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Our last washing machine finally broke down beyond repair about two years ago and so, after a few hours of searching I finally settled on this machine.
This washing machine is front loading with a drawer at the top for prewash, wash and softener. It has buttons for spin, prewash, quick, stain, extra rinse, quiet, delay start and start/pause.
One of my favourite features of this machine is that it has more cycles then you can shake a stick at! They are divided into cottons, synthetics and wool with delicates/duvets and temperatures for the washes clearly labelled including a special setting for a "cold" wash. The timings for the washes are clearly displayed on the digital display and vary between 40 minutes to almost 2 hours depending on the cycle chosen.
There is also a security lock on the door which means that the machine will not start unless the door is securely closed and locked.
One of the people in my household has a medical problem which means that the machine is on 3 to 4 times every day for a complete wash. We live in a very hard water area and do not use any softener yet despite having this machine for almost two years there is no noticeable limescale build up and we have had no problems with the machine despite how often it has been used and so it has proved itself to be very hardwearing!
The only real complaint I have about this washing machine is that despite having a large door its no easier to load/unload then any other machines I have used. However, considering the other advantages this machine has going for it this is a minor complaint and I would still highly recommend this product.
Where once upon a time, a rebadged white appliance or washing machine generally meant an assumed reputation of marketing for buyers on a budget and limited features, companies such as John Lewis have moved the game on with models designed to offer the consumer good standard features and a bit more if you buy their product label. Add the same three year guarantee thrown in that covers parts and labour, John Lewis have a good monopoly going on in their laundry division of products; not just selling their own laundry machines under their own name but also under AEG, Zanussi and not forgetting Electrolux themselves who are responsible for all of these brands.
Whereas JL have chosen wisely to feature few Zanussi and Electrolux washing machines, so not confuse the issue the JLWM1203 has similar spec to most Electrolux washing machines that feature the same 1200 rpm maximum spin speed. The A A B performance, efficiency and spin ratings and a price of nearly £300 positions this washing machine model into a market closely guarded by other rivals and remains to be either a good consideration at the time with the multitude of programs it offers plus being reasonably economical and environmentally friendly with lower speeds on a variable push button format for owners. This also covered aspects for being relatively healthy for its annual water consumption and general day to day water consumption - all of which can be found on their website.
At £278 at cost, it would appear that the 1203 model has quite a few features even though it is priced between Zanussi and Electrolux models. Up the price for an extra year of warranty (4 years) and the total cost is £299.00
Out of the packaging and realising that my first plumbing job involved only worrying about where to put the hose through the cold fill only tube at the back made the whole installation very easy even if John Lewis took away the secure bolts at the back of the machine. Once installed I had already saved up quite a lot of washing to go through the purpose and luckily there is a maximum load of 6kg on the JL1203 which for me translates into two pairs of jeans, 4 shirts, 2 large bathroom towels, a week's underwear, accompanying socks for each day, 6 t shirts and a pair of cargo trousers. Even at that I realised that there was still space at the top for a couple of tea towels and probably a small hand towel at the time. But in lieu of the maximum load weight, I'm slightly disappointed that this machine can't offer more than 6kg since my weekly washing appears to be just enough for one person and heaven knows what it must be liked to wash every day with these kinds of weight capacities and more to do with the overall size and capability not to mention the build quality. Here, for the most part the machine is built around shiny clean white plastic and easy labelling on the machine whilst the front loader door has its own handle to open - an additional point of design that I don't like because of past mistakes with other brands whose handles break off with the slightest of rough tugs.
Once the clothing was put in, I loaded the washing powder and fabric conditioner in and noted that unlike my mum's LG washer, the main powder goes into a middle section of the drawer whilst the conditioner goes into at the right hand side. Whilst there is nothing much that can actually be said about this, I'm not too fussed what sections are where but it is a minor tick in an already limited amount of boxes where details and large lettering are very welcome here, especially if you confuse the Prewash and the main powder sections as indicated the moment you look at the tray; it's very easy to do.
Unlike removing it; at the end of three weeks, my new washing machine's front panel was looking grubby, especially around the push in spring loaded buttons that seem to attract dirt in the recesses of the buttons whilst the powder tray seems to get the grubbiest. By pressing a button on the left hand side that unlocks the main soap tray out of the machine, I was rewarded with a flimsy feeling tray accompanied by a few caked powder bits and lots to wash and scrub on the underside. Inside the actual slider part of the machine itself where the tray usually goes I was surprised to find a thick layer of washing powder that felt too hard to remove by hands or fingers alone. Once everything was washed and scrubbed under a hot water tap, could I put the tray back in as quickly as I had taken it out? Not in your Nelly! After a few try outs and a prayer, the tray finally slid into its slot easily but unlike my mum's LG washer, it's just not that simple to align the tray in the JL1203 and take it out as easy as it is to take out and clean in the first place.
Other maintenance includes a filter located at the bottom and comes out via a recessed door; nothing new there, and whilst the lock mechanism is easy to do, I've never quite understood why companies don't issue a re-design in this area so that owners can successfully put a bowl to get the excess water and collected mess without the section of the flap overlapping the bowl, thus creating space and water all over the floor. On my mum's LG there's a feeder tube so that less mess is achieved; on the John Lewis machine however, this design has not been copied over unfortunately.
