* Prices may differ from that shown
The moment I opened the box I knew that what I had actually bought was a Dirt Devil Vibe upright which is not available to buy here but exclusive to the U.S. For comparisons though, Vaxs V045 (itself a Dirt Devil model) Quicklite upright without the hose and small tools attached is its distant cousin. Ive often admired the little Vax even though it is noisy and lacks a hose; it reminds me of my old Oreck XL which was just as capable if not noisier and has the same lightweight appeal.
Which is probably why Hoover have decided to do their own version and sell it in the UK; amongst so many models from their heavy 10 year old Dust Manager/Pure Power based uprights and the bulky One models, Hoover must be scratching their heads to see who could have been their next victim cashing in on the success of another manufacturers model rather than design one entirely on their own for the compact lightweight budget market. At launch Hoover suggested that this was an all new in house design; well maybe for the UK & European market but for Americans theyll know it as a blue Dirt Devil.
** Please note this is a long review **
On the face of it the Alyx upright does everything the little Vax Quicklite does even though it has acres more power and shock of horrors quotable air watts in suction. So lets separate the crap from the credible then:
** Quick Skip Product Spec **
Model: Hoover Alyx upright JC2145. Not with Sprint cylinder as pictured here on Dooyoo!
1400 watt fixed power. Shame the motor is so noisy in use.
Red metallic colouring actually no Hoover, its red and theres only one part on the machine which has a red metallic insert, the rest is cheap red plastic.
130 air watts; Ah but only when the bin is empty and not full!
HEPA washable filter; yes it is washable but you have to wait 24 hours to dry according to the manual.
Bagless cyclonic; yes the dirt spins but then the mesh filter can get blocked!
Easy to empty down trapdoor mechanism; still a dirty procedure.
Pre motor filter NO there isnt one near the motor and that means more dust.
Edge to edge cleaning according to Hoover it doesnt, but it does for me!
Precise Brush Height Control No, there are no dials, it adjusts automatically.
Stair cleaning hose not quite, the hose isnt long enough to cover an average length of stairs; one or two if youre lucky before the model tips over.
Tools on board a cheap plastic holder sits below the handle and holds a short crevice tool and a 360° upholstery brush these are not Hoover tools and are larger than the usual 32mm fitment. No extension pipe has been offered either.
Weight: 5 kg according to Hoover. Yes it is lightweight!
Cord length 6 metres; and theres also a handy clip at the top of the cleaner to ensure the cord doesnt get trapped up the floor head.
Price in the UK: Woolworths £59-99, Tesco £49-97 (49 Clubcard points.)
So are you impressed so far?
On spec alone the Hoover Alyx upright has a fair list of official data which makes the model appealing, but against Hoovers own Junior stick vac the Alyx is overpriced in my mind; at £60 brand new I dont think it is worth that much for spending on a small compact upright model which at best can do minimum jobs with its short hose and small foot floorhead. Tesco have it right at just £50 instead although availability at Tesco is always notoriously difficult for this model. For those who are interested in how much this model is priced at in the U.S look at the bottom of this review.
But back to its design; you can thank Dirt Devil for designing a generally easy machine here in terms of accessing features. As for assembly-just-out-of-the-box directions, you simply need to screw a bolt to secure the handle to the top of the vacuum yet it is a pity it does not emulate the same style of the Dynamite model/Vax V045 where the handle just slides in and out via a push lock. After that is done, the stair cleaning hose pulls up and wraps around the top of the cleaner as shown here on Dooyoo and into a bottom hose which sprouts up from the base of the machine at the back. Then you simply plug in and switch on.
** In Use **
The first time I switched the Alyx on I recognised the familiar noise of the motor and its a fair old noisy motor supplying 1400 watts of motor power against Vaxs 850 watts but the advantage here is that the revolving brush doesnt vroom so loudly when its hitting carpet surfaces. The power button is at the top of the machine, just located at the same position as the Vax and even with the same design of button. Just like the Vax/Dirt Devil model too, a rubber squeegee line is also built in before the brush which makes it ideal to be used on hard flooring without marking or damage; this is helped along by the two rear wheels and a central wheel which also adjusts the height automatically.
