When I was a kid, my expectation of the washing machine of the future was a humanoid robot carefully caring for our garments, freeing us from a time-consuming chore. I don’t know that we’ll ever see that, but GE’s GTWS8650DWS may make you wonder if you really need “The Jetson’s” Rosie. It’s a capacious, feature-filled machine at a reasonable price, a smart upgrade for any home.
The GTWS8650DWS is a top loader, reminding many of us of the washers we grew up with. Looking at this washer though, and you’ll immediately notice how different it is.
First, nearly the entire top of the appliance is transparent — a large glass window into the basin of the machine. This lets you see what exactly what your washer is doing, anytime during the cycle. That may seem superfluous, but aside from mesmerized you with its twists and turns there’s a real benefit: You see what’s going on with the cleaning of your laundry. This is very much a set and forget machine, but seeing how your clothing is washed lets you make better decisions about how you handle your laundry.
Second, in the basin where you’re expecting to see a tall agitator to arrange your clothes around, there’s nothing. Just a big open space for your laundry. And when I say “big open space” I mean it. This wash basin is huge. Five. Cubic. Feet. I dumped a large load of laundry in and found there was easily enough room for a load double that size. After a lifetime of stuffing far too much into small basins, I have found a washer that appreciates the guy who forgot to do laundry… again.
The fit and finish of GE’s washer is excellent. The lid has a soft-assist closing mechanism, which ends the cacophony of a crashing lid you may recall from days of yore. The assist can be mildly annoying if you want to quickly put the lid down, but that’s an annoyance that can be overlooked.
Other little improvements reveal how far the modern machine has come from white box appliances of the past. Take the fantastic wash selector knob on the GTWS8650DWS, for example, which offers computer-controlled magic. As you rotate it, the display lights up providing a quick-glance view of what your washer load is going to be. The panel here is better than nothing at all, but limited to what it can spell out on its three-digit, eight-segment display.
After a lifetime of stuffing far too much into small basins, I have found a washer that appreciates the guy who forgot to do laundry… again.
GE gives you a notification of how ‘green’ your load is going to be via a five-bar indicator light, relating water and power use. This isn’t for everybody, but as appliances are a big contributor to energy consumption it’s nice to be able to adjust your impact, if just in a small way.
Extras that make a difference
Have you ever put in too much detergent, and it didn’t quite rinse out? How about putting in too little, and your clothes didn’t really get clean? Put those days behind you. GE’s big innovation here is SmartDispense, a computerized detergent tank and delivery system that adds a tremendous value by letting the washer do the work for you.
The SmartDispense system uses high-efficiency detergent and dispenses the correct amount from an internal storage tank into your load. All you have to do is pour detergent into the tank and let the washer take care of the rest. It’ll even let you know when you’re running low — add more to the tank and you’re set. GE says that a full tank usually lasts about 2 months.
The real benefit to this is that it’s automatically injected into the water going into the washer. While I used both the automatic system and a manual technique — sprinkling dry detergent into the basin for one test load — I found myself a lot more at ease with the SmartDispense. The washer performed wonderfully in both situations, but I didn’t trust the human method anymore. SmartDispense also has a single-load opening to accept dry or liquid detergent for the next load. Along with the detergent, the washer will also add fabric softener to your load, if provided and selected in the opposite tank.
What really stands out about the washer is the intelligence of it. If you sit and watch it (and believe me, you will at least a couple of times) you can almost sense a personality. The gentle movements, tumbling things around, rotating things, trying to figure out “how much water do I really need?” or “When I start spinning this, will it still be balanced?” It’s fascinating.
A few niggling issues
I have just a few gripes with the GTWS8650DWS, including an issue I have with just about every modern appliance: Plastic. There’s probably a good reason that manufacturers use plastic on their appliances, hopefully one that isn’t just a cost saving measure, but when I feel the mild flex of plastic on an otherwise beautiful appliance, it rubs me the wrong way.
Here, the top lid of the washer is a plastic frame around a glass window. Why? Likewise, the control panel, knob, and buttons are plastic. Fortunately, the knob and buttons behave fine without the flexing of a cheap device.
I also worry about places for dirt to hide. Any time you have a space for dirt and dust to go, it will go there. There are many such spaces on the control panel and the backboard of the washer, especially around the buttons and the hinge of the lid. The detergent tank will help you avoid some of this problem, but I suspect after a year of use these spots will host a bit of grime.
Lastly, the eight-segment display feels a bit outdated. While going through the washing process the washer scrolls ‘bALAnCINg’ or ‘LOAd SenSE’ three letters at a time. I don’t expect to spend much time actually looking at this display, of course, and I’d rather the GTWS8650DWS do a good job of washing my clothes than tell me what it was doing. But it still felt like something out of the early 90s.
How does it wash?
I’m going to assume you’re not asking how the process is done but rather how well it cleans, and I can tell you: GE’s latest did a great job of removing food, dirt and even blood (don’t ask).
While not completely removing a tough grease stain, the Steam Assist feature did noticeably lighten it. After going through the dryer, a fair inspection of my laundry came out beautiful, and it made me jealous that I wasn’t taking the GTWS8650DWS home to a permanent place in my weekly life.
I have had a bad habit of forgetting to do laundry, you see. This leads to overstuffed machines, the whole of my wardrobe crushed into a single load. You’ll be delighted to see how well the washer handles these circumstances. The self-balancing procedure is intriguing to watch and I’m amazed at how quiet this thing can actually be. While testing I sat watching TV about 30 feet away with an open door and I could barely tell it was operating. The only time it was obvious was when the spin cycle was running. The auto-balancing isn’t perfect, but with it you can feel confident that your washer won’t try to run down the street with your clothes.
The variety of wash cycles available gives you control over the wash time. Most of the options resulted in 20-30 minute cycles, with a few choices to be quicker or more thorough, resulting in shorter or longer times.
How does it match up?
The manufacturer’s price on the GTWS8650DWS is $1,199, but a quick look around the web will save you at least $200. It comes in either white or charcoal, the latter for an extra $100. GE does offer a rebate if you buy the washer with its companion dryer, the GTDS820EDWS.
Both Samsung and LG offer competing appliances at the same price point. Both have similar display types, and an agitator-free basin. The Samsung offers a slightly larger capacity and the LG has a slightly smaller capacity. Both have smartphone apps for diagnosing problems that the GE lacks as well, but the SmartDispense technology makes the GE an easy sell.
This is a very cool washing machine. The fine control available for the cycles are enough for the picky user, and the presets provide solutions for the push-and-walk-away guy. I love the SmartDispense, load balancing, and capacity of this washer. If you’re looking to smarten up your mudroom, the GE GTWS8650DWS is a reasonably priced, fairly intelligent option.
- Large Capacity
- Fine control over washing
- Plasticky in places
- LED display of yesteryear