Similarly, loading and taking out clothes isn't much of a surprise to me despite John Lewis claiming that this model is supposed to have a large port-hole. Yes, whilst the surface area may be bigger it is not easier or harder than my old Zanussi when it comes to loading or unloading clothing and still like other machines I find I have to grab the top of the drum and give it a whirl to check if any other clothing has been missed whilst unloading. I see no reason to bend down and put my back out on a machine like this where a claim of easy unloading is all down to a larger port-hole. In short, I'm not so easily misled.
The features on the JL1203 are quite specifically designed for consumers who are looking for a washing machine designed to be able to wash quite a wealth of different clothing and fabrics according to type and texture. For me, the winning program has to be the Quick wash function which operates on a 30 minute run time - anything else for me would be a bonus where my current lifestyle as a teacher and musician is concerned. Around 28 minutes the machine will continue to rinse and wash before the final minute is up and is reserved for the final spin. However, although it is good to have this program I can't help but feel short changed; the 1203 model is supposed to have a variable spin speed selection but on activating the 30 minute Quick wash function, there are spin speeds from None to 500 and then every 200 increments thereafter. I found I was restricted to only being allowed to select up to 900 rpms which means the final condition of the clothing after final rinse and spin reveals different textured clothing and fabrics feeling overly damp; this isn't a good advantage to have given that the program is supposed to offer a quick wash with top results hence its function and availability amidst all 21 different wash programs. It is here that I fully begin to appreciate my mum's LG as it has a 1600 rpm and a complete choice of spin speeds regardless of the programs selected - take note here, John Lewis/Electrolux. Is it good for the environment when you have to select the extra rinse button or spin button again for less wet clothing? I don't think so - and not when it takes twice the energy to dry the clothing with other methods - in a tumble dryer or over a radiator.
Whilst there is the short program there are also five clearly marked push buttons allowing the owner to choose further options on top of the program selected. Unlike the Quick Wash which is a button and a twist of the central rotary dial only activation and only offers a limited amount of speeds on top, there is also an Extra Rinse button that may well qualify extra dry clothing suitable to be tossed into a dryer at reasonable and lower cost, or simply adds more to your final electric bill from the washing machine's point of view. I generally find Extra Rinse functions ideal if you hand wash clothing such as woollens. There is also a wealth of different temperatures available on the standard clothing type programs from Synthetic to Woollens and Cotton programs with a further 5 to 6 different temperature settings the owner can finely tune simply by selecting the main central rotary control; the whole fascia is white in colour and whilst it seems to mirror most washing machines on the market, it's a dead cert and copy for LG's washing machine in this respect although the plastic quality on the JL1203 doesn't feel particularly good even though it is soft feel and curved at areas where even the smallest of fingers could attack the controls. Just like our Zanussi dishwasher, the JL1203 fights back with offering a child lock on the main panel and a Delay start function up to 19 hours for those who are on half rate Electricity
In its defence then the last issue that most consumers are looking for is noise level. Although the 1200 rpm is noisy, it is not accompanied by a dead whine designed to make owners leave the kitchen or wherever the machine of your choice is likely to be located; all speeds including the spin only button offer a generally quiet time of it although you are well aware what it is doing when the drum starts to turn at high speed. Whilst it would easy to state that the LG washer is quieter in this respect, I found the JL1203 to be generally impressive even if I'm spoilt and used to the electronic Cuckoo siren alert on the LG let alone its quieter motor, the JL1203 only responds with a loud click whenever the programs selected have finished. However unlike the LG washer we have, the JL1203 may have copied a similar fascia design, but the LED panel is a cheap panel that has a light behind it rather than actual lights in each number and just looks like a 1980's digital Casio watch blinking back at you; compared to bright LED lights, I find I can't glance at the lit panel in subdued light as its easy to misread what the machine is telling you it is doing or at what stage. Some of the controls have added colours such as a frosted green in the Start button although on this machine you have to select the rotary dial to turn the machine on rather than assume the Start button will either turn or deactivate the actual washing machine.
At nearly £300 John Lewis/Electrolux have brought out a reasonably good washing machine that only reveals some of its downsides through thorough and expert use. The user manual is very helpful although it fails to mention the little things that annoy such as the Quick Wash function and rpm choices. In my opinion however 1200 rpm as a maximum spin speed is simply not enough for clothing to come out near dry despite the fact that it may well be good for the environment.
Performance seems to be okay on most programs even if some particular programs can last up to 2 hours and 15 minutes which can be too long. But, if you're looking for a washing machine that is simple to operate the JL1203 impresses enough not just on the basis that it has 21 wash programs. Just don't take into the fact that because it is made in Germany it exudes quality; Electrolux is a Swedish company and has many factories worldwide including China. Most German household appliances have a 5 year guarantee and low energy - but this John Lewis machine only has a 3 year guarantee with extra year options to further pay out. Now where's the German engineering in that? Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008
Product code: 88930206
Congrats to John Lewis from Which UK Consumer who have just pasted this machine a "Best Buy," for 2011.
Short name: John Lewis JLWM1203