American consumers are understandably freaked out by induction cooktops. Because they use magnets to directly heat pans, the cooktops themselves don't get hot.
Without the dancing flame of a gas burner or the comforting glow of an electric coil, induction seems cool and distant—like the love interest in a Raymond Chandler novel.
That's why Samsung's latest Chef Collection induction range uses LED lighting embedded in the cooktop's surface to mimic the visual feedback that gas offers. When the pan heats up, the lights glow brighter. When the pan cools down, they dim.
"When we analyzed induction cooking, we found that consumers are more comfortable with clear visual cues that show they are controlling the heat level," said Kevin Dexter, Samsung's Senior Vice President of Home Appliances for the U.S. market.
It's somewhat ironic that consumers demand visual feedback, as it's merely a byproduct of indirect cooking's inefficiency. Still, generations of home chefs have learned to cook with their eyes.
Virtual Flame debuts on the NE58H9970WS, part of Samsung's Chef Collection. It includes many of the features we've lauded on previous Samsung ranges—including the Flex Duo divided cavity, and the Guiding Light control panel. It's already on sale, with an MSRP of $3,699.