Pros: Achieves excellent results. Intelligently designed and user-friendly controls. "Direct Drive" motor. Oozes quality.
Cons: No incorporated lint filter. Storage pedestals available at significant additional cost.
The two things I require from a major appliance are dependability and ease-of-use. Okay… it also helps if it looks nice in my new home. With the Whirlpoolization of quality American brands such as Maytag, consideration of foreign-built brands becomes a viable option.
Whom do you trust?
Gone are the days when a single source is satisfactory when researching such a major purchase. Mixed success regarding recommendations from Consumer Reports and other such publications in the past are countered by reviews posted by actual consumers at sites such as Epinions.com. For purposes of assembling a comprehensive overview, the Internet is a beautiful thing.
Before you buy . . .
All research data pointed to the Electrolux 4.7 cubic ft. washer with its Energy Star rating as the best choice for available features and reliability. The only problem was in the numbers – the Electrolux had a deeper cabinet that would have extended beyond the space available in my dedicated laundry area; in effect, partially obstructing the entry/egress of the already diminutive laundry room.
Always check the physical dimensions of any appliance to insure proper fit before purchase.
Workin’ ‘em for the best deal . . .
When I purchased in May of 2009, the lousy economy had caused Lowe’s to slash prices on all brands as much as 10 percent. What started out as a $1,200 machine was now priced at $1,094. Add to this the perpetual Energy Star Rated discount of 10 percent and we’re talking some significant savings here.
During the selection process, the eagle-eyed agent hired to help me find my new house sent a Lowe’s 10 percent-off coupon (for up to $10,000 worth of merchandise!), with the compliments of Century 21. This enabled me to bundle all three discounts and buy a $1,200 state-of-the-art washer for $804. As store discounts and manufacturer’s promotions come and go, your results may vary.
Nuts, Bolts & Washers . . .
The Samsung WF328AA Washer is front-loading, with a capacity of 4.0 cubic feet. Equipped with VRT (the much-touted “Vibration Reduction Technology”), Samsung’s promotional pamphlet claims: “excessive noise and vibrations due to unbalanced loads are virtually eliminated”. An in-store video demonstrated (via animation) what looked to be a quartet of heavy-duty shock absorbers keeping an out-of-balance drum in the proper plane to allow for its acceleration minus the anticipated vibration.
The WF328AA is equipped with Samsung’s “Diamond Drum” technology and is designed with hundreds of small dimples (think golf ball) that the company claims will increase the surfaces your laundry contacts during the wash cycle. Whether this is truly beneficial or just plain balderdash is beyond my ability to determine until my washday diploma arrives.
The major quality component to this machine is the “Direct Drive” variable-speed reversible motor that powers the drum. Completely silent as it alternates between clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation (at variable speeds, depending on cycle selected), the lack of belts or pulleys should insure reliable service through the use of fewer moving parts subject to normal wear-and-tear.
Givin' it a spin . . .
After Abbot and Costello delivered and installed this hulking 206 lb. beast, I loaded it up, selected the “Heavy Duty” cycle and pulled up a chair to watch the show.
First things first . . .
Facing the unit, the Soap Drawer is located in the upper left corner. Compartments for detergent (a small partition remains in the 'down' position for liquid; 'up' for powder), liquid bleach and softener are well-marked and accessible. ShLEps (Short Ladies of Epinions) and those of similarly smallish stature may have to employ a stepstool to reach the dispenser at its 50 inch altitude.
With the hard nature of the well water here in the mountains, I use Borateem as a water softener. Since this product doesn't dissolve completely when placed in the powdered soap compartment, I add it to the drum before loading, with excellent results.
“Houston… we have lift-off . . .”
Beyond the “Tango Red” exterior, the most impressive feature of the Samsung WF328AA is the intelligent simplicity of the control panel. A center-mounted rectangular screen corresponds to the five main function buttons.
Temp - allows the user to select from five Wash/Rinse temperatures ranging from Extra Hot/Cold to Cold/Cold and all combinations in between.
