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Samsung DV5500 dryer review: Speed alone doesn't make this dryer a good deal

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If you're in the market for a high-end, front-loading clothes dryer, the Samsung DV5500 might sound tempting. This $1,000 dryer powers through wet loads quickly. It also has plenty of special cycles and steam modes. And to match adventurous interior designs it comes in a distinctive azure blue.

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Samsung DV5500 dryer

The Good

The Samsung DV5500 dryer runs through its loads quickly. It comes with many cycles and steam modes.

The Bad

Its drum is smaller than what some other dryers offer for the same price. Its control panel is cluttered and confusing. Its screen is small, dim and hard to read.

The Bottom Line

Samsung's DV5500 dryer runs fast but feels cramped and costs more than it should.

Unfortunately, the DV5500's flaws are hard to forgive. Its small, secondary control panel is cluttered and confusing. The dryer's tiny display is blurry, dim and looks dated. The DV5500 is no bargain either. For $649, Samsung's own DV7750 performs better, has comparable features, and is easier on the eyes. The $1,099 Electrolux Perfect Steam is a sweeter deal as well. While not as powerful, it's stylish and offers a larger capacity for not much more cash.

Samsung's swift DV5500 dryer held back by cluttered controls

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Cluttered controls for many cycles

Besides its distinctive blue exterior (it's also available in white and platinum), the Samsung DV5500 has a conventional appearance. Its front-loading design is built to match washing machines with similar layouts. Its official laundry pair is the $999 Samsung WF45M5500AZ front-loading washer.

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The control panel has cluttered buttons and small text.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Both machines are essentially steel cubes with circular doors on their faces. In the case of the DV5500 dryer, its drum size is a modest 7.5 cubic feet. That's a hair bigger than the standard 7.4 cubic foot capacity you'll find on most budget and midrange dryers. The $649 Samsung DV7750 (7.4 cubic feet), for example, fits this mold.  

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The 7.5 cubic foot capacity drum on the Samsung DV5500 is cramped considering its price.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

If you're willing to spend $100 extra, you can score a dryer with more elbow room. Case in point: the $1,099 Electrolux EFME617S Perfect Steam (8 cubic feet) and the $1,100 Kenmore 69133 (8.8 cubic feet). I also prefer the modern aesthetic of both of these appliances. Even their control panels are sleek and streamlined compared with the DV5500's cluttered button layout. The DV5500's minuscule screen is dim, and tough to read from any angle too. Worse, the screen's text blurs when you view the display from the side.

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A large cycle selector knob lets you choose which of the dryer's 10 cycle programs to run.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The largest control on the DV5500 dryer, a cycle dial, is also its most straightforward. You turn the knob left or right to select one of the appliance's many cycles. You have a total of 10 programs to choose from. Besides normal, you get everything from delicates and bedding to heavy duty and permanent press fabrics.

Steam modes are on board too. A wrinkle away cycle hits two to three laundry items at a time with steam to reduce creases. The refresh cycle creates steam inside the dryer's drum too. This mode handles up to four items at once. It's meant to smooth wrinkles and remove odors. The sanitize cycle takes things a step further. The dryer pumps intense heat and hot water vapor into the drum. This combination hopefully destroys any germs lurking within your wet laundry.  

There's some power under this hood

The Samsung DV5500 dryer might look conventional, but its impressive muscle isn't. This appliance dispatched our test loads of wet clothes in short order. In fact it's one of the fastest and most powerful dryers we've tested to date.

Our tests are designed to measure how much water a dryer pulls from wet loads and how long it needs to do the job. We also control for variables such as environmental conditions and test materials. For each trial run we selected the dryer's normal cycle (meant for "most fabrics including cottons and linens," the manual says) and used its medium temperature setting.
The $1,000 DV5550 dryer zoomed though our test loads, taking a short average time of 41 minutes to finish. Compared to the other dryers we've tested, that's the third briefest time we've logged so far. It's also lower than our current dryer cycle average of 47 minutes. Two other appliances proved slightly faster: the $1,100 Kenmore 69133 (38 minutes) and $1,199 Samsung DV8750. Another Samsung model remains the swiftest -- the $649 Samsung DV7750 (37 minutes). Likewise, the slowest dryer model we've ever taken for a spin is still the $899 GE GTD81ESSJWS (67 minutes).

Dryers compared

DryerElectrolux EFME617SKenmore 69133Samsung DV5500Samsung DV7750Samsung DV8750
Capacity (cubic feet) 88.87.57.47.4
Cycle types 99101313
Avg. cycle time (minutes) 5438413738
Avg. water amount removed (pounds) 5.55.35.45.35.6
Energy Star Certified YesYesYesYes Yes
Avg. power usage per year (kWh) 608608607607607
App NoNoNoNoYes, Android/iOS
Warranty 1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)

Cycle speed is just one way to size up dryer performance. We also take note of each dryer's water evaporation rate. That calculation describes the sheer potency of its drying capability by measuring the weight of water removed from wet fabric over time.
The $1,000 DV5500 managed to pull water away from wet loads at an average of 0.143 pound per minute. It's the fifth highest rate we've recorded so far. The $1,199 Samsung DV8750 is still the machine to beat, at 0.148 pound per minute. Samsung's $649 DV7750 was slightly less powerful (0.143 pound per minute). Both the $1,100 Kenmore 69133 dryer (0.139 pound per minute) and the $1,500 LG DLEX 5000 (0.135 pound per minute) demonstrated still less horsepower. All four, however, beat the DV5500.

WATER EVAPORATION RATE (IN POUNDS PER MINUTE)

Samsung DV8750 0.148Samsung DV7750 0.143Kenmore 69133 0.139LG DLEX 5000 0.135Samsung DV5500 0.133Electrolux EFME617S 0.103GE GTD81ESSJWS 0.084
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Don't settle for speed alone

The $1,000 Samsung DV5500 dryer is certainly an adequate machine. It can fly through loads of damp laundry quickly. You also get a hefty number of cycle options to tackle a range of tasks and fabric types. We also like the dryer's washer pair, the $999 Samsung WF5500. It proved particularly good at removing stubborn stains, always a positive for a washing machine.

If you're not dead set on a front load-style dryer, however, you can do better. The more affordable $649 Samsung DV7750 works faster, looks better and is easier to operate. Likewise I suggest the $1,099 Electrolux Perfect Steam. Its larger capacity drum and stylish exterior are worth the extra $100, especially for big households.

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Samsung DV5500 dryer

Score Breakdown

Design 6Usability 6Features 7Performance 8