-infused nonstick coating or extended keep-warm setting on this model, or other features such as modes for soft or hard white rice, jasmine rice, umami, sweet and semi-brown rice, steam reduce, and scorch. However, it still has plenty of cook settings, including for white rice, quick cooking, mixed rice, sushi rice, porridge, brown rice, germinated brown rice, and rinse-free rice. The NP-GBC05XT is about 7½ inches by 12 inches by 9 inches and has a 3-cup uncooked capacity, which makes it a good choice for smaller families. It comes in traditional stainless or dark brown stainless-steel finishes.
Owners are just as enthused about the NP-GBC05XT as they are the pricier NP-NVC10, saying it turns out rice with excellent taste and texture, and is a better choice for more basic rice dishes. A few complain that the detachable power cord is too bulky and stiff, while others want a backlit display, but overall most agree that it is worth every penny.