“ Brand: Hoover / Lightweight upright vacuum cleaner. „
Against buying a bigger upright vacuum or a small cylinder vacuum cleaner, there aren't many brands that make the in-between designs of offering something a little bit more compact or trying to put a small cylinder with the versatility of a long handle. Electrolux and Bissell have been doing it for years but the problem is that largely, the motors fitted to the lightweight 'stick vac' idea means suction is weak and about the only good uses their machines have are for use in caravans or for people who have lifting difficulties and want something which offers extra suction in lieu of the more traditional dust pan and brush. I wait the day Dyson brings something to the market which is compact, weighs 3kg total weight and has a handle!
The problem I find with most stick vacs anyway is that without a variable speed of suction available, suction is either full on or tough as toffee when it comes the time to push the bloody thing across a floor. You certainly get what you buy when it comes to a small stick vacuum although it makes sense for homes with limited space or for owners who prefer uprights to the pull along vacuums. Finding a vacuum cleaner shouldn't be so stressful! So why is it?
Cylinder/pull along vacuums have lighter hoses and a floor head with the motor behind you whilst an air outlet button on the handle allows suction to be decreased, regardless of whether your vacuum has a variable suction control or not. The increased weight of the entire vacuum's motor on a stick vac however is placed on the main floor head and this in turn, compromises glideablity unless the floor head has some adjustment rather than offering brushes down or nothing like the my old Hoover Junior stick vac offered. I found the red Junior ST 226F tough and unrewarding to steer on thick carpet as a result of its additional loud, fixed high-end suction. Naturally I couldn't wait to get rid of it. Briefly though, I prefer uprights to cylinders having being brought up in a household where uprights ruled.
History wise, Hoover decided to bring the European "Athyss" to the UK at the end of 2005. For stalwarts, it was not a good decision on Hoover's part to call this new model, the "Junior," since the old Junior model was worlds away from this cylinder-vacuum-with-a-stick handle and the name change is slightly contrived.
This ST327E Junior goes by the name of "Junior Plus" and its simply down to the fact that it has a turbo head fitted as standard which also has a built in slider control to limit the amount of suction coming through the floor head. In Hoover speak however, this is simply a slider which can be adjusted to hard floor or carpet floor setting; but it is welcome as it suggests a lighter gliding ability and less ploughing with the usual sawing action a bigger upright/stick vac or cylinder with such a turbo head employs.
So does the reality ring true from Hoover's marketing skills?
** Nar's Quick Skip Spec **
* 3.8kg overall weight.
* Turbo air driven floor head rolling brush with 2 "height" settings.
* Variable speed of suction, 1200 watts. (low to noisy!)
* 1.5 dirt capacity with washable dirt bag, or 2 high filtration paper bags that come with the machine when bought brand new.
* Small mechanical bag full indicator window.
* Foldable handle, compacts up to hand held size with clasp adjustable shoulder strap. 6 metre power cord - not auto rewind.
* Three cleaning tools: flat tool, crevice and brushed upholstery tool.
* 7 stage filtration: Micro pleated, non washable exhaust and washable motor filter.
* Prices from £50 to £80 for ST327E Junior Plus.
* THIS is a long review based on consumers who may be interested in purchase.
The ST327E Junior Plus carries the same excellent compactness ideas as the basic red Junior, even though it still appears bulky with the extra tools you get; after all there is no where you can store the additional 1 metre ribbed hose or the long plastic extension pipe so they must be stored somewhere where you can gain easy access; this is an advantage of owning a bigger upright or small compact cylinder vacuum! The tools consist of a longer plastic extension pipe, said ribbed hose, three cleaning tools such as crevice tool, upholstery brush and a flat T shaped tool (but funnily enough lacks the all important lint picker strips) and a handy carry strap which allows the Junior ST 327E to change into a hand held unit or can be carried for above the floor cleaning tasks. The tools are for better or worse, standard tools you'd find on any Hoover cylinder cleaner these days which for many consumers means cheaper in scratch viewable light grey plastic. An additional slide on tool storer comes with each Junior but in each case, I find whenever the handle is made to fold down, the storer flies off the handle and with it go the tools which fly to the opposite end of the room. How very ingenious Hoover!
At 1.5 litres, the bag capacity is miniscule and to further save on cost, Hoover have fitted the new Junior with a fabric washable reusable dust bag. Paper bags are available for this model, at the cost of £4-99 from Tesco but since it's a small capacity with no difference between fabric or paper bag, it's either a waste of money or necessity depending on individual need; especially for consumers who don't like to touch dirt, the paper bags offer higher filters built into the design and come with adhesive flaps that seal the dirt in. Installing either bag is easy to pernickety-difficult ranging from unlocking the door via its spring loaded silver slider button but no where to actually grab the door open and sliding off. In the washable bag's case, a plastic flap at the bottom can be slid open to empty the bag into a bin and with its diameter of only 4cm, the bag should be able to be shaken free into any average kitchen bin. Hoover don't include a spare washable bag however so on a low temperature wash with the clip removed, the bag can be washed and dried to a similarly low temperature tumble dry setting, but what a bother having to wait for it to dry if you have already used up the free paper bags. How very considerate of you, Hoover!
