Yes, it's the internals that count with the Whirlpool direct-drive design of conventional top load washer. Same basic design since 1985. Just about all of Whirlpool's captive brands (Roper, Maytag, etc.) plus some Kenmore-labeled washers have some version of this machine. You just have to find out which one. If its a conventional top loader, has standard manual knob controls, and was built on one of Whirlpool's assembly lines, chances are it's a direct-drive. Who cares what name is stamped on the outside!
The INNER tub (the one you can see when you open the lid) on the conventional Whirlpool top-load washer doesn't make a lot of difference - plastic, porcelain-coated metal, or stainless. Each material has advantages/disadvantages (yes, even the stainless inner tub, usually pretty thin-gauge metal that sometimes has a few sharp edges on the perforations). Porcelain can chip, then rust if you don't treat it carefully. Plastic can stain, crack, or get brittle after many years. Despite all this, the inner tubs (or drums) on most washers generally outlive the machine.
The OUTER tub on all the Whirlpool-built direct drive top-load washers, like most every other washer, is PLASTIC. ALWAYS. The ONLY maker that still offers a steel OUTER tub on a conventional top-load washer is Speed Queen. (By the way, the situation is NO different for high-efficiency, expensive front-load washers either: most have a plastic outer drum surrounding that cool - but thin - stainless inner shell).
People should realize that for whatever hi-zoot feature a manufacturer puts into a consumer-priced washer, it normally has to be paid for by savings somewhere else on the machine. Hi-end stainless wash tub or drum? Make it out of jointed/riveted, super-thin pieces of metal. Special anodized finish? Ditch the high-quality circuit board for a cheaper one subcontracted from China, or wrap wiring connections in electrical tape instead of wire loom that used to protect them from sharp edges and vibrations. Be suspicious of what you can't see!
An interesting side note: Check the Consumer Reports 'Brand Reliability' report (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/appliances/laundry-and-cleaning/washing-machines/washing-machine-ratings/brand-reliability.htm ) on top load machines here on CR (Speed Queen isn't listed). Note that dullsville brand ROPER has the FEWEST repairs (lowest repair frequency percentage) of any brand name. WHY IS THIS, for such a inexpensive brand? Because Roper's washer line consists of conventional, old-school Whirlpool Direct Drive top-load machines! Something to think about.
This is my first visit to the discussion on washers and dryers. Looked at Samsung and others today, and have found these discussions and reviews interesting and quite helpful.
It was eye opening to read, FINALLY, that someone (Barbara) encountered a problem with items twisting into ropes in the Maytag top-load. I have been happy with my 18-year-old Maytag -- which vibrates more as it ages, it seems, and for which I will be looking into vibration control pads (thank you bloggers).
The only constant (since new) problem I've had with the washer is the sheets twisting into ropes. I have not had other items to twist like that, just the sheets. Even tried a high-end, very high thread count sheet set a few years back which turned out to rope more tightly than lower thread count sheets I've used, was much heavier soaked, and took much more energy to untwist.
I've tried to come up with ideas to prevent this but invariably I find myself going to the washer every 2-3 min. raising the lid and untwisting the rope. I've tried washing one sheet in a load, with smaller items hoping the motion between the varying sizes would keep the sheet from twisting -- to no avail. The sheet always ends up in a rope unless I repeatedly untwist it during the cycle. A nuisance and TIRING!
As I said, I've been happy with my Maytag other than this problem. And, after reading considerably today, I think I'll steer clear of the front loaders. I've used only top loading washers all my life, have had good luck with them, and have had minor servicing done easily and without breaking the bank. This has been an interesting read this afternoon, as I was considering springing for something pricey and impressive looking -- but then why -- they will reside behind closed doors.
I too read the CR ratings and then customer reviews and felt a bit lost with the conflicting information. I took the advice of my local appliance repairman and bought a top loading Whirlpool with knob controls. I bought a WTW57ESVW at Best Buy on sale for about $450.00 last Nov.We do about 15-18 loads a week. I really like this washer. It cleans well, rinses well, and meets my expectations. I had to adjust how I loaded sheets and large towels in the washer or else I had twisted sheets and towels. I had always tried to distribute the sheet or towel evenly around the agitator and that does not work. Now I lay a sheet using 1/3 to 1/2 of the drum area and balance it by loading another sheet in the remaining area. The point is to not wrap laundry around the agitator.I would recommend this washer to family and friends.
Edited toadd: The machine auto detects the appropriate water level but does have a knob selection override for bulky items. I find this setting helps reduce twisting.