And true to Hoovers statement, this model is very lightweight. It glides very well across all carpet surfaces, pick up is excellent and against Hoovers so called official spec list, it does have edge channels built in and can do right up to the corners and skirting boards. The suction is excellent both from the floorhead and from the hose although you do have to bend down to release the hose. Since it is permanently fixed on the Alyx at the top though, at least you are saved from further bending down unless specific tasks are needed, or when the hose has to be pushed back on for normal upright floor cleaning.
Thanks to its budget design its a bit like a Dyson upright here in terms of swinging the handle down to adjust to your need for cleaning and there are no pedals to have to push down twice to angle the cleaner under low furniture. Another shock however is the fact that despite the bins large surface diameter, the Alyx can be shoved under low furniture but this very much depends on the type and height of the low furniture you may own yourself; crucially for me it can go under tables and chairs where the Vax cannot. Unlike some upright cleaners, particularly modern types the Alyx will not pivot its head up or down if you are not of average height and I dont have to stoop to ensure the floorhead sticks to the floor.
What a shame then that there is no carry handle. Where it can be found on Vaxs V046 on the main bin lid, if you try to do the same on the Alyx, the bin comes off the machine. The only way of lifting this vacuum is by the main looped handle which can be annoying if carrying up stairs and this is all because of that permanently fixed handle. Thank god the handle is looped though as it makes pushing and pulling the vacuum easier as well as reducing hand fatigue.
Another good factor is that the Alyx can also clean when the model is laid flat on the floor which makes good access and trust that cleaning is commencing when getting under beds for example.
** Emptying the Dirt & Filtration **
If you buy the Alyx you dont need to change any filters since the filter is located at the top of the bin canister and is washable; the second filter on the single cyclone cone is a mesh filter and can be additionally washed or brushed too.
However Dirt Devil have copied Dyson again in this respect by offering a drop down trap door at the bottom of the bin and the plastic lock for this feels weak and short. That aside, releasing the bin from the Alyx is simple by releasing the bin handle at the top of the cleaner. There is however no handle on the bin itself, which makes emptying frankly awkward, having to put your finger into the dirt channel hole before carrying to a refuse bin and I hate to say this but the Vax has a handle on the bin which makes carrying to a refuse bin all that much easier.
This brings me onto the next point; the filter standard on the Alyx is a HEPA identifiable (High efficiency particulate air/arresting) ring which can be washed under a tap- the very wordy and pictured manual suggest the ring should be washed after five empties. It can also be brushed clean although the fine pleats on this filter suggests that washing is better rather than brushing for optimum clean results. Hoover do not offer another HEPA filter in the meantime which means you are stuck for 24 hours unless you take on MY suggestion by putting the wet filter into a tumble dryer for at least 30 mins on a low setting (I use a pillow case and a towel so not to have this plastic black ring bouncing off the ridges in the walls of the tumble dryer drum.)
Getting to the filter however is a messy business. For starters the bin top screws off just like the Vax which reveals the HEPA ring, but keep it horizontal and the ring wont fall out. Dirt Devil have reverted to a design which is also used in their RoomMate compact stick vac and whilst it works well there because it has its own filter lid, there is none here which makes the viewable dust all the more annoying.
And what a lot of dust there is once the bin lid and filter is taken out. In use I found it is always literally caked with dust, so for consumers with allergies, Im afraid this is a cleaner which isnt for you! Once the filter is removed you then have the option to take out the entire cyclone section which then reveals more dust caked around the edges and the mesh itself. Its not a particularly good design worthy element of the Alyx even if it has a low down trapdoor for emptying.
Putting the lid onto the bin however also takes time and patience although the HEPA filter ring clearly states which way it should be popped back down into its seat. Like the Vax then in terms of same design, same locks it has a different principle where the location of filters are concerned and put simply, the Vax model is better designed in this respect even if its filter has to be shaken, washed or tapped free of dust.
