OSTER DELUXE MULTI-USE RICE COOKER
Up to 20-cup capacity, cool-touch housing, large steamer basket; $45 at Bed Bath & Beyond.
|This unit had the easiest bowl to clean, with wing-type handles that made it the easiest to remove while hot. Has a sleek look. Was a master at brown rice.||Did less well with other rices; the medium-grain rice was too soft, and basmati matted on the bottom. Its oatmeal was a little dry but would be the perfect consistency for adding milk and brown sugar.|
AROMA RICE COOKER (ARC-840)
10-cup capacity, cool-touch housing; $34-$40.
|This one is uncomplicated, with one switch, two indicator lights and removable parts that are easy to clean.||We got inconsistent results, with some rice sticking or matting slightly on the bottom. This unit emits a lot of steam, and for some reason it always got to the steaming stage before the other units.|
ZOJIRUSHI NEURO FUZZY RICE COOKER AND WARMER (NS-ZCC10)
5.5-cup capacity, programmable with the most settings/options, detachable lid, retractable cord and large handle; $185-$230 (online price range).
|Approaching this modern, streamlined unit, we were a twoheaded Wall-E to its inscrutable Eva. When it's on, you can barely tell: It emits just a few wisps of steam near the end of cooking. Looks nice enough to stay on the kitchen counter.||It's pricey, and it takes significantly longer to do the job than other models. Inexplicably, this unit made the mushiest, longest-cooking brown rice of all the rice cookers we tested, including the decades-old National model. Oatmeal, cooked on its porridge setting, had pools of unincorporated liquid.|
PANASONIC RICE-O-MAT (SR-W18FXP)
10-cup capacity, aluminum lid and aluminum housing with plastic handles; about $25 (older model available online).
|This is another unit with simple switch and indicator lights. It handled the oatmeal admirably; white rices yielded decent results.||Basmati and brown rices were slightly scorched on the bottom. It's not attractive enough to leave on the counter. Sides are hot to the touch, although some Panasonic models have a plastic housing. Bowl was a little hard to clean; its nonstick surface scratches easily. Venting system is lacking (only one small hole in the lid).|
MARUKYO ELECTRONIC RICE COOKER/WARMER
3-cup capacity, no steamer insert; $24 at Kam Sam Supermarket in Rockville.
|This was the least expensive rice cooker we tested. It is small and did a nice job with brown and basmati rices. It produced the best batch of long-grain rice and the best oatmeal. The bowl is easy to remove and easy to clean.||Its glass lid does not make a tight seal, resulting in some boil-overs (ruining the whole set-itand- forget-it idea). It also made mush during tests with medium- and longgrain white rices.|