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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 November 2009 Issue  Volume 10  Number 6

Product Evaluation

Bosch Puts New Spin on Washer and Dryer Controls

Bosch Vision 500 series front-loading washers and companion dryers feature new control panels with far fewer buttons than is customary in today's high-tech laundry equipment. The controls on both washers and dryers resemble the traditional controls of washing machines of yesterday by using a main rotary control with click settings for fabric type and washing temperature.

On the washers, the rotary control is divided into three regions offering separate choices for "Hot," "Warm," and "Cold" temperature for both Cotton and Permanent Press fabrics. The control has a mechanical feel, clicking into place as the control is turned. Continuing the somewhat retro theme, a subtle, but clearly identifiable notch on the outer edge of the dial indicates the pointer for the main control. Since both fabric type and washing temperature are selected with a single choice, there are only a few additional buttons to manage. These include a Spin Speed selector, Delay Start, Echo Wash control, and a Final Rinse control. Pressing any of these controls will result in a positive mechanical action. The Spin Speed selector always returns to the same selection for a given cycle, meaning that knowing the order of speeds makes it possible to count button presses for the desired speed, if different from the default. A smooth and spacious region behind the cycle selector appears to offer ample room for tactile or braille marking for at least some cycles. While the mechanical feel of the controls is quite good, in our opinion, there are fewer beeps or tones than in other front-loading units.

Controls on the dryers employ the same concept, and are even more basic and offer similar tactile characteristics. Again, separate regions of the dial selector are devoted to Permanent Press and Cotton fabrics. In each, either 3 or 4 levels of dryness are offered. A "Time Dry" region of the dial provides times in 20-minute increments from 20 to 80 minutes. A "Temperature Control," optional "Steam Dry," and a "Start" button complete the control panel.

Note: We reviewed the four Bosch Vision 500 machines at our local Lowes store. Best Buy, which carried Bosch equipment in the past, has discontinued the line.

Bosch Front-Loading Vision 500 Washers and Dryers

Bosch Dryer WTVC5330US
$998 (Lowes)
Includes steam feature and smooth-textured chrome ring around window opening.

Washer WFVC5400UC
$998 (Lowes)
Offers both spin speed and delay start controls, with smooth chrome ring around window.

Less Elaborate Bosch Models

Bosch Dryer WTVC3300US
$898 (Lowes)
Has no steam feature, white, somewhat textured, plastic ring around window opening.

Bosch Washer WFVC3300US
$898 (Lowes)
Has no delay start control, white plastic ring around window.

AccessWorld's Top Laundry Picks

While AccessWorld does not report on the cleaning ability of laundry equipment, we do believe you may find an accessible choice for your laundry room among the following. Other brands offer a variety of control characteristics and behaviors, some of which may also meet your needs.

Top-Loading Washer with Companion Dryer

Maytag Bravos -- Most Accessible

Front-Loading Washer with Companion Dryer

Full-Size Whirlpool Duet -- Most Accessible
Bosch Vision 500 Series -- Very Accessible

Related Articles

A Range of Opinions: A Survey on the Accessibility of Today's Home Appliances by Darren Burton
Accessibility Wash: New, Usable Washers and Dryers Are Released by Bradley Hodges


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Copyright © 2009 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved. AccessWorld is a trademark of the American Foundation for the Blind.

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