Newest Review: ... I have stated this is a fairly basic model, however the price tag is not, at a RRP of £99, I do not consider this product to be wo... more
Not Merely A Basic Miele Vac...
Member Name: Nar2
Date: 26/03/08, updated on 26/03/08 (1450 review reads)
Advantages: Does what it says; excellent quality fittings and design, easy to use and easy to store
Disadvantages: Different prices at Argos and Comet, slightly bulkier than more modern S4000
Bagged cylinder vacuum cleaners have recently started to sell again, and perhaps it is no surprise when anything bagless unless it has the Dyson tag attached to it means endless clogging and hesitant suction despite the power that most vacuums advertise.
** This is a long review based solely on brand experience and the model in question **
The Miele S380 however remains to be the budget starter vacuum cleaner that has been slightly taken over by the more compact and lighter weight S4000 series. As far back as the 1990's, the S380 once stood as a middle of the range cylinder vacuum cleaner with a price that entertained most consumers who were looking for a quality vacuum designed to last. I was not one of those consumers back then and invested in a cheaper Electrolux cylinder that has not last any longer than six years with moderate use. Not many live to tell the tale of a Miele vacuum which has let them down, and this model as basic and low priced as it may appear, is no exception to this rule.
Over the S4210, an excellent all round vacuum which my parents love, the S380 comes in at a reasonable £99 either from Comet or £109 for a slightly different coloured model from Argos (dark blue). There is however much more to this Miele than meets the eye, which is often the case with most Miele vacuums and buyers in the market who are looking for no-nonsense and great quality.
** Nar's Quick Skip Product Spec **
* 1800 watt motor with variable power dial.
* Bag fill indicator (mechanical type but has a large view window)
* 3 small cleaning tools supplied; crevice tool, flat upholstery/mattress tool, short brushed tool; all of which store in a hiding area on the vacuum itself.
* 3.5 litre dust bag capacity.
* Super Air Clean filter - other additional filters of higher grades can be used at a higher cost.
* 6 metre power cord with auto cord rewind.
* 2 stainless steel tubes - friction fit and can be released upon use.
* 6.8kg weight
* Price averages £80 to £120 online. Comet price £99 for S381 model, Argos price for S380 £109-00.
* 2 Way universal floor head - A quality piece of plastic which feels like it is designed to last, complete with rocker pedal for different floor coverings.
Firstly, the bag issue.
Yes, alas, the S380 uses a dust bag but to combat against tears and odours it is a cloth bag, made of the same material bag with a deep capacity of 3.5 litres that you'll find with most Miele cylinder cleaners including the more organically shaped S4000 range. Miele actually produce three types of dust bag for UK consumers starting off with the small range, then medium and then large depending on the model you have purchased. All of them are made by material cloth rather than paper. The S380 however uses the dust bag that is more massively available just about anywhere. So you will find them at stockists such as Comet, Curry's, John Lewis, Argos, Online and even local electrical showrooms will carry the bags that this Miele need, simply because the S380 is a very old vacuum with a very old range behind it and use a material "electrostatic" cloth disposal high filter bag. One box of Miele branded dust bags for this model come in at very cheap £5-99 box of 5 bags plus a spare filter to replace the one you have used after every 5 bags have been used. The phrase which springs to mind here is "Peace of Mind," because I'm not a fan of bagless vacuums and never will be until a vacuum is launched where the machine can clean its filters itself and where dust disposal doesn't have me cleaning out the bottom trap door when the dust is released or those pesky shrouds when noticeable suction starts to weaken well before the bin looks full.
Design wise then the Miele is rather blocky but has curves in what appears to be the right places; a large carry handle doesn't feel as if its jutting or biting into your hand and the general quality and thought which has gone into the Miele is outstanding for what you are getting here. The S380 has a simple to install bag design which also means once a bag is full, it can simply be pulled and its plastic self seal hat slides over the dust bag hole which means clean, safe and quick disposal of dirt and without the worry of any other dirt escaping. Just like all other Miele's I have tried, the bag area is simple to access, has the motor filter tucked behind the bag and the retrieval of filters is made all the while, easier because of simple markings and good quality mechanisms.
Although the S380 has the same motor of my older S4210 model (the 2008 model now features a quicker 2000 watt motor) there is a slight difference in the audible quality of the S380 motor; certainly it isn't loud by Miele standards but it is slightly noisier than the more modern S4000 range. Even without the selective rotary nodes on the S4210's dial, the control dial on the S380 is continuous and has markings to suggest the lowest amount of power (300 watts) to a very strong and relentless 1800 watts felt most even when the dirt bags are half full. Further icons on the control (located bottom of the cleaner at the top side in bang in the middle between the marked power on & auto cord rewind pedals) are used to suggest when an optional air-driven turbo floor brush can be used to show the best-selected rate of speed, even though on the S380 a main turbo air driven floor head is not standard kit. Noise wise, I feel the S380 doesn't embarrass itself against cheaper brand offerings such as Hoover's Sensory or the Electrolux ranges of bagged vacuums and with a decibel level of 68, it is only slightly louder than Sebo's K1 cylinder range to boot. Unlike the Sebo K1 however, the S380 has an air outlet valve on its comfortable handle at the top of the hose that can also be used to further reduce suction - hardly technological but an advantage all the same. And just like all other Miele models, the S380 features lock mechanisms on the hose, tubes and floor head so that in use, they feel stable and secure. Taking each off therefore is a lot quicker and adds...Peace of Mind through its suggested longevity.
