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ILIFE A4s Robot Vacuum Review

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What is the ILIFE A4s?

ILIFE was founded back in 2007 and is a Shanghai-based company that specializes in providing products for the intelligent robot cleaning industry – robot vacuums in particular. What makes the company unique in the market is that they offer a wide range of affordable robotics which includes both regular and 2-in-1 vacuum and mopping robots. If you’ve been on the fence about buying a robot vacuum cleaner, their new ILIFE A4s model might just give you the gentle nudge you need to get out your wallet.

The ILIFE A4s is an inexpensive chance to have your very own Wall-E cleaning up after you and your family (and yes, you will build an attachment to it). It might lack the bells and whistles of the more expensive robot vacuums, and can’t be controlled through an app (you have to use a remote – remember them?). However, significant improvements have been made to this model over their earlier A4 (which includes a more efficient battery, better suction, and a motorized brush). It’s also been very well received, especially by those who have hard flooring or thin carpets to maintain.

We bought one to write this ILIFE A4s review and to let you know if it lives up the hype. Read on!

Pros

  • Battery Life – The A4s can clean for up to 140 minutes, which is quite impressive for an inexpensive robot vacuum.
  • Multiple Cleaning Modes – The A4s is a simple machine which many will like, but it still comes with multiple cleaning modes which includes edge and spot cleaning. You can also schedule it to clean at certain times.
  • HEPA Filtration – Those who are concerned with air quality in their home will appreciate the fact that this little robot comes with HEPA filtration. This will help to decrease bacteria, pollen and other allergens.
  • Surprisingly Short – This isn’t usually a compliment, but in this case it is. At 7.4cm you’ll find the A4s can clean under most of your furniture.

Cons

  • No Virtual Walls – It would be nice if the robot came with virtual walls or barriers to prevent it bumping into objects like pet water bowls.
  • No Mapping – Although you can use this robot anywhere, the fact that it doesn’t use mapping means that sometimes it has trouble returning to dock.

ILIFE A4s Key Features

CyclonePower Cleaning System – The A4s uses two sweeper brushes at the front, which effectively brushes dirt and debris into the double ‘V’ shaped motorized bristled roller brush in the centre. The dirt and debris are then sucked up into the removable dirt receptacle for emptying.

Easy to Use Remote Control – Those who want a no-fuss robot vacuum cleaner will appreciate that little setup is required to get the A4s earning its keep. It’s possible to press a button on the robot to start cleaning automatically, but you can use the remote to do the same or use one of the multiple cleaning modes (i.e. edge and spot), set a schedule or even trigger the ‘max’ suction mode.

Mini-Room Technology – One problem that many robots without mapping have is that if placed in a small room, they will continue to clean until the battery needs to be recharged. This can sometimes mean that the room is cleaned excessively which uses more power and places unnecessary wear on the battery. With the mini-room mode enabled the robot will clean for a shorter period of time.

Battery and Charging

The ILIFE A4s uses a 14.4V lithium-ion battery which provides 120-140 minutes of fade-free suction on the standard mode, and around 60 minutes on the ‘max’ mode. The power difference between these two modes ranges from 600 to 1000 PA. Charging time takes approximately five hours, so owners can count their blessings that it is able to clean such a large area on one charge. The cleaning button also works as an indicator light – solid orange when the battery is low, flashing orange when it’s charging, and no light when it’s fully charged.

The A4s’ charging dock is quite a low profile and requires the robot vacuum to back up onto two charging pins. It also has a green indicator light to let you know when it’s plugged in and ready. Because the A4s doesn’t use mapping or camera vision, it follows a signal sent out by the charging dock. The robot usually has little issues finding its way back ‘home’ although sometimes it does need a helping hand. Just make sure the dock is in a clear, uncluttered area to prevent this from happening as best you can.

It’s worth noting that although you can use the A4s almost right away, to extend the battery life it’s recommended to charge the robot for 12-24 hours before you use it.

Design

The ILIFE A4s is quite simplistic in design, and sort of resembles a grey UFO with ‘feelers’ where the side brushes poke out from the top. However, the two-tone grey styling (with brushed metallic-look top) is tasteful which means it won’t look out of place once it’s been set to work regardless of your home (or office) décor. It’s also very slim at 7.4cm and weighs 2.2kg. It has an infrared sensor-filled bumper which absorbs shock to prevent damage to both the robot and items it may occasionally run into – however, thanks to the improved anti-collision system over the original A4 this doesn’t happen too frequently. It also has sensors underneath to let it locate drops.

On top of the robot is a single button that can be used to select the automatic cleaning mode, pause cleaning, and re-start cleaning. It also acts as an indicator light, providing various signals such as the battery and cleaning status, and if it has an error (it will alternate between orange for the battery, green for cleaning, and red if there is an error). For the most part, you’ll likely use the included remote which allows you to easily control all robot functions.

Once capsized (try not to feel bad, robots go into a calm state when they are upside down), you’ll notice that the A4s uses two treaded wheels that have the ability to retract slightly to help it navigate noiselessly, and a front caster wheel that rotates 360 degrees to ensure it can spin on a dime. You’ll also be able to clearly see and maintain the side brushes, and motorized bristled roller brush. Included in the box are two spare side brushes when the old ones become worn, and the motorized roller brush can be accessed by first removing the yellow brush guard – allowing you to cut away any tangled hair or debris. It’s all been cleverly designed, though it would have been nicer if the main brush was wider.

On the rear of the robot, as with the majority of competitors, you’ll find the 0.45-litre dirt receptacle and filtration system. This is contained in one unit which is removed with a release button, and by pulling it away from the unit. It then opens up like a butterfly for you to empty which is perhaps not the most elegant design and you will need to use your hands or the included cleaning brush to get most of the dirt out of it. Here you can also clean the main primary filter and a sponge filter (by running under tap water and leaving to dry), and by replacing the HEPA filter when necessary – which is usually every six months. Until those six months are up just brush off the HEPA filter and use tap water for everything else (which includes the bin). A spare HEPA filter is included in the box.

For such an affordable unit, the build quality isn’t left to question and it should be able to handle most, if not all, of what you throw at it (figuratively speaking).

Setup Process, Remote Functionality and Cleaning Pattern

There isn’t too much of a setup process with the ILIFE A4s. All you need to do is unbox it and the accessories, remove all the protective foam and film and place it on the dock to charge for 12-24 hours. As with most robot vacuum cleaners, it’s important for the dock to be placed against a wall with clear space on either side and in front of it so the A4s won’t have problems clocking in and out. Usually, a meter of clearance or so on either side and in front is recommended, though you can see what you can get away with and adjust the area if it has issues.

Once it has charged, you can simply press the “clean” button on the A4s to get it to start vacuuming automatically, or you can take advantage of the remote control’s functions. Using the remote (within a four-meter radius), you can set daily cleaning schedules, and set one of the following modes:

  • Auto – Sadly you can’t use the A4s to herd your pets, but you can select the auto cleaning mode which means it will start cleaning your floor and return to dock once the battery is low.
  • Spot – This function is best used if you are to pick up the A4s and move it to a particularly dirty area. Once selected it will start cleaning in a rotating fashion while gradually increasing its radius.
  • Edge – Place the A4s along your skirting board and select this function to have it start cleaning the edges.
  • Max – Lastly, you have the option to turn on the ‘max’ mode which will increase the suction power. Many people are happy with the standard setting, although this may be beneficial if you have a lot of carpeted areas to clean.

One of the negative points about the A4s is that it lacks mapping and has a bit of a random cleaning pattern. It would be more efficient and easier to know where it has cleaned if it was more systematic. However, due to the efficiency of the battery, it’s more than capable of cleaning up to 2100 square feet on a single charge. Most long-term owners had no complaints about areas being left dirty. The A4s can and will complain though:

  • One beep means the side wheels or side brushes may need to be cleaned.
  • Two beeps mean the cliff or bumper sensor has failed. You’ll have to check if the bumper is blocked and can move back and forth freely.
  • Three beeps mean that the main unit is stuck and needs to be moved, and started again.
  • Four beeps mean that the main roller brush is stuck and likely needs to be removed and cleaned.

The ILIFE A4s doesn’t have virtual barriers so if you’d like it to skip a certain room you’ll have to close the door or place a physical barrier over it. This also means that it may occasionally bump into a water bowl if you have pets.

Performance

The ILIFE A4s may have some limitations, but performance isn’t necessarily one of them. It does a superb job of picking up dirt, hair and all sorts of debris (i.e. oats, rice and flour) from the floor. The only issue is that because it lacks a memory of where it has cleaned there is a good chance that it may miss a few bits here and there. This is where the longer 120-140 minute runtime comes into play so it’s able to cover areas it might have missed on the initial passing.

Having said this, one advantage of not having a mapping function is that if you reckon the floor is clean enough and you have other areas of the house to clean you can just pick it up and move it (though you’ll soon be referring to ‘it’ by name). You can also easily use the spot cleaning function, though it would have been nice if it was possible to turn this and the edge mode on without the remote. It did a little better on carpet than hard flooring, especially with regards to ‘fluffing’ the carpets, making it easier to see where it has yet to venture.

The A4s is recommended as a budget robot vacuum for those with pets, but you will need to remove the motorized roller brush and cut away the hair quite often. Luckily this is easy to do, as is removing and emptying the bin and cleaning the filters. As it only holds 0.45 litres you may find you’ll need to empty it every day, but this is a small price to pay for not having to drag the main vacuum cleaner out as often though.

Other areas worth mentioning was that it stops itself taking a leap of faith off stairs – at times seeming quite timid of dangerous drops. It’s also very quiet at around 65dB which means many people choose to schedule it at night time while they are sleeping and can wake up to a cleaner home. The ‘max’ mode is louder and arguably, you’ll likely use this function often if you have lots of carpeting, but still not loud enough to prevent you watching your favourite series on Netflix comfortably.

As for the cons, it was very quick to get ensnared in cables though less frequently than the previous model due to the upgraded tangle-free sensors. Still, the cables capturing it seemingly unawares will have you thinking of a horrifying nature documentary. Considering that it’s low enough to easily get under office furniture, beds, as well as certain sofas and cabinets, this can happen more frequently than with other robot vacuums. It also had a hard time climbing onto thick rugs but is generally good at traversing small enough obstacles such as room dividers.

Value

The ILIFE A4s is a no-frills type of robot vacuum cleaner for those on a budget, but it does incredibly well, especially when pitted against giants such as Neato and iRobot. In fact, due to the price, you’ll find that many people get more than one to clean different floors or areas of their home at once. ILIFE also offers a two-year warranty when most robot vacuum manufacturers only offer one, and this can be further extended when purchasing on Amazon.

Verdict

You won’t be throwing away your main vacuum cleaner if you buy an A4s, but you will find that you’ll need to take it out far less often. The A4s is designed for maintenance, and while it does this in a seemingly haphazard sort of way with its random cleaning pattern, you will notice your home to be cleaner after just a couple of days. Some of the functionality can’t be compared to the more expensive robots such as the Botvac D7 which we reviewed here but considering it’s around a quarter of the price, who can complain about that.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the ILIFE A4s dimensions?

31cm in diameter and 7.6cm in height.

Is the A4s good at avoiding stairs?

Yes, the A4s can easily locate and avoid drop-offs using its sensors.

Do I need batteries for the remote control?

The A4s’ remote control uses two AAA batteries. However, batteries are included in the box.

Will this work with black carpets?

The sensors aren’t able to work properly if you have black carpets.

Will this learn the layout of a floor or room?

No, this robot doesn’t feature mapping.

Will this work for those with pets?

Yes. It works very well at picking up pet hair, especially on hard flooring. However, you will likely need to clean the motorized brush more often. 

How much does the ILIFE A4s weight?

2.2kg

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Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

Eufy RoboVac 11c Robot Vacuum Review

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What Is the Eufy RoboVac 11c?

Eufy is a brand launched by Ankler, a Chinese electronics company that was founded by a former senior software engineer for Google in 2011. Eufy is dedicated to creating a wide range of smart home appliances which includes everything from Wi-Fi light bulbs to smart plugs and vacuum cleaners. Their flagship product, however, is the RoboVac.

The RoboVac is a series of robot vacuum cleaners for those who want their very own R2-D2 on a budget. Eufy’s latest release is the RoboVac 11c. Now, while Star Wars fans may be left disappointed at the droid’s lack of communication and initiative, most owners have been pleasantly surprised at just how effective this affordable machine is at cleaning their homes.

