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The Nori Press, a new-to-market handheld iron-cum-steamer, takes the popular online hack of using a hair straightener for small ironing jobs and upcycles it into a sleekly designed and highly marketed product. If you’ve been on Instagram at all over the past four months, chances are high you’ve seen it seamlessly glide over silk shirts, cotton curtains and even linen pillowcases, removing wrinkles with each pass. But after using the Nori myself to press clothing and linens, I would actually recommend a lower-priced and incredible travel steamer — the Reliable Dash Portable Garment Steamer — instead.

Reliable Dash Portable Garment Steamer ($37, originally $45; amazon.com)

Reliable Dash Portable Garment Steamer

Though it’s less sexy, sure, the Dash steamer (which, I should note, I’ve got an old version of since I’ve used it for several years now, so now it’s much sleeker) features an ironing soleplate that can be used for pressing when steaming alone isn’t enough. It is small and lightweight enough to toss into a gym bag so you can freshen up your post-workout outfit before heading to work or out for dinner, or to pack in luggage when traveling.

The Dash vs the Nori

Unlike most handheld steamers, the Dash steamer is fitted with a metal plate that mimics a traditional iron; the plate can be used for touch-ups on collars or creases for a crisper look than steaming alone can achieve. And, at 2 pounds, it is not significantly heavier than the Nori Press, which weighs 1.4 pounds, but which feels heavier. (The difference in feel is, I believe, a function of the Nori Press carrying much of its heft in the handle, making it feel heavier in hand than the Dash steamer, with its more balanced design.)

Dash's soleplate in action

While the soleplate on the Dash steamer is meant to be used on an ironing board, it performs equally as well when used atop a folded bath towel placed on a hard surface like a dresser or desk, and almost equally as well when used on a slightly less hard surface like a bed. I have used the Dash steamer to press small linens like pillowcases and cloth napkins at home as successfully as I have used it to steam wrinkles out of a silk dress while traveling for a wedding.

The tester's pillowcases (L) after 3 minutes of pressing on Nori's 'cotton' setting and (R) after 1 minute 30 seconds of steaming/pressing with the Dash

Like hot irons for hair, the Nori Press has two heated plates embedded in a long-handled unit that clamps onto wrinkled fabric to press and/or steam it flat. An LED screen on the handle displays six different fabric setting options that the user will click through using one of three small control buttons; the other two control the power mechanism and the steam function. The design is truly lovely — this is just a very attractive iron — and its functions are so intuitive that a user’s manual is not needed. In practice, however, the design leaves a lot to be desired.

The Nori Press ($120; nori.co)

The Nori Press

The Nori Press might be a good choice for people who mostly need to press collars, cuffs and hems, or who are looking for an alternative to handheld garment steamers for travel, gym or office use, as the Nori is designed to be used without requiring an ironing board. The Nori Press is a great idea; unfortunately, it’s an idea that’s much better in theory than in practice. Given its design flaws, if a small tool for pressing hems and collars is what you need, stick with the product that inspired the Nori and buy yourself a flat iron (like the one below) — it’ll be cheaper and you can also do your hair with it.

  • Magnifeko Wide Plate Flat Iron ($37.95; amazon.com)

But, if a versatile tool for de-wrinkling clothes is what you’re looking for, the Dash steamer delivers more functionality at a much lower cost than the Nori Press.