Last year about this time, my rice cooker died a sudden death. One day it was working, the next day, not. I've heard Alton Brown on the Food Network repeat his mantra over and over that a "single purpose appliance is not a good investment." Well, I beg to differ. You have to understand where I'm coming from, literally. I grew up in Japan and rice is my manna. If I don't have at least one serving a day, my inner peace gets out of whack. So this "single purpose appliance" is an absolute necessity for me. Yes, I know you can do it the old school way and cook it in a pot on top of the stove, but it is a hit or miss proposition because you have to hover over the stove so you don't burn it. A rice cooker is like a coffee maker. . .you put in the water and coffee (or rice), and voila! It is done to perfection! Besides, I never heard Alton ever suggesting that a coffee maker is a "single purpose appliance" and therefore one should not own one! What gives, Alton?? But I digress. . .