The big question people ask themselves at this point is why should they fork out for a high-end robot vacuum cleaner like the Roomba 980 when the RoboVac 11c could do the job at more or less a third of the price? Luckily for you, we bought one to write this RoboVac 11c review and demonstrate its strengths and weaknesses.

Pros

  • Inexpensive – Compared to other robot vacuum cleaners, the RoboVac 11c is affordable yet still effective.
  • Low Profile – At just 7.8cm high this vacuum will find its way under most furniture to eliminate those dust bunnies.
  • Scheduling – With the app, you can set a daily and weekly cleaning schedule so your home always stays immaculate.
  • Remote Control – In addition to the app, you also get a remote control to fully control the robot vacuum.

Cons

  • Google Assistant – Although you can issue voice commands with Amazon Alexa, at this time the RoboVac 11c doesn’t work with Google Assistant.
  • Thick Carpets – The 11c is best suited for hard floors and thin carpets, and either won’t perform well or get stuck on thick carpets and rugs.

Eufy RoboVac 11c Key Features

Triple Filter System – The RoboVac 11c uses a triple filter system which includes a HEPA filter and a foam filter. This makes it ideal for those who suffer from allergies and are concerned about the air quality in their home.

Multi-Dimensional Cleaning – In addition to a bristled rolling brush which is great at picking up all sorts of dirt and debris, there are two rotating side brushes to clean edges and direct dirt into the centre of the RoboVac where the powerful suction makes it magically disappear.

Various Cleaning Modes – The 11c has multiple cleaning modes that can be activated with the app or remote control. This includes auto, edge, spot, single room, max and manual cleaning.

Battery and Charging

The RoboVac 11c uses a lithium-ion battery that allows it to clean for up to 90 minutes without fading. The runtime will be lower (around 45 minutes) if you use the max mode, which is usually only necessary for those with carpeted flooring. For those with small homes and carpets, it’s possible to have the RoboVac complete a full cleaning cycle on one charge, though it will self-dock when it wants to skive or otherwise charge – which can, unfortunately, take up to five hours.

The fact that it self-docks is actually quite impressive considering that it doesn’t use mapping or camera visualization, but instead follows a signal that the dock sends out when the battery is low – kind of like a tractor beam.

The dock can’t be considered ‘chic’ when it comes to design so many owners like to try and place it in an inconspicuous place. This may be in spite of the recommended adequate free space for the RoboVac 11c to be able to come and go as it pleases (one meter on the sides and two meters in front). Owners who have used smaller areas for their dock haven’t had issues though, so you’d have to see what works for you.

You can choose to charge the RoboVac directly with the cable or do what 99.9% of robot vacuum owners do and use the charging dock (we’re not sure why this was an option though perhaps for those who don’t have enough space for the dock). The dock has a status light to let you know when the 11c has docked properly, and there is also an indicator light on the robot itself to let you know when it’s low on power (red), charging (flashing blue), and fully charged (solid blue).

Design

While the dock may be representative of the price in terms of looks, thankfully the actual robot vacuum is quite easy on the eye. It’s available in a medium/light grey with an anti-scratch glass cover with brush effect on top. On the front, it features a pressure sensitive bumper with a dark strip which contains 11 infrared sensors to help it navigate around. This gives it a slight Geordi La Forge-esque appearance for all you ‘Trekkies’. It does navigate quite easily with its two large treaded wheels and front swivel wheel, though it isn’t designed to traverse thick carpets. The build quality seems robust, but it’s probably best not to test this assumption by throwing it down the stairs.

On top of the 11c is a silver on/off button with blue LED illumination which also acts as a battery and error indicator light, and alongside that is a tiny blue Wi-Fi indicator light. It’s worth adding that on the side is a main power switch if you intend to not use it for a long period of time, which is situated next to the cable charging point. It would have been nice if there had been full bin and dirty filter indicator lights, though for the price of the robot we can’t be too fussy.

Like other robot vacuum cleaners, the 11c does use beeps to signify when it needs help which may reinforce the R2-D2 reference. The full list of error codes is present in the user manual, though for example it may beep once if its trapped, or beep three times if the sensors are dirty and need to be cleaned. On the topic of cleaning, maintenance is fairly straightforward although not quite as easy as some of the more expensive robots. At certain intervals, you’ll need to remove the rolling brush to cut away hair and other debris, clean or replace the side brushes, and clean the charging pins. Provided in the box is a cleaning tool to assist with this, as well as two spare side brushes, a spare sponge filter and a spare HEPA filter.

The dirt receptacle and filters are part of one unit and can easily be removed from the back of the RoboVac by pressing the release button and pulling it out. You can then open and empty the dirt receptacle into a bin – though you may need to brush it out to get all the dirt out. On top of the dirt, receptacle is a flap which allows you to access the filters. It’s advised to periodically clean these though it’s important to keep in mind that you can wash the bin, filter cover and sponge filter, must not wash the HEPA filter. Again, clear instructions are provided in the manual.

Setup Process, App Functionality and Cleaning Pattern

Before using the RoboVac 11c, it’s necessary to unbox it, turn on the main power switch on the side of the robot and place it on the dock to fully charge. Once it’s charged you can either press the power button on top to make it auto clean (which also works as a pause button), or use the provided remote control to either manually control it (never-ending amusement if you have a dog or a cat) or select one of the following cleaning modes:

Auto Cleaning – It will calculate the size of the room (or consider the whole floor as a single room if the doors are open) and start earning its keep.

Spot Cleaning – By choosing this mode it will ‘intensively’ clean a specific area in a spiral pattern.

Edge Cleaning – When this mode is selected it will find a wall, reduce its speed and then follow it around the house to clean all skirting boards.

Single Room Cleaning – This is an option if you just want to clean your bedroom for instance, but you’ll need to close the door to confine it. It will clean the room thoroughly and stop once it’s done as it won’t be able to return to the dock. You can also use this feature when moving the robot to another floor.

Max Cleaning – This is the most powerful suction mode which is best for carpets but does reduce the battery life by around 50%.

To take advantage of scheduling or to operate the RoboVac 11c away from home you’ll need to use the app. The app is called EufyHome which can be used to control a number of their other products. It’s available from Google Play and the App Store, and once downloaded you’ll need to create an account, connect it to your Wi-Fi and follow the prompts to set up your robot vacuum. One bonus feature of the app is you can schedule multi-day cleaning which means having the 11c clean more than once a day at specified times, as well as on specified days.

The app allows you to adjust the modes similar to the remote control, and control it manually. However, controlling the RoboVac from the app is more difficult than the remote control – most likely due to connectivity and lag issues. One other app feature that is handy is the ability to locate your robot as they do sometimes have a tendency to sneak away for a break. Users who have Amazon Alexa can also control their robot using voice commands.

The RoboVac 11c doesn’t map your home which some people may or may not like and does clean in a seemingly random pattern compared to the high-end robot vacuums like the Roomba 980 or Botvac D7 which do so in a linear and efficient manner. It also doesn’t use camera visualization or lasers, but rather uses infrared sensors to get its bearings and gradually clean your home. This means that it’s not limited by light like the Dyson 360 Eye or Roomba 980 which is triple the price (though they are both great products that you can read about by clicking the links).

 

Performance

For such an inexpensive robot vacuum, the RoboVac 11c is surprisingly powerful and doesn’t discriminate between regular dust, dirt, and even cheerios (the latter is important if you have kids who will quickly take to the robot as if it’s another pet). Of course, it’s only suitable for hard flooring and thin carpets which are easier to clean, but if your home fits this description then the 11c can make your life easier.

One awesome trait of the RoboVac is that it has no qualms picking up pet hair. This is true whether you have a tabby cat or a golden retriever, both of which can make your life a nightmare in springtime when they are shedding. If you constantly find fur on your clothing, curtains, sofa, under furniture, in corners and so on then the 11c will be your new friend and saviour.

If you’ve tried other robot vacuum cleaners you may have had an issue with the noise and had to schedule cleaning while you were away from home. However, at around 40dB the RoboVac can clean while you are watching TV or even during the night while everyone is asleep. Of course, if it gets trapped for any reason the beeping might be annoying, but it generally does a good job of going about its business unhindered.

You will find the RoboVac 11c is like a growing teenager in that there is no limit to its hunger. Make sure to tuck away rug tassels, as well as tidy up cables, small toys (i.e. lego) and anything else you don’t want it trying to eat before you set it to clean.

For the price, there aren’t many negative points to dwell on, although it would have been nice if it came with virtual walls to stop it knocking into ornaments and dog bowls – though it’s usually quite careful. There have been warnings that it might not detect a drop if you have dark or reflective flooring, but most will find that it doesn’t have the same tendencies of a lemming and won’t need to worry.

 

Value

While it doesn’t map your home and has limitations depending on your flooring type, the RoboVac 11c is a simple robot vacuum that does what it’s supposed to. It’s affordable (in contention with the cheapest Roomba), backed by a one year warranty and comes with spare filters and side brushes. If you are interested in a robot vacuum cleaner but don’t want to break the bank, then definitely consider the RoboVac.

Verdict

We are still a long way from having a robot replace a traditional vacuum cleaner. This is especially true when it comes to upholstery, stairs and crevices. However, rather than hoovering once or twice a week, you’ll find yourself only doing it once or twice a month instead. Overall your floor will be cleaner, there will be less dust on shelves and ornaments, and the air quality will be better.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the batteries included with the remote control?

No, you’ll have to purchase batteries separately. The remote control uses two AAA batteries.

How much does the RoboVac 11c weigh?

3.02kg

What are the RoboVac 11c dimensions?

32.6cm x 33cm x 7.8cm

Is this a good robot vacuum for those with pets?

Yes, this does a very good job at picking up hair though it’s important to note that it’s only designed for homes with hard floors and short pile carpets.

Will the 11c fall down stairs?

The RoboVac 11c uses sensors to detect drops and will stop itself from falling. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that if the sensors are dirty or if the floor is dark or reflective, it may have trouble detecting the drop. If this is the case, it might be prudent to place a barrier to block the stairs.

Can I manually control the vacuum when I’m away from home?

You can start cleaning and schedule the RoboVac 11c while you are away from home, but once you are outside of your home network manually operating it is disabled.

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Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

iRobot Roomba 980 Robot Vacuum Review

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What Is the iRobot Roomba 980?

Founded in 1990 by three MIT graduates, iRobot Corporation is a tremendously successful company that creates all sorts of autonomous robotics for civilian and military use. Most people will know of them due to the launch of their Roomba robot vacuum back in 2002 which sold over a million units in just two years. It wasn’t the first robotic vacuum cleaner on the market, but it was definitely the most effective at the time. Over the years they have continued to improve upon their Roomba line up, and have recently launched the Roomba 980.

Now, even if you have the same inclination as Will Smith’s distrustful character in the 2004 iRobot movie, you’ll be hard-pressed not to be fascinated by the Roomba 980. Luckily, or unluckily we’re still some way from achieving artificial intelligence, but with this machine cleaning your home you may beg to differ. At the moment iRobot has five new robot vacuums to cater to all budgets, but the 980 is their flagship model. It isn’t cheap, but can run for up to 120 minutes, has a super low profile, and a wide range of cleaning and app capabilities, which puts it in perfect contention with Dyson’s 360 Eye and Neato’s D7.

We decided to buy one and write this iRobot Roomba 980 review to find out just what it can do. Read on to find out what we discovered.

Pros

  • Powerful Suction – The Roomba 980 has powerful suction capabilities and the ability to differentiate between hard floors and carpets.
  • Obstacle Avoidance – Unlike some earlier models and competitors the Roomba 980 is much better at avoiding obstacles.
  • Spot Clean – If you’ve spilt coffee on the floor, or one of your children or pets has tracked dirt into the house, you can easily use the Roomba for a quick spot clean without it having to do the whole house.
  • Simple App – For those who aren’t technically inclined the iRobot app is user-friendly and can even let you control more than one Roomba if you have multiple stories.

Cons

  • Filtration – The filter is not washable and therefore needs to be replaced every two months.
  • Loud – Even in eco mode, the Roomba 980 measures in at around 70 dB and 10 dB more while in performance mode. Though it’s possible to set it to clean when you aren’t at home to avoid disruption.

iRobot Roomba 980 Key Features

Dirt Detect Technology – Using dedicated dirt sensors, the Roomba 980 has the ability to detect especially dirty areas (commonly in high traffic locations) and clean them more thoroughly.

