GE GTDS820EDWS Dryer Review
Clean Speak seems like a nifty idea, but this dryer doesn't pick up much steam when flying solo.
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Initially, we were very intrigued by the GE GTDS820EDWS's Clean Speak functionality, where the matching washer will communicate the status of a load of laundry to the dryer at the end of a cycle, theoretically selecting the best preset option for optimal drying. Sounds awesome, no doubt about that, but there's one catch: we review these products as stand-alone machines, standardizing our tests to get the most objective results possible.
When you take the GTDS820EDWS as a solo product, it turns out to be just an average machine. While that's not at all a bad thing—just an anticlimactic one—our minor disappointment was lessened by the fairly reasonable MSRP of $1099. If you like GE products, there's really no reason not to buy this one; it may only be really worth getting, though, if you're looking to get a full laundry set.
Design & Usability
Traditional doesn't always mean stale.
On the whole, this dryer looks more or less like any other GE in this price range that we've seen to date. White enamel with stainless highlights give it a solid, mid-range appearance that should make this machine look at home in nearly any laundry room. The prominent handle is easy to grip, though folks who lack space in whatever room they clean their clothing may find baskets—and hips—bumping into it more often than they might like.
The control panel actually has some of the easiest-to-read layouts we've seen. Something about the combination of mid-sized fonts, clear back lighting on the console display, and the prominent cycle knob just make this GE a snap to use and navigate. Some users with particularly bad eyesight may find they need glasses if they want to take full advantage of what this GE has to offer, but on the whole, this dryer is exceptionally user-friendly.
Performance & Features
At its best when you buy the set.
The GTDS820EDWS dryer is almost completely, perfectly average. With a solidly dependable Normal cycle, a Quick Dry that gets the job done but takes too long, a Delicate preset that also delivers—but with the caveat of getting a bit too hot—and a Bulky cycle that...well...fails, there are absolutely no surprises as far as this machine's performance. If your laundry consists of basic loads of t-shirts and jeans, sure, grab one up at your local appliance store today. If you're looking for some fine-tuned performance and don't plan on taking advantage of the dryer's biggest attention grabber (more info in the next paragraph), however, you can do just as well with a slightly more budget-friendly model.
The Clean Speak feature is the big draw here...as long as you purchase the matching GE washer. When you have the full duo, the washer can theoretically speak to the dryer after every cycle, choosing the best drying option based on the final weight of your laundry. You have to plug an ethernet cable from one machine to the other; wireless communication is not an option as of yet.
Clean Speak aside, the GE dryer has a pretty standard feature set: a steam hookup in the back, both a delay dry and an extended tumble option, an feature "e-dry" to optimize energy consumption, and an adjustable signal volume. A Timed Dry option that can run from 10 to 99 minutes shows off a pretty impressive range, as does the extensive 13 available cycles, while the four temperature and dryness levels round things out in an acceptably average way. A nice final touch is found with the "My Settings" option, which allows you to store a customized cycle setup.
GE does it again...and again...and again...
GE seems to have a knack to selling sturdy, moderately reliable, fairly well-equipped, all-around average laundry machines. This particular model is no exception: a slew of quasi-extensive options and cycles, strong performance that contains a number of caveats, and an overall design that will neither impress, dismay, or otherwise woo consumers one way or the other in terms of originality.
We keep coming back to it, but the most interesting thing here is really the Clean Speak technology. Unfortunately, as we mentioned, it just doesn't fit into the current objective testing procedures, and as such isn't something that we can include in our overall scoring procedure, but it's a cool idea that may make some interesting ripples in the world of laundry appliances. For $1099, this particular dryer is neither a bargain, nor is it a luxury expense; unless you want to explore the Clean Speak for yourself and buy the pair, though, we always recommend looking for something that's better than average.
While we'd love to write about the performance of this dryer in the context of the Clean Speak feature, we have to judge it on its own merit to keep things fair. As such, we found that numbers produced by this GE dryer to be just as average as...well...almost every other GE dryer that we've tested.
Normal & Delicate
The work horses are back in town.
The Normal cycle is the workhorse of the laundry appliance, and GE seems to have taken that into account. With decent temperature output and an average drying time, the Normal cycle here gets essentially perfect results; no complaints whatsoever.
The Delicate cycle, on the other hand, can only be described as almost perfect. While clothes get 99 percent of the way to being bone dry (not a bad thing, necessarily, if you want to hang up or iron your dress clothes or other fragile garments), the fact that this cycle peaks at 132 degrees is just a hair too warm for our tastes. It's not something so extreme that it will make or break this dryer, but it's still a quasi-flaw worth mentioning.
Quick Dry & Bulky
The two tests that don't completely fail...
First, the good news: the quick cycle got clothes completely dry! The bad news? It took an hour...and got as hot as 138 degrees. If you're thinking to yourself "Wait a minute...isn't that nearly identical to the Normal cycle?" you'd be right. It's five minutes shorter and two degrees cooler, but otherwise is exactly the same as our primary test. Despite the strong final result, this cycle gets a bad score because it doesn't do what it's supposed to: dry clothes quickly.
The Bulky test was the only overwhelmingly poor test: 42 minutes peaking at 116 degrees got our test comforter down to 68 percent of its bone dry weight. Should it run longer? Ideally. Should it be getting hotter? Most likely. Should you be able to get a dry bulky item back when the cycle has concluded? Absolutely. Do you? Mmm...nope.