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The Not So Easy Vac by Bissell
Bissell Easy Vac
Member Name: Nar2
Bissell Easy Vac
Advantages: Good price for a mini upright vacuum cleaner, comes with a small stretch hose, washable filters
Disadvantages: Noise, poor plastic build, some strange design issues, can't glide unless squeegee is removed.
Bagless technology doesn't seem to have moved on unless your name is Dyson. Manufacturers are struggling to move the game on, only being able now to copy the same principle of "non-stop suction," because the suction patent from the Dyson DC01 seems to have run out. This shouldn't worry Bissell because they have produced a miniature version of a bagless upright vacuum cleaner with a back to basics filter that needs cleaning in a while as opposed to normal filters that always need cleaning after each vacuuming session. As the sales lady told me in the shop, the Easy Vac is an ideal model that many sheltered housing customers has bought simply for its size and weight. For a start it is supposed to weigh 4.6kg according to Bissell so it's a darn shame that my bathroom scales attest to something over 5kg and general use in its upright design reveals a great struggle for it to glide along the floor - infact its like pushing a 1kg bag of potatoes on carpets whilst on hard floors it does lighten up a fair bit whilst dirt skits around trying to avoid the high spinning and may I say, very loud beater brush when it hits flooring in general. Whilst this translation and conversion clearly slates the Easy Vac, I don't find lifting it difficult if it used by the main carry handle on top of the bin at the front of the cleaner - lift it by the main looped handle however and it strangely appears to be heavier. For power freaks, the Easy Vac only has power of 800 watts so at the very most, environmentalists and those watching their economy should simply love the Bissell Easy Vac on paper.
Unlike Hoover, Dirt Devil, Vax and other brands where filtration is concerned, Bissell have tied an outer foam ring around the existing HEPA ring that gives the name "HEPA Media," rather than High Efficiency Particulate Air filters alone. To the owner this simply means that the filter can be shaken free of dirt or washed and then dried completely to room temperature rather than having to pick the dirt off the paper pleats. However as with most things bargain priced these days, there is a bit more to the Bissell than meets the eye. For a start whilst the HEPA filter may be easier to maintain it is located at the bottom of the machine just below the dirt bin and needs to be pulled outwards for the small 1.5 litre dust bin to unlock from the body of the Bissell whilst there is an additional plastic filter that traps dirt at the top of the bin. Now for elderly people I can't imagine many would bother to check the top filter ring even though in both cases both filters are viewable to the naked eye thanks to the completely clear acrylic plastic of the entire bin assembly but to put a bin lock all the way to the bottom of the machine? Are Bissell mad or did they run out of space to put an easier dust bin release mechanism? It is supposed to be "Easy," after all, Bissell! Thank heavens that at only 1.5 litres, this rather small dust cup is thankfully a lot easier than the hard to twist nature of both the Vax Quicklite V045 and newer Quicklite 2 series as well as the awkward Hoover Alyx upright - I know because I owned both at one time!
In general use however the Easy Vac doesn't betray its origins terribly well. Clothed in cheap blue plastic that doesn't hide scratches, at £39-99 the Easy Vac is obviously built to a budget and this is revealed more in the actual use of this particular vacuum not just the poor plastic and its design; the handle for starters can't be removed once it is locked downwards making storage difficult thanks to its overall height and the gliding factor is supposed to have an auto-adjusting feel to it but it struggles because it is impossibly difficult to push the thing along the floor. Underside reveals the reason why; just like Vax and Hoover models that suffer from auto adjustment, the central wheel can get snagged on carpets or rugs unless you step on the pedal to pivot the vacuum over the rugs whilst realising that this machine has been made for hard floors too is only down to the thick rubber squeegee strip that prevents it from gliding on carpets. With a blunt knife however I remedied this situation straight away, picked out the squeegee line, trimmed it, re-installed it and the result being that the Bissell now feels a lot lighter to glide as well as picking up a lot more hair and fluff when before it simply sat underneath the plastic grids on the sole plate. Easy to clean then, Bissell? Not quite! Unless all consumers read this review, perhaps and get someone else to remove and trim the squeegee strip. But then again this is also a design fault found on both the Vax Quicklite V045/6 and the Hoover Alyx uprights.
So, not only do you need to step on a pedal to put the two point angled handle down first in order to push or pull the vacuum after you and by pressing the same pedal again pivots the handle to allow the Easy Vac to lie flat to the floor, even if truthfully because of the way the large (and welcomed) upholstery brush sits at the back, it isn't exactly easy to counteract true flat to the floor cleaning. And if that isn't enough, the handle has the biggest loop design I've ever put my hand through making it easy to steer the Bissell generally even though it has retained the same sawing action of push and pulling rather than swerving around corners like the bigger and heavier Sebo Felix, Hoover's Slalom or the Dyson Ball range, so it is a pity that it is easy to feel the bonding sides in the middle of the handle when pressure is exerted from my hands. But as my mother remarked recently upon trying to fathom how to switch it on never mind put the handle down, she can't imagine many elderly people being able to do a balancing act putting one foot up to put the machine on let alone unlock the handle from the vacuum's upright position. Easy Vac? Think again Bissell! Edge cleaning is welcome though and the two further tools you get are a crevice tool and the aforementioned upholstery tool that seems to mirror other tools found on Bissell's Powerforce range of vacuums. Thankfully the one saving grace that the Easy Vac does have is a stretch hose at the back and it can go some distance thanks to the soft plastic it's made out of as well as having reinforced wire that can actually be removed. It won't reach up stairs however remembering that this is a cheap and relatively small version of a much bigger upright vacuum cleaner. The stretch hose is also clear so you can see what gets clogged easily and also has a very easy release method simply by grasping the two locks together to unlock the hose; never before have I seen a clearer method and unlike Hoover or Vax, there's no need to fish out a screwdriver to undo the hose from the machine if a clog does occur. Clearly, Bissell has tried to retain some of their own design sense in the Easy Vac. Suction through the hose is very good - most of the time - but depending on the amount of dirt the Bissell has already collected in the bin, suction can start to get weaker as more dirt gets collected.
Lastly, and this is the main Achilles' heel of the Easy Vac; when all is said and done, the Bissell does a good job of clean up. It has a longish power cord of around 5 metres and a bit more, helped along by a cord hook located on the handle for the cord to snap into so it's out of the way of the large plastic wheels. So it is a pity that the motor noise is very loud and certainly doesn't possess cleaning times to be extended for anything other than to be used as quickly as possible. Over rechargeable "cordless" sweepers, the Bissell Easy Vac is a good alternative - but it could be a lot better! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008
Summary: Better than a cordless sweeper and has the bonus of mains power and a small hose.
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