Ariston TVF63X Review
And you thought the Fiat 500 was a hot Italian subcompact!
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Folks familiar with the relaxed lifestyle embraced by many European cultures (especially the Italians) as compared with the grinding approach to work found in the U.S. shouldn't be surprised at the Ariston TVF63X's somewhat cavalier approach to consistent cycle length. What may surprise you, however, is just how reliable that sort of casual approach can be in terms of actually getting the job done.
Though Ariston's parent company, Indesit, is one of the largest appliance makers in Europe, they're virtually unknown in the US. Like a film with subtitles, their slightly smaller 24-inch washers and dryers only appeal to a select group of American consumers. The TVF63X compact dryer is part of a pair which is found primarily in small apartments with built-in laundry, and in high-end RV's. If that's not a niche product, we don't know what is.
We don't alter our load sizes for compact machines, so we're usually pessimistic about how well these tiny dryers will hold up to full-sized standards. Oddly enough, the TVF63X wasn't that bad: it can crank out some pretty high temperatures and does a fantastic job getting clothes dry, although it sure takes awhile. The verdict? This Ariston is better than drying your clothes under the Tuscan sun, but the cycle choices are more Fiat than Ferrari.
Design & Usability
An attempt to balance functionality with spatial economy.
This tiny little machine is rather quaint in appearance, with a small window on the door and a full cycle list next to a control knob populated only by pictorial symbols and numbers, a great way to sell the dryer in different countries without changing a control layout for different languages. While this dryer is also available in stainless steel, we opted to take a closer look at the white enamel version. One big, small problem: the dryer's opening was too narrow for bulky items, so we had to really muscle in a comforter.
The reason this machine has so many cycles isn't because it's versatile; rather, it's an alternative approach to user-based customization. Temperature, dryness, heat levels: none of these are adjustable from cycle to cycle. Cottons and Permanent Press offerings have different dryness levels listed as separate cycles; additionally, you get a few extra options including Jeans and Delicates, as well as an Air Fluff option. The Timed Dry setting supports incremental cycle lengths, but you won't find anything shorter than 30 minutes.
Normal & Delicate
As long as you're not laundering with a deadline, you'll be quite pleased.
The Ariston's Normal cycle was the biggest offender in terms of bizarre drying times. We run each tested cycle twice: the first time we ran the Normal test (we used the "Cottons—Extra Dry" setting), it took one hour and 42 minutes. The second time? Three hours! Things generally ran around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, though we did see some temperature spikes as high as 173 degrees; clothes came out 100% dry, but if your machine is still running after two hours...you better go check on it.
The "Delicates Low Temp" setting was actually quite effective: true, it ran for an average of two and a half hours, but it only peaked at 93 degrees. That's perfect for a delicate load, keeping things nice and cool so fragile fabrics don't get damaged. We're not saying it's perfect—things weren't completely dry—but at 97 percent, it leaves just the right amount of moisture left for ironing or putting something up on a clothes hanger.
Performance & Features
Almost absurdly good at everything except getting the job done quickly.
On every dryer we test, we run each of the tested cycles twice, starting with the Normal setting (in this case, "Cottons—Extra Dry"). Despite the fact that the TVF63X got clothes 100 percent dry both times, our hopes were low when we saw that one cycle finished in about an hour and 40 minutes, while the second test took a whopping three hours despite our using the exact same load each time.
You can imagine our delight when not only the Delicates cycle produced nearly perfect results, but the Bulky test did as well. Most full-sized models didn't do as good a job getting our large comforter dry. That said, there is definitely a catch: nothing will dry quickly in this machine—our 30 minute Timed Dry, the closest thing we could get to a Quick cycle, was completely ineffective—and cycle durations can be more inconsistent than usual. Surprisingly good at what it does, but takes a long time to do it? Well, it took Michelangelo four years to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling...
As is common with compact machines, there aren't a lot of extras here. A High Heat option is available for really wet clothes, and a Child Lock will keep out curious bambinos. The Post-Care option is essentially a renamed Wrinkle Release that will keep tumbling your clothes; what's more interesting is the Pre-Care option, which—when combined with the Delay Start—can fluff your clothes before the actual drying cycle, theoretically preventing some really nasty wrinkles from forming at the very beginning.
Quick Dry & Bulky
Quick dry? Not happening. Bulky? Not...wait a minute...
First thing's first: we use a standard four pound load for quick cycle testing, and we also didn't have the "High Heat" option turned on. Even so, we expected better out of the Ariston's 30 minute Timed Dry cycle. We weren't expecting great things—it is a compact model, after all, with preset cycles that take twice as long as it would in a full-sized counterpart—but 38 percent dry? That's just sad. You might as well leave things draped on a shower curtain over night.
There's no designated heavy duty or bulky setting on this Ariston, so we went with the longest Timed Dry option available: 160 minutes. (Again, as with the Quick Dry test, we didn't turn on the "High Heat" option.) After the abysmal results mentioned above, we didn't expect much; the Bulky test, after all, is the most frequently failed trial. To our delight, our massive comforter came out with 87 percent of the moisture removed. That's actually pretty darn fantastic; most full-sized models don't even come close. When you consider the fact that we had to literally muscle the comforter through the machine's tiny door, it just becomes all the more impressive.
A lesser known brand surprises with its overall quality.
There aren't many compact laundry sets on the market, so it's easy to see a standout. The Ariston TVF63X serves up a reasonably varied set of cycles and a surprisingly effective performance for such a small machine.
The lengthy—and sometimes egregiously inconsistent—drying cycles make it hard to budget time for doing laundry. That said, if your home is too small for a full-sized machine, the Ariston is certainly more convenient than a laundromat. All you need is a 220v outlet and permission to punch a vent through the wall.
For $799, it's not the cheapest model on the market (the Blomberg DV17540 costs about $100 less) but this Ariston certainly seems to be one of the most effective.