GE's $699 GTW685BSLWS top-load washing machine expertly balances affordability and luxury. It features a traditional agitator inside the cleaning bin, an outdated, but still popular design that typically costs less. It also has a premium-looking transparent lid, a silver display panel and a ton of extras, like 14 cleaning cycles and a "delay wash" setting.
And, if you decide to spring for a $49 GE ConnectPlus Wi-Fi module, you can connect your GTW685BSLWS to the GE Laundry app, as well as check on the status of your clothes with your Amazon Alexa and Google Home speakers. This top-loader cleans really well, too.
The main downside? It was noisier than a lot of washers I've reviewed. Even so, its skillful stain removal, long list of features and solid design more than make up for it (assuming you're able to tuck your washer away behind a door to keep the noise down).
Take a look at the GTW685BSLWS's main features compared to other models in its price range:
|GE GTW685BSLWS||Kenmore 25132||GE GTW485ASJWS|
|Capacity||4.5 cubic feet||4.3 cubic feet||4.2 cubic feet|
|# of cycles||14||12||13|
|Energy consumption||150 kWh/year||300 kWh/year||152 kWh/year|
|Dimensions (width, height, depth)||27 x 46 x 27 inches||27.5 x 36.8 x 27.8 inches||27 x 44 x 27 inches|
|Smart integrations||GE Laundry app, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant with ConnectPlus Wi-Fi module (sold separately)||No||No|
For just $49 more than GE's own $650 GTW485ASJWS, the GTW685BSLWS has a larger capacity, more cleaning cycles, slightly better estimated energy consumption and way more optional smart integrations.
Note: If you want access to the GE Laundry app or to check in on the status of your washer via Alexa or Google Assistant, you must buy the $49 ConnectPlus accessory.
ConnectPlus is a Wi-Fi module that lets you connect your washer to the GE Laundry app, as well as your Alexa or Google Home smart speaker. Assuming your Wi-Fi connection is strong, this process should be very quick and straightforward. At the same time, the app and the voice control integrations don't actually do much. You can't start, stop or pause a cleaning cycle; instead, you're limited to checking in on your washer remotely to find out its current status and/or how much time is remaining on a cleaning cycle.
I specifically used the GE Laundry app, as well as an Amazon Echo Show to check in on my GTW685BSLWS cycles. GE's Geneva Alexa skill does require you to say, "Alexa, ask Geneva for the status of my washing machine" rather than just "Alexa, what's the status of my washing machine?" It's slightly clunky, but not a deal breaker. Again, the GTW685BSLWS's overall smart functionality is only somewhat useful, so I'm glad GE lets you decide by making the ConnectPlus an optional purchase.
To score a washer's performance, we test how well it removes stains and how gentle it is on fabric. Specifically, we run three identical "Normal" cleaning cycles with stain strips and mechanical action strips. Stain strips are covered in skin oil (sebum), mineral oil (carbon), pig's blood, cocoa (chocolate and milk) and aged red wine. Mechanical action strips are thin fabric squares with five holes arranged like the 5 face on dice. After running them through a cleaning cycle, we count the number of attached, frayed threads that measure at or over 2 millimeters. The higher the number, the tougher the washer is on fabric.
The GTW685BSLWS did really well with stain removal. It had just 44 percent of its original stains remaining. The GTW485ASJWS had 48 percent of its original stains remaining and the Kenmore 25132 beat them both with just 39 percent of its original stains remaining.
Here's how each individual stain run through the GTW685BSLWS washer compares to GE's GTW485ASJWS and Kenmore's 25132. Keep in mind that the graphic below is showing the percentage of the original stains remaining, so the lower the number, the better it did.
The GTW685BSLWS's "Normal" cycle was fairly tough on fabric, though. The mechanical action strips had 279 attached, frayed threads measuring at or over 2 millimeters. In contrast, GE's GTW485ASJWS had 266 and Kenmore's 25132 had 293, making it the toughest on stains of the three.
GE's $699 GTW685BSLWS is a solid top-load washing machine. It cleans well, it looks nice and it has a lot of features considering its lower price. But $699 still isn't cheap, so is this washer worth it? If you want a traditional agitator-style top-loader with great cleaning power, the GTW685BSLWS is a great choice (particularly if you can put in a laundry room or closet to keep noise at a minimum).