This product review is for the induction cooker commonly sold in North America as the Tatung TICT-1500W or TICT-1500TW.
Tatung is an old, billion-dollar Taiwanese firm (established 1918). It is a major brand for home appliances and consumer electronics, such as television sets, rice cookers, and induction cookers. Like many big brands, it does not necessarily own and operate the factories that make the products branded with the Tatung label.
The Tatung Induction Cooker with Stainless Steel Pot – 1500 Watts(BLACK) is one such example. The actual producer of the unit is Guangdong MD Consumer Electric Manufacturing Company, Ltd. in China. The cooker is also sold under the “Midea” name in Southeast Asia.
The TICT-1500W was my first induction cooker. I remember fondly… NOT.
Well, it does come with a free pot, I suppose. The bundled 3-quart pot is roughly 11 inches in diameter at the top (more like 7 inches at the bottom, and roughly 3 inches tall without the lid), with a thin aluminum disc base stuck onto the bottom. The rest of the pot is thin magnetic stainless steel, with two plasticky handles screwed into the sides.
The unit will turn itself off after 10 seconds if it doesn’t detect compatible cookware on top of the unit, or if too much current is drawn (overvoltage from things like power surges, bad wiring, etc). This is industry standard, though, so it’s not exactly something to be especially proud of.
The unit also has auto-shutoff after two hours, unless you set the timer for 10, 20, 30, 60, or 90 minutes manually.
First, you get only six power levels to use, but it’s actually even worse than it sounds. Most cheap induction cookers interpolate in order to achieve more power levels. Example: if you use this model at power level 1 (out of 6), it pulses for a few seconds at high power, then stops for a few seconds, and then pulses some more. If you averaged it out over the course of a minute, you would get some contant wattage, but averages aren’t always relevant. The average temperature of a warm bath (40 C) and ice water (0 C) might be comfortable room temperature (20 degrees C), but few of us would enjoy experiencing alternating ice water/warm bathwater temperatures that flip-flopped every four seconds. Similarly, those pulses can wind up burning whatever unlucky food is in contact with the bottom of the pot while the induction cooker is going full blast. Even if the pulse stops, the damage is done–you can’t undo burned food simply by cooling it down a little.
In particular, this pulsing makes the TICT-1500 less than ideal for simmering or making anything delicate, so you can forget about melting chocolate, making candy, or making delicate sauces.
Second, as if that weren’t enough, the unit emits a high-frequency shriek that is even more obnoxious than the 9100MC‘s tinny shriek. Said my then-girlfriend, now-wife when I first bought the TICT-1500: “I don’t want to be in the same room as that thing when it’s on.” My sense of hearing is admittedly very good, but that shriek drowned out even the fan, which itself is quite loud.
Third, the coil is not very big, which makes this cooker unsuitable for larger-diameter cookware. Per the instruction manual, you want to use cookware with bottoms ranging from 12 cm to 26 cm (roughly 5 to 10 inches), but the actual results depend on the quality of the cookware as well. Most cookware larger than six inches in diameter will not react well to undersized burners like this unit has.
This is typical of cheap, portable induction cookers, though. What do you expect? Copper wire is expensive! If you boil water on the cooktop, you can see a roughly 3-inch diameter ring of maximum heat. This is consistent with the roughly 6-inch diameter copper coil underneath that has a small hub in the middle. Contrary to popular belief, induction coils do not project energy straight up into the pan. In reality, there is a peak that is roughly in the center of the coil thickness. Roughly speaking, a 6-inch diameter coil produces a 3-inch diameter hotspot on your pan.
Lastly, the timer can not adjust up or down in small units of time. It can only time for 10, 20, 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes. Seriously. You can’t choose anything other than those numbers.
Rust. The NON-stainless steel screws that attach the handles of the included pot rusted after just a few months. It’s not like the pot was submerged or anything, but if water collects in those screw holes, it’s all over for the pot, because rust is so hard to stop once it starts corroding steel. You can either replace the screws, or better yet, toss the pot. Because if you don’t, then one day those rusty screws may give way, and dump 3 quarts of hot water into someone’s lap.
Even if the pot were not prone to rusted handle screws, it’s made out of very thin, cheap stainless steel of unknown quality (probably low). The disc base is hidden from view by a layer of magnetic stainless on the bottom, but it must be thin, given how lightweight the pot is.
At least you can keep using the tempered glass lid.
Don’t buy this or any other really cheap induction cooker. You don’t save much money, yet sacrifice a lot of control and features. With this particular unit, you get only six interpolated power settings and six coarse timer increments. That’s very limiting for anything that requires finesse. You can’t even boil water and walk away very easily unless you literally need it to boil for precisely 10, 20, 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes. Apparently the manufacturer didn’t want to pay the extra dollar it’d take to have a better micro-controller that would allow finer-grained control of power levels and timer increments.
Tatung’s redesigned unit, the TICT-1502MU, is a little better but is still typical of cheap portable induction cookers, with a minimum power level of 850 watts, which in reality means way more and way less than 850 watts, in big pulses of energy. That’s not ideal for simmering, obviously, and you can forget about melting chocolate directly on a pan.
These cheapo induction cookers were not built to last, either; they were built to hit target price points using as few, cheap components as possible. The manufacturers cut corners on things like the number of power settings, fan quality/durability/noise, coil size, and even number of prongs on the plug (3-prong means grounded and is a standard safety feature for high-voltage appliances; while strictly speaking it might not be necessary for plastic-framed units, lack of the third prong is not an encouraging sign). Is it worth saving a few dollars and owning a potential fire hazard? Consider that this unit is rated to 1500 watts, which is more than many space heaters.
My experiences with the TICT-1500 cooker were so bad that it turned me off of portable induction cookers in general for a couple of years, until I finally caved and bought an All-Clad induction cooker… which was hardly any better.