I picked up a Max Burton 6000 Induction Cooktop. I want a Cooktek Apogee, I think, but this was enough to play a bit and see how things work.
I’m happy with it for boiling water. At 1800W, it successfully boils small pots of water 2-3 times as fast as my gas cooktop, and brings the water back to boiling much sooner after something is added to the water.
It’s pretty much shit for control otherwise. The cooktop has 10 power settings; the way the “power” works on the thing is the coil is either on, or off, and the power settings adjust the time between on and off. Even on a low setting, this means that very good pots (all clad) will scald milk on the bottom, even with a whisk. Heating of large cast iron or large clad pots also results in pretty severe hot spots where the “induction is happening.” I’ve played a lot with different settings and different pots and the result is the same — there’s no way to get gradual heat out of this cooktop, it’s full blast and then nothing, and expects the pan to cover the difference, and that’s not really a difference they can manage.
Similarly, there’s no way to hit a setting between power level 2 and 3, so precise simmer control is impossible. You’ll either keep your soups and sauces too cool, or you will boil them. Oh well.
So, the cooktop is good when you really want to blast a shit-ton of heat into a pan. I’ll probably use it for searing the fuck out of steaks in cast iron pans. It’s also really great for boiling water quickly (the primary reason I got it; pasta stalls my boil pots too much on my gas burners).
There’s no way that the folks at Alinea could be working on something that behaves like this, so I assume the Apogee units must behave differently. I’m glad I have this device, as it serves an important need that I had (boiling stuff), but my gas burners offer way more control for every other task. More when I get around to getting a real induction burner…