GE GTD86ESPJMC Dryer review:

Wi-Fi dryer could use more speed, style

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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good GE's GTD86ESPJMC dryer comes with a long list of special cycles, steam modes, and app-connected smarts for monitoring the appliance right from your phone.

The Bad For its high price the GE GTD86ESPJMC dryer should have more attractive looks. The machine also takes longer to dry clothes than similar elite home appliances.

The Bottom Line Wi-Fi smarts aside, the $1,200 GE GTD86ESPJMC dryer's bland design and slow performance don't match its luxury price tag.

6.7 Overall
  • Design 6.5
  • Usability 6.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 6.0

Often purchased as an afterthought or as part of a larger laundry pair, dryers traditionally aren't thought of as cutting-edge appliances. Times have changed, however, and even lowly clothes dryers have entered the brave new world of the smart home. Take the $1,200 GE GTD86ESPJMC, for instance. Packed inside its gunmetal gray curves is hardware for linking to smartphones, tablets, and even compatible GE washing machines all in the name of extra convenience and capabilities.

Of course smart technology is just one piece of this pricey machine's story. It also features a long list of special drying cycles to better handle specific fabrics and garment types. But even with those advanced capabilities, it can't match the performance and style of other, similarly intelligent appliances. The $1,400 LG DLEX5000 for example is more expensive but has greater drying power. It's also better looking and easier to operate, all of which make it a wiser laundry buy.

Design

The GE GTD86ESPJMC dryer is roughly the same size as other modern laundry room appliances such as the LG DLEX5000 (38.8 x 27 x 32.8 inches), except for one important detail -- a massive back panel. Counting its big, rear-mounted control panel, the machine stands at a full 44.5 inches (3.7 feet) tall. So even though this dryer spans a reasonable width of 28 inches (2.3 feet) across and reaches a modest depth of 31.9 inches (2.7 feet), the appliance appears much larger than it really is.

The controls are mounted on the dryer's back panel.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Another drawback to placing the controls along its backmost edge, besides having to reach over the entire contraption to use them, is that you can't stack a washer on top of it (or vise versa) to save space. Forget about placing the dryer on a pedestal either, whether to add more functionality like the LG Twin Wash or simply to improve ergonomics, because that's not an option GE offers with the GTD86ESPJMC.

That said, the dryer's design does have a certain amount of futuristic flair to it. At the center of the control panel sits a large silver knob for selecting your desired drying cycle. It smoothly swivels both left and right yet softly clicks into place at each cycle stop. A bright blue LED indicator also confirms what dial position you've landed on.

To the left of the dial is a small, rectangular display which highlights more cycle options such as "Time," "Level" (of dryness), and "Temp." Unless you're standing directly in front of this screen though it's rather hard to read. That's because brightness drops severely when viewing the display off-angle (anything greater than 45 degrees). By comparison the LG DLEX5000's illuminated controls are not only brighter but clearly legible even when seen at very obtuse angles (approaching 180 degrees).

The large control knob is easy to use and is this dryer's best design feature.

Chris Monroe/CNET

I'm also not a fan of this dryer's overall design language which struck me as uninspired especially for a machine this expensive. I am aware that GE built the GTD86ESPJMC to match its paired laundry appliance, the top-loading GTW860SPJMC ($1,200). Still, aside from the GTD86ESPJMC's outdated shape, the dryer doors exposed hinges and blank surfaces (front and top) are bland and lack much visual impact. By comparison the DLEX5000's clean lines and smooth curves lend the machine an attractive and modern look.

Features

Offsetting the GE GTD86ESPJMC dryer's blah design is a large list of clothes handling modes and drying cycles. Twelve in all, these options run the gamut from "Delicates" and "Active Wear" to "Jeans," "Towels/Sheets," and a "Bulky Items" setting that promises to properly dry large winter coats, comforters, and blankets.

And what modern dryer (or washer) would be complete without steam functions? The GE GTD86ESPJMC has you covered in this regard, too. Available cycles include "Steam Refresh" for flattening out slight wrinkles in small batches plus "Steam Dewrinkle" to refresh larger loads that are dry but have perhaps been sitting in the dryer overnight.

You have many specialty cycles to choose from.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The dryer also offers what GE calls a "Steam Select" button. Engaging this key tells the machine how many items you plan to process (ranging in number from 1 to 18). The dryer will then adjust projected cycle times depending on the batch size you enter, the briefest being 16 minutes (1 to 2 garments). That's longer than the shortest possible "Steam Fresh" run time which the LG DLEX5000 promises under similar conditions (1 to 3 items).

Use the app to stay in the loop

The GE GTD86ESPJMC is the company's first dryer to boast a Wi-Fi radio and is also one of the few within GE's roster of WiFi Connect appliances. As a result you have the option of linking the machine with the GE Laundry mobile application (available for either iOS and Android). Once properly connected to your home network, the app provides useful information such as the projected time until your clothes are dry, which dryer cycle is engaged, and what temperature setting you've selected.

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