Written on: 10/11/2009 by ukconsumer75 (9 reviews written)
When I saw the price of the Mach Air reduced from £199 to £129 I thought I was seeing things. For those thinking that this is a Dyson wannabe (namely running after the "baby" DC24) then you'd be right, right down to the total design of its silver colouring, grids and vents here and there whilst the compactness (another attracting feature) which is extremely portable is a massive bonus for limited storage space and being much slimmer than any other upright vacuum I've ever owned infact. The positives for this upright are perfectly spot on - the weight of this vacuum cleaner is a revelation and just like Miele and Sebo cylinder vacs - of which this is clearly an upright - the Mach Air is right up there with these German vacs weight wise.
Let's talk about the brush roll though. A few things have changed on this Vax and the Mach Air features an electric motor driven brush roll that you would find on more expensive German offerings rather than a true drive belt that can be replaced by the owner. Sadly you'll have to call out Vax to repair it if the belt goes. That's not so much of a problem in my early days of ownership and there is a facility to stop the brush from moving if say you want to clean hard floors - or so Vax would have you believe. This is where the problems begin. Because the Mach Air is so lightweight it is made with the thinnest of plastics right down to the rear wheels at the back which are oversized and often flip the floor head up in use on carpeting. Not only that but on hard flooring because air watts are so strong at 200, the floor head protests and permanently sticks to laminate or any level hard floor surface. The suction is so strong that it nearly took out my Vinyl floor! Unlike the Sebo Felix which is a slightly heavier but no less compact rival, that brush roll function doesn't make life harder and when the brush roll is turned on it gives a lighter gliding aspect. So when I turned the brush roll on expecting the same kind of lightness, I got no help at all from the Vax; it didn't make things better but just remained the same.
Of course those who have trialled the Vax on a free no cost basis will possibly deny this relatively poor design aspect. But it doesn't just stop there. The hose measures 1.1 metres which is smaller than even the most cheapest supermarket cylinder vacuum on the market and begs the question to why Vax bothered. Siting it at the bottom means the upright won't fall over in use but it brings a problem to elderly people who won't be able to bend down to release the hose. Then you're either restricted to a couple of centimetres of hose on offer (as opposed to actual metres) because 25% of the hose at the top is held in by an un-removable hose ring. Adding tools brings another problem; you have to lock the hose onto the back of the handle normally, then unlock the handle, then extend the height of the tubes you want and then add tools onto the end! Thankfully the handle and permanently connected tubes are lightweight aluminum metal. Now the Dyson DC24 has a much better thought out idea where cleaning above the floor is concerned here and whilst Vax have copied the style (also from Bissell) by making the hose clear plastic and flexible, its total length and function looks more like a token gesture here. The tools are also a cheap afterthought; a noisy short crevice tool with a pull down cheap brush smacks of Dirt Devil (which effectively despite the Vax name, it is a Dirt Devil now owned by Chinese company TTi) whilst a further slide down flat upholstery tool with a tall but narrow diameter means for the most part you'll need to spend a bit more time if you really need to use it. Short of a cup with a hole in it, this is what the "flat" tool looks like and whilst it can deal with stairs, a pet hair turbo tool would have been a better compromise. Plastics are a dead cert in terms of colour with Dyson but already after a month by Vax Mach Air is showing white paint under scrapes that have been hard to ignore. The Mach Air looks like it is durable but it loses its sheen far too quickly early on.
Thankfully emptying the Mach Air brings nothing new to the table; a bottom release button will deposit all 1.5 litres of dirt of which the small cup in the Mach Air can handle. Vax suggest that the capacity is double that of other cyclonic uprights but given that most have 2 litres volume, I don't think Vax can live up to this claim other than the fact that the Mach Air uses similar Dyson technology to maintain suction even as the bin is bursting with dirt. And there are two filters; one can't be washed and has to be tapped clean whilst the other one can be washed. However compared to Dyson, the seals on the Mach Air are nothing but short of shocking. My first use of the Mach Air showed dust seeping out of the top of the rubber seal whilst the dust channel bonding off the back to the main bin can be loosened by a finger which begs the question, just how much dirt can this machine put back into the room with such poor design thought?!
So the carpet performance is restricted by a floor head that refuses to stay on the carpet surface. Other highlights include a green LED light that stays on to show the brush roll has been activated. Wow. What technology! Only problem is, when I switch the function off, my LED light blinks as if it is not sure! Luckily both the power on and brush roll function buttons are sited together at the top of the vacuum and the brush roll has clips on the top so that you can take the acrylic cover off to clean the brush roll. The whole reason to this appliance however is that it is lightweight and in its defence the Vax Mach Air has a wonderfully thin and flat floor head that can get under low furniture with no problems. The bristles are NOT stiff however so the Vax in theory should care for your carpets more with softer bristles than aggressive brush rolls. However whilst it picked up cat hair no problem, it is fluff that the Vax Mach Air struggles to pick up first time and this is surprising given its clear and two channel suction design. Edge cleaning is standard on the brush roll however and it can clean right up to the corners and skirting boards.
The Vax Mach Air will appeal to those who just want a largely quieter-than-Dyson slim upright vacuum cleaner with a short hose. But avoid paying over £180 for it. There are other uprights on the market that are much better thought out and despite the 4.5 kg weight when you have to lift an upright up in the air just to get more hose, there's definitely something wrong with that against the official company claims.
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