I know that when I’m shopping for a new product, I’m horribly biased against lower priced products. I think that many other professional reviewers are, too.
Here’s what we reviewers (and many consumers) think:
“Wow. Look at the price tag on that iron. That’s cheap. Obviously there’s going to be something wrong with, right? It’s cheap. I wouldn’t buy that. And if I won’t buy it because it’s cheap, then nobody else will, right? Except maybe those penny-pinchers who are always looking to save money above all else. It’ll probably be broken out of the box. Well, then let’s move on to something that people will actually be interested in. Nothing to see here.”
That’s probably not that far off from what actually went through my head when I was doing my initial research for my next steam iron review. But for some odd reason, I ignored that whole train of thought and looked into it a little more.
There is a difference between “cheap” and “a piece of junk.” There are certainly many cases where something can be both, but as we all know, you can pay handsomely for a piece of junk, too. Cheap can also mean economical, and this is something that I’m sometimes forced to remember.
The Panasonic NI-E200T is not the cheapest steam iron, but it’s still really cheap. The question is, is it economical or a piece of junk?
The Panasonic NI-E200T Steam Iron is a no-frills iron with very few features. Of course, it has everything you need to get your ironing done, but from there, the highlights are few and far between compared to other steam irons. It has a variety of temperature settings and a couple of steam options, a handy thermostat light, and a pivoting cord.
Available in the US since 2008, this steam iron is Panasonic’s most economical offering. There are two similar models that both have more features, but some people will appreciate the simplicity that the NI-E200T iron brings to their table ironing board.
The Panasonic NI-E200T is powered by a reasonable 1200 watts, which is just above the minimum amount of power I find is needed for an iron to reach higher temperatures quickly. This model will heat up to the highest setting in less than 2 minutes. While it may not be as fast-heating as other irons, it does have plenty of heat once it’s up to temp, and the lower wattage will save you some money on your electric bill.
The thermostat is quite accurate to its fabric settings, and the handy thermostat light always lets you know when it’s heating up to temperature.
Besides a typical “dry” setting, it has low and high steam settings. These settings work best when the temperature dial is set in the ‘Steam Zone,’ which is listed on the dial as between Cotton and Linen settings. I also noticed that the steam function stops when the iron is placed upright, reducing risk of a steam burn.
Something that needs a bit of attention: The NI-E200T steam iron won’t spit or leak IF you use it properly. To use it correctly, wait until the proper temperature of the iron is reached and the thermostat light goes out before using it with the steam turned on. Otherwise, you run the risk of dumping a bunch of water out of the steam vents. Not good, but totally preventable. I would even take this a step further and recommend that you follow this step when changing temperatures as well.
Along with most other steam irons I’ve reviewed, it also has a spray-mist feature, which works quite well. Also as with most other steam irons, it works by pumping the spray-mist button. I read in the manual that to get a finer mist, pump it rapidly. I’ve heard that certain units might not be as finely tuned and may stream if you only pump it once. It’s best to test it out before using it on fabrics that might be damaged by water droplets.
How about other steam features? Don’t look for them here. The NI-E200T iron won’t steam vertically, and there isn’t a steam-boost option either.
The Panasonic NI-E200T has a really neat soleplate, and it really seems like some serious design considerations went into it.
The soleplate itself isn’t flat. It’s slightly curved so that the main pressure point of the iron is in the center, where it will do the most good. The back of the soleplate, towards the heel of the iron, has a wide curve. This helps because it won’t catch or bunch up your clothes while you iron backwards, if you do such a thing.
The soleplate was also designed to glide nicely. It has a titanium non-stick coating to reduce drag and also has a nice angle from the edge to the body, which will help you get around buttons and seams.
The problem with non-stick coatings is that they do scratch and are a little more difficult to clean. Just because it’s a titanium coating doesn’t mean it won’t scratch, so take care.
