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Before I returned home from a long term job contract that lasted two years, I was renting two properties, one after the other which did not have a tumble dryer or radiators bar one flat I lived in which made do with just one main radiator in the living room. When I could afford to stay in a better flat with more space, I was stuck with the more modern storage heater types that increased my electricity bills whilst making do with stand up airers and relying on running to the local launderette when I had the time after work to get my clothing dried quickly without waiting endless days for clothing to "air dry." Since being burnt (not literally) by two JML Dri Buddi models I had bought years ago I wasn't in a position to seek the same model again.
Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec
Model known as Signature S073/Air Ionic Dryer, TV Lines & Crown Crest PLC.
Indicator light & permanent "on" option as well as timer function with full auto-shut off.
Fitted with low UV-light.
Pricing & Promise
Then I happened to come across the Ionic Air Dryer by Signature and sold by Crest Crown PLC in the UK. It is a brand that I have never heard of before and it doesn't surprise me in the least that whilst it may well be made in China, it does look awfully like JML's Dri Buddi from first glance and also goes under the company name of "TV Lines." However at the Instore in Edinburgh (before they were taken over) in August 2009 I happened to find the last one on the shelf and at a cost of £39-99 reduced from £79-99 after inspecting it briefly, I felt as if I had made the right decision; the box it came in is about the same size as a standard microwave, but the sales people found me two bin liners in which I could successfully carry this appliance home; the weight of only 3kg meant this wasn't a difficult appliance to carry and the red and white box had a nifty carry handle suitable for transport.
Largely then, like the JML Dri Buddi, the Signature S073 is designed to dry damp clothing instead of using a tumble dryer for reduced costs, or like me and probably many single people, can't afford to buy a tumble dryer or have to put up with storage heaters and manual clothing racks.
Assembly & Quality
Out of the box Signature's Ionic air dryer is very similar to build and has similar pieces to the JML. Assembly takes less than five minutes to put together although it could infer two people to put together, particularly for people who may find grasping and tightening difficult. This translates into screwing three brushed stainless steel pipes together that form the main spine before the slip-pip-lock hanger holders have to slid on and locked
Pictures of Signature S073
Signature S073 - Simple, quick to put up & down, easy to fill, reliable and efficient - shame its hard to find!
down at the top.
With an umbrella effect, the spines and holders lock up into position with six arms that all have three notches built in for hangers to hang from. This is much smaller than the JML Dri Buddi that has 9 nonagon arms compared to 6 here. When not in use, a pip button when pushed in unlocks the hanger holders and the arms can be folded down in use. Next a safety disk (and also works as an air diffuser) is placed at the bottom of the spine on top of the main motor. The control timer dial has similar increments of 20 minutes up to 140 minutes whilst a tiny black strip confirms and shows the name of this model just above the control dial.
Unlike the original Dri Buddi, Signature's model here has a permanent "on" position if you can't be bothered to put it at a set timer function and I rather like that function because it can be set to that setting anti-clockwise first without having to twist the dial clockwise for the timer function. Then add the three legs onto the bottom which all push-lock into the base of the body. The three feet also have protectors on them to minimise damage and tied in with the motor, timer dial and plastics, shiny, smooth grey plastic is the order of the day where this design is concerned, aside from the metal grid of the motor, the innards of the Signature S073 don't gleam or shine, but the plastics do give off an air of robustness if anything. The control dial has a heavy action to it - much nicer than the cheap feeling JML dials on the 2 models I had which broke a couple of months down the line from over turning.
Final assembly then requires the "body tent/bag," of the clothes airer to be lifted or fitted around the neck of the machine and the whole length can easily lock zip the bag around the machine with ease. Closing it up involves pulling the main body zipper horizontally and two vertical zips, which must be closed up in order for the bag to work. The bag is pastel/laser blue in colour and unlike JML it has no name tags or brand names on it, and is simple and light enough to unzip with further metal zipper stitching for longevity.
The design of this system is very well insulated compared to JML's air dryer and when the full body zips are locked up vertically (there are two which need to be sealed horizontally) no hot air can be felt seeping out the stitching. On the top of the Signature Ionic, there are 6 air holes and a central diffuser that cannot be covered; this obviously lets the hot air out of the top of the bag for the drying to work and to vent. Plastics around the motor are well designed and although the legs feel lightweight, it adds up to a total of 3kg, which is easy enough to lift out of the way when not in use.
Fancy Features & A Lack of Noise!
Without having a tumble dryer in the home, and having to put up with storage heaters I'd be lost without this air dryer! Signature's Ionic system is far better thought out even though it looks like a carbon copy of the JML Dri Buddi. It has a 900 watt motor, same as JML's Dri Buddi but upon switching it on for the first time I thought I had a broken machine; it is so incredibly quiet with only a gentle hum from the motor unlike the "Honking" hum that shrieks from JML's copy system.
