I used to just set the size, water temp, cycle and then push the button. Now I have to turn it on (causing it to play you happy little greeting) then set a cycle, adjust water temp, soil level, spin speed and 3-4 other settings I haven't learned how to use yet, then push "play."
I watched a whole 20 minute "speed-wash" cycle this morning. It starts out with a few casual spins to determine the size of the load. The manual says it's "weighing" the load so it can adjust accordingly. I'm guessing it's doing some sort of rotational speed sensing after giving it a spin to get started and then it figures out something from there. Then it starts adding a little water... blasting it through the soap dispenser to add the detergent. Then it gets on with the washing. The machine uses a direct drive motor and is incredibly quiet. Even when spinning at 1000+ RPM it's still almost silent. It bugs me that there no agitator to beat up the clothes and slosh things around. It just rotates one way and dumps the clothes into the water, then the other way. Repeat. Does it work as well as an agitator? I don't know. We'll see.
Once it's done it plays another happy little song (I'll try to record it later) and you start a similar process with the dryer.
What these things really need is a wired or wireless network connection and a web-based monitoring application that simply shows you the data on the machines' displays. That would be really handy for when you can't hear the happy songs. Maybe I can install a webcam on my local network. I'd be able to at least see what they're doing.
Coming up: HE Detergent