The placement of the grooves is a bit different than many other irons, and I think that it really sets the Panasonic NI-E200T apart from other irons. Teardrop-shaped grooves containing 29 steam vents line the top two-thirds of the plate. A large groove around the bottom catches excess steam and recirculates it. I think this is a neat feature because the steam is distributed across your material a little more evenly than if the groove wasn’t there.
This is an especially cheerful iron, with its crisp white color complimented nicely by a clear blue casing and spray button. It’s neat to be able to clearly see not just the water tank, but some of its innards as well!
The handle is smooth with a small seam down each side, which may be of some concern if you have had problems with chafing in the past. It looks like they’ve tried to make it as smooth as possible, so it probably won’t bother most people.
The NI-E200T is quite small and light, which some will love more than others. I found that it really didn’t affect overall performance, but I know that it can be a deal-breaker for some. Those with larger hands may not be very comfortable, but if you have shoulder problems or like to iron your whole wardrobe at once, this may be your next iron!
The one drawback I found is the base. While it’s long enough that the soleplate is in no danger of burning your ironing board while in its upright position, it doesn’t seem very stable. Be very aware of it tipping over if you have a padded ironing board!
The only way to shut this iron off is to turn the temperature dial to the ‘off’ position or to unplug it. There is no auto shutoff. For most of us, this isn’t good. I am always walking away from my iron and getting distracted with something else, and then the next thing you know, I’m calling my neighbor from the grocery store asking her to check to see if I turned it off. (Please tell me I’m not the only one!)
On the other hand, this is considered a feature by those who spend their days quilting and sewing. No auto-off means that there is always a hot iron available to press your projects.
The water tank, when full, holds 7.1ounces. The water tank is visible through the clear-blue housing, and it’s easy to see how much water is in it at any time. The max-fill line is easily seen towards the top of the iron. There is a cap that covers the water inlet to eliminate any water from splashing out.
Panasonic recommends using tap water, unless the water where you live is very hard. If you have hard water, use distilled water instead, not softened water.
Filling it with water is super easy, as long as you have two hands! The trick to filling the NI-E200T iron is to hold it at a 45 degree angle. Those who are a little more brazen when it comes to ignoring safety recommendations note that the iron is small enough that it can be filled under a bathroom sink tap. But that’s not you, right?
Just be careful not to overfill it, as extra water running back out might go into the controls. That doesn’t sound safe, regardless of just how brazen you might be!
While the cord of the Panasonic NI-E200T steam iron is quite lengthy and easy to manage while in use, figuring out how to store it can be a bit of a headache.
The generous 8’ cord is not retractable, but does have a ball-swivel at the base of the iron. This means that the cord can easily be pushed out of the way while the iron is in use, and won’t get tangled up in the process.
What’s a little odd is how to store the cord, and this seems to have been something they missed when considering what should go into the design. Most irons that don’t have retractable cords wrap neatly around the base and have a handy clip on the plug to clip back onto itself.
Not so with the Panasonic NI-E200T.
Because the base is smooth and with no clip to secure the cord, wrapping it up isn’t so simple. I’m sure you could wrap it around the entire iron and tuck the end in somewhere, but that might scratch the soleplate over time. It’s probably best to have a reusable tie handy to wrap the cord in and leave it beside the unit.
If you need to use an extension cord, please be aware that because of how much power the Panasonic NI-E200T steam iron can draw, using the wrong extension cord may cause a fire. Always use a 120 volt extension cord that is rated at least 10 amps.
Having few controls and settings certainly does make it easy to keep everything pretty intuitive to use. If anything, you won’t be easily confused when trying to change the settings!
The temperature can be set via the dial, located underneath the handle. It’s big and spins easily enough, but those with larger hands may bump it and change the setting. One note I’d like to make is that the indicator to show you what temperature the iron is set to is not immediately obvious to some. It’s a little bit of raised plastic molded into the clear blue plastic to the left of the dial.
The temperature dial displays just about all of the information for the whole iron. It points out which of the settings are appropriate for steam, 5 different fabric settings as well as Low-Medium-High (•,••,•••) settings for those with clothing tags that specify it. This dial is also used to turn the iron off.
