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A good steam iron makes a tedious chore go more smoothly

Some people love to iron, some loathe the chore. Regardless of your feelings about this household job, a top steam iron will make it easier to do and give you crisp, satisfying results every time.

Consumer reviewers often describe the Black & Decker Digital Advantage D2030 (Est. $45) as the best iron they've ever owned. Owners say it does an excellent job of pressing wrinkles out of their clothes, and also works great as a vertical steamer to get wrinkles out of curtains and other hanging fabric items. It's described as producing a lot of steam, heating up quickly and maintaining its temperature well throughout long ironing jobs. A few users complain that their model does not work well, but other reviewers advise following the instructions in the manual to solve their issues. The instruction booklet is available on the Black & Decker website for those who accidentally tossed the original.

The D2030 has seven temperature settings that owners say are easy to read and access. The setting number and fabric type flash on the digital display until the temperature is reached, and the iron beeps when it's ready. Users like the clearly audible signals and love the iron's affordable price.

Giving peace of mind to those who panic trying to remember if they shut off the iron before they left the house, the D2030 automatically turns off after being idle for 10 minutes. Its self-cleaning system flushes out minerals and lint. The D2030 weighs 3.2 pounds, which a few reviewers say is heavy but others describe as light. Our research shows that this is about in the middle of the pack for a full-size, corded steam iron.

The Rowenta Steamium DW9080 ($115) is usually the top pick in expert reviews and of professional fabric hobbyists, but we name it our runner-up for a reason. At more than double the price of the Black & Decker D2030, it doesn't get appreciably better reviews for performance, and there are a number of negative comments on the iron's durability. Several consumer reviewers say it stopped working within a year or two, and that they had the same issues with multiple versions of the product. Another big complaint is that you must press a trigger for continuous steam, which many users describe as tedious and tiring.

Those who don't have problems with a short life span praise the Rowenta for its professional results, ample steam and the 400-hole soleplate that glides easily along fabric. It's extremely popular with hobbyists such as sewers and quilters, who say it's the only iron they'll use -- even if they do have to replace it every year or so.

Expert and consumer reviewers agree: The 1,500-watt Black & Decker D2030 performs like a high-end iron but at a very affordable price. It carries a one-year limited warranty.

Black & Decker D2030 Auto-Off Digital Advantage Iron, White
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