Move over Kate Adie – I’m in danger of becoming Ideal Home’s foreign correspondent with all the travelling I’ve been doing over the past few weeks. Not that I’m complaining, obviously. Although I have had to battle through a fair few ‘media scrums’ to get my hands on the latest tech, you can hardly call Nice – location for Panasonic’s 2013 unveiling of its appliance and home entertainment line-up – a war zone.
So what did I see on the French Riviera? Aside from some very well-dressed chiens and a posh McDonald’s serving posh burgers topped with goat’s cheese, Camembert and Comté? Let’s start with some technology due to wash up on British shores any day now, namely a new washing machine and tumble dryer line-up featuring Steam Action technology.
Now steam in a washing machine or dryer is not a new concept – LG, AEG and others have been using it for years and it’s easy to see why. Steam allows you to tackle delicates at hygienic high temperatures, fending off allergens without damaging your fabrics. It’s also a dab hand at ‘relaxing’ creases, so there’s less ironing to do, and it can quickly ‘refresh’ garments without you having to ‘wash’ them at all.
However, these machines can apply steam in a few different ways – some heat the water in the tub directly to create steam, others generate it in a separate compartment before releasing it into the tub. For their machines, Panasonic have gone with the latter option, while incorporating some of their iron technology to force the steam against a hotplate before releasing it. This makes for a finer, faster travelling steam that penetrates the fabric more quickly, reducing cycle times.
On the left, we have the NA-140VZ4 washing machine, available from March at a price to be confirmed. It’s got a mighty 10kg capacity, a very impressive A+++ energy rating, and 16 programmes, including the 25-minute Steam Action Refresh that removes odours (like smoke) and creases from an outfit without actually washing it, and Allergy Care, which again uses steam to remove 99.99% of the allergens found in your laundry. There’s also a ‘speed’ button that will reduce the wash time of any cycle by 40%, and a Stain Master menu – choose from one of the 23 stains listed, and the machine will automatically recommend the best cycle to tackle it.
And right, there’s the NH-P80S1 tumble dryer, available later this month. This has a generous 8kg capacity, is A++ rated (about as good as it gets for tumble dryers these days, thanks to its heat-pump technology) and uses steam to banish creases to such an extent that you can wear cotton shirts straight from the drum. It too, has a speed mode that can be applied to the 10 programmes, which number Cotton/Colours, Rapid 40, Wool and Outdoor/Sports.