Last year, we tested the Samsung WA52J8700AP with Activewash and loved it. It's a top load washer with a built-in utility sink and wash basin. This allows you to hand-wash items in the wash basin before you throw them in for a proper cycle, creating a one-stop spot for pre-treating and washing your laundry.
In the time since then, Samsung has given its Activewash system a major overhaul. The upgrades have made the Activewash easier on the eyes—and on the hands. If you missed the Activewash the first time around and are looking to purchase a top loader, the new WA50K8600AV is worth considering.
When you approach the new 8600, you'll notice the redesign immediately. The controls are flat against the machine–sort of like the LG WT1701CV, but with the buttons toward the back of the machine. This makes the flat controls easily accessible for an adult, but out of reach of children. Having fancy controls located behind the detergent dispenser also will help prevent catastrophic accidents like spilling bleach on the electronics.
Samsung seems to be pushing black finishes these days, so the highest-end Activewash are all black stainless. The look is attractive and will stand out from other appliances. Black stainless isn't new, but we don't often spot it in home kitchens. The 8600 also comes in white for a lower price.
There are also changes to be found in the interior wash basin. It's wider and shallower than the wash basin in the WA52J8700AP. When it comes to use, the new shape provides enough space to place whole shirts down flat and give them a good scrub. The deeper basin with ridges on the side—which we saw in the 8700—is more akin to a wash board. However, it's tough to muster much downward force on a basin that's sitting at chest height, which could decrease the effectiveness of those ridges. Side-to-side motion is going to much more pleasant and efficient on the new model.
A button operated spout provides water to the basin. On the older models, a protruding spout proved a convenient spot to bump your knuckles when cleaning, but now Samsung has shaved it down to almost nothing. After filling the drum and tilting it back–a hands-free way to move items from the basin into the drum–we were surprised that the basin had soft-close hinges.
Finally, we really liked the fact that you can open the detergent dispenser while the basin is down. Previously, Activewash would only let you do things in a certain order, but it's nice to have some freedom to add detergent while using the basin. Just because.
Combining all the new Activewash features produces a seamless experience. Anyone who wants to pre-treat and machine-wash their clothes in the same place is going to want to check this washer out. It comes out in Spring of 2016.