Pros: Super Quiet, Easy to Use Controls, 2 Year Warranty, Build Quality, Energy & Water Efficient
Cons: Pricey, Not stackable
My wife and I were all set to buy the Whirlpool Duet series when we saw these models at Lowe's (of all places). We were immediately impressed. I had previously read a Consumer Reports that gave them an excellent rating so we bought them right there. Lowe's price was good, plus we had a 10% off coupon and Bosch was offering an additional $150 rebate. We ended up saving $345 on the set (Washer & Dryer)
I was instantly impressed with the build quality of this washer compared to the Whirlpool. When you close the front loading door, it feels solid like a Mercedes where the Whirlpool felt much less sturdy. The Whirlpool had too many cheap buttons and switches and a poorly designed plastic slide out drawer for the detergent that we were sure would break within the 1st year.
As most European design goes, all of the controls and buttons are robust, easy to press and intuitive without being overdone. It has separate compartments for detergent, bleach, and fabric softener so that each can be added at the optimal time during the wash cycle. I would consider this a large capacity machine that could wash a queen sized comforter, although it is not as large as some of the top loaders out there. The Nexxt has a built in water heater to heat the tap water to 160 degrees (a temperature beyond what most household water heaters are set for). It has a feature that will fill the machine with cold water and then slowly heat it over the course of the cycle to make optimal use of all of the different components of your detergent at the different temperature levels for maximum cleaning power. It has settings for cotton, wool, blends, etc. as well as a Mix cycle. It has a neat handwash option for your most delicate items.
I was stunned with how quiet it is. My microwave oven makes more noise than this washer. I could barely tell it was running - even while spinning at 1000 RPM. The machine is very stable and does not wobble like some others (assuming is has been properly leveled). If you use too much detergent, the washer will leave some soap in the clothes after the cycle. I made this mistake the first load and had to re-wash (w/ no detergent). When Bosch says that you can use considerably less detergent they are correct. Now that I know, I have not repeated this mistake and I find myself using only 1/3 scoop of powder for a full load. Lastly, it has a stainless steel drum instead of the porcelain coated drums that are found in many washers. The stainless should be better over the long haul where the porcelain coating usually chips off and develops rust spots (that can stain your clothes).
Like most front loaders, it uses very little water and requires less detergent than conventional top loaders. It is also more gentle on your clothes. As I mentioned above, the washer has a fast spin rate (which is adjustable). Spinning at higher speeds helps get more water out of the clothes before putting them in the dryer which means less dry time and more energy savings. Energy and water efficiency were major factors in selecting this model. To my knowledge, there are only a handful of washers that are as efficient as the Bosch - Asko being one brand.
Hookup and installation of this machine was rather simple. The washer is not too heavy and can be worked into its final resting place by a single person, but I would NOT recommend trying to pick it up by yourself. It came with two water supply hoses - one each for the Hot and Cold connections. Instead of the usual cheap rubber hoses, these hoses were poly tube inside with a braided nylon exterior wrap to prevent bursting (another smart feature) The knobs on the hoses are easy to grip and beefy enough for the average person to get a watertight fit without using a wrench or pliers. The power cord was pre-connected so no wiring was involved. The drain hose was also included. With Bosch's smart design, the drain hose allows for multiple hookup configurations. If you do not have a built in drain you could drain to an existing sink or other plumbing setup (some hardware may be required). While leveling the machine I found the adjustable feet easy to configure with the included wrench. The most difficult/inconvenient part of installation was removing the "Transport Bolts" that hold the drum in place while the unit is being shipped. The included wrench fits the bolts, but I found a socket wrench worked better.
These are few, but always worth mentioning since what I consider minor may be major to someone else. First - the rubber door seal has an inset on it that tends to trap a small amount of water in it during the cycle. There are drain holes in it and the amount of water left inside the seal is very minimal (1 oz max). It is not enough water to really make much difference. Second is the fact that the washer & dryer are NOT stackable. This was not a problem for me, but it does rule them out if you are looking at front loaders for stackables. I would also like to see the control panel at more of an angle (45 deg) so I can see the status from across the room. Like most front loaders, it is also difficult to add something to the wash cycle after it is running since the door locks. It can be somewhat inconvenient to pour liquid bleach into the dispenser tray without spilling/splashing. The price was high compared to the overall spectrum of washers, but it is not Bosch's most expensive model, nor the most expensive model on the market. As with anything, "you get what you pay for."
Although I have had no problems to date, the trend seems to indicate that some European brands do require more maintenance and repairs than their domestic counterparts. Only time will tell with this machine. I do feel confident that Bosch will stand behind it though since it has a 1 Year full coverage warranty and a 2 Year parts warranty. Bosch is also trying to target the more mainstream US market (evidenced by Lowe's being a distributor) so they need to get a good foot in the door. Hopefully Bosch will have an ample supply of parts available to the US Market so that waiting is not a problem as with some imports.
Washer & Dryer Set
I feel that this is worth mentioning since many people buy these appliances as a set and not as individual units. On normal loads, the times of the wash cycles are very close to the times of the dry cycles so one machine does not hold up the other. The high RPM spin rate of the Nexxt washer helps establish this since it gets more water out of the clothes before putting them in the dryer. This was intentional on Bosch's part and very thoughtful in the design process. I can't think how many times I had to wait on the dryer to finish after the wash was already done. See my review of the Bosch Nexxt Dryer.
Update as of 8/23/04
We have switched to a high efficiency powder detergent and have had less problem with the excess soap suds after the wash cycle. No mechanical problems whatsoever. We still love this thing and our cat loves to watch the wash cycle through the door. Check out the washer/dryer review in Dwell Magazine this month for the scoop on the high end laundry equipent.
Update as of 11/2/06
This washing machine is still going strong. The only problem that we have had to date is that one of our daughters baby socks was somehow sucked into the drain outlet and blocked the drain pump. I was able to fix the problem myself by going through the drain access hole in the front of the machine and removing the sock.
We absolutely love this washing machine. We recently moved and the buyers of our old house requested us to leave them in their purchase offer. We declined that part of the offer and took the washer and dryer with us. Over 2 years of ownership now and I feel like my clothes are cleaner and they seem to last longer with less wear and tear when compared to using a top loader.