In use the S380 mirrors my older but more modern Miele S4210 with a few differences. For a start the S380 is a bit heavier at 6.8kg and this is more apparent when pulling the thing behind you to keep up as the 1.5 metre hose gets around halls and rooms. When carrying, the weight is more apparent although it's not back breaking, again it's the older model's disadvantage against Miele's more lightweight and modern S4000 range that comes into play here. I don't feel however that this much of a downside to consider other attributes that are pleasing against my S4210.
But there are a few surprises;
For a start, the tubes you get with the S380 are not height adjustable telescopic. Instead by default given its starter price of German, you get two "friction fit" stainless steel tubes. Unlike Hoover however although they lack height adjustable capability, their facility of unhooking each other is a lot easier thanks to the fact that someone has actually thought about removing the tubes and fitted plastic ends so that the tubes can be taken off! That aside there is no other feeling that what you have bought is a basic Miele model. Certainly if I hadn't had bought the S4210 a few years ago for my parents this is probably the model I would have gone for.
Around its dark blue body (yep I bought the Argos one) the black bumpers that sit flush on the S380 are easy to spot although they could push out a bit more to withstand scrapes and bumps. When placed on stairs the S380 however doesn't fair so well against the new S4210; although of similar dirt capacity and power, the S380's body is a little wider and angles a quarter of its body over a stair ledge. This means that whilst it can sit on an average stair, it will not sit IN the stair ledge thus having to keep a watchful eye if the main body of the vacuum should topple over. Turn the S380 the other way with the hose sprouting out towards you and it's a different story - it will not threaten you to worry about toppling over.
Steering and moving with the S380 is surprisingly easy despite its heavier weight. Whilst it may not have the more modern features of my old S4210, it does however have three smaller cleaning tools which may well be the same on my model in terms of look, use and feel, but unlike my compact cylinder, the S380 has a flip down door on the body which hides and locks the tools in safely away. Oh the times when mine have flown off their cheaper plastic holder which clips to the tube! The two way floor head is also made of thick quality PVC plastic although it is a pity given its older design that it has a metal floor head plate against plastic and thus threatens more with hard floor damage unless the rocker switch is activated to put down the thick brush lines. Three castors are also fitted on the base so your S380 can turn in a complete circle for the smallest of spaces to get around; conventional cylinder cleaners seldom have this increased design added. Dust pick up is generally excellent with the floor head and has edge cleaning sides on both sides of the floor head. The S380 copes extremely well even if it lacks a moving rolling brush like an upright vacuum. However at an extra cost you can buy a turbo brush for this model.
Filtration is basic by default and goes under Miele's "Super Air Clean tag", which is claimed to clean the air as you vacuum. Although I don't doubt this, the SAC filter will only do so much, being micro filter pleated in nature, it cannot be relied on to hide the smell of pet hair or thick, heavy odours. However being Miele means that this vacuum (like the whole range) can be upgraded to a HEPA / High Efficiency Particulate Air filter and cost between £10 and £12 for a permanent filter / yearly replacement depending on use, respectively. I still have the Active Charcoal HEPA filter on my S4210 and after one year's use it still retains odours exceptionally well - until it starts to fail I know I'll replace my filter only then. The Super Air Clean filter that Miele produce however retains most household dirt odour although for those with allergies it is better to upgrade to filter options upon which Miele have a few options to consider. More surprising has been the bag capacity; although the same as my other model, I'm finding that one bag can last up to 4 months, which is perhaps economical at best.
So all in all, I think the S380/S381 is another 5 star effort from Miele. Although it may well be expensive at its asking price, the Miele S380 makes an excellent choice and a great investment. Given its design and components which are used on the entire Miele range concurrent and past, you can upgrade with cost optional parts to meet the grade of a Miele you want to own, from turbo brushes to HEPA and Charcoal Active filters which lessen odour and therefore extending its versatility to meet the needs of most consumers today. Parts are available from Miele online as well as EBay sellers, but there is also John Lewis to consider too as they stock a variety of different filters. That's why its such a great investment because if you ever sell it on, Miele models on EBay are very sought after. This S380 merely strengthens the Miele promise. Thanks for reading. İNar2 2008
www.argos.co.uk (model S380)
www.comet.co.uk (model S381 light blue)
Summary: The starter Miele based on good, sound values for the consumer.
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