Spin - as with all buttons on the panel, repeated pressing delivers five spin options from Extra High to No Spin.
Soil - choose between Heavy, Normal and Light and (as with all the functions selected) your choice will be illuminated in red on the panel above the button throughout the wash cycle.
Signal - the charming Samsung chime can be set to deafening, normal or “no signal” position. Since the laundry room is off the guest suite on Level 2, I choose the loudest setting, which can be heard from the Level 3 living area. This machine chimes for every function, from the time you open the door ‘til the selected cycle stops. It even plays a couple bars of a toe-tapping ditty to signal end-of-cycle. Catchy, but can you dance to it?
16 million trillion?
Silver Care - for the purpose of laundry sanitization without added bleach or the expense of generating hot water, Samsung has provided this model with the Silver Care option. Known for its antimicrobial properties, two bars of pure silver (about the size of a stick of gum) release “up to 16 million trillion positively charged silver ions that penetrate deep into the fabric to sanitize clothing (according to U.S. EPA Test Guidline DIS/TSS-13) without the need for hot water or bleach.” Also stated in the owner’s manual, “this process removed or killed greater than 99.9 percent of tested bacteria.”
"Silver" Senior Moment . . .
Having never been informed as to the germicidal properties of "silver ions", when first confronted with the term I asked the salesman if “Silver Care” provided some specific benefit to the elderly consumer.
Consulting the Periodic Table . . .
A round display (with a fashionable chrome bezel) mounted in the center of the panel keeps track of the options selected, current cycle (pre-wash, wash, rinse, spin) and time remaining – all in a lovely fluorescent blue script. If the Silver Care option is selected, the international symbol for silver Ag+ is prominently displayed at the top of the screen. I always suspected those Periodic Table of the Elements flash cards would pay off some day.
Dial up a cycle
In addition to the function buttons, cycle selection is made via a round silver dial located to the right of the display panel.
Select A Cycle (clockwise from top)
Quick Wash - when the Light Soil option is selected, this is the shortest of the bunch, clocking-in at a lean 35 minutes.
Sanitize - choosing the Extra Hot option causes the washer’s internal heater (900 watts) to kick in, resulting in the longest wash time. Choose Silver Care on top of this and you’re looking at 1 hour and 58 minutes of hot, germ-killing action.
Rinse/Spin and Spin Only add to the washer’s versatility by finishing off hand-washed items independent of a complete cycle.
Towels and Bedding are custom-tailored to maximize efficiency and results for these particular items. It swallowed a puffy, queen-sized comforter with ease.
Wool - this ultra-gentle cycle is Woolmark Approved. My house features a 26 ft. wall of sliding glass and fixed windows in the living area. The former owner left behind 8 expensive (polyester blend) window panels sporting the Dry Clean Only label. Though I’m not suggesting anyone “try this at home”, the closest dry cleaner is a 70 mile round trip – making the Wool cycle all the more tempting. What could have been a baaaaaaaaad idea was thoroughly successful – fresh and clean panels (in one piece) only in need of a cool iron.
Delicates, Permanent Press - wearing mostly jeans, cotton and flannel here in the snow belt, I can’t say I know the difference between these two – other than they both worked for the purpose of this review.
Whites - don’t wear many of them, either…
Normal - my favorite setting. It just sounds so “normal”.
Heavy Duty - my second favorite is not for those in a hurry, but the hour and thirty-five minute cycle (add ten more for Ag+) gets the filthy soles of my white gym socks (radiant heat equals stocking feet) sparkling clean to the extent never before thought possible.
Cool (and safety) Features
Child Lock - to prevent children from playing with the washer, simply press the Soil and Signal buttons for three seconds, simultaneously.
My Cycle - consumers can opt for a pre-programmed cycle or customize using the option buttons located on either side of the main panel. Add Pre-wash, Extra Rinse, Extra Spin or Delay Start and press the My Cycle button – you’ve now programmed your favorite combination for future use.
