My rice cooker broke down recently, and I was forced to replace it. According to my Korean friends, rice is to a Korean what bread is to an American. The new one is reportedly a durable brand and will last longer than 2 years. It also cooks the rice under pressure, kind of a computerized pressure cooker! I couldn't believe when people told me that this kind of rice cooking resulted in better tasting rice, but having experienced it, I must agree. If I could understand Korean, I could also use this as a general purpose pressure cooker. For example, in the cooking manual that came with it, there are plenty of example photos of food like potatoes or fish being cooked in this cooker. As it is, I can barely read the main buttons I need to simply cook rice. This has a vast array of options and buttons, an LCD display, and it even talks to you at various stages of the cooking process (of course, in Korean).
I was so intimidated by the complexity of this machine it sat on the counter for almost a week before I had the courage to try it out. Adding to my fear was a discussion I had with my friend CH about an older brand of pressure rice cookers that had a defect which caused them to explode (not my brand). This was further driven home by a news story just 2 days after I bought my new cooker featuring a housewife who was severely injured by one of these exploding cookers. They showed her laid up in the hospital bed, with bandages all over her head, arms, and a broken leg!
I threw caution to the wind and started using my cooker, after getting the clear instructions from my friends. I have not yet experienced any explosions, although I remember one incident the first few times I was using it. As the rice was cooking, I was sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper. When the machine started to hiss and spit steam, and the regulator was rattling, I decided to walk around the table and read my paper at the sofa, a safe distance away.
One final comment. We all know about the consumers who can't even set the time on the VCR. Well, this rice machine has a clock on it. When I unpacked it from the carton, I noticed that the clock was running and it had the correct time displayed! Mind you, this thing was not even plugged it yet! I was impressed.