Performance however is a marked improvement than the standard red Junior; it still picks up dirt quickly and efficiently with an improved pick up due to the air driven turbo brush. The Junior Plus retains the same silver detailing of the buttons and door release but in black there seems to be better clarity in terms of which button does what. The ST327E has a variable suction dial instead of the fixed suction push button On button on the more basic red Junior and this is welcomed as less suction means less noise. Turning clockwise with varying degrees you can choose the amount of suction you want. In this respect the motor noise when turned down low is acceptable and suction is surprisingly as strong whilst in the middle I find that this is really the kind of setting I want all the time to avoid the ear pitch screaming top level of all of its 1200 watts. However there is always a downside when referring to a modern Hoover and the Junior Plus is no exception! The turbo brush spins well enough to pick up threads and hair, which for pet owners could well be the answer at the detriment however of its small bag capacity. And the turbo brush, like many, will whine slightly once all the suction has been raised to the top. But, unlike other cylinder vacuums that have 1400 watts or more the turbo brush refuses to spin properly unless the motor suction has been raised more to the top; this is no fault of the actual Hoover, but the fault of the cheap design of the air driven turbo brush. As soon as I realised what was happening, I swapped over to an old Hoover Turbo Vario brush and was soon rewarded with a proper turn of speed even at the lowest setting on the Junior Plus. What does this mean to you? It means Hoover have ripped off the consumer again thinking that the brush will spin at all suction speeds and for a quieter life Hoover should include permanently washable ear plugs. Quelle surprise, Hoover!
The slider control for hard floor to carpet height adjustment is a fake and a lie. It does nothing other than shift a mechanism on the floor head which allows crumbs to enter the floor head and be sucked up a different channel. This makes no sense to either myself or anyone who is hoping to have a better gliding action by flicking the slider control along in the hope that there is better pick up from the settings suggested.
It is with this floor head that the Junior's handling does improve, much better than the basic model's universal standard floor head and its all down to the fact that four wheels move the floor head along as opposed to just two on the red Junior. Edge brushing on both sides ensures that cleaning around corners and floors in general can be done with the minimum of fuss. It does however fail to cover carpet when the upright is made to fit flat to the floor and this is another disadvantage of the cheap floor head because the only time it will glide flat is when the Junior Plus is made to clean at an angle with the floor head doing the same darting across the floor. Doesn't seem so stressful in terms of describing it to you, but for owners who like a pristine carpet with the pile moving forwards or backwards, the pile will shift at an angle, which isn't very good for general carpet care.
Quality wise, it's the same as before with Hoover's red Junior model; the plastics aren't the best, the main carry handle at the front is a curved edge with the Hoover badge on it and it can feel rough to hands which are doing a balancing act when the Junior Plus is made to compact its size for above the floor cleaning. This is where the downsides of the more basic red Junior plays its similarity card;
For example, when compacting down, a button on the middle of the front of the Junior releases the handle and folds down, flopping down at the rear before it can be locked into place. Once that is done, removing the floor head is easy to do and a U ring at the top pops up automatically once the handle folds down. This now becomes the handle to hold whenever the Junior has to be used horizontally or vertically for above the floor cleaning and the immediate impression of its total weight of 3.8 kg is very obvious, even with the plastic extension pipe fitted and a tool at the end, holding the Junior by the U ring is a bulky affair. I find it inconvenient to use for example when cleaning stairs, much preferring to just do it either standing up when the Junior is used normally with the handle locked upwards, or with the shoulder strap attached and the rubber hose at the bottom. Again however there is no where to store the shoulder strap on the Junior Plus (or the Junior for that matter) and changing over to its hand held status can take a few minutes rather than seconds compared to the luxury priced and much bigger Sebo Felix.. The adjustable shoulder strap sounds like it should be easier, and for the most part it is, especially when fitting it to the vacuum until you realise that when it is fitted the main motor exhaust points downwards or at the side, blowing papers out of the way whilst leaving the sides of your body over heated depending on which shoulder you have decided to swing the machine on.
At the end of the day the Junior Plus ST327E is a far better business proposition than the basic red Junior ST113 ever was, itself lacking the cost optional tool kit which offers greater versatility and thankfully comes standard with the Junior Plus. Treat the Junior Plus as a stick vacuum that can pick up threads and hair due to its rolling brush and the model should impress both on hard and soft floors. But the problem is that whilst Hoover have done their homework in offering the consumer all the tools which come with the flagship model as opposed to spending £19-99 or so from Hoover to upgrade your basic Junior model, the turbo head brush on this model is so poorly made, it's a wonder that Hoover never considered fitting it with the more versatile suction only floor head; it would have made sense given the force of the variable suction available and instead focus on the consumer for once by offering a more manageable and spec friendly small pet hair turbo brush.
And that is what lets the performance of this stick vac down, because with other turbo air floor heads which aren't marketed for the Junior Plus the speed of the turbines and brushes move with great force, making this machine worthy of consideration. But what you get is a crap piece of plastic (I've had a replacement one from Hoover but alas it's still crap) which offers some lightweight gliding at the loss of actual rolling bristles which should cope with all matters of dust and thread. The only advantage that it does have is that it can be used on hard floors and allows the Junior Plus to stand up on its own at the end of each cleaning session, either with the handle extended or folded down for complete compactness.
Once again then Hoover have managed to foul up a design by fitting it with ill thought tools and a crap plastic main floor head which should be easier by all accounts to use. No wonder the Junior hasn't lasted in the UK; it simply isn't built for the Future Generations of consumers who are looking for ease of use and actual cleaning ability without the stress. And at the cost of £50 to £80 it seems consumers aren't prepared to pay for crap anymore either. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008
Short name: Hoover ST 327E