In order to choose the best cheap rice cooker, you will need to consider factors such as how you plan to use the unit, the number of people you cook for, and the available safety features. The kind of rice you cook can be an important consideration, as well, since some inexpensive rice cookers are designed specifically for one type or another. You might be able to find a unit that costs a little more, but can be used to cook a number of different things, which may actually be better for your budget. It is also important to choose a cheap rice cooker that can make enough at one time to feed all the people you regularly prepare meals for, and to allow a little extra in case you ever have guests over.
Cheap rice cookers come in all different configurations, so the best unit can be different depending on your unique needs and budget. The first factor to consider when you start looking for an inexpensive rice cooker is how you plan to use it. If you only want to cook rice, then you can immediately rule out most of the more expensive fuzzy-logic units. It is still important to consider the kind of rice you prefer to cook, since some low-end, inexpensive rice cookers are geared specifically towards sushi rice, brown rice, or other varieties. If you would like the extra utility offered by a multi-purpose rice cooker, you might want to find a lower-end fuzzy-logic unit that is capable of preparing items other than rice.
Another important factor to consider when looking for an inexpensive rice cooker is how many people you regularly cook for. Different people like to eat varying amounts of rice, but a general rule of thumb is to allow one or more cups for each person you plan to regularly prepare rice for. If you buy a cheap rice cooker that has too small a capacity, you may find that it is a hassle to make enough for everyone. That means it can also be a good idea to buy a slightly larger rice cooker than you expect to need, in case you invite guests over for a meal.
Safety should also be taken into account when buying a cheap rice cooker, since some inexpensive units can lack certain safety features. Some inexpensive units lack power switches, and are turned on by simply plugging in the power cord. These units typically also lack any type of auto shut-off in case of overheating, so you should look for a cheap rice cooker that does have a power switch. Another safety feature that can come in handy is a fuse that is designed to break if the cooker gets too hot during use. Retractable and detachable cords can also make a rice cooker safer and easier to store.