Multi-Surface Friendly – The Roomba 980 has the ability to detect what type of floor you have and adjust its power setting accordingly. For instance, it will normally use the eco mode when cleaning hard floors to save as much energy as possible, but switch to performance mode when it detects carpeted flooring.

Suitable for Pets – Many people have shied away from purchasing robot vacuum cleaners because of the challenges offered by pet hair. The Roomba 980 uses rubber counter rotating extractors rather than brushes, which coupled with the advanced Gen 3 motor (providing 10x more power than their 600 series and 5x more than the 960) has no problem picking up hair without it getting as tangled as it would with a bristled brush.

Auto-Adjust Cleaning Head – The Roomba 980 can adapt its height depending on the surface being cleaned which is an incredibly smart feature, and an insight into the type of thought that has gone into the research and development from iRobot.

Battery and Charging

The Roomba 980 uses a 14.4V lithium-ion battery, allowing it to clean for up to 120 minutes without fading as the battery depletes. The specified runtime is for the eco mode which will usually be more than adequate to clean homes with hard surfaces, but those who have carpeted flooring will need to use the performance mode which lasts closer to 60 minutes.

While some robot vacuums need a full day to charge before first use, the Roomba 980 is shipped partially charged and can be used right away if you choose. However, to fully charge it let it remain on the dock or ‘home base’ for three hours. The dock has a green light to indicate when it’s docked properly and charging, though the Roomba itself also has a battery indicator to let you know when it’s fully charged, or close to being depleted while cleaning.

As for the charging dock, it’s not as stylish as other models but is still relatively unobtrusive. To recharge, the Roomba will need to navigate onto the charging points, which it has little difficulty doing due to dedicated ‘RCON’ sensors on both the robot and the docking station. As with other robot vacuum docks, it’s important to have ample space around it so the vacuum is not impeded – 0.5m on each side, 1.2m in front, and at least 2.4m from any virtual walls. One area we didn’t like about the dock was that there was nowhere to wind up the excess cable at the back to keep it looking neat.

Design

Due to the heritage and notoriety of the Roomba, it’s considered the quintessential robot vacuum cleaner in terms of design. Basically, a glorified three-wheeled, hockey puck if we’re honest, but one that’s packed full of features and not one you’ll want to hit with a stick. It features two large rubber height-adjusting wheels on each side to help it traverse difficult areas, and a rotating caster wheel on the front so that it has no problems spinning on its axis and manoeuvring about. The 980, in particular, is actually quite elegant with its brown-burst and grey colouring and is clearly a sturdy and cleverly thought out robot.

On top, you have three simple buttons – a large silver ‘clean’ button in the centre, and two small black buttons on each side to tell it to go home or perform a spot clean. Above these buttons you also have error, Wi-Fi, battery, full bin and dirt detect indicator lights.

The Roomba 980 uses a forward facing sunken camera (to maintain the low profile) on top which it uses to triangulate it’s position while cleaning your home and navigate around obstacles. However, it also utilizes several sensors such as the RCON sensor on top so it can dock itself, and several underneath to detect dirt and avoid drops.

The 980 has a smartly designed flap-style handle on top which doesn’t negatively affect the appearance of the robot and makes it easy to pick up for spot cleaning. An interesting feature of the Roomba which has been present on older models is a front bumper which can absorb small impacts and therefore be less likely to damage furniture.

The Roomba 980 uses a three-stage cleaning system which includes an angled (27 degree) sweeping brush on one side that captures dirt and debris from corners and edges and directs them into the rubber dual counter-rotating extractors in the centre of the vacuum. This dirt and debris are then suctioned into the bin where the air that’s expelled is free from 99% of all dust, mites and allergens as small as 10 microns thanks to the AeroForce high-efficiency filter. While there is no denying the power and efficacy of the 980, we were surprised that it couldn’t capture smaller particles (the Dyson 360 Eye captures particles as small as 0.5 microns, and the Neato Botvac D7 as small as 0.3 microns), though by comparison the width of a human hair is around 75 microns across so this shouldn’t be a deciding factor in your purchase.

The dirt receptacle resembles a cassette and can be removed with a press of a button while pulling it away from the back of the Roomba. You can then flip down a door on the side to empty all the captured dust, debris and hair into a dustbin. On top of the dirt receptacle, you’ll also find the filter under a flap, which can be removed and cleaned by tapping it against a bin at intervals. Unfortunately, you can’t wash and re-use the filter like you can with the Dyson 360 Eye and will need to replace it every two months. However, a spare is included in the box and additional filters are inexpensive.

It’s worth noting that you also have the option to remove the side brush (spare included), main rubber extractors and front caster wheel for cleaning, which should be done periodically. The 980 has made this surprisingly easy so you won’t be tearing your hair out trying to keep on top of maintenance like you may do with other robots. Some parts will need to be replaced after some time to maintain optimal performance, which includes the front caster wheel after a year, and the extractors every 6-12 months.

Setup Process, App Functionality and Cleaning Pattern

The setup process of the Roomba 980 is perhaps one of the easiest, although much the same with other robot vacuum cleaners. After unboxing, you’ll need to flip the Roomba upside down and remove a couple of tabs (one for the battery and another for the bin), before placing it on the dock for three hours to fully charge. As mentioned, the dock is small and unobtrusive, but you’ll need to find a flat surface with adequate space around it so the Roomba has no problem finding it.

While you can use the Roomba manually by pressing the ‘clean’ or ‘spot’ clean buttons, it’s a good idea to install and connect it to the app to enjoy all the features it has to offer. To app is called iRobot HOME and can be installed from Google Play and the App Store. Once installed, you can choose to “add a robot”, “set up a new robot” and then follow the wizard. You’ll need your Wi-Fi details and password to complete the process, although the app includes little video tutorials to help you through certain sections if you get stuck.

What’s great about the app is that in addition to being able to command the Roomba to clean right away, schedule cleaning seven days a week (at specific times), and check cleaning history, you can also look at the ‘care’ section and see when certain parts need to be cleaned or emptied – such as the bin, filter and extractors.

The cleaning preferences section of the app is quite handy, and allows you to adjust the following:

  • Carpet Boost Settings – Choose whether it automatically turns on performance mode when transitioning from hard flooring to carpet, or whether it permanently stays in eco or performance mode for all cleaning tasks.
  • Cleaning Passes – Choose whether it will only make one cleaning pass or two for a more thorough clean. Keep in mind that the Roomba does feature ‘Dirt Detection’ technology so will concentrate on especially dirty areas automatically so setting one pass is usually all you need.
  • Cleaning with Full Bin – Choose whether it completes the cleaning job with a full bin, or returns to the dock for emptying before it continues.
  • Edge Clean – Although this should really be automatic, you have the option to choose whether the Roomba will focus on edges along walls and furniture legs at the end of a cleaning cycle.

The Roomba 980 uses new iAdapt 2.0 navigation which along with VSLAM (visual simultaneous localization and mapping) is a vast improvement over previous models. It has no problem navigating around the house systematically and in straight lines rather than a random pattern while working its way under and around furniture and objects as necessary. While the app doesn’t allow you to create no-go areas, included in the box are two dual-mode virtual wall barriers. With these, you can either create a linear boundary that the Roomba 980 can’t cross (such as if you were blocking off a room), or a halo type boundary if you don’t want it to go near dog bowls or delicate ornaments.

Lastly, the Roomba 980 can be linked to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant if you would like to control it by voice rather than just using the app. However, the app is so easy to use that this is more of a novelty than a great convenience. 

Performance

The 980 is the most powerful Roomba ever created, which says something as the previous models have been consistently better and helped the company to build the legendary reputation they are known for. It has absolutely no qualms picking up small particles such as spilt sugar or coffee or larger particles such as dried mud, breadcrumbs or even popcorn. Just keep in mind that the dirtier your home is, the more frequently you’ll need to empty the bin which is generally recommended after each full cleaning cycle. If you have pets this is a great robot vacuum to have, especially as the hair is less prone to tangle around the rubber rollers.

The ‘Dirt Detect’ technology is particularly helpful for cleaning high traffic or overly dirty areas of your home, such as your entrance or kitchen. Here it will make more than one pass as necessary until the area is clean. Even so, with the app, you have the option to choose for it to stay in high-performance mode or to make more than one pass per cycle to ensure your home is always immaculate. It didn’t have any problems navigating onto rugs, though on occasion did manage to flick the edges up in the process.

It was quite noisy in the performance mode which is something to keep in mind if you’re working, on the phone or trying to relax in front of the television. For these occasions, you can choose to set in eco mode, or rather schedule or just command it to clean via the app when you’re away from home. It’s common for robot vacuums to pick up a persona of sorts, and iRobot has enhanced this phenomenon by adding a number of sounds to let you know what it’s doing (i.e. docking, undocking, gets stuck or is lost).

It always managed to find its way back to the dock, apart from when it was picked up to do some spot cleaning. In which case the 980 had trouble finding it, especially if it was quite some distance away from it. However, this is common among many robot vacuums so it’s hardly a con. A couple of negative points worth mentioning is that if you have any black rugs it might perceive these as drops and refuse to clean them, and because it uses a camera for mapping it needs adequate light in order to do its job. Overall though, the Roomba 980 did a great job, rarely got stuck, was easy to setup and simple to maintain.

Value

As with other high-end robot vacuum cleaners, the price is usually enough to put most people off. However, those who made the jump have largely been happy with their purchase and feel as if their home has never been cleaner. The Roomba 980 does come with a one year warranty (which also includes the battery), though you can extend this to two or three years when purchasing through Amazon. In terms of value, it sits comfortably with its rivals such as the Dyson 360 Eye and Neato Botvac D7, though in our opinion is a touch more practical than the Dyson and on par with the D7.

Verdict

All in all, the Roomba 980 didn’t fail to impress and is definitely a step in the right direction for robot vacuum cleaners. The rubber rollers is an interesting development compared to a bristled brush and one we’ll have to keep an eye on to see how it performs over time. Nevertheless, it’s a great cleaning companion to have and should especially be considered by those who have to clean under their furniture due to the ultra-low profile. The app is also very easy to use, and it’s one of the few robots with a bin full indicator. If you want the best robot vacuum on the market, we recommend looking at both this and the Neato D7 which we reviewed here before making up your mind.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to purchase more virtual walls?

Yes. The Roomba 980 comes with two dual-mode virtual wall barriers, but you can buy additional virtual walls from iRobot directly or from Amazon.

What are the specifications of the Roomba 980?

35.3cm in diameter, and 9.1cm in height.

Is the filter washable?

No. You can tap the filter on the side of the bin to remove dust build up once or twice a week, but you will need to replace it every two months. 

What can I do if it has trouble returning to the dock properly?

Although this isn’t a common problem with the Roomba, make sure that your docking station is on a flat surface and has adequate space around it as specified in the user manual.

If the bin full indicator light is showing, will I need to wait until the robot returns to the docking station to empty it?

No. All you need to do is pause the robot and empty the dirt receptacle. Once you have replaced it, you can let it continue its cleaning cycle.

Do I need to clean the sensors?

Yes, it’s advised to clean the sensors with a dry cloth periodically. Every two weeks for the bin full sensors, and once a month for the cliff and floor tracking sensors.

Can I use the app for more than one Roomba?

Yes. If you have more than one robot to clean different stories of your home you can control them all from the iRobot HOME app.

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Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

Neato Robotics Botvac D7 Robot Vacuum Review

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8.3Our Score

What Is the Neato Robotics Botvac D7 Connected?

The series Robot Wars became incredibly popular back in 1998 when it first aired, and while it showed a glimpse into the potential uses of robotics, few of us ever thought we’d be having one of these combatants blazing a trail through our living rooms. It wasn’t long after this that the first robot vacuum cleaners started appearing on store shelves, but for a long time they were nothing more than novelties.

However, thanks to pioneering companies like California based Neato Robotics, over the years they’ve gradually become far more effective at home cleaning. Neato Robotics was actually recently acquired by Vorwerk in 2017, but they still operate independently and continue to release very popular robotic vacuum cleaners. Their latest release that has piqued our interest is the Neato Robotics Botvac D7 Connected.

