on January 12, 2012
A number of reviewers who bought this unit from Williams Sonoma ended up returning it and they published complaints at various places on the web because they couldn't get the "menu" button to switch to the temperature setting. Thankfully I didn't read those reviews until after I purchased the unit. Well, I had the same problem at first - couldn't get it to switch to the temperature function - and was about to return the thing, feeling stupid for not reading the reviews before I went to all this trouble, until the thought struck me that there just had to be a simple way to use this device. It is German made, after all, so it should be at least as user friendly as a BMW or a Mercedes. Yes, there is a simple way. The thing is, the manual doesn't explain that when you press these "touch" buttons on the unit, you don't "tap" them, as we laptop users do when using our mouse pad, for instance. No. Instead, I discovered by experimenting around with it that you put your finger down on the button - it's a little painted thing on the glass - you press at the designated spot with your finger, HOLD YOUR FINGER ON THE GLASS and watch as it scrolls through the various settings automatically. Those Germans! You can also tap the buttons to make incremental changes but (1) you won't get the temperature setting by tapping; and (2) the thing beeps every time you tap, so it's a lot quieter to scroll. I guess in Germany they press and hold, rather than tap. It's probably some sort of Freudian thing. It should be in the manual, though, for us dummies over here. For some of us, me for instance, it seems a little unnatural at first or counter-intuitive to hold your finger for any length of time on a cooking surface. Naturally you "tap" because you don't want to burn your finger - but that's the beauty of induction cooking. The cook top doesn't get hot on an induction cooker. All the energy is transferred to the food, so you can hold your finger there fearlessly. Don't worry. The only heat on the cook top is residual heat transferred to the glass from the cooking vessel. The buttons never get hot.
Anyway, it's a very good and efficient cooktop. It has a small footprint, isn't ugly, boils water super fast and has a simple timer that indicates minutes and hours (not seconds). If you use the timer, the unit shuts itself off automatically as soon as the timer reaches zero.
It has a "slow cook" button which I found to be quite convenient for simmering soups and sauces. The slow cook function sets the burner automatically to 180 degrees. If that isn't hot enough for you, just switch to the temperature function and kick it up a notch.
The cooker also has a "keep warm" button, which does just that.
The unit has good safety features. (Caution, if you read the manual you might be afraid to use it, there are so many death and maiming warnings.) But I find it to be a really gentle device. It shuts down automatically and sounds an alarm if things get too hot, for instance. They do warn you not to open it up with a screwdriver and finger the internal electrical wires while the unit is plugged in. (Do people actually do that?)
The fan is a little loud but it's effective in keeping the unit cool. If you are especially sensitive to decibels, I don't know, you might find the fan a little loud. I like my devices quiet, but I'm not too put off by the sound.
The main drawback is the manual, which plainly doesn't tell you everything you need to know to operate it seamlessly. At least the English portion doesn't tell you. They probably explain it in the French and Italian sections. Since you evidently read English, just print out the first paragraph of this review and slip it into the manual and you should be good to go.
If you're unaccustomed to induction cooking you should consider that not all of your cookware will work on these induction cookers. If a magnet sticks to the bottom of your pot, you're okay. Cast iron pots and pans will cook fabulously on it. Stainless steel is also great. Your copper bottomed pots and pans will not work. The unit will not even turn on if it senses an inappropriate induction material. Save your copper pans for the gas cooktop. Bon appetit! (How do you say that in German?)