Gentler wash but longer cycle
Front load machines do not have an agitator, the device used in a top load machine to move the clothes around (generally a centre column sticking up inside a top load washer, although more machines do not have this centre pole).
One area where front load washers are at a disadvantage is the length of time a wash takes. Expect a front load machine to take almost twice the time as top load machines to wash the same amount of clothes.
The other major difference is the ability to interrupt the wash. Top load units can be opened at any time and clothes can be taken out, which can help when removing fragile items before the spin cycle for example. On the other hand, front load models cannot be opened, as most are sealed with a special lock while running. Also keep in mind front load units may require special detergent that produces fewer bubbles.
Price and features
Front load machines can also be quite loud. Sometimes you can find a noise rating (in decibels) for a product in its documentation, but unfortunately not every manufacturer does this. If you really need a quiet machine, we suggest either purchasing a unit where a low decibel rating is given, or calling the manufacturer to try and obtain the information that way.
Finally, you should also look at the features of the machine. Generally, the more expensive a washer gets, the larger its size and the number of spin and wash cycles it will offer. These can range from delicate and extra soak modes, through to water temperature and water level controls.