Miele has made a quantum leap in laundry-care with its new 'honeycomb' washing machine drum, micro-perforated to produce the gentlest wash cycle ever. The state-of-the-art technology has resulted in a design where a thin veil of water cushions the most delicate items inside the machine - protecting even hand washables and silks. The company is launching a new generation of appliances utilising honeycomb technology, setting the pace as the industry's trailblazer. 'This unique drum design guarantees that laundry is treated more gently than ever before,' says Miele Hong Kong managing director Carsten Nittke. The new W 400 series includes 17 automatic washing machine models with a variety of features. An All Water model, scheduled to hit the market early next year, makes for economical and environmentally friendly use by offering a hot water fill and alternative water sources. 'All models feature the new, patented honeycomb drum,' Mr Nittke says. 'The trick lies in the fact that the laundry load glides on a thin film of water which is created by the hexagonal pattern on the surface of the drum. This prevents fabrics from being forced into the drum perforations by centrifugal force, thus reducing the risk of laddering. The fact that drum holes have been downsized and their numbers reduced further enhances this benefit. 'An innovative approach to rinsing rounds off the concept. This permits shorter programme running times and cuts water consumption to 45 litres in the standard Cottons programme. In the case of heavily soiled laundry, the programme cycle can be extended using the 'intensive' option.' The Softtronic controls are another feature common to all models in the new range. The high-performance controls offer additional programmes, such as Quick Wash, Mixed Wash, Separate Rinse and Starch. Depending on the model, the range of features includes countdown indicator, delay start facility, load-size sensing and dispensing recommendations. All appliances feature programmes first launched by Miele for hand-washable woollens and silks. Future expectations of a washing machine (in handling, for example, new types of textiles and detergents) can be met by a service technician downloading the latest programmes from a laptop computer. Maximum spin speeds (depending on the model) are between 1,400rpm and 1,600rpm. The W 487 WPS, the flagship model in the range, reaches a top speed of 1,800 rpm. As the residual moisture content on leaving the washing machine is as low as 43 per cent, drying times are noticeably shorter. The innovative drive concept is powerful and durable, maintenance-free - and extremely quiet. All washing machines from the W 400 series feature a countdown indicator which provides at-a-glance information on the length of programme remaining. Softtronic controls, however, offer greater convenience in the form of a delay start feature. A programme can be selected up to 24 hours in advance. The W 487 WPS offers optimum user convenience and a load-size sensor. The amount of laundry in the machine is registered and the appropriate quantity of washing powder is suggested. Another special feature is the halogen drum lighting, which is switched on and off automatically.