Pros: Substantial, hot steaminess in abundance, glides over wrinkles with ease.
Cons: Leaks after a year. Too big and heavy for some, expensive, potentially fragile?
Important Update: About a year after purchase, this iron developed a leak. It appears that the reservoir for steam/spray, which is formed by joining two plastic molded pieces together with a flexible black adhesive/sealant, started leaking. The best I can determine, the leak is coming from the joint itself where the sealant has proven inadequate to hold the water back. In any case, the performance of the iron was fine throughout the year, no leaks from the soleplate, but the iron began to drip water out of the heel rest near the power cord. This is a safety issue and the iron is out of service and returned to the store. I have to change the rating to one star. An iron costing $130 must last longer than a year. I have left my review of the iron prior to the leak below for reference, but have changed the title of the review and the rating/recommendation to reflect the failure.
It is one thing to plop down $45 for a shiny new iron down at Walmart, quite another to plop down $130 for one at the Bed Bath and Beyond. But that's just what I found myself doing last week, from desperation if nothing else. If you just happened upon this review, please note that it is one of a series of, count them, FOUR separate reviews of irons I have tried, reviewed, and, mostly, rejected. In a nutshell, I recently retired from full-time work in order to work as a freelance writer and editor. Since that work allows me to be home during the day I took it upon myself to take over ironing my wife's clothes for her. No big deal, except for I do not like ironing without steam and every steam iron I had poured water into had leaked like a pasta colander. Damned sucky irons were all waterspotting the woman's clothes and making me look bad. I was spending way more time trying to fight the drips than I was ironing. So I did what any sane individual would do: I resolved to throw money at the problem. I began to research higher end irons originating, not from China or Taiwan, but from Japan or Europe or even the USA, not that you would ever find an iron made over here anymore. All of the American manufacturers seem to have outsourced their products to China to manufacture. It shows, too.
Well, schooling myself in the gestalt of expensive, high-quality, irons was something I had plenty of time to do as I labored to make the cheap irons I had brought home work. The predominant name in high-end irons, the one that kept popping up when I searched for good irons on Google, was Rowenta.
Rowenta? Where in the heck do those come from? One of the pages I looked at for one of the models (a steam generator type) said the country of origin was France? France? For an iron?
Not that I cared, really. I had had enough of leaking, ill-designed, annoying pieces d'crap imported by formerly reputable names in the small appliance business now sullied via the outsourcing of manufacture of their wares to foreign sweatshops. By golly, this time I was going to try something different. If Rowenta was what I needed then Rowenta it would be. I kept my eye open for a Bed Bath and Beyond while on our way to San Diego for the weekend. When I spotted one off the I-15 and stopped it was like I was in heaven looking at the huge selection of irons they carried. Shelf after shelf of fancy irons greeted me when I got to the iron section. True to form, I immediately gravitated to the most expensive models, the single most expensive being the steam generator known as the Rowenta DG-5030. I had looked both of the Rowenta steam generators over on the web and pretty much eliminated them from contention. The steam generators use a separate unit to boil the water. The steam and electricity to heat the elements are conducted to the iron itself by way of a flexible hose. The problem with this idea, otherwise an excellent one, is that you have to find a place to park the base unit. The hose is not long enough for it to be kept anywhere but on, or on a shelf under, the ironing board. I do not have an ironing board with a separate shelf and damned if I will pay anybody $180 to get one, either. There is no way I can iron while working around a big old boiler sitting on my work surface. That ruled the steam generators out.
Ah, but what is this!! Next down the line in terms of size is the Rowenta Advancer! It's a traditional steam iron with onboard water reservoir and steam controls. It had a nice wide butt so that it would not tip over easily and everything about it was meaty and big. The handle fits my huge, 3XL glove sized hands and the size of the beast makes it look like something Pee Wee Herman would use for an ironing sight gag in his nightclub act.
