Whats the best use for these besides boiling water? This seems like a very cheap way to try this out.
In my context--and I suspect this is fairly common--it's been a life saver. Even with a heat diffuser, my gas stovetop (lowest setting, smallest jet) couldn't maintain a simmer. A slow-cooked dish such as a ragu had to go into the oven, for instance. Something like the pork abodo from Modernist Cuisine at Home
would wind up with half of the sauce caked and blackened at the bottom of the pressure cooker. The portable induction top has solved these problems. Other uses? Well, you know that Tetsuya recipe (the basic idea also appears in Heston Blumenthal at Home
) where he poaches a fillet of salmon or ocean trout in ~50C olive oil? I suspect that'd be a lot easier to do with an induction cooktop than your average domestic gas stove (altho' I suspect you'd also be able to do it with a shitty old electric stovetop--they have their uses, right?).
With my NewWave cooktop I've found the temperature settings are only relevant if I'm 'cooking' water. If I set it to 80C I find that the water hovers somewhere between 80 and 85C. 100C will bring it to the boil. I suspect that's what the temperature settings are 'designed' for, for want of a more accurate word. The moment you use another cooking liquid (i.e. oil) or start adding things to the liquid, the temperature settings cease to have any relevance to reality and you're best off just using the wattage adjustment.
Maybe it's just because my cooktop is new but I've found it's significantly easier to clean than my gas stovetop if and when things spill on it.