The Panasonic NI-W920A is a space-age steam iron. Its double-ended soleplate looks striking and makes ironing in both directions a breeze. Stood on end, the iron has a tripod design.
The design is impressive but the steam is only moderately powerful… better than your old iron but not as powerful as you might hope for from a premium iron like this.
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Men and women alike will be happy to get on with the ironing with the futuristic Panasonic. In silver and black, with a tripod design when it's resting vertically, it looks like something from science fiction. The double-ended soleplate isn't just there for show, it's very practical, letting you iron in both directions without the fabric wrinkling as you slide the iron backwards.
Controls include two different thumb buttons: one for steam shot and one for a water spray. This works well, putting the controls just where you want them. On the body itself is a small button for the anti-calc function, a simple mechanism where you heat the iron and then unplug it and press this button (over a sink) to flush out any limescale deposits.
Like most modern irons there's an anti-drip control too. And the soleplate is made of Alumite, which promises to be seriously scratch-resistant, even if you iron over metal, like jeans rivets.
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The Panasonic does indeed glide over fabric beautifully, in both directions. There's a real smooth feel to ironing with it. But the steam is noticeably less powerful than some steam irons we've tested, so we found it necessary to reach for the 140g/min steam shot more often to iron out stubborn creases. The steam shot worked a treat, and the Panasonic's vertical steam was very impressive too.
The double-ended design doesn't just reduce rucks, it also makes it easy to see what you're doing at the back as well as the front. The quality of the industrial design extends to a good button groove that lets you iron all the way under even small shirt buttons.
The iron comes with a jug, which makes sense because its fill hole is small, too small to easily fill from a tap. And the cord is connected via a ball design that lets it point in any direction, reducing tangles.
More annoying is the fact that the cool tripod design makes it impossible to wrap the power cord around the base of the iron for storage. Panasonic gets around this by supplying a wide band of Velcro to bundle up the cord: an inelegant solution, but at least one that lets you pack it up immediately without having to wait for the iron to cool down.
Our only real problem with the Panasonic though is that we couldn't find an auto off function. Leave it down horizontally, for example if you're interrupted in the middle of ironing, and it just keeps going. Ironically the steam function does pause quite quickly when the iron is left vertically, perched on its tripod.
Only if looks are your number one priority. The design is elegant and it works well. But if judged on sheer ironing ability there are alternatives, like the Bosch TDA7060GB or the Tefal Ultimate Anti-Calc FV9640 that offer more powerful steam for the same price, powering through your ironing pile faster.
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Thanks to space-age design, this Panasonic looks elegant and glides effortlessly, but it's not the most powerful steam iron on the block.