I looked on the box. Model DZ-9080, Made In Germany! Germany! That's where they make a bunch of great stuff! Porsche, Octoberfest, Bratwurst, German Chocolate Cake! Now that's what I was looking for! Examining the sole plate closely, I noted an oddly-colored, gold/platinum soleplate with, instead of the few gaping holes from which I had previously suffered fountains of leakage, an array of tiny steam vents too numerous to count (400, exactly) (but who's counting?). Inside the clear water reservoir were all kinds of cool looking screens, valves, and German-y looking features of unknown purpose and design. And to top it off, it wasn't the most expensive iron up there. There was a smaller, newer, iron, not even on Rowenta's website as far as I can see, called the Steamium DW-9080 that was $10 more than the Advancer, making the one I wanted only the third most expensive iron in the store! Yee Haw! This one was coming home with me!
But Halloo! There is only one left on the shelf and the box is all bent out of shape like it got sat on by a defensive lineman. Could it have been a return? A defective? This worried me, along with the fact that I had read a few disgusted reviews of Rowentas burning them new ones over reliability issues. The last thing I wanted was to have to drive nearly 200 miles round trip to return one more iron. I wanted this one to last and last, gliding over the wrinkles like a hot steaming wraith, an instrument of sartorial rectitude befitting its price. I didn't want to take another loser home. So I took the mangled box up to the front and made them remove the anti-theft alarm and open it for examination. Well, everything looked okay, but just to be safe I confirmed with the nice lady at the register that I could bring it back if it didn't work, something I have had a lot of practice with, lately.
"Sure, no problem. Just save your receipt."
Well, I took it home and have now used it for a few days. I can make absolutely no call on the longevity of the iron but I am so incredibly pleased by its performance so far that I am going to give it 4 stars right out of the box. This will change if this thing EVER breaks or fails me, though. I paid too much dough to expect anything but reliable service out of it.
Here is how it has done so far. Not ONE leak. Nothing! I fill the beast up with nearly a pint of water (it holds 13 ozs.) I will state that I think they could have done better when it comes to filling the Advancer. You have to open this sliding trap door to pour in the water, and the orifice is very small and easy to gag if you fill it at anything more than a slow pour. But at least you can set the iron down to do it. There is no need to hold the iron at 45° just to refill it.
And glide! My, how this thing zips over the clothes. Smooth as whipped butter on a hot griddle. It skates like Dorothy Hamill across a sheet of steamy glass. The steam coming out of this thing would propel a small locomotive all on its own. And if you want even more steam, all you have to do is push the steam button a couple of times and the work surface will look like the airport in Casablanca. Clouds billow from it. Plus, the size is right for me. The tip of the iron is specially designed to get into tight pleats and such, but then then nose widens out to provide a large soleplate ironing surface to take care of broad expanses of cloth, not that my wife's clothes have any of those.
I asked my wife what she thought of it and she liked it fine, which kind of surprised me considering the large size of the unit, but there you go. Sometimes good things do come in large packages.
As for me, I am relieved beyond all measure by not having to do any more iron shopping. I am sick to death of having to mess around in the small appliance section of discount stores desperately looking for something that will accomplish the simple task of getting the pants pressed. But thanks to some of the reviews I have read here and elsewhere, I wonder if I will ever shake the sense of apprehension I feel when I first turn the iron on. Will it suddenly die, or leak, or shock the snot out of me, or otherwise disappoint me beyond reckoning, propelling me back to the stores once again? I am running out of options here, dear patient reader. If the Rowenta fails, where do I turn next for a competent iron? Australia? France? Borneo?
I am not sure of the answer to that question. But as I mentioned somewhere in the cloudy past of these reviews, I used to run a steam press when I was a kid. I wonder if you can find those on ebay? Anyway, I will let future problems arrive under their own power; there is no use urging them along by dwelling on them. As for me, I aim to enjoy the great performance while I can for as long as I can. And if that does not pan out, well, be on the lookout for updates to this review. Angry ones.