The top-of-the-line S300.  How many toilets that you know of have remote control units?
By Columnist
updated 1/31/2006 7:37:54 PM ET 2006-02-01T00:37:54

My wife can’t stop talking about toilets. We’re not discussing regular, run-of-the-mill toilets. These are special, high-end, high-tech ones.

It all began when she went to Japan last year.  She couldn’t wait to call me long distance from Tokyo to tell me about her amazing experience in the bathrooms of Japan.

It seems many bathrooms (millions to be exact) have these high-tech toilet accessories that do away with toilet paper (or tree bark or whatever you prefer in that department).

A short trip to Wikipedia determined that the kind of Japanese commode my wife is raving about is a bidet toilet, commonly known as a Washlet, after a brand of them made by toilet giant Toto.

One of the places outside of Japan that these high-tech toilets can be found is in some of the finest Japanese restaurants in New York City.  It was there that I saw my first Washlet.

It’s not really a toilet but more of a high-tech toilet seat. It washes your nether regions when you flush. No toilet paper needed. Sound odd? Here's how the people at Toto describe it:

“When you press the "cleanse" button, a wand, about the size and shape of a fat pencil (that was previously hidden under the seat) automatically extends, washes itself, and then sprays a carefully aimed aerated stream of water for a few seconds, or until you touch the "stop" button. Then the wand rinses itself off again, and it retracts, out of the way again.  The only thing that touches you is water ... nothing else.”

Toto C100
The C100 comes with the control panel attached to the side.

Wash cycle over, it's time to dry off. That’s also part of the Washlet experience, which Toto describes as working “very much like a gentle blow dryer for your hair." The temperature and the length of the drying cycle can be adjusted.

There’s even a deodorizer system to clear the air when you’re done, which Toto compares to the catalytic converter on a car's exhaust.

I’m not making this up.

Toto sells four models in the United States. Top of the line is the S300, which comes with a LCD remote control panel that hangs on the wall. The E200 has a few less luxury features, such as no LCD on the remote. On the C100, the controls are located on a panel attached to the right of the actual toilet seat. All three are available in Colonial White, Cotton and Sedona Beige and in round or elongated styles. 

There’s also a Travel Washlet which is totally portable and fully manual. That means you fill it and squeeze the water out. There are two washing modes: regular and soft cleansing. Drying yourself is your problem. By the way, the Travel Washlet comes in blue and pink.

Owning “the epitome of personal hygiene” does not come cheaply. Prices for the S300 start at $1,248. The E200 starts at $988. C110s go for $788 and up.  Don’t forget to add the costs of any extras, and installation (they need 120 volt electrical connections).

For less money, you can go American and try a new competing product called the Swash . (I'm not making that up, either). Brondell, a San Francisco-based startup, offers two versions of the Swash. The 400 gives you the wash wand and heated seat for $469; the 600 adds the dryer and a remote control and starts at $599.

Needless to say, my wife wants us to buy one of the ultra-fancy Japanese ones. Friends that she has gotten to try it come away raving about the experience. They particularly love the idea of adjusting the temperature coming from the water and air jets and the fact that the toilet seat itself is heated. Great for unheated bathrooms.

Me? I’m undecided. I haven’t had the nerve to try it but I know that I will someday soon. I might have the last word then it comes to a few things around the house but home improvement items are not one of them. Especially items that my wife loves and that I write about.

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