GE Cafe CDWT980VSS
Average power for above-average price? No thanks.
Before you do any research on this machine, take a look at the price: you’d be lucky to find it for $1,400. Whether you have that sort of money lying around or not, it's worth noting that we found that the quality of the GE Cafe CDWT980VSS does not match its price. Yes, there's a sweet automatic detergent dispenser, but there's also a reason as to why you don't commonly see these: even slight misuse could lead to a costly, time-consuming repair.
Honestly, GE, you’re a legendary brand, but just because you can claim Thomas Edison as one of your own doesn’t mean you can charge this much for a run-of-the-mill dishwasher with one special feature of dubious awesomeness. You've made some great products, really. And we’ve given some solid grades to your other products, but this one doesn’t hit the mark—at least not for the asking price.
Design & Usability
Because of its simplicity, the CDWT980VSS is easy to use—save for the fixed filter, which is a pain to clean out.
We liked the CDWT980VSS’s design, as minimalistic as it is. There’s not much that stands out, but that’s sort of how we like it. It has a stainless steel finish that's surprisingly resistant to fingerprints. The inside wash tub is also stainless, and is complemented by a sturdy set of dish racks, plus a similarly sturdy and spacious cutlery basket. The flimsy, single plastic wash arm, on the other hand, was very much the opposite of sturdy. We expected more from a dishwasher this pricey.
The control panel is very basic, like the rest of the machine. There are two columns of wash options and cycles with corresponding selector lights. There are just six buttons in all, they're responsive enough and they are all located on the right side at the top of the door. Just scroll over your desired wash cycle, engage any additional options and hit the Start button.
For $1,600, we were hoping for some neat bonuses—not a massage chair, but something to give us more bang for our buck.
There are four main cycles—China, Auto, Normal, and Deep Clean. While these four cycles are enough to satisfy most dishwashing needs, the lack of a quick cycle is a bit annoying and hurt this machine in our scoring. Supplemental wash options include a Steam rinse, Heated Dry, and an Added Heat feature. Each of these options can be manually added onto a chosen wash cycle. There’s also a delay option (2, 4, or 8 hours), but that’s it—no sanitize rinse (the Deep Clean automatically sanitizes), no extra wash, no timer, no rinse-only. For a mid-range machine this wouldn’t be as unusual, but a mid-range machine the CDWT980VSS is not. As far as noise, it gave off a pretty standard volume. There's a quiet ding at the end of each cycle, and the stainless interior does a pretty solid job of suppressing noise.
That said, there's actually a surprise hidden here. In addition to the regular detergent dispenser, this GE contains a device that automatically dispenses detergent. Fill it up once every few washes, and you're good to go. One big caveat here which explains why this technology never took off, despite it debuting to great fanfare about four years ago: If you mix different formulations of detergents—even if they're from the same manufacturer—the combination can form a rock-hard mass inside the dishwasher door. In order to remove the hardened detergent, you need to take the door off and clean it out. No thank you. We'll save our money and stick to our traditional dispenser.
The lack of a quick wash is disappointing, but the Normal and Deep Cleans functions were nevertheless very impressive.
The Deep Clean cycle took over two hours to finish—more than twice the length of the Normal—and was exponentially less efficient in terms of electricity and water consumption. Surprisingly, the vast difference in efficiency and speed did not translate to their respective wash performances. While the Deep Clean was a slightly better cycle overall, we’d recommend using the Normal wash most of the time, due to its superior speed and efficiency. Most of our tests came back pretty darn close to perfect, but unfortunately none of the stains (except tea) scored perfectly across both passes.
If a cycle is going to expend more than 10 gallons of hot water, it better do a darn good job of cleaning dishes. Fortunately, the CDWT980VSS Deep Clean wash does. While we were impressed by its power against heavy protein stains (meat, baked-on egg, milk), we couldn’t get the outrageous price of $1,600 out of our heads. For that price, you should expect perfection—and if not that, then some sort of flashy gizmo or new technology. But there wasn’t any of that—just an extremely inefficient, albeit high performing, heavy cycle.
This is a solid mid-range machine that any middle class consumer will appreciate. Oh, what’s that? It costs how much? $1,600?! Give me my money back.
The CDWT980VSS performed pretty well, but for such an expensive machine we were expecting more... like a quick cycle... or better energy efficiency... or anything else, really.
The biggest disappointment was the automatic detergent dispenser. If you fill it with the exact same kind of detergent every time, you shouldn't have a problem. But accidentally put in one kind of Cascade instead of another, and you'll fill your dishwasher with a solid mess of soap that requires a major repair. There's a reason more dishwashers don't have automatic detergent dispensers, and this is it. Sale prices of $1400 just aren't enough to make this gimmicky piece of technology worth it.
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