Whirlpool unveiled its $1,699 Smart Front Load Washer with 6th Sense Live technology earlier this year along with a suite of other 6th Sense appliances that interact with the free Android or iOS My Smart Appliances app. The rationale for developing this smart technology is simple: the company wants you to be able to check the status of your appliances, track their energy usage, and make any needed adjustments to them on your smartphone or tablet. If you're anything like me, you've forgotten to move your clothes from the washer to the dryer in a timely fashion on more than one occasion. If they end up sitting in there for a long time, they can get wrinkly or worse, mildewy.
Well, Whirlpool claims to have found a graceful solution to my--and probably other people's--chronic laundry forgetfulness. Not only that, but it has a bunch of other surprise features packed into this washer and its app that have the potential to make your life easier. I really like what I've seen so far in the features department and am looking forward to putting this washer through the ringer during the review phase. In the meantime, let's take a first look of the Whirlpool Smart Front Load Washer with 6th Sense Live technology (and be sure to check out my run-down of its companion unit, the Whirlpool Smart Front Load Electric Dryer).
The most interesting feature of this washer is the 6th Sense technology. That refers to all of the home automation stuff that you can access using the My Smart Appliances app. Precision Dispense allows you to pour a bunch of detergent into the reservoir and the washer releases the precise amount needed per cycle. The app will also alert you when you need to add more detergent.
Then there's the Affresh Washer Cleaner, which sends alerts when it thinks you need to use a special tablet to break up detergent residue and help keep your appliance running efficiently.
Say you forget to start a wash cycle before you head out for a quick errand. You can communicate with the washer remotely using a feature called Remote Start. And if you are washing a load of laundry and want to pause it from your app, you can do that too.
This next feature goes back to my problem of forgetting to switch out laundry. Fan Fresh will intermittently circulate air and tumble your clothes for up to 16 hours after the cycle has ended. Why? For people like me who either forget or can't remove their laundry in a timely manner. Fan Fresh reduces humidity and essentially tumble dries your garments.
Your energy usage can change depending on the cycle you select and the amount of clothes you wash. If you're curious about the specifics, you can view Energy Reports specifically for your washer. This helps you monitor energy consumption and learn more about your usage habits.
More generally, this 4.3 cubic-foot washer has a steam clean cycle that targets stains and an allergen cycle that's designed to remove dust mites and pet dander. It comes with a direct drive motor that Whirlpool claims moves faster than alternatives, with fewer parts to minimize wear and tear. Whirlpool's 6th Sense washer is also Energy Star qualified and has an EcoBoost option that uses less energy while claiming to deliver top results.
In comparison, the $1,499 Samsung WF457 Touch Screen LCD Front-Load Washer has a 4.5 cubic-foot capacity, a Speed Spray cycle that claims to speed up the washing process by as much as 15 minutes, PowerFoam detergent designed to clean comforters and other large items better, and the following specialty settings so the washer know how to tackle the job: Cooking & Dining, Gardening & Yard Work, Baby Care, Outdoors & Travel, Active Kids, Working & Everyday. Its Smart Control app seems to have fewer remote functions than the Whirlpool, but the Samsung offers an 8 inch LCD touchscreen, whereas this 6th Sense washer only offers an LCD display controlled by separate buttons and knobs.
Another point of comparison is the $1,599, 4.7-cubic-foot LG WT6001HV Smart ThinQ Washer. It has the largest capacity of all three washers and sits squarely in the middle of the price range. Like the Samsung washer, it boasts a large touchscreen. The Smart ThinQ app doesn't enable you to turn your washer on or off remotely, though--it seems to be designed more for monitoring the status of the appliance rather than making changes from your phone or tablet. Like the Whirlpool's EcoBoost function, LG offers a ColdWash cycle that uses less energy and cold water, but claims to provide warm water performance.
Since I don't have the Whirpool washer in front of me yet, I will hold my opinions of the machine design, app usability, and performance. From what we do know, this might be one of the most efficiently designed appliance apps we've seen. All 6th Sense appliances work on the same app, so you won't have to switch from one app to another like we've observed with the LG Smart ThinQ appliance line. And I can actually imagine using the My Smart Appliance features regularly--they seem designed for optimal efficiency instead of being novel ad-ons we could probably live without.
Not having a touchscreen is a bit of a bummer. It's surprising, too, since both the Samsung and LG washers come with large touchscreens and cost $100-$200 less than the Whirlpool model. We'll put all three models through rigorous testing soon to see if one particular smart washer wins our hearts and then we'll have reviews for you soon after. Since these are all significantly more expensive than traditional washing machines, our performance expectations are high. For now, check out my first take of the matching Whirlpool Smart Front Load Electric Dryer, also with 6th Sense Live technology.