Top critical review
25 people found this helpful
High on power. Low on accessories / controls / convenience.
on 23 April 2009
I've used various versions of both cylinder and upright cleaners, removable bag and fixed-filter types.
This vacuum cleaner is an upright-type and has a permanent washable filter.
The machine needs to be assembled before use which was fairly straightforward but did require some physical force and a screwdriver (which the manufacturer elected not to include in the package for some reason).
The user guide has more disclaimers and warnings than useful information and as such isn't particularly helpful. It contradicts itself regarding use on hard floors: "Not suitable for hard floors.. For hard floors use this setting.."! Vax seem to worry about the rotating brush at the front of the machine. The manual makes for tiring reading as it is full of 'WARNING' 'CAUTION' and 'IMPORTANT' messages. The recommended method for cleaning stairs is a joke. I took these with a pinch of salt, preferring to rely on my real-world experiences.
At first glance, the cleaner looks all shiny and futuristic, like the robot from Forbidden Planet. But having gone through the guide, you'll soon realise that the machine's functions vary very little from it's 50-year old ancestors. Yes, it beats as it sweeps as it cleans! The functions are, in a word, 'basic'.
There's the familiar foot pedal at the rear left corner which releases the handle from the upright (storage) position. And there's the (harder to find) latching on/off power footswitch also at the back. The only other 'control' is a very rudimentary blue knob on the front which adjusts the brush height; there are 3 settings to choose from. This is not easy to use as you need to bend down and lift the front of the cleaner whilst adjusting; very awkward. It has not been designed at all well. It should (obviously) be adjustable via a second footswitch at the rear right of the base, which is how the 50-year old models worked, if I remember my recent visit to the Science Museum correctly.
I tried the machine on my (cheap) vinyl kitchen floor and left it running for a bit in one position. Contrary to the manual, I can't say I could detect any scuffing or damage.
And I managed my carpeted stairs very well, thank you... I go from the side edge to the middle, stair by stair, and then do the other side. No problem.
A wand attachment is included which could have been useful for carpet edges, tight spaces etc. But the only attachment supplied is the smallest slot-type which is ok for going down the back of the sofa but not much else. It seems bizarre that, having solved THE major drawback over a cylinder model, this feature is not capitalised upon. Fortunately, my old cylinder cleaner attachments fit this Vax perfectly, so I will be able to do the nooks after all. But not the curtains, unfortunately -it would just eat them up...
The cleaner is fiercely powerful and similarly noisy. -Quite a din! There is no power adjustment, it's all or nothing! My living room lampshade was swirling around like something out of Close Encounters due to the turbo air exhaust from this thing. And thinner carpets were pulled off the floor and hindered horizontal movement as they were sucked hard against the underside of the machine. Adjusting the brush height knob gave the option of beating the grit out of them instead. Oh, for a power control.
Dirt visibly swirls around the clear canister at the front when in use. My girlfriend does not like to see the dirt and I know she would want to clean it out and wash it after every use(!) I must say that a cylinder full of muck does make an uneasy contrast to the sterile-looking shiny finish.
Emptying the canister is ok. But it is also suggested that occasionally you repeatedly bang the permanent filter over the bin to dislodge dust. You know this is going to cause a big dust cloud. Not something you would want to do inside. The permanent filter should be washed with water monthly and then left for 24 hours to dry before replacing. This wouldn't be so bad if they supplied 2 filters but they don't. If you have a washing machine with a removable filter, ask yourself when you last removed and cleaned the filter. This could be a guide as to how likely you would be to clean this vacuum's HEPA filter regularly.
On the plus side, I was surprised at the amount of dirt this machine lifted. I vacuum weekly with a powerful cylinder cleaner and still this machine managed to collect a lot of dirt. Much more than usual. Mine are hard-wearing but also hard-worn carpets! I would be cautious using this on a 'fluffy' carpet.
If you have a large area of the same carpet thickness to clean, want something that can clean deeply and empty to an outside bin, then this could be ideal for you. As long as you're disciplined enough to manually clean the filter on a regular basis.
Personally, I didn't feel it fitted my needs particularly well. Adjusting the brush height and cleaning the filter require too much thought/effort for me. And I have rugs and thin carpet which ideally require an adjustable power control. It also loses points for lack of brush attachments. My three star rating is actually being quite generous.
The fundamental cleaning function of this machine is very good indeed but the severe inflexibility of its design really holds it back. This is a real shame, as a power control plus more brush fittings would make this a great machine. As for the height adjustment knob, I just leave it permanently on medium. Who knows, perhaps I'll ruin my carpets.