The Botvac D7 sits comfortably at the top of their line-up of robotic vacuum cleaners which also includes the cheaper D3, D5, and standard “Connected” models. Each is available at different price points which range from “reasonably affordable” to “I may need to use my overdraft this month”. The main differences between them are the cleaning abilities and the battery runtime, but all have the ability to connect to your smartphone or tablet and can be controlled using Amazon Alexa, Google Home or using a messenger service through Neato Chatbot. It’s worth noting that Neato also has a standard roaming robot without connectivity called the D85 if you prefer to keep things simple.

Read our Neato Robotics Botvac D7 Connected review to find out if we thought this was nothing more than an overpriced conversation piece, or a purchase that could significantly improve your life.

Pros

  • Run Time – The D7 can run for up to 120 minutes which means more cleaning can be done in a single setting.
  • No-go Areas – Unlike some other robots that are prone to hitting dog bowls or knocking over ornaments, the D7 has programmable no-go areas.
  • Laser Guided – because it uses lasers rather than camera vision to navigate, it’s possible to use this at night time or when you’re away from home and the house is still dark.
  • Low Profile – The D7’s ultra-low profile means that it gets beneath most furniture with ease, helping to ensure your home is completely dust free.

Cons

  • Non-Washable Filter – You will need to replace the filter every one or two months.
  • Expensive – The price might put some people off, but when it comes to robot vacuum cleaners you often get what you pay for.

Neato Robotics Botvac D7 Key Features

D-Shape Design – The deliberate D-shaped design allows the Botvac D7 to have a large front brush, and gives it the ability to easily clean within 14mm of walls and corners – especially as it uses small side brushes in addition to the main roller brush.

Spiral Combo Brush – The Neato Spiral Combo Brush uses stiff bristles and rubber blades and is specifically designed to pick up pet hair, dirt and debris from all flooring types.

Ultra Performance Filter – The D7 Connected uses an Ultra Performance Filter which is capable of capturing particles as small as 0.3 microns (smaller than Dyson’s 360 Eye). This filtration makes this robot vacuum especially popular for those who suffer from allergies. The filter does need to be replaced every month or two though rather than cleaned, though you get two spare filters inside the box.

Neato SmartLife – We are in the dawn of artificial intelligence, and Neato has taken advantage of this. With SmartLife you can control the robot vacuum using voice command via Amazon Alexa and Google assistant, via messenger using Chatbot, and IFTTT.

Battery and Charging

Neato Robotics uses a 14.4 lithium-ion battery which can operate the powerful robotic vacuum cleaner for up to 120 minutes in eco mode, and a little less using the turbo mode which is the default setting. However, as it’s capable of cleaning up to 460m2 in one cycle, most owners won’t require the D7 to continually recharge to clean the whole home as can be the case with many other robots. It takes around 2 hours to recharge, which isn’t bad at all – though before you first use it, it’s recommended to charge the D7 for at least 24 hours to get the most out of the battery life. This is particularly important as the battery warranty only lasts 6 months, and they state you’ll need to replace it after 12-18 months.

The charging dock is black but quite unobtrusive and doesn’t require the D7 to mount it as it uses two metal charging contacts. This means the D7 simply needs to park against it. Even so, it’s recommended to place the dock in an open area, one meter away from furniture or other objects to make it easy to find and to wrap the power cord around the dock so it’s not in the way. The robot has no problems finding its way back, which often has people thinking of it more like an obedient pet than an actual machine.

It has a single battery indicator light which can change colour or pulse to let you know the charging and battery status at all times. If it’s solid green then it’s ready to go if it pulses green it’s still charging but can be used, and if it pulses yellow or red then it must still charge before it can clean. While in use, the indicator light also shows a solid green, yellow or red light to let you know how much juice is left.

Design

The Botvac D7 robot vacuum cleaner isn’t just low profile in stature (10cm), but also in design which belittles the sheer amount of technological innovation that has gone into the development. The styling is of a simple metallic light and dark grey, and given its “D” shape, it has a wide front to pick up as much dirt and possible in one pass with its spiral combo brush. First impressions are good regarding build quality, and there have been no user complaints to repudiate this.

The onboard controls are quite easy to use and understand, as it only has one button. You can use this button to select a whole house clean (1 press), or a spot clean (2 presses for a 7’ x 7’ area), pause and resume cleaning, and to cancel cleaning. It also features several LED indicators so you know what mode you’ve selected, the Wi-Fi status, and battery status. The rotating laser is also located on top of the robot which allows it to easily navigate around your home. Aside from the LaserSmart system, it uses side cleaning sensors to help it clean edges, and drop sensors at the front to prevent it falling down stairs.

If you want to move the D7, there is a handle on top but this also allows you to lift a flap and access the 0.7-litre dirt receptacle and filter. The filter and dirt receptacle are part of one unit which almost resembles a cassette, but you can remove the filter by pinching the handle and pulling it from the dirt receptacle. This makes it easy clean the filter with the provided maintenance comb, and of course, empty the dirt and debris from the bin. Unfortunately, there isn’t an indicator to let you know when the bin is full so you’ll need to get into the habit of emptying it frequently.

Setup Process, App Functionality and Cleaning Pattern

The Botvac D7 Connected is perhaps one of the easiest robot vacuum cleaners to setup which is only partly why it’s rated so highly among owners. After unboxing, removing the protective film and finding a suitable place for the charging dock, simply place the rounded side of the D7 against the metal charging contacts. As mentioned, it’s best to wait 24 hours for it to charge the battery completely before using it, but you can use this time to set up the Neato app and get the most out of this remarkable machine.

The app is available on both the App Store and Google Play, and once installed you’ll need to create an account and follow the prompts. If you aren’t able to pair the D7, you’ll need to hold down the start button for 15 seconds until the Wi-Fi light glows blue which means it’s in pairing mode. When it blinks quickly it means it’s pairing to your Neato account, and when the light stays solid pairing has been successful. Keep in mind you will need your Wi-Fi code during this process (the D7 can use both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi).

With the app installed and connected to your D7, you have full control of scheduling and a wide range of features. First and foremost you can select the cleaning modes which are house, spot and manual. If you choose manual this allows you to move the vacuum to another floor where it will clean the area and then return to the original spot once it’s finished or low on battery. For spot cleaning, you can specify the area you’d like cleaned using the app, and with home cleaning, it will systematically clean your main floor. When using the ‘My Floor Plan’ it will map out your home as it cleans.

‘My Floor Plan’ provides you with the option to view the past 20 cleaning cycles and assess any areas the D7 has had difficulty cleaning. Most importantly you can set ‘no-go’ lines which can be used if you don’t want it to clean certain rooms or near and around obstacles. This feature works very well, but can only be used with the app. Neato has included magnetic strips if you want to place no-go areas around the home when you use the robot without the app.

Other features include the ability to choose eco or turbo mode and even set an ‘extra care’ mode which will make it more tentative around obstacles. From the app, you can also monitor the battery status, receive maintenance alerts, get push notifications and much more. For those who enjoy teasing their animals, you can also control it yourself, which is actually pretty handy if you want to quickly use it to clean a small spill without getting your main vacuum cleaner out. Unlike many other robotic vacuum cleaners, the Botvac D7 uses a systematic and efficient back/forth cleaning pattern.

Performance

Although it only produces 61 watts, the D7 is an incredibly impressive robot and in our opinion well worth the price tag. It has no problem traversing hard floors, carpets and rugs and can hoover up both larger and smaller/denser dirt and debris. This is made possible by the clever Spiral Combo Brush which features stiff bristles for carpets and rubber blades for hard flooring. It also has larger wheels than certain rivals such as the Roomba 980 so it can easily clean rugs without moving them or flipping up the edges.

Those with pets are particularly disappointed with robot vacuum cleaners if they don’t perform their due diligence, but this is not a hurdle the D7 has an issue overcoming. However, you will need to periodically clean the rotating brush using the provided cleaning comb which also has a blade for cutting hair and fibre that gets wrapped around the brush. However, the brush is easily accessible by flipping over the robot, removing the side brushes and removing the brush guard.

When in operation the turbo mode is a little louder than you’d expect for such a small machine which is why it’s best to use this default setting when you aren’t home. You can use the quieter eco mode which is actually more than adequate for hard flooring, but those with carpets will want to use the turbo mode. The good news is that because the D7 uses a laser for navigation you don’t need to leave lights on for it to function when you’re not home (certain other robots use a camera to navigate and need adequate light to do so).

Lastly, the fact that it’s only 10cm tall means that the dirt bunnies under your furniture will have to find a new home. The D7 is pretty good at getting around furniture and obstacles, though because it’s wider than some other robots if you have a lot of tight gaps it can’t squeeze into they won’t be cleaned.

Value

The Neato Robotics Botvac D7 is an expensive home cleaning tool and one that many people will consider long and hard about before buying. However, when you do make the decision to purchase a robot vacuum, it makes sense to get one that will do the job well – and this does. The only issue with the value is that for the price we thought the one year warranty was a bit short. However, if you purchase from Amazon you can extend this and get better coverage.

Verdict

Many people who have purchased other robot vacuum cleaners often lament the fact that they didn’t purchase a Neato. This is evident in the countless reviews online, and especially for those who decided to purchase two different robots (for multiple floor mapping) and realized their Neato was superior. It’s an impressive machine by all means and one that will help to keep your home cleaner than if you just use your main vacuum cleaner periodically. The app is intuitive, and it has a wide range of features to make it practical. While we don’t always keep the vacuum cleaners we buy to review, this one might be a keeper.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the filter machine washable?

The Ultra Performance Filter is not machine washable and needs to be replaced every one or two months. You can buy these in packs of two from Amazon.

How much does the Botvac D7 Connected weight?

3.5kg

What is the dirt capacity? 

The D7 can pick up 0.7 litres of dirt and debris before it needs to be emptied.

Is this good for houses with carpets?

Yes, the D7 is designed to be used on all floor types.

What are the D7 dimensions?

31.9cm x 33.6cm x 10cm

Will the no-go lines be active when starting the D7 manually?

No, you will need to operate the D7 with the app if you want it to adhere to your no-go lines, or use magnetic strips. However, if you have set the D7 to clean on schedule with ‘My Floor Plan’ active then it will avoid the no-go areas.

Is it really necessary to place the dock a meter from anything?

It’s recommended for the dock to have adequate space around it for the D7 to find its way back, but many owners have managed to use it in smaller spaces without any issues.

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Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

Dyson 360 Eye Robot Vacuum Review

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8.8Our Score

What Is the Dyson 360 Eye?

If you enjoy your science fiction movies or at least those set in the not too distant future, you’ve likely romanticized about some of the fictional technology and how it could make your life easier. While we don’t have flying cars (yet), the truth is that a lot of these contrived inventions have already become a reality. In particular, we have officially stepped into the dawn of the smart robotic era and turned the future into the present – at least theoretically.

One smart robotic item of interest is the Dyson 360 Eye robot vacuum cleaner which is a cordless, self-operating, vacuum with a host of features. It sits at the top end of the market (as is the case with a lot of Dyson’s products), and is designed to take care of your floor vacuuming needs while you go about your business – whether you’re at home or out and about.

Dyson actually first started developing their robot vacuum back in 1998, eventually producing an earlier model three years later called the DC06. However, they never released it for sale, not because it wasn’t up to the task, but because they felt it should have been better (and smaller as it had 54 battery cells, 70 sensors and three processors). Over 17 years later, they finally released the 360 Eye.

With all those countless hours of research and development, we thought the least we could do was test the Dyson 360 Eye to see whether they hit it out of the park or fell short of the mark.

Pros

  • Powerful – For such a small machine it’s incredibly effective at picking up all sorts of dirt regardless of your floor type.
  • Agile – With its tracks it has no problems navigating around the home without getting caught on rug edges or floor strips.
  • Constant Updates – Dyson is always looking to improve their product with updates to the software.
  • App Usage – Unlike some other robot vacuum cleaners the app is easy to figure out which includes daily scheduling for convenience.

Cons

  • Slow Vacuuming – Although it’s a dependable ‘set and forget’ vacuum, it does take it’s time to get around the home. Those who have large homes may find it will need to go back to the charging dock several times before it completes the job.
  • Price Tag – We should be used to the price of Dyson’s products by now, but there is no hiding the fact that the 360 Eye is an expensive robot vacuum cleaner.

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Dyson 360 Eye Key Features

Panoramic Vision – Rather than using a forward facing camera, the Dyson 360 Eye features a 360 degree camera at the top of the vacuum. Using what the company calls Simultaneous Localization and Mapping technology it stitches pictures together to create a panoramic view of its surroundings and constantly uses these to triangulate its position and navigate around the home. The camera also operates at 30 frames per second which means the shutter speed matches the speed of the robot to ensure its position is as accurate as possible. It also uses two IR sensors at the front to help it avoid hitting furniture or falling down stairs.

