One these was the Duo. This appliance features two separate wash drums in one machine, each with its own independent motor. That means you can wash two separate loads at the same time, using different temperatures and different speeds.
The joy of covering IFA is getting hands-on time with the hottest new European products. The inevitable downside is the depressing realization that most of these amazing machines will never make their way to American shores. Such is the case with the Duo. This €1,600 machine is launching in Germany next March, but no U.S. release date has been announced as of yet.
The first thing you'll notice about the Duo—apart from the two drums—is its height. There's no getting around the fact that this washing machine is tall. It clocks in at 51 inches, to be precise, which puts it head and shoulders above most front- and top- load washers. The smaller top drum can take a 4kg load—Europeans measure washing machine capacity by weight, not volume—while the lower drum can handle double that.
Each drum has an inner surface textured like a pillow, which is supposed to be less abrasive on delicate items. They also have anti-bacterial gaskets, and the softener receptacles have a removable antibacterial lip.
The doors open and close with little trouble, though we found opening the bottom door from above can be a little tricky. There's bound to be an adjustment period for new Duo owners: the top and bottom drums are a little higher and lower than where a typical front-loader drum would sit. Muscle memory is a heck of a thing.
Love it or hate it, the Duo dispenses with physical dials and buttons in favor of a touchscreen control panel. We're pleased to report that using the panel is an absolute delight. At the company's IFA press conference, a Haier exec stated that the company is "leveraging all the know-how we have from cell phones and tablets,” and it really shows in the end result. If you've ever interacted with a smartphone, using the Duo's touchscreen should be a piece of cake.
The simple user interface conceals a surprising wealth of customizable wash presets, as well as a few other surprises.
A tiny portion of the left side of the screen is used to switching between drums, while you can cycle through the multitude of presets on the right. The top drum has a total of 12 presets (Baby Care, Underwear, Silk, Casual, Allergy Care, Color Wear, Kid's Wear, Towels, Quick Wash, Rinse & Spin, Spin, and Tub Clean). Those last four are also available in the lower drum, along with 12 additional settings (Cotton, Synthetic, Wool, Bulky, Curtain, Bedding, Mix, Jeans, Sports Wear, Outdoor, Shirts, Down, Sanitize, and Silk).
These presets determine the overall wash time, rinse length, temperature, and speed, but you can adjust all of the parameters within tabs that line the bottom of the screen.
The control panel also offers a series of videos that explain how to use the various features of the machine (though there isn't a video showing users how to find the videos). There's also a glossary of laundry symbols, which just might be the single most helpful feature we've ever seen.
Like many washers these days, the Duo has a companion app that lets you control the machine from your smartphone, whether you're at home or out of the house. The app includes fewer presets—six for the upper drum and 12 for the lower. It will alert you if there is a problem with your load, like the door being ajar or the detergent container being empty, and message you when the cycle is finished.
Washer-dryer combos aren't anything new, but this is the first time we've seen a washer-washer combo. We're left wondering why no one thought of it before.
Sure, large-capacity drums are great for large families, but they require careful planning if you want to get the most out of all that space without running extraneous loads. The Duo could literally halve the time you need to do the wash, and anything that helps us spend less time doing chores is A-OK in our book.
We're hopeful that the Duo will eventually make its way to America. Considering Haier's recent expansion in the U.S.—along with our insatiable appetite for more of everything—this washer has obvious appeal.
Meet the tester
Aside from reviewing ovens and cooktops, James moonlights as an educational theatre practitioner, amateur home chef, and weekend DIY warrior.
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