Whirlpool Duet WED88HEAC Dryer Review
Too much money for not enough drying.
The Whirlpool Duet WED88HEAC (MSRP $1,299) electric dryer is one half of a new laundry pair that the company has priced as the volume seller in the upscale Duet line.
With cool blue lights, a decent amount of cycles, and moderate customizability, it looks and feels pretty darn user friendly. Unfortunately, folks who care less about fit and finish and more about strong performance may find it hard to justify spending so much on a machine that's no better at heart than many cheaper products.
The WED88HEAC isn't bad by any means, but you shouldn't jump out of your chair to buy it unless you can find it on a significant sale. You may have a better chance at a bargain with the WFW88HEAW, which comes in a white finish that makes for a slightly lower price.
Design & Usability
Sleek and striking, but not functionally unique.
The Whirlpool's shiny gray—sorry, Chrome Shadow—exterior features steel highlights on the door and the control knob, as well as white text, blue indicator lights, and chirping sounds whenever a setting or cycle is changed. It's stylish and smooth, though it doesn't do much to innovate in terms of layout or aesthetic.
When you get right down to basic usability, this dryer manages to satisfy. The door and lint trap function as they should, though the door handle may be a touch low for some users. The capacitive touch controls worked more or less fluidly, without requiring us to jam our thumbs over the symbols to start a cycle or change settings. At the end of the day, though, they they don't seem to offer significant improvements over the functionality of regular buttons in any way.
Performance & Features
Mid-range drying on a high-priced machine.
The Normal cycle was effective, if a touch too hot; the Delicate cycle was also strong, if a touch too lengthy. Quick Dry proved completely useless when it came to our standard 4 lb. load, though a smaller batch may have faired better, while the Bulky cycle flat out failed to dry our test comforter. It's nothing we haven't seen before, but such mediocre performance underwhelms in this price bracket.
The story is the same when it comes to features. Ten cycles, including one specifically designed to use the dryer's steam capabilities, offer up a small degree of variety without being overly impressive. Five temperature settings and three dryness levels offer a range of flexibility that most consumers have grown to expect from every product aside from the most basic, budget models.
You've also got a damp dry signal, a wrinkle shield that can be used with or without steam, and an eco boost for (theoretically) more energy efficient drying. Conspicuously absent on a high-priced machine is the ability to save a customized cycle, as well as a short, steam-based, static reducing cycle.
In the Hot Seat
Wait for a more appropriate price.
With an MSRP of $1,299, Whirlpool has pit its newest Duet electric dryer against some very stiff competition. Some of the best machines we've ever reviewed are at or near that same price, and unfortunately Whirlpool's newest entry into the laundry market simply can't hold up against those products.
Mid-range versatility and performance don't match that high-end price tag, and sale prices don't quite ease the sting: the lowest we could find got down to just $1,075. For this Duet to outclass similarly priced competitors, it needs a bigger price cut.
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