Radial Root Cyclone Technology – The Dyson 360 Eye uses a powerful, yet compact V2 digital motor which spins up to 78,000rpm. This coupled with their Radial Root Cyclone technology (using eight fine-tuned cyclones to general suction) allows it to pick up particles as small as 0.5 microns. By comparison, dust mites are around 100-300 microns, and pollen particles are 10-1000 microns in size.

Scheduled Cleaning – Using Dyson’s Link app, which they have designed to be as practical and simple to use as possible (sorry, no chasing your cat or dogs with this one), it’s possible to easily manage the 360 Eye. You can choose when to start and stop your robot vacuum, schedule a cleaning program around your lifestyle, see where it’s already cleaned around your home, and switch between power modes.

Voice Control Capabilities – Using Amazon Alexa or another compatible voice service it’s possible to ask the 360 Eye to start vacuuming, change modes and more.

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Battery and Charging

As with all of Dyson’s cordless products, the 360 Eye uses an advanced lithium-ion battery which allows it to run for up to 75 minutes in ‘quiet’ mode and 30-40 minutes in ‘max’ mode. The battery is designed so that the power of the robot vacuum doesn’t dwindle as it loses charge, but remains constant until it needs to be charged which can take around 2¾ hours. A little blue battery indicator light on top of the vacuum will flash while it’s charging and remain on when it’s ready to earn its keep.

The charging dock is simple in design and sort of looks like a large Wi-Fi box, albeit thinner. The Dyson 360 Eye navigates to and from the charger as it needs to which seems to give it a persona of sorts. You’ll often find a lot of online customer reviews talking about their 360 Eye robot vacuum cleaners in the first person or referring to it by name. Depending on where you place the charger, it may occasionally have trouble returning though it’ll keep trying until it succeeds. This is why it’s important to place the charging dock on an open area (at least 50cm from any other objects) with a flat surface.

Design

The Dyson 360 Eye is taller than a lot of other robot vacuum cleaners, although this is because it needed to incorporate the company’s patented cyclone technology. To compensate for this, it’s narrower than most of its competitors at around 23cm which allows it to better fit between furniture and other items around the household. It’s available in two colour options – nickel and blue or nickel and fuschia – both of which look like signature Dyson products.

Although you will need to download the Dyson Link app on your phone or tablet to use the 360 Eye properly, it has a simple user interface on the top near the camera. This interface shows various indicator lights (i.e. cleaning, charging, charging during a clean, heading back to charge, Wi-Fi connectivity, errors and more) and also allows you to turn it off and on or to pause cleaning.

The robot has two handles on the side in the event you’d like to pick it up and move it to a certain destination to clean (more about this in the performance section), and a removable dirt receptacle (0.33 litres) on the back which helps to break the circular profile and improve the styling a bit. When it comes to manoeuvrability, the 360 Eye uses two continuous tracks to help it navigate all terrains around the home, including places where wheels will struggle such as over bumps or thick carpets. The tracks also allow it to spin on its axis if and when it needs to.

The build quality is exceptional as can be expected for the price, and this is especially evident during routine maintenance. It has two-lifetime washable filters which are easily accessible and need to be cleaned once a month. The pre-motor exhaust can be pulled out once you remove the dirt receptacle on the back, and the post-motor filter can be removed once you lift up the filter cover on the front. Both can simply be washed under cold running water, but don’t use soap and make sure to wait at least 24 hours for them to dry before replacing them.

Setup Process, App Functionality and Cleaning Pattern

The Dyson 360 Eye is fairly straightforward to setup and the process is clearly outlined in the user manual. All you need to do upon unboxing is to place the charging dock against a wall (at least 50cm away from other objects) and plug it in. Once this is done, just place the 360 Eye on the charger. You’ll know it’s charging when the battery indicator light begins to flash. Once the light remains constant, the unit is fully charged and ready to go. You have the option of pressing the button on top to have it start cleaning your home right away, although to make the most of the mapping features, scheduling and more, it’s recommended to use the app.

The Dyson Link app is available to download free from the App Store or Google Play. Once you have installed it you can start the connection process which involves creating a Dyson account and following the setup wizard to connect to your robot. You will need to connect your phone (and app) to the robot, and the robot to your home’s Wi-Fi and to Dyson, but this isn’t as scary as it sounds and only needs to be done once.

Once you have installed the app, you will be able to set cleaning schedules that best suit you or your family, see visual maps of where it has cleaned in your home and areas it may have missed, and change the power setting from ‘quiet’ to ‘max’. It’s also possible to do all this remotely so you don’t have to worry anymore about that quick rush around the house when you get home from work after your partner has invited the in-laws over. The app also allows you to update the software, view faults and offers guides and videos on how to use the robot vacuum properly.

In terms of the cleaning pattern, it may at first appear the 360 Eye is cleaning randomly, but it will slowly map out your home into a grid of squares. This process may take some time while it gets its bearings. However, once it’s finished and even while it’s in the process of mapping it does so in the most efficient way possible – ensuring it doesn’t vacuum an area more than once and never misses a section of flooring unless it’s unable to navigate. The only time it breaks the pattern is when it’s boxed in, or needs to return to the dock to charge. After charging it will return back to where it stopped and continue.

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Performance

The cleaning prowess of this robot vacuum is the most coveted benefit and one that users who didn’t take the time to consider the market before purchasing would have appreciated. This is largely thanks due to the motorized brush bar which contains 2,376,000 anti-static carbon fibre filaments for hard floor cleaning, and 5,468 stiff nylon bristles for carpets. As a result, the Eye 360 is suitable for all flooring types.

Having said that, it’s important that anyone looking at investing their money into a robot vacuum cleaner understand that it’s still a long way from eradicating the old-fashioned upright or cylinder. Robots are best used to help you keep on top of cleaning so that you have to vacuum manually less often. The Dyson 360 Eye achieves this goal without merely being an expensive novelty.

During operation, you’ll find the Dyson 360 is just the right height to get under tables, chairs and certain beds and, but because it’s slightly taller than other models it’s worth considering the dimensions before purchasing – especially if you have low sofas. It does take a surprisingly long time to get the job done, and if you have a large home it may take several cycles before it completes the entire floor. However, it cleans systematically and it does a great job doing so too. Even those with pets who always come home to hair drifting around like tumbleweed will find this a great help. Many owners have commented that their homes have never been so clean.

The 360 Eye doesn’t have too much trouble getting stuck, although like most robots it may have one or two quibbles from time to time – whether it’s an office chair it can’t navigate or a water bowl it keeps knocking into. One cool feature of the 360 Eye is that if you have more than one floor to clean you can pick it up, take it to the middle of a room on the floor you want to clean, and press the on button. It will then go about cleaning the floor and return to that position rather than try to find the dock once it’s finished or needs to be recharged.

As for the negative, it does need to be emptied nearly every day if you have it running frequently due to the low dirt capacity, but this is an easy process. It’s also noisy for such a small machine which Dyson have tried to fix by offering a ‘quiet’ and a ‘max’ mode, although most people will want to use the ‘max’ mode and just schedule it for when they aren’t home or won’t mind the noise. Lastly, because the Dyson 360 Eye uses a camera system to navigate, it needs enough light in order to do so. While this isn’t a large issue, it’s something to consider if your home is chaotic during the day and you want it to clean during the night. These points shouldn’t detract from the usefulness and quality build of the robot though.

Value

You’ll definitely feel the pinch when you shell out for the Dyson 360 Eye Robot, but those who have taken the plunge have been pleased with their purchase for the most part. There are cheaper robot vacuums offered by Neato and iRobot for instance that may provide better value for your money, but if your home gets particularly dirty and you need the extra power offered by Dyson’s technology then this is as good as it gets. If you do decide to take out your credit card then keep in mind that Dyson offer a two-year guarantee and this can be further extended when purchasing from Amazon.

Verdict

Overall the Dyson 360 Eye is a commendable robot vacuum for people who like to keep their homes clean at all times. It doesn’t clean quickly and likely needs several charges to get the job done, but it’s unparalleled at the moment in terms of robotic suction power. However, this does mean that you’ll need to empty the dirt receptacle daily, or on days you’ve scheduled cleaning. If only Dyson could invent a ‘vacuum bin’ so that it empties itself once it goes back to the charging dock – there’s a money making idea for you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much does the Dyson 360 Eye weigh?

2.42kg.

Is it difficult to setup and get started? 

Not at all. Dyson has included a helpful manual to show you all the steps you need to take, which includes connecting your device to your robot, and the robot to your Wi-Fi. You can also easily download the Dyson Link app from the App Store or Google Play. After installing it will also help you through the process.

I have a two bedroom house, can I use it to clean both floors?

Yes. Simply pick up the Dyson 360 Eye from its dock and take it to the floor you would like to clean. Place it in the middle of the floor and press the button. It will gradually clean the floor in increments and return back to the spot you placed it once it has finished the task or is low on battery.

Will the Dyson 360 clean up spills?

No. It’s important that before the robot vacuum is turned on or scheduled to clean that any liquids on the floor are mopped up.

Is this a good choice for people with pets?

The motorized roller brush makes this very effective at picking up pet hair, although you may find that you will need to remove and clean the brush from time to time. You can do this by turning the robot vacuum upside down, unlocking the fastener on the side using a coin or flathead screwdriver and removing the brush. You can then cut away the hair and remove any other debris before replacing it.

Can I update the software without the app?

Yes. Dyson is always looking to improve their Dyson with new updates. You can choose to update it using the app which is easier, or you can download the latest upgrade file to a USB stick and follow the provided instructions in the manual or on the Dyson website here: https://www.dyson.co.uk/support/journey/guides/65009-01/360-eye-software-update.html.

Will it fall down the stairs?

No, the infrared sensors on the front detect objects and drops. However, make sure not to obscure stairs with items such as boxes or bags as this can make it difficult for the sensors.

What are the dimensions?

23.01cm x 24cm x 11.99cm.

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Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

Shark IF200UK DuoClean Cordless Vacuum Review

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8.8Our Score

What Is the Shark IF200UK DuoClean?

We’re currently living in an era where companies are fighting over the cordless appliance market, leaving few scraps for smaller companies to pick up. In this regard, the aptly named ‘Shark’ company which is a subsidiary of Euro-Pro Europe has got some combatants of their own. In fact, they’re so confident that all their vacuum cleaners come with a standard five-year guarantee.

Earlier on we reviewed their upright Shark Lift Away True Pet model which was very well received, even though it had a somewhat unusual design. However, the Shark IF200UK DuoClean which we are looking at today differs in that it is a cordless stick vacuum that can also be used as a handheld. It’s much lighter as well which means it’s the more practical choice. Having said that, the battle that this model will face between its competitors will come down to battery life, suction capabilities and versatility.

In our bagless Shark DuoClean review we’ll be looking at their cheapest model which is still a great all-round machine, but it’s worth keeping in mind that they have three other DuoClean versions which we’ll discuss in the design section below. Read on to find out what we thought.

Pros

  • Floor Versatile – Unique DuoClean technology allows this vacuum to transition seamlessly from hard to carpeted flooring without needing to change heads.
  • 2-in-1 Functionality – Easily converts into a handheld which makes it possible to use this vacuum for a wide range of cleaning applications.
  • Intuitive Design – Simple interface within thumb-reach to turn on the power as well as adjust the suction and floor settings.
  • Impressive Guarantee – The DuoClean comes standard with a 5-year guarantee (although the battery is only covered for 2 years).

Cons

  • Runtime – Unlike many top of the line cordless models the 22-minute runtime isn’t impressive, especially considering this is when using the ‘standard’ mode. On the max setting, it only runs for 10 minutes.
  • Top Heavy – Although relatively lightweight at 4kg, some people with arthritis or other ailments may find the DuoClean to be top heavy and a strain on their wrists.

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Shark IF200UK DuoClean Key Features

Flexology Flexi Wand – This is not just an enticing marketing name but refers to the flexology lock release which allows you to lower the angle of the wand to easily reach under furniture. The top half of the vacuum cleaner also folds over on itself which allows for more compact storage – including easier access to a handle to carry it around. 

