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Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital 19900 Review
Price: $40 List | $27.99 at Amazon
Pros: High steam output, inexpensive
Cons: Average glide
Bottom line: Great choice for those on a budget
Hamilton Beach found the perfect equation for creating a high value product with the Durathon Digital 19900 iron. This model stayed right about average in all of our metrics where performances were tightly packed, and then in steam output, the one metric that was really differentiating, it shot to the top end of the leaderboard. This combination of high performance where it matter at a low price made the Hamilton Beach 19900 a shoe in for our Best Buy Award. The 19900 is the perfect choice for people who iron a few shirts or skirts here and there, but ironing isn't a regular sunday night chore.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Durathon Digital scored a 6 in our ironing performance test. This put it just below average in a metric that had scores ranging between 5 and 9. It was right in the mix in terms of its ability to get wrinkles out, but it lost points due to its glide. Where the top scorers seemed to levitate above fabrics and effortlessly sail in whichever direction the user chose, the 19900 is a bit stickier. That's not to say it's difficult to move it across fabrics, but it does take a bit more effort than the seemingly frictionless top models. It also is a bit more likely to get stuck on a rough patch, requiring a little finagling to get it through. These are very minor annoyances if you don't iron very often. However, if ironing is one of the most time consuming activities on your chore sheet, you would be better served with a smoother gliding high end model, like the Editors' Choice Award winning rowenta DW5080 Focus.
Steam output is where the Durathon Digital earned all of its value points. Steam irons generally performed relatively similarly in our testing showing only subtle differences between models. Steam output is the one instance where this was not the case as scores ranged from 3 to 9. This makes it even more impressive that the inexpensive 19900 was able to score an 8 in this metric. It produced a stunning 31 grams per minute of steam in our test, which was second only to the Editors' Choice Award winner. We felt steam transfer could have been improved with more holes in the soleplate, as the 19900 only has steam holes along the periphery, but it didn't seem to significantly affect performance. It especially didn't affect performance when using the burst of steam button. The 19900's burst has so much force that it audibly rattled our ironing board when we used it. Bottom line, the 19900 packs great steam power, which becomes incredible when you consider its price.
Ease of Use
The Durathon Digital picked up a score of 6 in our ease of use testing. This was right around average in a tightly packed metric that had scores from 5 to 8. The Durathon was one of the lighter models we tested, tipping the scales at just 3.3 pounds. Its cord was one of the favorites amongst our testers. It is 10 feet long, giving you an extra couple of feet of leeway when compared to most other models. It also behaved and stayed out of the way when ironing, and was fairly easy to wrap up when the ironing was done and everything had cooled down. The Durathon has a digital interface that is unique amongst steam irons. A single button allows you to scroll through temperature settings for different types of fabrics on a small LCD screen. Most of our testers enjoyed this feature, but the print is fairly small, so it may require reading glasses if you have poor eyesight. The rest of the controls are analog with a dial to adjust steam output and two buttons on the handle to control the burst of steam and misting functions. These controls are easy to use, though the buttons on the handle are a bit oddly placed, requiring you to move your hand from its natural position on the handle to press them.
The Durathon also lost some points in our handling test. The handle isn't uncomfortable to use, but the handles of some of the other models just felt better while in use. The soleplate shape was also a bit round, offering little dexterity for jobs that require precision. Additionally, the fill hole for the water tank is somewhat oddly placed. If you have a shallow sink you'll probably have to use an intermediary cup to fill the water tank, rather than fill it directly from the faucet. This fill hole also does not have any kind of built in funnel, so it easy to splash water around when you fill it. While these drawbacks are noticeable, it is unlikely anyone who irons a few work garments here and there will ever be particularly annoyed by them. If you're a quilter, sewer, or very frequent ironer, you may want to think about one of the higher end models.
The Durathon Digital scored a 6 in our heating test. This put it just about average, as scores in this metric ranged between 5 and 6. We found that it heated up to 405˚F after preheating for two minutes when dialed into its highest setting. This means it would reach the 400˚F required for ironing cotton in just under two minutes. While this isn't the fastest heating iron, it certainly won't keep you waiting long until you can dive into pressing the wrinkles out of your favorite dress clothes.
Our testing revealed steam output to be the most differentiating aspect of steam irons, and this is the area where the Durathon Digital excelled. This surprisingly good performance in a key metric, along with solid performance elsewhere and a very low price of $34 (at the time of this writing), make the Durathon Digital a great value.
The Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital 19900 delivers an astounding amount of iron per dollar. Those that iron very frequently, or require precise handling for sewing or quilting projects, will definitely appreciate the perks of the more expensive models. However, for the vast majority of people who iron a few items for work every week, the Durathon Digital provides more than enough performance at a rock bottom price.
— Max Mutter & Steven Tata
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