My expectations in a cooking surface are pretty basic: easy to use and easy to clean. The GE JGP945SEK meets both of those expectations with a well-engineered and simple design which has a few tricks up its sleeves.
Recommend this product?
Near the top of GE's line of 30" gas cooktops, the JGP945 is a four-burner cooktop without any integrated vent system. The body of the cooking surface is a single sheet of cold-rolled stainless steel. The burners are recessed into the surface with interlocking metal grates. The controls are on the right side, which I prefer to the more central control grouping.
A common peeve with gas cooktops is difficulties getting the burners lit. Here, I haven't had any problems at all - the sealed burners are protected against blockage and the electric lighting system is simple but strikingly effective. It's worth mentioning that every burner's lighter fires when any burner is in "lighting" mode, and it's possible to get a shock if you're not aware of this fact.
Another peeve with gas cooktops is the challenge of getting both the extremely high-output and the delicate simmer in the same unit. GE doesn't have a magic solution to this problem, but has made a simple workaround: there are three burner sizes. The smallest (simmer) burner is only about 70% of the standard burners (two). The largest (powerboil) burner is in the front, and is designed for extra large pots as well. I've also used this burner with a wok, and it's fantastic for a non-commercial application. Don't ever use a "ring" style rock, however, as this can cause too much heat to build up.
The last major topic is cleaning, which is an area the JGP945SEK really shines. Stainless and glass have a natural advantage here - they're just easier to clean. Grease comes fairly easily off the stainless steel, a number of effective cleaners can remove most stains, and if all else fails, steel can tolerate a pretty tough scrubbing. Knobs are easily removable for cleaning (even in the dishwasher, if you insist). Finally, the cast iron grates can be abused as need be - they're tough as they come. Even your messiest meal just needs a few minutes to restore a gleaming finish.
Yes, it's clear this is a simple appliance, but in this case, simple isn't a negative thing: it does what it needs to, and does it well.
Amount Paid (US$): 600