DuoClean Head – The DuoClean head features two brush rolls, one which has stiff bristles and another which is a soft brush. This makes it possible to easily pick up both small and large particles, as well as easily transition from carpet to hard flooring.

2-in-1 Functionality – In addition to easily removing the head for ceiling cleaning, it’s possible to completely detach the wand and use the main unit as a handheld. Here you have the option of using the DuoClean head without the wand for easier stair cleaning, or use one of the provided attachments for cleaning tabletops, edges and more.


Battery Life

The Shark IF200UK DuoClean features a 25.2V lithium-ion battery which is designed to provide continuous power for up to 22 minutes. By modern top-of-the-range cordless vacuums, this isn’t particularly impressive, although the Shark has found a compromise between suction power and runtime so that for those 22 minutes it works surprisingly well, and you also have the option to use a max setting for around 10 minutes.

The battery takes around 3½ hours to fully charge (often much less), and you have the choice to charge the battery either while it’s connected or removed from the vacuum. There is three blue LED indicators on the battery to let you know how much juice is left, as well as when it’s fully charged.

A couple versions of the DuoClean come with two batteries as standard and therefore include a dock that allows the option to charge both batteries at once. If you buy one of the single battery versions it’s possible to purchase a spare for £69.99 as well as the dock for £99.99, though you may as well purchase one of the versions with these included if you want the additional battery as it’ll work out cheaper.

Design & Accessories

As if choosing a cordless vacuum cleaner wasn’t hard enough with the number of viable products on the market, the DuoClean comes in four different versions. All are essentially the same machine, except that they are available in different colours, come with various accessories and some have two batteries to make up for the feeble runtime.

  1. IF200UK – Blue version with a single battery, 20cm crevice tool, upholstery tool and dusting brush.
  2. IF200UKT – Pink version with a single battery, 20cm crevice tool, upholstery tool, dusting brush and motorized deep cleaning pet tool.
  3. IF250UK – White and orange version with two batteries, 30cm crevice tool, upholstery tool, dusting brush and anti-allergen dusting brush.
  4. IF250UKT – Deep navy version with two batteries, 30cm crevice tool, upholstery tool, dusting brush, anti-allergen dusting brush and motorized deep cleaning pet tool.

The IF200UK is the model we are reviewing as it is on sale (you’ll read one or two angry reviews of people who jumped the gun before the sale when you do your research), and is more than adequate for most cleaning needs. If you choose to purchase this version there are a wide range of spares and accessories available on Amazon or the Shark website which includes the various attachments (including a car detail kit), filters, replacement rollers and more. The motorized mini pet tool is especially popular among people who are constantly caught in the middle of the great saga between furniture and pet fur.

Moving forward, the DuoClean is a smart looking cordless vacuum cleaner in plastic with a metal wand, that has a durable and well-thought-out design that is easy to assemble without the instructions. All the sections and attachments fit into place with a satisfying click and it’s easy to switch applications whether you want to use the DuoClean head to clean your floor (which also features twin LED lights to help you see what you are hoovering), the wand for higher up or the handheld which has a comfortable handle. On the back of the unit is an interface with modern LED symbols and selectable settings so you know what mode you are using – which includes the power on/off, suction power and floor settings.

The bin capacity is a little on the low side at 0.33 litres but it’s easy to empty each time you clean. The DuoClean uses two filters (foam and felt) which are washable, and the unit contains an allergy seal to ensure the air that’s expelled is hygienic and easier to breathe.

Performance

One big negative point that stands out when first looking at the Shark IF200UK DuoClean is the 22-minute runtime. However, it’s easy to see how Shark have justified this when you notice the suction capabilities of such a light and cordless machine. It has no trouble at all picking up light and heavy particles, as well as debris that often remains on the edges or gets stuck between floorboards. The head is especially impressive and easy to move around when using the vacuum as a ‘stick’ or upright thanks to the flexible joint and wheels. The ability to also use the head on the handheld makes this a great option for those with stairs.

The option to adjust the angle of the head is meant to allow you to easily vacuum under furniture, however, this isn’t as large a selling point as they make out as your furniture still needs to be taller than the cleaning head. However, for those with suitable sofas, this will be particularly useful, though it’s easy enough to just use the wand with one of the attachments if you choose. These dusting and upholstery attachments also come in handy when cleaning curtains and cobwebs off the ceiling, as well as the crevice tool for reaching behind or along the side of dressers and cabinets.

The handheld is easy to use and can be great for when you want to quickly clean up a spill in the kitchen, clean upholstery, or go over the car. You may find when using it that the max power setting is more suited for vehicle cleaning. Overall, this is a good little hoover that has impressive cleaning abilities and it works well on various flooring types. However, we’d hazard to say that those with hard flooring would benefit the most. A couple of cons are that it fills up pretty quick and isn’t ideal for those who have long haired friends (and pets).

Value

At the time of writing this review, the IF200UK DuoClean is on sale at £199, although the regular price is £349. This is a bit of a bargain compared to other similar cordless 2-in-1 stick models on the market. If you’ll be using the vacuum cleaner for whole home cleaning rather than spot cleaning (especially if you have a large house) you may want to consider one of the dual battery models though they aren’t currently discounted. The 5-year guarantee also provides peace of mind for first time Shark buyers as well.

Verdict

If you’ve been searching through several cordless vacuum cleaner reviews and stumbled upon this, you’ve no doubt heard of the new Dyson V10 which we wrote about here. The V10 is an incredible machine, but for the price and if you don’t want to change heads constantly if you have more than one flooring type, the Shark IF200UK DuoClean (or one of the other versions) is a good buy. Just keep in mind that if you want to make it your main vacuum then you may have to clean one room or section of the home at a time rather than the whole house due to the battery life. If you have pets then definitely consider the motorized pet tool, though this can be purchased separately relatively inexpensively.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the DuoClean Flexology Dimensions?

120cm x 26cm x 44cm

How much does this vacuum cleaner weigh?

4kg

Do the brushes get clogged, and if so, are they easy to clean?

They can become clogged with hair on occasion, although there is an access panel at the top of the DuoClean head that allows you to clean them. The included instruction manual provides step by step instructions to do this.

Is this good for pets?

The DuoClean is an effective vacuum cleaner if you have cats or short-haired pets, but may not be best if you have long haired dogs that shed a lot. How effective it is will also depend on your flooring type and how embedded the hair gets.

Is it possible to purchase an additional battery?

Yes. A wide range of spares and accessories are available online including spare batteries and dock chargers.

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Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

Miele Complete C3 Vacuum Review

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9.3Our Score

What Is the Miele Complete C3 Cat and Dog PowerLine?

Miele is a popular German manufacturer of various household and commercial appliances, and have been in operation since 1899. Many people who are looking for a reliable vacuum cleaner often look to Miele products as they are known to perform consistently well. Although they have a wide range of hoovers at different price points, the new Miele Complete C3 Cat and Dog PowerLine cylinder hoover is one you should consider if you have animals.

Miele has several versions of the C3 depending on your needs and budget, but the Cat and Dog PowerLine is specially designed to pick up fur that other vacuum cleaners have trouble with. They used to offer a 1200 watt version which had very favourable reviews, although due to EU regulations and to save energy they have now released an 890-watt model. Purchasers may be sceptical of the suction capabilities as a result of this, but these concerns are misplaced as the new C3 still performs admirably.

What we really wanted to know was how this compared to other pet-friendly hoovers. We’ve purchased one to write this Miele Complete C3 Cat and Dog PowerLine vacuum cleaner review and let you know.

Pros

  • Multiple Accessories – This version features two-floor heads and an integrated 3-piece accessory kit for a wide range of cleaning applications. It also has a telescopic tube.
  • 5L Bag – The large bag means you don’t have to worry about emptying the C3 too often.
  • Absorbs Odours – The Active AirClean Filter removes unpleasant odours while you clean.
  • Quiet Hoover – It’s quieter than most other cylinder vacuum cleaners on the market.

Cons

  • Corded – In an age of cordless vacuum cleaners, having a cord makes this less practical. However, you don’t have to be concerned with battery life and it has a respectable 12-meter radius.
  • Expensive – This model is a little on the expensive side for a cylinder vacuum cleaner, but it’s very well received and has a lot of additional tools.

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Miele Complete C3 Cat and Dog PowerLine Key Features

TurboTeQ Brush – The TurboTeQ floor head that is included with the C3 Cat and Dog model contains an efficient suction powered brush. The dual brush and suction action works great on carpeted flooring to pick up pet hair, as well as embedded dirt and debris. If you purchase from Amazon you’ll also receive the mini turbo brush which is great for picking up pet hair on upholstery as well as smaller floor areas.

11 Stage Filtration System – This vacuum cleaner uses a 4.5-litre HyClean GN sealable microfiber bag which is capable of capturing 99.9% of the particles you hoover up. Also included when you purchase new bags are additional microfilters for dust allergens. The C3 also uses a charcoal Active AirClean exhaust filter which removes odours.

Silence System – The C3 uses a ‘silence system’ which means that it has been insulated and also has a sound-optimized motor for quieter cleaning.


Design & Accessories

The Miele Complete C3 Cat and Dog PowerLine looks like a basic cylinder vacuum cleaner but is anything but. It’s a very well thought-out hoover that is light at 5.4kg and has a large 12-meter operating radius. It’s available in wine red with grey accents and features an ergonomic handle, flexible hose and a telescopic stainless steel tube.

Included with the vacuum cleaner is a 3-piece accessory kit (which is integrated under a flap on the top of the hoover) and two-floor heads:

  • Standard Floor Head – Universal floor head suitable for all flooring types.
  • TurboTeQ Brush Floor Head – Contains a suction powered brush to pick up pet hair on carpets more efficiently.
  • Mini Turbo Brush – The model available on Amazon includes a mini turbo brush which can be used for vacuuming up pet hair on upholstery as well as smaller areas the normal floor head can’t tackle (i.e. carpeted stairs).
  • Crevice Nozzle – Ideal for corners, edges, between cushions and other tight spaces.
  • Upholstery Nozzle – Best used for cleaning furniture.
  • Dusting Brush – Can be used for a wide range of dusting applications around the home.

Note: Although these tools are more than efficient to help you clean your car, it’s also possible to purchase a CarCare accessory kit in addition to a plethora of other attachments depending on your needs.

The C3 Cat and Dog hoover are very well made and the telescopic tube and floor heads click into place very firmly. So far there haven’t been any complaints about build quality which can be expected with the company’s pedigree. The hoover is very easy to operate with your foot without needing to stoop. Toward the bottom of the vacuum cleaner is the user panel which contains four buttons (on/off, cable rewind, increase suction and decrease suction). The suction setting is illuminated in orange for your reference, and is calibrated to work best for the following:

  1. Curtains and Fabric
  2. Upholstery and Cushions
  3. Short Pile Carpets and Rugs
  4. ECO/Quiet Mode
  5. Loop Pile Carpets and Rugs
  6. Hard Flooring and Heavily Soiled Carpets and Rugs

There is also a bag change indicator light to let you know when it’s time to empty the bag. This is very easy to access, and the bags include a slide to ensure you don’t breathe in the dust while removing and discarding them.

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Performance

Although many people are turning to cordless hoovers, when you have a home that’s a refuge for pet hair (and we know it does get everywhere), then it’s hard to beat this high-performance cylinder vacuum cleaner. Even at 890 watts (which is close to the maximum 900 watts for all new European sold vacuum cleaners), the suction is very powerful. It does what it was designed to do, and that’s pick up all manner of dirt and debris around the home – whether you have thick carpets or wooden floors. It also doesn’t matter whether the particles are fine or large, so it’s easy to see why Miele has built such a reputation.

Having said that, this particular C3 model has been designed for those with pets and the TurboTeQ brush floor head and a mini turbo brush both works very well to pick up pet hair. The former is best suited for carpeted flooring, while the latter is great for furniture due to its smaller size (especially the type that is prone to pet hair becoming interwoven with the fabric) – in addition to other areas such as stairs or between furniture when the brush floor head is too large. For general cleaning though, the dual purpose head does as well as any other and also doesn’t have the annoying habit of pushing debris around on hard floors. The heads are versatile and easy to use, and the vacuum cleaner will have no trouble following you around the house. It can also be stood vertically if you intend to carry it while you clean the stairs.

It’s easy to remove the telescopic handle and use one of the three integrated attachments (which is a smart feature as they are available as and when you need them), all of which work well. The upholstery tool also does a great job on furniture that isn’t too heavily soiled with fur.

