All my life, all you could get was one kind of electric rice cooker. It's the same one in every catalog I had growing up. A Sunbeam, white exterior, removable aluminum interior, glass top, one timer dial, and four feet. My aunt had one, my mom had one, and I have one. I never really thought a rice cooker needed anything else.
Well. Apparently, my eyes have been shaded from the world of rice cookers. I wouldn't have thought anyone but the rich and stupid would pay $299 for something I got for $30 at Wal-Mart ("It's professional chef quality! And matches my drapes!"). You put in rice, water, cook, wait 30 minutes, and "ding!" you have rice. But someone bet a pretty penny on making the simple rice cooker into something over-designed, because Super H Mart has like 20 different kinds, and they range from $50 to $299 with digital displays, buttons, dials, lights up, and I don't know what all.
I looked them up on Amazon.com, and found that these kinds of cookers are like automatic bread makers as far as why they have buttons and dials. "Along with micro computer technology," it boasts, "provides superior induction heating." Uh huh. Has settings and "interchangeable melody and beep signal indicates when the cooking cycle has ended." Great, my rice cooker has ring tones.
"I hear Beethoven's Für Elise! My tapioca is burning!"