While the iron is heating up, a bright light will be visible underneath the temperature dial. This thermostat light will turn off when it has finished preheating and is ready to use, but will turn on and off as you iron to let you know what it’s doing. This is not a general power light.
The spray mist button is found on top of the iron just in front of the handle, placed within easy reach while ironing. The spray nozzle can be found in front, just underneath the water inlet.
Between the water inlet and the spray button is where you find the steam switch. It is a flip style switch with three settings: Dry, Low Steam, and High Steam. This is also very easy to reach while ironing.
The Panasonic NI-E200T doesn’t really have any special care routines. All it requires is a good wipe-down with a damp cloth for the soleplate, and some mild detergent added for the plastic if necessary.
They do recommend cleaning the soleplate by ironing over an old cloth rag while the iron is hot, but emphatically state not to use any abrasives, as it will scratch and ruin the non-stick coating.
After each use, the water tank needs to be emptied out, and the steam setting must be set to dry. The reason behind this is that any water left in the iron may leak into the steam vents and damage the soleplate. It might also spit and burn when it’s next used.
Upright height: 10-1/16”
Soleplate width: 4-7/16”
Height from bottom of soleplate to top of handle: 5-5/16”
Weight: 2.4 lbs
- Works really well for an economy iron
- Lightweight and easily glides over clothing
- Well-designed soleplate that circulates steam evenly
- Not many quality complaints at all
- Water can spill from vents onto clothing if not up to appropriate temperature
- Water can leak from iron and damage soleplate if not emptied after every use
- Cord can be a pain to put away
- No safety features like auto-shutoff
- Can be unstable when sitting upright if it isn’t on a firm surface
After carefully researching actual customer reviews from several sources, I learned one very important detail: Many people refuse to read the manual. Some even don’t bother to read the product description before they buy a product! I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that many of the bad reviews on the Panasonic NI-E200T were what I consider to be bogus.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t legitimate complaints, but they are few and far between, and probably flukes for the most part.
One issue that did come up a few times was about the iron leaking. Whether or not these complaints are legitimate is tough to say, because it’s really hard to tell how people are using the iron. The manual states how to use it to avoid leaking, and while some complaints immediately show that the user went directly against the recommendations, others didn’t leave enough information to really tell if it was user error or a legitimate problem. My best advice is to expect the iron not to leak if you follow the instructions.
Otherwise, the NI-E200T has loads of great reviews, with well over 85% of consumers rating it at 4 stars or better, and less than 8% giving it two stars or worse.
Most were very happy with what the iron was capable of compared to its price.
The Panasonic NI-E200T has an incredible price point. I wouldn’t expect to pay a whole bunch for a steam iron free of extra features, but I found its $24.99 list price to be very reasonable. If you find a better price than list price, it’s a bargain.
If you like the sound of this iron but want a few more features, Panasonic has nearly the identical iron available, too. It’s green instead of blue, and has features like auto shutoff, a steam burst, and retractable cord for a list price of $10 more. Click here to see the next model up on Amazon or click here to read my review.
As I said at the beginning of this review, cheap can mean economical, or cheap can mean poor quality. I also said that I almost passed on this steam iron just because I thought the price was too low to bother. I’m glad I didn’t.
Aside from a few issues that I would consider to be minor, I found the Panasonic NI-E200T steam iron to be a very good choice for those of you who like to pinch your pennies. It heats up well and stays pretty close to temperature. It irons and steams adequately. And the chance of it breaking down is quite small.
Are there better irons out there? Absolutely. But nowhere near this price point. The NI-E200T does the job it’s supposed to do without any extra features, and sometimes that’s all you need an iron to do.
This iron is probably best suited for those that only need to iron occasionally, or a few pieces daily. I would also recommend it for college kids or beginner ironers who need to learn the basics before being bombarded with features and settings. Sewers and quilters may be attracted to it solely for the lack of auto-off feature, but may find that it doesn’t produce quite enough heat to crease heavier fabrics suitably.