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I never thought I'd be drawn to a clothes dryer the same way I'm pulled toward a hot new smartphone. That was before I laid hands on the $1,500 LG DLEX 5000. An elegant machine that's both a swift performer and easy to operate, the all-electrical DLEX 5000 is stuffed with handy extras. These include a litany of special drying cycles, steam modes, plus a Wi-Fi radio and companion mobile app so you can command the appliance via phone or tablet.
Of course the dryer isn't perfect. For instance compared with other smart home appliance contenders, LG's Smart Laundry app is a confusing maze of functions, options, and services, many of which are vaguely labeled and sometimes redundant. Likewise, the dryer's 7.4-cubic-foot capacity is less than you'd expect from an appliance this pricey. That said, if you can live with LG's messy mobile controls, the DLEX 5000 boasts better performance, style, and abilities than GE's competing smart dryer, the $1,200 GTD86ESPJMC.
Constructed from painted steel, chrome and plastic, the DLEX 5000 hides its stainless-steel drum behind a darkly tinted glass door. This curved door sits almost completely flush against the dryer's front face and lacks an obvious handle, enhancing its sleek appearance. Don't try to slam the door shut though. Oddly, the more force behind your arm swing the more likely the door will bounce back at you.
Perhaps that's why the dryer's physical footprint (38.8 by 27 by 32.8 inches) feels much less imposing than the GE GTD86ESPJMC (44.5 by 28 by 31.9 inches) even though it's roughly the same size. Another difference between the two units is the LG's control panel which is placed front and center, not mounted along the back edge where it's harder to reach.
The panel occupies a 4-inch tall strip running along the top of the dryer door. Here you'll find large circular keys for power and start/pause, both capacitive buttons which engage with a mere feather-light touch. Set in between this is the biggest physical control, a large knob for selecting your prefered dryer cycle. The knob rotates clockwise and counterclockwise, softly settling in place with a gentle bump at each cycle position. White LED lights highlight the current cycle you've chosen.
To the right of the knob is a rectangular bank housing additional buttons to operate secondary settings. These touch-sensitive controls, and small LED display they surround, are all bright and easy to read whether viewing directly in front or from the side. I also appreciate that, like its LG Twin Wash laundry sibling, you can set the DLEX 5000 on a pedestal though in this case it's a Pedestal Storage Drawer accessory ($280) not a specialized washing chamber.
The LG DLEX 5000 dryer is replete with special cycles, modes, and settings. Specifically there are 14 dryer programs designed to handle a wide range of fabric and garment types. LG also lists 13 separate options too including "Damp Dry Signal," "Wrinkle Care," and "Energy Saver" just to name a few. Keep in mind these choices don't factor into settings for both temperature and target dryness levels, both of which you can tweak manually.
I suspect that most people (like myself) will most often stick to the "Normal" cycle which is designed for a mix of clothes styles. It relies on the LG DLEX 5000's moisture sensors to automatically shut the machine down at the appropriate time.
Like GE's GTD86ESPJMC the DLEX 5000 has the ability to hit items with steam in the hope either removing wrinkles or germs. These modes are called "Steam Fresh" and "Steam Sanitary" respectively. While I can't speak to how sanitized my test clothing became, I did notice that compared with the GE dryer's equivalent function, LG Steam Fresh seemed more aggressive. It audibly piped multiple bursts of steam into the drum as opposed to the single spray I observed using the GTD86ESPJMC dryer. And regardless of whether I ran one or multiple items through "Steam Fresh" the LG machine always took less time (10 minutes to the GE's 16 to 17 minutes).
No flagship laundry product would be complete without a way to connect to a dedicated mobile app, and the LG DLEX 5000 is no exception. Similar to the GE Laundry application, the DLEX 5000 has a Wi-Fi radio tucked away inside its chassis. With it the machine can link to the LG Smart Laundry app (iOS and Android) where you'll be able to check dryer status and see how much time remains in a running cycle.
LG, however, decided to take things a whole lot further. While GE Laundry limits users to monitoring active dryer cycles, LG Smart Laundry allows you to start new cycles from within the application itself. Likewise the application lets you turn the machine off remotely.There is one caveat, a safety protocol I suspect. If the dryer sits idle for a few minutes, its "remote start" function shuts down. The only way to re-engage it is to hold a physical button down on the appliance's control panel for three seconds.
LG's app is festooned with myriad other features and abilities, too, all wrapped up into an array of mini apps within the software. For instance, located in a scrolling bar running along the bottom of the screen you'll find many tiny icons. Standouts include those for "Cycle Set" (quickly launches one preferred cycle), "Laundry Stats" (displays recent and often used cycles) and "Energy Monitoring" (shows efficiency of recent cycles and monthly energy use).
It's confusing and that's without experiencing the application's unstable performance. In my short time spent with LG Smart Laundry I sat through frequent unexplained crashes. The software also had a habit of freezing then closing while trying to sign into my LG Smart Laundry account, but work just fine seconds later. As we've seen with apps for past connected appliances from LG, software usability is not one of the company's strengths.
After running rigorous lab tests with the LG DLEX 5000 dryer I was rewarded with encouraging results. Data confirmed that this is one hot rod of a clothes dryer, at least compared with the GE GTD86ESPJMC. On average it took 42 minutes for the LG machine to power through our test loads on its "Normal" setting. The GE's dryer needed a longer average of 60 minutes using a comparable "Mixed Loads" cycle. We ran both dryers at their medium temperature setting.
The pair of dryers also removed an average of 5.6 pounds of water during each of their test cycles from wet loads weighing 13.6 pounds on average. In terms of sheer drying power though, the LG DLEX 5000 handily bested the GE GTD86ESPJMC, hitting an average water evaporation rate of 0.135 pounds per minutes. GE's machine could only muster 0.095 (pounds/minute) on our tests. It may not sound like much but this difference further highlights the LG's ability to dry clothes faster.
Based on what I experienced with the GE GTD86ESPJMC, I wasn't expecting much from the DLEX 5000's steaming abilities either. I was pleasantly surprised, when the dryer transformed a heavily wrinkled dress shirt into something quite wearable. While not completely wrinkle-free, after a fast 10 minute cycle the major creases had vanished its fabric. Even my test shirt's edges looked relatively flat, an area where the GE dryer stumbled.
There's no denying that $1,500 is a lot of money to spend on a dryer, but if you can afford to the expense then the LG DLEX 5000 won't disappoint. It's attractively styled, easy to operate, and packed with an array of dryer cycles to better tackle specialty laundry tasks. And while the LG Smart Laundry app is confusing and behaves erratically, the DLEX 5000 makes up for it by performing well.
It might cost more than the $1,200 GE GTD86ESPJMC dryer but LG's machine removes moisture from clothes faster. It doesn't waste extra effort and energy overdrying its loads either. Now factor in a steam mode that smoothes out more wrinkles, the ability to be stacked, plus an optional pedestal drawer and the LG DLEX 5000 is the clear dryer choice.