So I got the pressure cooker and I have to say I'm quite impressed.
The duromatic is made of solid plastic material, cleans off well, doesn't get super hot and has two steam vents, one of which has an indicator to tell whether the pot is under pressure. It fits 4 quarts (3.78 L), which produces 5-6 portions if filled to the max. It comes with a recipe book, but I haven't tried any yet.
The product description on the site does not make it clear, but most foods cook in significantly less than 30 min. So far I've cooked green beans, broccoli and brussel sprouts (3-4 min), cut up carrots (1 min), soaked kidney beans (16 min, 18 for mushy), cubed potatoes (3 min) and rice (8 min). So in conclusion, it is definitely faster than the iron duromatic. I don't know how that affects the energy usage by comparison to electric or gas stoves. I look forward to cooking pumpkin and chickpeas with it soon, as well as some of the one-pot-recipes. It supposedly also cooks pasta, but I'm skeptical.
If I had access to a proper kitchen, I would prefer my old classic steel duromatic for the following reasons: 1. it allows you to brown/sautee onions, garlic and spices in the same pot, adding flavour, same for meat; 2. larger volume for cooking down surplus veg, soups, stew etc for freezing (4 vs 8 qt). This of course depends which model you compare it to. 3. (presumably) better durability. As mentioned in my journal, my steel duromatic has been in my family for something like 40 years of regular use. I can't picture the plastic version holding up that well, no matter how high-quality it is.
However, the microwave version has its upsides too: 1. Food cooks faster (perhaps more efficiently?) 2. when you're living in college dorm/garage/RV/motel/workplace/container etc and don't have access to full kitchen 3. when you move a lot (and live out of a suitcase
), the pot is a lot lighter and a little smaller, the two handles fold in. It's also more conventient to bring to a potluck, since lighter 4. New price is significantly cheaper than a duro of similar size and same brand ($60 vs $160), and even secondhand prices will reflect that. 5. Enter the cook time and it will do it perfectly. No forgetting and overcooking things.
For my current situation the microwave duromatic works very well, and enables me to prepare foods I could otherwise not cook myself without a kitchen. If you want to get one, keep in mind that it requires a microwave with 900V and an inner cavity size of 11.5''W x 11.5'' L x 6.5'' H. A suitable alternative for similar situations might be a rice cooker (you can also cook more than rice in it), which does not require the microwave but it does not have the added bonus of pressure cooking.