* Prices may differ from that shown
I own model ZDF 601k which has all the same features but is black.
I have owned this machine for approximately 3 years now and so feel I can be fair in my comments as to the longevity and build quality of the machine.
Firstly, it looks very nice in black and surprisingly the door is still unmarked,which after 3 years is pretty good going.
There are five programmes to choose from which are 70 degree power boost (83mins),60 degree automatic (112mins), 60 degree quick wash (30 mins) 50 degree economy (159mins) and rinse hold (12mins).
Of all the programmes I only use the automatic and the rinse hold which is handy if the dishwasher isn't full enough for a full wash but you don't want the food to harden on the plates.
Another useful feature is the start delay which can be programmed to delay the start for up to 19 hours.
There are five more indicator lights which will tell you the status of the machine and if it needs salt or rinse aid. As well as these the time left on each programme is displayed which I think is a nice feature.
Inside of the dishwaser is pretty typical but it does have a light which is quite unusual.
Overall the performance of the machine is good, but the tablet dispenser inside the door has a rubber seal on it which tends to come away and when this happens the tablet doesn't come out properly resulting in unclean dishes. This can be frustrating after a 2 hour cycle!
Other niggles include the rack for the knives and forks which started losing bits from the bottom mesh after about 10 months. Ifyou put your cutlery in handle downwards they slip through and stop the bottom arm on the dishwasher rotating which again results in unclean dishes. You can purchase another rack but it is around £30 pounds which I think is excessive.
Also the automatic wash button has gone "wonky" . This happened after about 8 months but it hasn't fallen off or broken so I assume one of the supports underneath it snapped.
On the whole I think the dishwasher is doing pretty well and I have never had any leaks or bad smells emanating from it. Also as already stated it still looks very good.
Although the problems I have experienced have been small I still think they are worth mentioning as this is not a "budget" machine and therefore build quality shouldn't be an issue.
For comparison, my last dishwasher was 6 years old when I got rid of it (bosch) and apart from a few scuffs on the door functionally it was as new.
The inevitable progress of our 14 year old Bosch dishwasher finally hit the dust two weeks ago when my parents asked me to bring in the Vax from garage. Although the dishes, pots, pans and drinking glass still shone, sparkling in the light and were extremely well washed by the Bosch, a pool of water at the bottom told us the signs that our old model was on its way out. Whilst sucking up water through the Vax canister I realised that perhaps it was time to look for a new dishwasher.
So whilst my parents went to the local electricity show room in town, (Scottish Power, no less) I researched a few brands against the chosen Bosch model they had in mind. However it was not all plain sailing; a lot has occurred with brands in ten years!
For a start, why should it be difficult for any consumer who wants to buy a dishwasher, to be faced with so many different brands who offer a peg level of specification which is either slightly different, down on place settings, wash programmes and general noise? Forget looking for a machine these days which has anything lower than the "Triple A" specification, because so many manufacturers are trying to get their machines to this much preferred and economical statistic. Although not a hurdle, it made choosing our final purchase a little harder since price also started to change per spec and brand.
** This is a long review **
** The John Lewis Experience **
If there is one shop to avoid it is John Lewis.
Although helpful to show 13 brands on offer I found the experience extremely confusing and stressful. Out of 13 different brands, five brands exist which show the same internal fittings but are cosmetically different and have different wash programmes. This isn't news to anyone who has had the same experience before, but in the eyes of John Lewis however it seemed that if I was looking for a dishwasher, then it had to be John Lewis' own brand and not much else to consider. The reason for this is simple; John Lewis dishwashers are made by "AEG of Germany" who are owned by Electrolux. And under the Electrolux umbrella of company products you'll find dishwashers made by AEG, Electrolux and Zanussi. All of these brands are sold by John Lewis including their own name. Taking into account the specs on offer, the John Lewis JLDWW1201 and Electrolux ESF66010W dishwashers for example almost looked the same both externally and internally, although the Electrolux washer came in a little more expensive than £300. John Lewis' model however came in at £279 and loses one wash programme to the other two, including the Zanussi ZDF601K at £299 who offers a lower noise level of 44dbl and an extra wash programme. The Zanussi is also black in colour against the white/lighter coloured machines and thus won the day for the overall value and vote.
Although John Lewis had opened up so many different brands, I walked away that day feeling very pi**ed off but felt as if I had neither won a battle or influenced the salesman to check his so called experience since he kept maintaining that John Lewis machines were all made in Germany yet couldn't tell me why a country should influence a purchase on the strength of its longevity and build given that Electrolux reliability in general wasn't always the best. One thing did occur however out of this; John Lewis may well offer a so called excellent deal of five years servicing but at the cost of charging £20 more on a similarly spec and identically internal fitted dishwasher with a Zanussi badge on it, is utter nonsense.
