We first caught a glimpse of LG's Twin Wash at CES 2015, a laundry system that pairs a regular front-load washer with a second, smaller washer built into the pedestal below, appropriately dubbed a "Sidekick" unit.
Designed to transform the tediousness of clothes washing into something that's at least a little more efficient, Twin Wash allows you to run simultaneous cleaning cycles. The general idea is that you can stash your bulky items up top and smaller, delicate items below with less time wasted. And since they are technically standalone units, they have separate water hookups, so the water that's cleaning your bright red towels in the upper machine won't mix with the water that's cleaning your white t-shirts in the lower one.
LG sent us a $1,500 WM5000HVA Twin-Wash-compatible front-load washing machine along with a coordinating $730 WD100CV Sidekick unit to try out. (There are a variety of compatible front-load machines and a handful of different Sidekicks. All of the models are now available for sale at Best Buy and other retail stores in the United States; check here for more details. International availability has not been announced.)
And while this duo definitely impresses in terms of features, design and usability, the WM5000HVA wasn't able to beat GE's $1,400 GFWR4805FMC front-load competitor when it came to removing stains.
Even so, LG's WM5000HVA is a solid premium washer with a ton of settings, including an optional Sidekick that cleans smaller loads of laundry really well.
Getting to know LG's Twin Wash
The WM5000HVA is a 4.5-cubic-foot-capacity front-load washing machine in "graphite steel," which looks similar to your typical stainless finish. Still, it has a definite luxury vibe -- one that actually stands out among its stainless steel competitors.
A large part of that is due to its sleek front-facing display, which is extremely intuitive and easy to read (unlike GE's GFWR4805FMC; its digital time display was impossible to read at certain angles). LG's model offers Normal, Heavy Duty, Bedding, Sanitary, Allergen, Bright Whites, Tub Clean, Sportswear, Permanent Press, Delicates, Towels, Speed Wash and Rinse+Spin cycles.
In addition, it has a "Downloaded" cycle, which allows you to transfer additional cleaning modes from LG's Smart Laundry Android and iOS app onto the washer. (I would share some of the downloadable cycles here, but the app -- on both Android and iOS devices -- was extremely glitchy, so I never got that far. More on the app later.)
For most of the cycles you can also tweak various settings to suit your preferences. These include the water temperature (ranging from Tap Cold to Extra Hot), the spin speed (from No Spin to Extra High) and how dirty the clothes are (from Light to Heavy).
Other advanced cycles and settings include: Steam, Fresh Care, Smart Grid, Remote Start (use the app to start a cleaning cycle), Delay Wash, Wi-Fi Connect (to connect your Android or iOS phone to the washer), Custom PGM (store a custom wash cycle), PGM Save, Turbo Wash, Cold Wash, Extra Rinse, Drum Light, Pre-wash and Child Lock.
Briefly hold down the start, or "play" button to begin a cycle and press it again to pause. The digital display will show what stage of the cycle it's in -- Sensing, Wash, Rinse or Spin -- and also show the time remaining.
Then, to add detergent, fabric softener and bleach there's a hidden compartment on the top that slides back sort of like a retractable hardtop on a convertible.
While the front-load machine works pretty much the same as any other washer with a digital display, the WD100CV Sidekick is quite different.
For starters, the Sidekick washer opens like a drawer. Pull it open and lift its see-through lid to add your clothes (it can fit roughly 3 pounds, or about half of what you'd load in your regular machine). It isn't especially hard to open, but you do have to bend down fairly far to reach it.
Also, the Sidekick doesn't lock into place when you open it. That means that when you open the lid to add or remove clothes, the drawer slides back underneath the main washer unit ever so slightly. We did check to ensure that the units were level, but it still continued to happen. A minor annoyance, but definitely something that I'd rather not see on a premium mini-washer.
The display panel is hidden so that it can only be easily accessed when the drawer is open, but it's simple to navigate, and the touch panel is extremely responsive. With Normal, Intimates, Hand Wash, Active Wear, Rinse+Spin and Tub Clean cycles, use the arrow buttons to select the option you want and then hit the play (or start) button. You can also pause your cleaning cycle as needed, but starting and stopping cycles on the Sidekick unit has no impact on the upper unit; you can access both independently.
This unit doesn't have a separate section for adding detergent or other cleaning aides, so just toss it directly in the tub before you start the cycle -- it isn't compatible with pods, though, so stick with liquid or powder detergent.