Let me get 2 things out of the way in terms of the description and images currently being advertised on the Amazon page for this iron.
The details say that it comes with a measuring jug - mine didn't, but you really don't need one.
The pictures give the impression of steam coming out of the whole of the sole plate. This is misleading as the steam holes are only in the nose of the sole plate. These are minor errors and have not influenced my review.
So far I have been using a Morphy Richards Steam Generator 42223
and I am using this as the benchmark for any irons that I evaluate. So far none have beaten this, but is this Russell Hobbs 20581 is a contender?
The physical unit:
The Russell Hobs (RH) wins the point here. The RH is a little less bulky than the Morphy Richards (MR) and therefore also weighs a little less. Weight isn't a major issue, but I do find that the heavier MR upsets the balance of my ironing board and makes it less stable. Whilst the RH is lighter, you will still need to be careful with the balance of the board. Both irons are comfortable to hold and both sit firmly on their base units. The MR sits on its heel better than the RH, but from a safety point of view, you shouldn't do this as neither are particularly stable on padded boards. On that note, you will need an ironing board that is compatible with steam generator irons (they tend to have large wide plates where the base sits).
Filling and de-scaling:
The point winner here is MR. Both Irons are a piece of cake to fill up, just pull out the water tank (even when the iron is hot), fill it under a tap and away you go. The RH has a smaller tank, but it isn't a bad thing as it reduces weight and is so quick and easy to fill. On the MR the de-scaling had to be done on a regular basis by removing a plug in the base, rinsing the plug which catches the scale and swilling out the base. No major drama, but a bit of a pain when I have to do it every 2 weeks. The RH has an anti-scale cartridge built into the water tank which needs to be replaced when it loses its effectiveness. How long this lasts depends on your use and hardness of water but it could be between 2-6 weeks (you still need to de-scale the boiler tank every 1000 minutes whereupon the indicator lights up). At this time I can't find a cartridge to say how much these are to replace, but I think you are looking at around £5-£10. So you are either looking at washing your machine out every few weeks or having to purchase replacement cartridges - see my bottom line below.
Both are winners here. The RH has a higher wattage, but both irons warm up and are ready to use in similar times. Whilst the RH only has steam vents in the nose it still does a remarkable job of punching through creases. Both have 3 steam settings and both cope with stubborn creases very well. When doing bed sheets that have been folded over, both can easily penetrate the steam through 4 layers, but will need a quick finishing off on the flip side. Having used both to do ironing marathons, I can't make up my mind which is better or faster.
When I first started using steam generators it annoyed me that you had to keep pulling the trigger to release the steam. The RH is the same, but it does have a thumb switch to lock the steam on. However, having gotten used to the trigger concept, I found that I preferred this manual control over the steam than the permanent on option. That being said, it is there as an option should you wish to use it.
Both irons pump out a lot of steam, so you will need a well ventilated room or risk mould and mildew growth on the colder walls where the steam condenses.
Again, neither iron really beats the other here. All Steam Generators I have used have been noisy. They periodically grind away to fill up the boiler tank and the steam blasts are louder than conventional steam irons - upsetting my TV viewing! As the RH has a slightly higher steam pressure going through less holes than the MR I found the steam venting to be slightly louder. If you have never had a steam generator iron, you will need to have some additional storage space as these are not little things. With a conventional iron they were ideal if you just want to quickly iron 1 garment, it's a little more bother with a steam generator. Also with children you need to put the iron up out of the way - easy with a small steam iron, not so easy with a steam generator iron.
So which one do I prefer? Well this is an easy 5 star product and it is as good as my MR iron. The only thing I don't like about the RH iron is that I need to keep replacing the anti-scale cartridge. If I you are living in a hard water are then in one year this could cost you more than the price of a new iron. It might be cheaper letting the iron scale up and then buy a new one. It for this and this alone that I am giving it 4 stars and saying that at this time, I will stick with my Morphy Richards 42223 iron for now. If the descaling was just a matter of tank rinsing as it is with MR, then I would just be favouring the Russell Hobbs