The dust capacity on the Alyx is also small at 2.2 litres against Vaxs larger 2.7 capacity and I found I had to empty the Alyx every week and a half rather than two weeks and a bit with the Vax. Whilst there may be 130 air watts suction, Hoover have a tendency to use this as a quote to emphasize the machines capability but as soon as the bin starts to get full, suction is cut down by a very large margin and the Alyx isnt as eager anymore to gobble up dirt.
** Any More Downsides? **
Unfortunately the worst aspect which the Alyx suffers from isnt its build quality although the first time I used the Alyx it wouldnt stand up on its own and until I pushed down on the handle, a crack could be felt through the handle which meant that the upright can now stand up on its own! The floorhead has to be stamped on to release the handle and a similar crack can also be heard.
The general plastic on the body is actually quite thick which surrounds the machine and Hoover have put in a dark grey panel at the front to keep off the scratches and scrapes. The Alyx isnt particularly glittery or decked out in matt paint like some rivals, but it has a thin and cheapened appearance because of the appearance of rubberised look-a-like plastic which lets the quality down here; in bright light you can see the creases on the edges of the plastic at times whilst the tool holder itself doesnt feel or look like it will last.
The attachment tools consist of a short crevice pipe and upholstery brush but there is no secondary extension pipe which can be used to lengthen the stretch from the short hose which is frankly cost cutting on Hoovers part here and they are larger than Hoovers original tools so if you have a turbo tool kicking around, the Alyx will not be able to use it unless its larger than the market standard of 32mm.
But I shall keep the worst aspect of the Alyx to the last. Whilst vacuuming I noticed that there was a fine line of dust which had collected at the sides of the cleaner as well on the underside after the revolving brush. For a model which has a HEPA filter and from what looks like a sealed design, this is unfortunately not the case. Whilst the Vax model suffers a little from escaping dust, it has a better seal around the bin generally plus a proper pre-motor filter at the bottom which the Alyx doesnt have; the motor is at the bottom and Hoover call the HEPA ring at the top, a pre-motor filter after the cyclone mesh; total nuts and probably why there is so much apparent dust to my eye.
Last but not by any margin is the drive belt. Sadly the Alyx has a drive belt and getting to it will take 6 screws to be undone on the soleplate. Whilst it has an easy procedure to change the belt, getting to the belt via all those screws would severely annoy the hell out of me.
**** Conclusion ****
Overall, the Alyx looks good and feels good to use as a vacuum cleaner but the closer maintenance reveals a lot of bother once filters have to be taken out and washed and then theres general worries about its lightweight feel and plastic quality. Despite the lack of features and hose, Hoovers more recent Junior model is better here.
The Alyx however has shocked me with its escaping dust on the body of the cleaner in use which is a general disappointment as this occurs every time the model is used and I like all dust to be taken into the bin, as any owner of a vacuum cleaner would probably want. It is not however a problem which is unique; Vaxs own model suffers from this but it is restricted to the floor head against the Alyx and thats a downside for any machine from a company famous for its vacuum cleaners. It begs the question that if dust cant be retained completely on a vacuum cleaner from a company as famous as Hoover then its not the question of Who better, but Why bother?! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2007
** Bonus Info **
And for those interested, I thought I would do a comparison between U.S dollars and the British pound where the original Dirt Devil Vibe upright sits at. Currently it is available between $45 and $49, which for UK conversions is a shocking low £23 to £25!! Compare this to Dyson prices in the U.S and they are actually similar to the prices we pay for Dyson models in the UK...food for thought!
** Links for Further Info **
www.hoover.co.uk (remember the specs are wrong!)
http://direct.tesco.com/product/images/?R=100-2387 (for close up photo)
As the leader in the floor-care industry, Hoover manufactures cutting edge, high-performance vacuum cleaners for home and commercial settings / Short name: Hoover JC2145