If you want to know what the best 3 cup rice cooker is then this article is for you. The short answer is, the Zojirushi NP-GBC05. However I aim to provide all the information so that you can see just why this is the case. As you may well already know, Zojirushi is a Japanese company who are famed for producing top quality kitchen appliances. Their main business is in the manufacture of rice cookers but they also make other products including coffee machines, bread makers and special "bento" boxes.
So what does the Zojirushi NP-GBC05 have that other 3 cup rice cookers do not? In fact, before looking at this question let us first point out their similarities. First of all, the NP-GBC05 has Micom functionality. This is not unique to this device at all. There are numerous other Micom rice cookers in this size such as the Zojirushi NS-LAC05 and the Sanyo ECJ-S35S. This is a standard feature of the better models. Now to look at the differences. The NP-GBC05 from Zojirushi is the only 3 cup rice cooker to have Induction Heating. This is a big deal. This particular heating system typically adds over $100 to the price. For example, the Zojirushi NS-LAC05 costs about $130 while the top of the range model which is the subject of this review costs over $250. So we can see there is a big price differential. This heating system makes a noticeable difference to the quality of the final product that it can make. All round the rice is just nicer, the texture is slightly better and it tastes great too. You may not feel that this slight improvement is worth the additional cost though.
It is not just the addition of Induction Heating that makes this unit better. There are some cooking options that are unique to Induction Heating models. So the Zojirushi NP-GBC05 rice cooker is the only 3 cup machine that has a setting for GABA brown rice. To make this type of rice actually takes about 3 hours because of the 2 hour pre-cooking warming phase. But if you want the healthiest brown rice, then this is the way to cook it.