** Nar's Quick Skip Product Spec **
* Dimensions: Diameter 63.5cm, by Width of 60cm and 85cm Height.
* Price: £299.00 for Black model, £279.00 for white model.
* 12 Place settings.
* Adjustable top and bottom racks.
* Triple A performance (incl. drying & washing), energy efficiency, noise (44dbl rated).
* Five washing programmes including quick wash and economy programme.
* Over flow and steam protection (after drying).
* Timer delay LED screen with sequence indication.
* 15 litre water consumption.
* Patented "Jetsystem," wash process.
So the final award for purchase from a shop goes to Scottish Hydro, our local electrical shop at home. Although slightly more expensive, the final price we managed was £310 for the Zanussi plus the same £80 servicing warranty for 8 years rather than the 5 years John Lewis were charging. Knowingly overpriced then JL! And it was down to my cosmetically appealing preferred mother for choosing this model rather than a Bosch.
So how has the Zanussi faired?
Compared to our Bosch, the first and most obvious difference is the internal fittings. Forget the controls and the bottom section of the Zanussi for the moment because it is clear that in this respect they have copied Bosch right down to the smallest details; the only highlight being that this dishwasher has an internal light at the bottom side wall which is like the same kind of light you would find in a conventional oven and for some that may well be of benefit.
Although our Bosch was 14 years old, I can't help but feel that the Zanussi has a smaller top rack and suffers from some poor details. There are a few little additions on this completely different company offering against the logical fittings that Bosch have seen very little change even on their latest dishwashers; this occurred to me when I checked out the latest Bosch dishwasher and compared it to our own; aside from swing down cup holder type grids on the top tray, our old Bosch could accommodate a lot more bowls and mugs on the top rack compared to this Zanussi. But there are a few things to take note of here;
Although the Zanussi doesn't appear to be able to take as many mugs in one go on either side, there is a handy swing up and down wavy arm which can give another additional level to put bowls onto. It is not meant to be used for this purpose but I found that the breakfast bowls can lie quite successfully on this swing up rung - the reason it exists is purely for allocating safe space for wine glasses but in reality it takes up too much room for actual wine glasses when they are placed there. At least the top rung can be lifted upwards to a 2 stage height which Zanussi call a "Quick Lift," only by grasping both sides of the top rack and simply pulling upwards to lock into place. However our old Bosch had that as well...
This means that whilst bowls in our old dishwasher were made to slide onto their sides, the breakfast bowls can be laid flat in the Zanussi, at the top and double their amount with the swing down arm put down and the additional twin grids folded down to give another level. This is a particularly neat idea as it means on the other side of the top rack, where no arm exists, mugs and cups can be placed. But when I think about it, I could get more bowls on the top rack in the Bosch compared to the flat position in the Zanussi.
It doesn't stop there - the permanent set walls of the bottom grids on this Zanussi are too narrow and thick, which means bulky coffee mugs which sat peacefully and locked in the Bosch fail to sit in the top rack and thus sit "on" the prongs rather than in them. Glass tumblers, average in height are better accommodated in the Zanussi on the top rack where they are meant to go but thanks to those double top grids which can be folded down, the height of the glass is restricted because of the grip mounts at the bottom of these flaps - you are then compromised to put glasses in the middle of the top rack where they sit unbalanced. All in all, when it comes to accommodation on the top rack, the Zanussi is poor here and doesn't take as many cups, bowls, mugs and glasses as our old Bosch did. In its highest position, the flaps have to be folded down too.
** Where Copying Bosch Doesn't Work **
The bottom rack however is a pure copy of the Bosch in terms of the layout - dishes can be allocated on both left and right sections at the front with a further line of prongs at the back for additional dishes and a fold down strip of prongs to accommodate more. The difference is, our Bosch was better; on the Zanussi the dish prongs can accommodate 12 side plates on the left hand side and 3 full size dinner plates on the right hand side. The Bosch had 4 dinner plates on either side and 8 small side plates on the left hand side and given that both machines were described as a "full" dishwasher, it begs to ask the question that for an average household of four people, where does the fourth dinner plate go when all the other plates have been put in? Another plate can be put in of course but space is rather tight between the plate and the actual corners of the bottom rack which doesn't add peace of mind when using delicate crockery.