A friend of mine who stayed over and who had initially bought a JML Dri Buddi also commented on the pleasing lack of noise; with Signature's Ionic there is a slight whine and nothing else; no grating and no honking - and quite frankly we wouldn't have had to move rooms if we put the Signature S073 in the same room as our conversation. Later as the evening began to draw to a close, my friend also noticed a slight glow to this machine when the bag inflates and this is down to a light that comes on to spread UV lights to kill bacteria. Whether it works or not I'm not too sure, but as it may well be a gimmick, I've only ever assumed UV Blue lights work on living "dirt" rather than just washed clothing. This isn't noticeable unless you activate the Signature Ionic in a low-lit room to catch the understated glow and looks a bit strange with the blue tent full of hot air and giving off a low glowing outline!
Accommodation of Clothing
Upon using the Signature Ionic, the six arms can accommodate three pieces of clothing each. Like my JML airer, I use thin metal hangers I picked up at a charity shop because although wood doesn't burn, wooden hangers can be expensive; plastic is just too unreliable to prevent bending with the heat from the Signature Ionic and the metal ones are perfect to ensure no marks are made in clothing. Putting clothing in is also relatively easy since the open nature of the bag via its vertical zips open wide enough for clothing to be hung into. If trying to pull the bag from the bottom over the clothing, it isn't as easy and clothing can fall off which is why I use the first system - but at least there is an additional zip around the top which can be opened further, horizontally making entry to the insides, dead easy. If using metal hangers however, remember to let the air dryer cool before getting your clothing; otherwise be prepared to burn your hands!
Unlike the JML Dri Buddi, which took a lot longer to dry clothing despite 1600 rpm spin speeds in our LG washer that left clothes touch dry; the 1200rpm on the rented washing machine I put up naturally leaves clothing a lot damper. Normally I run the spin cycle again but in the first couple of tries with this air dryer system I only spun the clothing once to test the difference of drying times. So I assumed that the clothing installed would take a great deal longer to dry when put into the Signature Ionic and I was quite prepared to live through the 12 to 14 hour drying waiting time as the JML Dri Buddi had done initially.
Accommodating different materials such as a mix of terry cotton towels, full size bathroom to hand towels, tea towels, at least 6 shirts, trousers and then lastly, underwear and socks (which can simply be hung over the arms rather than putting them on hangers), I find that the Signature Ionic still has space for more clothing with little instability issues. When I've used it with all holders accommodating hangers I had doubts of the same drying capacity times. Compared to JML's Dri Buddi, the Signature Ionic dries all of the clothing between 4 to 6 hours; a complete shocker - and there are no mouldy smells either.
Even if you leave the airer on for more than 12 hours, there is a thermal cut out that is incorporated which will switch the machine off if it gets too hot. I normally leave other clothing hanging in the room to get a nice "air" about it from the hot air that this machine puts out. But, what a vast difference to the quality of the clothing that comes out of this air dryer.
Unlike the Dri Buddi, towels come out hot and fluffy; tea towels and shirts are largely crease free, but the most important aspect I find compared to JML's Dri Buddi is that the shirt underarms are always soft and dry. Thicker material such as jeans and corduroy trousers can take longer to dry, but they aren't stiff like they were when the came out of the JML Dri Buddi.
One aspect of any clothing dryer of this type means that it is better to leave a window open a little to avoid condensation - or if you have more modern windows that have the open/shut vents to leave them open. The control dial also has a red LED indicator that shines continually bright when the machine is switched on.
Availability & Efficiency
I just adore this air dryer because largely it is fast, effective, reasonably well made, but above all, very reliable compared to the JML products I had bought previously. However, it is extremely difficult to find and for that reason alone, when all other aspects are considered, the lack of model availability in the UK loses on star off the top rating.
Although the outward design of the Signature Ionic is similar to JML Dri Buddi, it is also sold under the name of "TV Lines," which made some appearance at Poundstretcher shops and other mass brand thrifty named shops.
Where efficiency is concerned, I use my Signature Ionic once or twice a week to complete the weekly wash dependent on weekly duties. I've used it up to five times in a week if I'm doing extra bedding or extra clothing. Thus, when it comes to working out my electricity bill, the charges haven't added anything to the bill since I pay a flat monthly charge and the air dryer is switched on in the early mornings usually around 1am to get the best of the cheap electricity rate and switched off by 6am. I don't do it myself of course; a mechanical time switch I bought does it for me - but whilst I'm asleep in the other room, the gentle hum from the Signature never awakens me. I could never say that about the JML product!
Although this system takes much longer than a mains powered tumble dryer ever will to dry clothing, there are no filters to clean lint as the drying principle is simply like a massive hair dryer venting hot air upwards and if your chosen room doesn't have central heating, the room will heat up fairly fast with the fresh clean smell of hot clothing being dried.