This Smeg won't wow you with its cleaning power, but its efficiency and design might.
While "Smeg" might not sound very Italian, it's actually an acronym for Smalterie Metallurgiche Emiliane Guastalla—which couldn't sound more Italian were it drizzled with olive oil. Sure, company founder Vittorio Bertazzoni could've given the firm his surname, but his appliance-focused family already used it on ovens they've manufactured since the late 19th century.
Though Smeg's factory is only about an hour's drive from where Lamborghinis are built, the dishwasher's performance wasn't nearly as impressive as an hour spent on the track with an Aventador. But despite inconsistent—albeit acceptable—wash ability, the Smeg's strong design, high efficiency, and large number of cycle options raise it into the realm of justifiable expenses.
Design & Usability
Noisy, clunky, and unnecessarily convoluted: not exactly what you'd expect from a European design.
The stainless steel front of the STA8614XU is industrial, and not in an unattractive way. The interior is stainless, too, but wasn't very effective at suppressing noise—like the strange fanning sounds we heard during the dry cycle. The lower rack features two rows of collapsible tines, both of which felt a bit flimsy and didn't seem to make the most of the space available. The upper rack feels sturdier, at least, but the tines don't a great job keeping glasses in place.
The small number of buttons and basic interface design makes the STA8614XU seem simple and easy to use, and it is... for the most part. The lack of button labels makes cycle selection a bit more complicated than it needs to be, though. Users must consult a diagram on the inside of the door to figure out what each glowing green button signifies. Also, there are only five symbols, meaning you must hit the Supplementary Program button to engage one of the other cycles, which then means further diagram consultation.
Extra features are built into the cycle list, for the most part.
There are a whopping 10 cycles in all. It may sound like overkill, but it’s due to the fact that the options usually found in other dishwashers are included in the STA8614XU as standalone wash cycles. They include the following: Dish Warming, Crystal, Auto Super Wash, Normal, Extreme Wash, Rinse, Short, Auto Delicate, Economy, and Heavy wash.
The only customization option is a rack prioritization feature through which users can choose if they only want to clean the top or bottom. As for add-on features, the only additional option is a delay start, which can postpone the start of a cycle by up to nine hours.
Fairly quick cycles deliver average—and occasionally inconsistent—performance.
We weren’t blown away by this Italian-made dishwasher, but we weren’t enormously disappointed either. The STA8614XU has a pretty awful quick cycle (called “Short”) that is mostly useless, aside from the fact that it doesn’t use much water or energy. The Normal and Extreme Washes, on the other hand, are much better, but are not without their shortcomings. Because these latter two washes are almost the same in terms of speed and efficiency, we’d recommend using the Extreme Wash fairly often. It was more consistent than anything else, and only slightly less efficient than the Normal cycle.
Designers may disagree, but for us, style can't bridge the gap between good-enough performance and a high-end price tag.
For around $1,000 the Smeg STA8614XU is not exactly a steal. It has so-so wash performance, a few counter-intuitive design elements, and an odd-sounding brand name that's almost unknown in the US and obfuscates its Italian heritage.
Let us be clear, though: it’s a good machine, efficient, attractively designed, and in possession of a strong heavy cycle. But for this kind of money, we want a great machine... and this one just isn't. If you want a dishwasher that's beautiful, and you happen to think this one is a masterpiece, by all means, buy it. We just want to get our dishes clean.
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