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LG Styler review: LG's Styler is full of hot air

Using the "Tag On" function to enable communication between the app and the Styler.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The problem is that every feature in the app requires an NFC connection. So, you have to be standing right next to the Styler to start a cycle "remotely," download Special Care settings, troubleshoot any issues with the app's Smart Diagnosis feature and so on. That completely defeats the purpose of "remote access" and makes the app's value questionable, even though it is easy to navigate and the NFC function does work well.

I'd much rather use the Styler's sleek and responsive touchscreen interface than the app. It has a straightforward power button as well as a play/pause button for starting and stopping cycles. You can also select the specific cycles you want straight from the display and it will show how many total minutes are remaining at-a-glance. The one thing you can't do from the display is access the Special Care cycles -- you really do have to access the app for that. Bummer.

The Styler starts to unravel

There's really nothing in the US market quite like the LG Styler. One quasi-exception is the Whirlpool Swash, a $400 device that uses heat (not steam) to de-wrinkle one shirt or one pair of pants at a time. Whirlpool's between dry-cleaning product also comes with added odor removal benefits provided by Tide fragrance pods designed exclusively for Swash that cost roughly 60 cents per cycle. Overall the Swash did a better job of de-wrinkling clothes than the Styler, but it requires more active time since you have to attach clips to the shirts or pants before you can begin a cycle to stretch them out. On the other hand, the Swash only has two settings, one that runs for 10 minutes and one that runs for 15 minutes, whereas the Styler can take over 2 hours to finish one of its Sanitize cycles.

If the Styler were able to provide a true between-dry-cleaning boost, it would have a ton of promise, but that just wasn't my experience during testing.

I ran multiple tests with a wide variety of fabrics in Refresh, Sanitize, Gentle Dry and Special Care modes and was very disappointed with the results. Now, it's important to note that the Styler isn't designed to clean your clothes. Things that are heavily soiled and/or heavily wrinkled just won't work well with this appliance. But, I would expect a $1,999 appliance to do a better job of de-wrinkling a blouse I've worn once using a 20-minute Light "Refresh" setting than I could do ironing it, tossing it in my dryer or hanging it in a bathroom while the shower's running.

That wasn't the case, though. Everything I stuck in the Styler was only marginally improved post-cycle (or worse, as in the case of the pants pictured below).

Dress pants post-crease cycle. Hm.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Specifically, I followed the instructions in the manual to hang the pants in the "pants crease" attachment and downloaded the "Extra Pants Care" setting from the app. This cycle is supposed to press the pants and accentuate its crease line. As you can see, this did not work at all.

I also ran a 2.5-hour Gentle Dry cycle with a damp bathing suit and beach towel and a wool sweater that had been misted with water from a spray bottle (to mimic saturation from a light rain). It wasn't especially surprising that the towel was still wet, but the bathing suit and sweater were still damp as well.

Additionally, I ran a custom "Shawls/Neckties" cycle that I downloaded from the app with two slightly wrinkled ties, one very wrinkled cashmere shawl and one barely wrinkled wool scarf. The ties showed no difference whatsoever, the cashmere shawl looked somewhat improved and the wool scarf was better, but had still clearly been worn previously.

I also stuck two long wool coats in the Styler for a long Sanitize mode. Neither one was particularly wrinkled to begin with, but they did look slightly better afterwards and had a nice fresh scents due to the dryer sheet I put in the included aroma compartment. A second Sanitize mode with a wool-blend suit blazer and a well-loved baseball cap showed nearly no difference before and after the cycle. The cap, in particular, still had a noticeable odor.

The polyester lining in my dress was still quite wrinkled post-Styler cycle.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET


One final test I ran was a Normal Refresh cycle with a moderately wrinkled rayon shirt (a fabric that's supposed to do well in the Styler) and a dress with a polyester lining that was very wrinkled (another fabric that's supposed to react well to steam). The rayon shirt performed the best out of anything I tested in the Styler, but alas, it was still wrinkled after the cycle and, as you can see above, the dress lining was still quite wrinkled.

Sigh.

It isn't exactly that the Styler failed. The LG reps I spoke with were very clear that this product wouldn't be able to handle extremes (anything that was very soiled or very wrinkled). At the same time, this thing costs $1,999. That's a lot of money to spend on something that can't even fully de-wrinkle a garment I've worn just once or dry a wool sweater that's been lightly misted with water -- after a 2.5-hour drying cycle.

I really think this product would work better in commercial settings. I can more easily imagine it in a business-centric hotel where weary, well-dressed travelers who really don't have time to iron or a dry clean a suit need something that's quick and at least moderately effective. But for most of us, the Styler doesn't really offer anything that I couldn't easily accomplish with some Febreze and either a dryer, a shower-steamed bathroom or an iron.

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