Bosch SHE68TL5UC Dishwasher Review
One of the most versatile and efficient dishwashers we've tested, but you'll pay for it.
Sleek and stylish, the Bosch 800 Series SHE68TL5UC is all about choices. But, unlike an all-you-can-eat buffet, those options will cost you. With six cycles and six additional ways to further customize your cleaning, the only thing you can't change on this dishwasher is its high price — an MSRP of $949, and sale prices that cluster around $850.
The SHE68TL5UC is also a great choice for buyers who are concerned about utility costs. Our tests showed that this dishwasher barely sips water and only occasionally nibbles on electricity. (We like to pretend that it does so with its pinky finger sticking out.) Bosch's latest dishwashers have all been very light drinkers, but this one was exceptional – we estimate its annual running cost to be among the lowest we've ever tested. That upfront price is a quite a hurdle, though, and we know from our tests that there are cheaper dishwashers that clean dishes just as well or better than the SHE68TL5UC.
Design & Usability
Brilliantly-designed control panel, but its responsiveness is lacking.
The SHE68TL5UC has a design that is both pretty and practical. It shares the same recessed, angled control panel idea as seen in the SHE53T55UC, and this is a design that is unique to Bosch. Unlike the SHE53T55UC, the SHE68TL5UC has touch-sensitive controls rather than buttons, and there are many more options to choose from. The beauty of this design is that you get all the advantages of front-facing controls, such as easy access to the buttons and visible displays, but none of the drawbacks, like protruding buttons that you might accidentally press.
The interior has some neat, adjustable components for fitting oddly-shaped or oversized items. Two of the rows of tines on the bottom and top racks can be folded away to make more room, and the top rack can be removed entirely for fitting very tall items. In addition to the cutlery basket, which is the exact same design as the ones found in our recent Bosch dishwashers, the SHE68TL5UC also features a cutlery tray above the top rack. This greatly increases the amount of silverware you can load into the dishwasher, and also means you can remove the cutlery basket entirely to make even more room on the bottom rack.
Although there is a digital display that gives a rough estimate on how much time is left in a cycle, and the controls themselves are simple to use, there is one major usability gripe we have with the SHE68TL5UC: the buttons. These touch-sensitive controls are fickle and inconsistent, sometimes responding to the lightest of touches and sometimes ignoring inputs entirely. On a machine with so many wash options to select from, this is especially frustrating. If only we could put the SHE68TL5UC through mandatory sensitivity training.
Perfect for people who like to push buttons.
With six wash cycles and six extra wash options, the SHE68TL5UC is a micromanager’s dream come true. In addition to the Normal, Heavy, and Express cycles you would find on most dishwashers, this machine also has an Eco cycle, an Auto cycle, and a Rinse cycle. Bosch says Eco is an energy saving cycle, Auto is a flexible cycle that uses sensors to wash mixed loads of varying soil levels, and the Rinse is a quick spray that doesn’t use any detergent. An interesting thing to note: during our testing, we found that the Eco cycle ran as hot as the Heavy cycle, with internal temperatures going as high as 161.8°F.
Once you’ve chosen which cycle you want to run, the SHE68TL5UC offers six extra options to customize your wash even further. SpeedPerfect reduces the duration of the cycle but uses extra water. Half Load quickens a cycle and uses less water for situations where the dishwasher isn't full, Delicate and Sanitize do just what they say, ExtraShine gives a cycle additional drying time at the end to reduce spotting, and Delay lets you postpone a cycle’s start for 1-24 hours. One last feature is a Child Lock to block out the controls in case you have button-happy children, or curious (and talented) pets.
A decent cleaning job, but speed and efficiency is where this machine shines.
So with all these options to choose from, how does the SHE68TL5UC actually stack up when it comes to cleaning? Well, while this machine's cleaning scores were good in general, the results were similar to those we've seen from dishwashers that cost hundreds less.
We learned a few interesting things from the test results with the SHE68TL5UC. For starters, it had some difficulty with baked-on spinach, oatmeal, and egg stains. These are normally pretty tough stains to begin with, and the kind of stuff that people usually scrape off before loading into a dishwasher. The SHE68TL5UC had a much easier time with meat and milk. But the greatest cleaning perk with this machine was the complete lack of redeposit, the dishwashing professional's term for when dirt from one item gets washed onto another.
Outside of actual cleaning performance, the SHE68TL5UC gave us very attractive numbers. Although the Normal cycle took well over two hours, we calculated an average cycle cost of only 8.69 cents, making it an extremely cheap Normal cycle to run. The Heavy cycle was actually faster, taking 99 minutes to finish, and if you really have a need for speed, the Express cycle has you covered at just 39 minutes. The most impressive number of all: an annual running cost estimate of just $21.21, something that would make Captain Planet proud. Other new dishwashers tend to cost between $5 and $15 more, so don't spend all that savings in one place.
The higher cost gets you better flexibility and efficiency, but not a better clean.
While it put up a solid performance on our tests, other, cheaper dishwashers can clean just as well as the $950 SHE68TL5UC. So why pay the extra $100-200 for this machine?
It's all about choices. That extra dough is paying for options you won’t find on cheaper machines. In addition to a wide array of cycle choices and customization options, you’re also getting a third rack for silverware and one of the most efficient dishwashers on the market. Of course, if none of these perks are appealing or necessary for you, and you’re looking for a cheaper, simpler dishwasher, you can pass this one by.
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