In terms of accommodation for general sizes of plates and general pieces, the Zanussi is poor in terms of its design; the cutlery basket sits slightly to the right hand side, has a good handle and has separate grid holes fitted on top to install cutlery into their allocated holes. This smacks of poor design thought because our Bosch had the same grid on one side of the basket which gave individual points as well an open walled section on the other side which meant more cutlery could be installed instead of limiting what can be washed in one programme on the Zanussi. Removing the top grids simply needs a good steady hand to unclip the plastic but it is of poor quality, but in its defence I found the basket can be halved in size if you haven't got that much cutlery to wash.
What are the positives? Well upon opening the door, both racks have handy pull handles on them which is great for both my elderly parents and limits actual bending. It is a shame however that no other manufacturer has since been able to change the salt dispenser which is located on the left hand side of the dishwasher floor (again copied from Bosch) and a central lift out main food collecting filter which is simple to unlock and lift out. Luckily just like Bosch, the dishwasher powder dispenser is located half way down the middle of the main door and this is easy to put powders or gel tabs in. Both doors for salt and powder/tabs are clearly labelled and move with precision, but they are not as well made as they were on our Bosch.
Noise however is very undetectable and that includes the performance and activation from beginning to end. The wash and drying time is very short for most programmes although the intensive wash can last up to 85 minutes; importantly though it washes just as well as our old dishwasher did, with each implement and cutlery washed extremely well leaving them sparkling and shining.
So, what does the Zanussi do better that the Bosch didn't?
Well, 14 years ago it was difficult to find a Triple A rated machine and although our Bosch didn't have AAA ratings, it did its job quietly and the controls were easy to use. The Zanussi has five programmes consisting of Intensive washes at 70º centigrade and then offers lower degree programmes consisting of:
* 65 º to 55 º "Automatic" program
* 55 º "Economy" Program
* Quick Wash program
* Rinse Hold program
There is a further delay start setting which more or less allows you to put your dishwasher onto a timer setting and five further LED's which light up to show when the wash has started, and three other LED's to show general low amounts of added powders such as Salt and "3 in 1," which refers to the gel type tabs you can buy for use in lieu of powder.
So it is a great pity that it offers no Glass program, which for general washing should occur only at a 45 º centigrade temperature. For a dishwasher which has so many programmes it is harsh that Zanussi/Electrolux have not fitted such a wash choice for glass and delicates.
In terms of its external finish, there are no complaints however; the beautiful black matt finish on the Zanussi is very classy and of course being black against our old white Bosch, it is easier to keep clean since its black colouring generally hides any dirt. Whilst it does look good, Zanussi charge an extra £20 for this colour against their white option which John Lewis sell. Internally the general quality of the fittings on the Zanussi however seem to be okay but not award winning; handles are plastic in quality and feel as if they have just been snapped on rather than putting any tactile thought into them. The opening door lock rings out with a cheap sounding "snap" rather than the clunk our Bosch used to give, which adds personal insult to what we were used to.
The LED panel shows indications of both numerical and letters whenever either salt needs replacing as well as the timer function and wash sequence. Although it is viewable to see in bright green LED's, the angle of the screen is too small to see from a distance (Bosch here are better) and my parents have to bend down to see what stage the machine is at in terms of if they can empty it or not!
And unlike the Bosch, it seems like a cheaper idea to have an on button which has to be switched off before opening the door!!
So is the Zanussi worth the money? Against John Lewis's own machines and the myriad of confusion which both Electrolux and AEG sell, the Zanussi does give a generally all round performance coupled with some good design details, but from a Bosch ownership point of view, this Zanussi is not good enough for accommodation. For most people looking for a full size dishwasher for an average household of four, I don't think the Zanussi is able to accommodate as many dishes, plates, and other grommets in one go and for all that you need to justify the size of a full size dishwasher, this is one reason alone not to consider the Zanussi despite its economy pretensions and specification. Yes, it may be quiet but it also uses more water than Bosch dishwashers (up to 3 more litres) which despite its efficiency rating goes to show that its Jet System principle of water jets uses more water than necessary.
Over the logical and plain looking white "Classix" Bosch dishwasher ranges, this Zanussi may well appeal to the heart for its look rather than its actual use long term and we shall see how it goes with this Zanussi since we don't intend to buy another machine for at least ten years, but ultimately it should have been another Bosch for general peace of mind and great design thought. ©Nar2 2007
ZDF601K ZANUSSI-ELECTROLUX freestanding dishwasher with push button functions and electronic controls. This model has foldable racks to give loading options.