This specific C3 did a great job of eliminating odours as well, though perhaps it would have been smarter to include a HEPA13 exhaust filter which is better suited for capturing allergens.

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Price

The Miele Complete C3 Cat and Dog PowerLine isn’t a cheap cylinder vacuum cleaner and the price ranges from £300 to £400 depending on where you buy it from and what attachments are included. However, for the price you can rest assured that you’re getting a quality hoover that will last you several years and won’t start to lose suction (if it does you’ll likely just need to change the bag). There are a number of additional attachments and kits you can purchase to broaden its cleaning abilities, though these can be a little pricey. Miele appliances are backed by a standard 2-year guarantee, but you can choose to extend this for up to an additional 8 years.

Verdict

If you find yourself drowning in pet hair all year round (or even just in the Spring), this hoover can certainly make your life easier. It’s powerful and with the brush floor head and mini brush you won’t have any issues hoovering up hair from your floor, furniture or vehicle, though the universal head coupled with the strong suction is enough alone to push other competitors out of the way for normal floor cleaning. If you are still considering alternatives, check out our write up on the Shark Lift Away True Pet vacuum cleaner here.

For more information visit Amazon right here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the power cable?

8½ meters.

Is this model good for those with allergies?

Although the filtration is excellent and most people will find they have no problem; if you suffer badly from allergies you can choose to purchase the C3 Silence EcoLine or C3 Total Solution PowerLine models which have HEPA13 filtration.

How much are replacement filters?

The exhaust filter is £19.99 and the bags with additional micro filters start at around £10.65 for a pack of 4 bags, 2 micro filters and 5 fresheners. These are widely available on Amazon. It’s worth noting that third-party bags don’t work as well as those sold by Miele and can reduce suction.

How often should I change the filters?

The C3 is designed to last a long time between the bag and filter changes. However, there is a bag change indicator light that lets you know when it should be changed. The exhaust Active AirClean filter should be changed once a year.

Is this good for wood floors?

Yes. The universal floor head can be used very effectively on wooden floors without scratching them. However, if you don’t have carpets you can choose to purchase the Hardfloor Twister Brush which is designed specifically for homes with hard floors – and as the name suggests is agiler.

Does this have an auto-wind feature?

Yes. There is a foot switchable button that rewinds the power cord once you are finished hoovering.

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Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

Shark Lift Away True Pet NV681UKT Vacuum Review

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8.9Our Score

What Is the Shark Lift Away True Pet NV681UKT?

When looking for a solid vacuum cleaner that will last several years, many people turn to popular, well-known brands. Shark is a subsidiary of a UK registered holding company called Euro-Pro Europe Limited and actually has an interesting range of vacuum cleaners. One vacuum cleaner that piqued our interest is the Shark Lift Away True Pet (NV681UKT).

The Shark Lift Away True Pet is an incredibly versatile corded upright vacuum cleaner that can be used for a wide range of cleaning tasks around the home. Many of which are very practical, and it’s backed by some very positive user reviews. As the name would imply it’s specifically designed towards pet owners who have trouble with allergies and/or getting rid of pesky never-ending fur.

We bought one to write this Shark NV681UKT review and to let you know how it performs, especially considering it has a less than modest price tag.

Pros

  • Versatile – The design of the Lift Away and the number of attachments makes it an incredibly useful vacuum cleaner around the home. A car detail kit is also available for cleaning vehicles.
  • Bagless – Bagless means you won’t ever have to worry about running out of vacuum cleaner bags.
  • Floor Compatible – Carpet and hard floor modes can be toggled by a switch on the handle which is quick and easy.
  • 5 Year Guarantee – Shark is so confident in their product that they are offering a 5-year guarantee which is more than you’ll find on other similarly (or even more expensive) priced models.

Cons

  • Low Dust Capacity – The dirt receptacle is a little on the small side with a 1.1-litre capacity.
  • Corded – Considering the practicality of this hoover, the cord is a negative point. However, you don’t need to worry about battery life or a lack of power.

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Shark Lift Away True Pet Key Features

Lift Away Functionality – what makes the Shark Lift Away True Pet unique is that you can remove the main unit from the wand. This allows you to easily use the wand with the power brush head still attached to easily reach under furniture, or use the additional tools for floor to ceiling cleaning around the house.

Pet Power Brush – This version includes the pet power brush (although you can buy a cheaper model without this attachment if you don’t have pets), which is great for picking up pet hair on carpets and upholstery.

99.9% Dust and Allergen Filtration – The Shark Life Away features a HEPA filter with advanced seal technology which means it’s capable of capturing particles as small as 0.3 microns and trapping them. This means that the air that is expelled from the pet-friendly hoover is hygienic as well as allergen and pollen free.


Design & Accessories

The Shark NV681UKT hoover isn’t particularly sleek or stylish. However, it’s designed to be an interesting adaptation of your regular upright vacuum with the ability to become much more. It resemits it’s old-fashioned cousin in a number of ways with the long silver wand, and large box-shaped unit (or ‘pod’) towards the head which encases the 750-watt motor, filters and dirt receptacle. Styled in grey with maroon red accents it certainly won’t be your living room showpiece, but it’s still a smartly designed hoover that can compete with the top of the line stick hoovers in terms of functionality.

It’s not the most simple hoover to figure out at first and requires assembly upon unboxing. You’ll need to connect the ‘wand’ with the chosen floor head, insert the handle into the wand, slide the ‘pod’ or main unit onto the wand and then attach the 1.8-meter flexible hose (which is already connected to the handle). The aim of the Lift Away, is that you can easily remove the ‘pod’ to hold in one hand while you use the wand and your chosen tool to clean the floor or ceiling, or remove the wand and attach a tool to the handle for other tasks such as cleaning the sofa or car.

The handle has two switches, one which automatically changes the mode of the main floor head from carpet to hard floor, as well as the suction control level. The power button is located on the ‘pod’ itself. The dirt receptacle is located in the ‘pod’ and can be released and then held over a bin for emptying. The Shark Life Away True Pet also features a pre and post motor filter arrangement, with the latter including two HEPA filters. All can be hand washed (clear instructions included with the purchase) – the pre-motor filter kit must be washed every 3 months, and the two HEPA filters once a year, or as needed if the red indicator light comes on.

In terms of included tools, the True Pet contains the following:

  • Main Brush Roll Head – A power driven brush that includes and LED light and can be used for all floor types.
  • Pet Power Brush – A smaller power brush that can be used for stairs and upholstery.
  • 2-in-1 Duster Crevice Tool – Works as both a duster for cleaning around the house, as well as a crevice tool for tight spaces.
  • Upholstery Tool – Contains a stiff bristle brush to remove embedded debris off a number of surfaces, though you can also remove the bristle brush for other applications.

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Performance

The performance of the Shark is impressive by any standard, whether you use it as a standard floor cleaner or with the attachments. It really shines on carpets and can get even the most stubborn of pet hair and dirt out with its power driven brush and higher power setting. The LEDs are a nice touch as you really get to make sure you’ve left nothing behind. It also has no problems with hard flooring which is easy to transition to.

The pet power brush works similarly to the main head, though because it’s smaller you can use it attached to the wand or handle with the pod removed to easily clean the stairs. With the pod removed the flexible hose makes it easy to really get the best out of this machine. It’s possible to attach the included tools either at the end of the wand or the hose which means you can use it for general dusting, sucking up cobwebs, cleaning furniture and more.

Because it does such a fantastic job picking up dirt/debris (regardless of whether it’s dried mud, cat litter or normal dust) and hair, most will need to empty it after cleaning their home though this is easily done. When using it as an upright the wheels and flexible joint makes it really simple to manoeuvre around the house. The only negative point was that it’s slightly less effective on hard flooring – especially for edges.

Overall, it’s an impressive pet-friendly machine that for once actually does a great job of picking up all kinds of pet hair. It also works just as well as a regular vacuum cleaner and is easy to assemble and use the different attachments once you get used to it. It does a satisfactory job cleaning vehicles, though there is an affordable car detail kit that can be purchased separately to really valet clean your car if you want to.

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Price

The Shark Lift Away True Pet isn’t a cheap corded vacuum cleaner at just under £300, but it’s one that for once actually provides suction that lives up to the hype. Those who want a lighter vacuum cleaner with similar functionality should rather consider the cordless Dyson V10 which we reviewed here, but it’s priced correctly in our opinion. If you don’t have pets, you can purchase a cheaper blue/grey version for less than £200 which excludes the pet power brush.

Verdict

If you find yourself a victim or pet fur and allergies, this is a versatile hoover that can really make your home more hospitable and clean. It’s a little cumbersome until you get used to it, and it’s not going to win any awards on styling, but for functionality, it’s an interesting model that comes recommended. It’s also built to last and backed by an impressive 5-year guarantee.

For more information visit Amazon right here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to purchase attachments and spares separately?

Yes. Shark sells a wide range of spares on its website which also everything from filters and attachments to a replacement dirt receptacle.

Is this good for homes with wood floors?

Yes, it works well with all flooring types. However, you may opt to purchase the Dust Away attachment with a pad which is better suited for picking up dust from hard flooring.

Do I need to replace the filters?

While replacement filters are available online, the filters are designed to be hand washed.

How often should I clean the filters?

The pre-motor filter kit should be cleaned every 3 months, and the two post-motor HEPA filters should be cleaned once a year by hand (with running water).

Is it easy to remove hair from the main head?

Yes, it’s possible to remove a part of the base on the bottom of the main head to cut away tangled hair and remove other trapped debris.

How long is the power cord?

8 meters.

How much does this hoover weigh?

Approximately 6.1kg.

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Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

Philips Ultimate Bagless Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner Review

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8.8Our Score

What Is the Philips PowerPro Ultimate FC9920/69?

Philips is a popular Dutch company that was founded back in 1891 and has produced a wide range of popular consumer electronics over the years. Although they aren’t particularly known for their vacuum cleaners, they have a few well-received models currently on the market. One such hoover is the Philips PowerPro Ultimate FC9920/69.

The PowerPro Ultimate is a bagless cylinder vacuum cleaner that has been specifically designed for allergy sufferers, and those with pets. While most vacuum manufacturers are dedicated to providing advanced filtration to capture allergens and other microscopic particles, many people have found relief after purchasing this particular hoover.

The main reason we are interested in this vacuum cleaner is that we understand the challenge pet owners face trying to maintain a clean home. We know this vacuum is good for allergy sufferers, but can it pick up pet hair from various flooring types and furniture? Read our Philips PowerPro Ultimate review to find out what we thought.

Pros

  • Floor Compatible – In addition to a 2-in-1 head for both hard flooring and carpets, the Ultimate also comes with a special head for hardwood floors.
  • Bagless – The generous 2.2-litre bagless dirt receptacle is popular for people who always find themselves running out of vacuum cleaner bags.
  • Modern Design – With slick styling and aluminium spoke rubber wheels this is a fashionable cylinder vacuum cleaner.
  • Energy Efficient – It has an ‘A’ energy rating and a modest but efficient 650 watt motor with variable power setting.

Cons

  • Rotating Brush – The lack of a rotating brush bar is limiting, and we think essential for most pet orientated hoovers.
  • Bulky – The PowerPro Ultimate is a little larger than its competitors, though the large wheels don’t make it difficult to use.

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Philips PowerPro Ultimate Key Features

HEPA 13 Filtration – Using their HEPA 13 filter this bagless cylinder hoover traps up to 99.9% of the dust, debris, allergens and other particles such as pollen as small as 0.3 microns. This ensures the air that is expelled from the exhaust is healthier to breathe. If you are an allergy sufferer this hoover could be a very welcome addition to your cleaning arsenal.

Bagless with NanoClean Technology – Bagless hoovers are growing in popularity although many people are concerned with the dust being released back into the air when they empty it. The PowerPro Ultimate uses NanoClean technology which ensures the dust settles and you don’t get a dust cloud when you hold it over a bin.

TriActiveMax Nozzle – This is the main head attachment that comes with the PowerPro Ultimate FC9920/69 which can be used on both hard flooring and carpeting. It features a soleplate to spread carpeting allowing it to pick up deeply embedded dirt, a large front opening so as not to miss bigger particles, and side brushes to clean edges as you go.