Things I like about the Samsung . . .
According to the promotional literature, the Samsung WF328AA uses up to 72 percent less water (depending upon cycle chosen) than a standard top-loader. Even though my comfortable country abode is equipped with a well and 4 bedroom-rated septic, using less water is a feature the miser in me can appreciate.
Be aware that front loaders tumble clothes in a limited amount of water. If you're accustomed to the total immersion principle of a top loader, a period of adjustment may be required.
I use unscented detergent and my clothes come out consistently clean and fresh-smelling – as if dried outdoors. With the Silver Care option, there’s no need to impede the septic system’s normal function by introducing chlorine bleach.
Simplicity of design – much more user-friendly than my new Dell Inspiron 537.
No interior light – makes leaving an open door possible to allow air to circulate and prevent mold after use.
Quiet operation – this beast is silent, with one exception (see “things I don’t like”, below). My 4th Level bedroom is directly above the laundry room and I feel no vibration from a drum that spins 1,200 rpm. Amazing.
That spinning drum – so much water is extracted during the spin cycle, clothes removed from the washer seem like they’ve been partially dried – with a significant reduction in drying time.
Appearance – all the ladies comment on the “cute washer and dryer in its own little room with a window” adorned in Tango Red. The men couldn’t care less. Except for me. After all, I got it for less than wholesale.
Things I don’t like . . .
When the drain pump is operating, an intermittent buzzing occurs. This is not egregious enough of an irritant to get the repairman out, but it’s something I keep an ear to, should the situation escalate.
The door is either fully open or self-closing. I stick a plastic water bottle in the way to keep it ajar.
No incorporated lint filter – and I don’t have the space to install the canister type. Over time, washer lint from synthetic fabrics can obstruct the small openings in your septic system. Instead, the local Rite Aid offers 3 pair of knee high nylon stockings for $1. I slip one of these over the corrugated drain tube and secure it with a rubber band. Works great - I just have to remind myself to change it every couple of weeks.
Optional pedestals – (item WE357A7W/S/R/L/G) retail for $200 each, so I took the dimensions at the store and assembled a pair out of 3/4 inch waterproof MDF plywood - strong enough to park a truck on. Painted them a smoky rose color and we’re good to go. Samsung pedestals provide a storage drawer, but at 6’ 3”, I would be disinclined to store anything way down there, anyway.
The Samsung brochure claims one can launder "up to 20 pair of jeans or 33 bath towels in one load”. Ummmm… No.
It ain't over 'til Sam sung . . .
The 28 page Owner’s Manual is above average as an assist to familiarizing oneself with the maintenance and operation of the product. If you speak English, French or Spanish, you’re in luck.
At the time of purchase, Lowe’s charged a flat $65 fee for delivery and installation that included the removal of a Kenmore top-loader the previous owner left behind. By filling out and mailing a simple form, that amount was rebated in the form of a Visa check card.
So let’s review: Lowe’s sent two full-figured guys and an even bigger truck 66 miles (round trip) to deliver and install a washer/dryer up a half flight of stairs and remove the spent model. For free (well… I tipped them each $10 and a bottle of Poland Spring water extracted from the ground down the street from here). As they got in their truck to leave, the driver said: “If you have any problems, be sure to call Home Depot!”. Imagine… stand-up comedy and free delivery!
All of which proving there’s a silver lining in the dark cloud of a bad economy – now shoppers - get out there and make your economics professor proud!
But seriously . . .
If you’re not familiar with the set-up process involved with proper installation, by all means opt for the services of one who is. Improper installation is dangerous in a whole host of ways and can void your manufacturer’s warranty.
The aforementioned retailer offered an extended warranty (four additional years), which I purchased. Let’s all join hands and meditate on the divine hope that Lowe’s remains solvent for the foreseeable future.
Read about the matching Samsung Dryer
Samsung Electronics America, Inc.
400 Valley Road, Suite 201
Mt. Arlington, NJ 07856
Manufactured in Korea