Design & Accessories

The Philips PowePro Ultimate FC9920/69 is designed to be the next evolutionary step in cylinder vacuum cleaners. It’s fair to say that most vacuum cleaners in this style aren’t particularly pleasing to the eye, but this is an exception. It’s styled primarily in a mixture of ‘sparkle black’ hard plastic, with various black and silver accents (not to mention blue accents on the floor heads). It also has two large aluminium spoke rubber wheels and a smaller rotating front wheel to make it easy to follow you around the house without capsizing or snagging. The extension tube is also made from aluminium.

It’s a little big for a cylinder vacuum cleaner which is worth keeping in mind for storage (though you can stand it upright), and weighs in at around 6.2kg. It has a complete radius of 11 meters with the long hose and power cord, so you don’t need to change outlets too often. As can be expected, it has an automatic cord retract function with the press of a large button on the back right-hand side of the machine, with the power button on the left. Above the power button is a slider that allows you to adjust the power setting. It also has a well-placed carry handle.

The dirt receptacle is clear so you can see when it needs to be emptied and is located on the front of the hoover. It’s easy to remove by grabbing the receptacle’s handle and pressing a button to lift it away from the unit. This also provides access to the pre-motor filter and housing which can be removed and cleaned under a running tap. At the back of the hoover is the HEPA 13 exhaust filter which can be replaced every 24 months.

All the connections and catches have a satisfying ‘click’ whether you’re attaching/detaching attachments, or removing and replacing the bin. This lends further credence to the build quality of the PowerPro Ultimate which is superb. The included attachments that come out of the box are as follows:

  • TriActiveMax Nozzle – Standard cleaning head for both hard and carpeted flooring.
  • TriActive Z Nozzle – Designed for cleaning hard flooring, especially delicate wood floors.
  • 2-in-1 Brush/Small Nozzle Tool – Can be used both for cleaning furniture and other odd tasks.
  • Crevice Tool – Great for difficult to reach areas.

Note: It’s possible to adjust the length of the metal extension; attach tools at the end if you choose, and even remove the hose from the main unit if it gets blocked. There is also a tool holder that can clip onto the hose if you’d like them handy while you clean the house.

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Performance

Despite being quite large, the PowerPro Ultimate FC9920/69 isn’t difficult to use around the house at all, and the flexible hose makes it suitable for a number of tasks – whether vacuuming furniture or your car. At 650 watts, you wouldn’t expect it to be overly powerful but the suction is more than sufficient to outperform older vacuum cleaners that use more electricity. It’s also much quieter than most other corded vacuum cleaners, which is further emphasized with the rubber wheels as it doesn’t rattle over hard flooring as you drag it behind you.

The TriActiveMax head is very cleverly designed in that it works for all flooring types but doesn’t stick to thick rugs and carpeting excessively while still lifting up all the dirt, fluff and various debris on the max setting. It’s also not necessary to make more than one pass unless you have a lot of pet hair. On this front, it didn’t perform as superbly as we had hoped, but a couple extra passes on especially difficult areas did the job. In light of this, it doesn’t have any trouble with particles of all sizes. If you mainly have hard flooring then the TriActive Z head is much more effective at picking up dirt and hair quickly around the house.

It has more than enough suction to pick up pet hair and other debris from furniture using the small brush tool, though perhaps stiffer bristles would make the task easier. The variable power setting also meant that it was possible to clean curtains and small rugs without the fabric getting stuck.

Emptying the dirt canister was easy and didn’t take long to figure out, and it’s surprising just how much it does pick up. You won’t need to empty too often, though it’s probably good practice to do it after each vacuum.

As for the negative points, we found that the lack of a locking connection for the small crevice and brush tools was a problem as it was easy for them to fall off. The holder that attached to the hose to carry these additional tools also didn’t do a good job of keeping them secure, and perhaps storage space on or within the hoover itself would have been smarter.

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Value

The Philips PowerPro Ultimate FC9920/69 is quite expensive for a cylinder hoover at just under £290, although it’s one that you should be able to use for years to come. There is a standard 2-year warranty, and it’s possible to purchase additional cover when you buy from Amazon. Whether the hoover is worth the price is open for debate. There are certainly cheaper hoovers on the market that will do a similar job, though most people who have made the purchase are pleased and would do so again.

Verdict

Overall, this is an impressive cylinder vacuum cleaner that is best suited for those who suffer from allergies, and like the idea of a bagless model. It is more than adequate for your normal household and car cleaning tasks (especially if you have hard floors), though only does an average job when it comes to collecting pet hair on carpets and furniture. It would have been nice if it incorporated a rotating brush head for the floor, and a stiff bristled brush for upholstery.

For more information visit Amazon right here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often do I need to replace the filter? 

The pre-motor filter can be washed by hand and used for the life of the machine. The HEPA 13 exhaust filter is not designed to be cleaned, but should rather be replaced every 24 months or so. 

How much is a HEPA 13 filter replacement?

You can purchase a replacement for £15.00.

I lost my instruction manual, is it possible to find it online?

Yes, you can find the manuals and documentation on the Philips.co.uk website.

What are the dimensions of the box?

595mm x 400mm x 352mm

How long is the power cord?

8 meters.

Do I need to use the full power setting?

Although many people just leave the power setting on their cylinder hoover on max, most people can get away with the medium setting on this to save electricity for standard cleaning.

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Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

Gtech Pro ATF301 Cordless Bagged Vacuum Review

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8.5Our Score

What Is the Gtech Pro?

Gtech is a British company that is incredibly dedicated to providing a wide range of cordless products for their consumers. Two of their most popular cleaning products are their cordless AirRam Mk2 upright, and Multi Mk2 handheld vacuums (often purchased in a package). Although it has been possible to purchase an amalgamation of the two with their Power Floor model, they’ve decided to release the newer Gtech Pro.

The Gtech Pro is a cordless 2-in-1 stick vacuum that uses a bag rather than a dirt receptacle, and can easily be used both as a handheld for odd jobs or with the extension tube for floor to ceiling cleaning. Their reasoning behind introducing a bagged model when so many other cordless manufacturers are sticking with bagless is that they claim it’s more hygienic and will cut down on filter maintenance costs. Those who don’t like emptying bagless vacuum cleaners so often may also prefer it.

We decided that this was an interesting release and wanted to see how well it could compare with other cordless vacuum cleaners on the market, especially 2-in-1 models. Read our Gtech Pro review to discover what we thought.

Pros

  • Lightweight – Only weighs 2.4kg which makes it a popular option for those who are looking for a light and practical cordless vacuum.
  • Easy to Use – The Gtech Pro has been designed to be very easy to operate, which includes changing attachments and replacing the bag.
  • Headlights – The main floor head has LED lights to help you see dirt, as well as the main unit itself when using it as a handheld.
  • Battery Life – Runs for up to 40 minutes on the eco setting and 20 minutes on the turbo setting.

Cons

  • Charge Time – It takes up to 4 hours to fully charge the Gtech Pro.
  • No Charging Dock – Some people won’t be happy with the lack of a wall dock or stand, although the battery can be removed for charging.

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Gtech Pro Key Features

Hygienic Bag – The Gtech Pro’s hygienic bag also acts as a filter which means you won’t ever be exposed to dirt or dust, or have to clean or replace filters. Each bag is triple-layered with a lid and has a dirt capacity of 1.5 litres which gets compressed enough to ensure you only need to replace them every 1-3 months.

AirLOC Technology – The patented Gtech AirLOC system that is used with the main head helps create additional suction when you pull the vacuum backwards, making it easier to pick up both small and large particles. When you push it forward it’s designed to pick up large debris, and when pulling back the AirLOC activates to pick up the finer dirt particles.

Removable Brushes – It’s easy to remove the brushes on both the main floor head and the handheld head. This is necessary as hair can tangle around the roller brushes and need to be cut away.


Battery Life

The Gtech Pro uses a 22-volt lithium-ion battery that allows it to maintain the cordless vacuum’s run time of 40 minutes on the default setting and up to 20 minutes on the turbo setting. The battery is also designed to continuously deliver power that doesn’t fade as the battery depletes. While the Gtech Pro only comes with a regular plug-in charger, you can remove the battery from the unit so it doesn’t take up too much space while charging. However, you can choose to charge the battery while it’s attached to the vacuum. Charging time takes approximately 4 hours which is indicated by 4 green LEDs on the side of the battery.

Design & Accessories

As with most of Gtech’s products, the Gtech Pro is simple in design although pleasing to the eye with the company’s signature green accents. The main unit and attachments are styled in rugged black plastic rather than the typical grey, and the extension tube or wand that makes this a ‘stick’ vacuum is aluminium. The build quality is upstanding and there are no warning signs that it’s a product that will break easily.

Out of the box the Gtech Pro is effortless to understand without the need to read the instruction manual before using it, though it’s handy to do so just to see all the different attachment configurations. The main unit has a filter bag already installed, although you also get a spare with your purchase. The attachments that are included are as follows:

  • Extension Floor Tube
  • Power Floor Head
  • Power Brush
  • Dusting Brush
  • Crevice Tool

Rather than a trigger, this cordless vacuum cleaner uses a grey on/off button at the top of the handle, in addition to a green selector switch to change between the two power modes. The handle is comfortable and unobtrusive, and the attachments are easy to connect (making a firm click when they do) and disconnect. This means you won’t have to worry about attachments falling off like on some other cordless models. The unit features an LED at the front to help you see, though the main power head also has lights as well.

Because the Gtech Pro uses a bag, you don’t need to worry about cleaning or replacing a filter. To remove the bag, simply lift the lid at the top of the unit which is connected to the bag. Detach the bag from the lid, close the tab to seal off the dirt and throw it away. Installing a new bag is simply a case of reversing this process.

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Performance

When using the Gtech Pro for the first time, it’s surprisingly well balanced as the battery is located on the front of the unit, and it’s pleasant to use both as a handheld and a stick vacuum. The main cleaning head (as with all the other attachments) can be used both with and without the extension tube and works on all flooring types. The rotating brush means that pet hair isn’t a big problem, and it picks up all types of dirt and debris – particularly on the turbo setting. The lights at the front are a nice touch as they highlight any dirt you might otherwise miss. When using the Pro as a stick vacuum you’ll find it glides along the floor and is painless to manoeuvre around and under furniture.

The power brush (or mini head) is ideal for cleaning furniture as well as vehicle carpeting and is a nice addition. For tight areas, it’s nice to be able to use this with the extension tube to clean the floor where the main head won’t go. It also does a relatively good job of picking up pet hair from furniture due to the rotating brush. People who have fabric furniture that allows hair to become entangled will understand this ongoing battle.

Lastly, the dusting and crevice tools make this unit complete and with the extension tube attached it’s easy to clean cobwebs off the ceiling or reach behind furniture to pick up ‘dust bunnies’ that would otherwise continue breeding. We do think that an extension hose would have been a nice addition, but for the price, this is a versatile cordless vacuum that can be used for everything from hoovering up rice on your kitchen counter to sand on your welcome mat.

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Value

Compared to other 2-in-1 cordless vacuum cleaners on the market, the Gtech Pro is mid-priced, although a little on the expensive side at around £250. However, it’s very affordable when you consider the Dyson V10 is double the price. It won’t perform as well or be as versatile as the Dyson, but it’s not a bad investment for anyone looking to replace their main unit with a cordless vacuum that will hold its own. Gtech also backs all of its products with a two-year warranty for peace of mind.

Verdict

All in all, we were suitably impressed with the Gtech Pro as a mid-level cordless vacuum with handheld functionality. It could be more powerful, but it’s well made, has a respectable runtime and is very versatile for those who like to keep all areas of their home clean. The addition of a bag will be hit or miss with some folks, although those who find it tedious to empty their cordless vacuums or are concerned about breathing in dust will enjoy the feature.

For more information visit Amazon right here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do any bags come with the Gtech Pro?

Yes, there are two bags included out of the box which can last you up to 6 months depending on how dirty your home and/or vehicle gets.

How much does it cost for new hygienic bags? 

It’s possible to buy a pack of 10 bags for £9.99.

Is it possible to buy a spare battery?

Yes. Either through Amazon or Gtech’s website, you can purchase a replacement pro battery for £74.95. It’s also possible to purchase spare parts and attachments.

My mum is 82 years old, would this be a good vacuum cleaner for her?

The Gtech Pro is very easy to use and quite light at 2.4kg. We think that it’s a great option for most people who are elderly or who have certain limitations that prevent them using a standard corded or heavier vacuum.

Can this be used on wood flooring without scratching it?

Yes, the powerhead can be used on all flooring types.

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