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Released a few years ago, the Miele S4210 won a recommendation of best buy from Which? consumer magazine although I didn't know this when I went to buy this machine recently. Initially I wanted to take my Sebo K1 cylinder vac with me to the 'halls since the rooms are extremely dusty but of course my parents adore both Sebo vacuums and won't part with them. Until of course this little vacuum from Miele came along! I had seen this Miele model at John Lewis and before the recommendation knowledge adored its compact design and features for the price of £129-99
** Nar's Quick Skip Review Spec **
* Price brand new: £120 to £130.
* 6.5kg total weight.
* 3.5 litre dust capacity bags; synthetic Miele bags with excellent filtration.
* Super Air clean filter- this is a micro filter which comes standard with the vac and must be replaced after 5 bags have been used.
* Telescopic height adjustable tubes - brushed stainless steel with thick PVC plastic curvy points.
* 2 way universal floor brush - with a metal sole plate.
* Crevice tool, dusting brush and upholstery flat tool supplied on a clip on storer via tube.
* 1800 watt motor with 6 variable speed settings.
* Bag full indicator.
* S4210 model, yellow model with silver inserts and 3 castors.
** Feel The Quality **
One of the most immediate reactions to this Miele model is the most obvious fact that it sits at the lower end of the Miele range and its compact size is smaller than any Miele cylinder I have ever used. Compared to the older machines, the S4000 was launched onto the market a few years ago and no doubt made to compete with Sebo's equally compact and versatile K1 range. But the S4210 uses the same blue print as most Miele cylinders anyway from the same excellent design of pip lock fittings on the tubes and floor head which means they will never come off unless the button is pushed to unlock everything; all plastics contained on the S4210 is excellent and feels like it is made to last. It is a pity that no outward bumpers are visibly protruding against the bulkier but no less space efficient Sebo K1. In this respect Sebo have the one up on plastic build quality.
Miele fit a pre selection of speeds available with icons of particular use suggestion such as upholstery, flooring and minimal use ideas. However the flooring suggestion puts the Miele into the upper levels of the speeds which Miele also suggest is ideal for Economy, but at 1800 watts the best economical speed is actually farther down the motor rather than half way. The dial is very big and well marked so those with poor eyesight will adore this model, a fact that my dad seems to appreciate! Miele also use number of watts as an additional icons so the lowest at 300watts is what I've been using for getting rid of dust on my high ceilings as opposed to using high suction. The lower setting you pick, the lower the noise generally.
The hose itself and handle lacks the latest of Miele's more expensive sisters which have the copied Sebo handle above the hose idea and like other cylinders on the market Miele have retained a curvy handle with a metal strip at the back to reduce anti static electricity when in use. Whilst I have never suffered from shocks off a vacuum cleaner this could well be a design element which again has been copied from Sebo but no less useful and something which many cheaper company products don't have. I can tell the difference however when holding excess hose and then touching the handle on other cylinders - shocks a plenty but nothing on the Miele here.
** Setting Up **
It will take seconds to fit everything together on this cylinder cleaner. The only slight trouble will be fixing the clip on tool storer onto the pipes of the Miele before sensibly locking everything together. The hose end into the body of the Miele locks smoothly and it is easy to dislodge; the synthetic high filtration bag is easy to slide into the hinge lock inside the machine before locking the bin door down and it won't close unless a bag is fitted - like Sebo - whilst access points to everything on the Miele means setting up is a doddle. The biggest surprise is actual motor noise and general use.
** In Use **
The Miele has a very quiet motor until the motor is raised to the fifth or sixth speed selection, but even then it is still quiet compared to Dyson and other company products. Against the Sebo K1 which has more air thrust thanks to its air belt design, the Miele doesn't emit air noise as much as the K1 but it moves with the same precision and peace of mind on all floor surfaces thanks to 3 castors (ah oh Sebo again) which also means the Miele won't struggle through carpeting, won't leave a track behind on any flooring since it doesn't have fixed wheels and thanks to its stubby design can sit on stairs extremely easily without being too bulky. But that smooth design element does mean that without additional points the Miele can fall over on stairs against Sebo's better thought out K1 in this respect.
And performance is as you would expect from any true cylinder from Miele; fuss free, very stable and excellent suction. The hose and the pipes aren't too heavy on their own and the floor head moves well across any surface with a pedal to push bristles down on hard flooring. Like Sebo though, this Miele has a metal soleplate so whilst it has been designed to last, it makes better sense to always push the brushes down on hard flooring so that contact to the metal plate is never made. Edge cleaning is also built in but the smaller upholstery flat tool suffers from having too much lint and you end up picking off threads and hairs attached to it.
One of the beauties I adore about this little Miele however is the fact that it is much smaller than previous vacs I have used, so it follows after you very easily helped along by three castors on the base of the machine. This means that whilst it has a 6 metre power cord the user manual suggests that all of the cable must be taken out for use instead of some cable and at 6 metres it certainly does make the grade in terms of being pulled along easily via the hose, or carried by its main handle.
And like Sebo you don't need to fear about using the smaller tools on any part of the hose or tubes; they don't have locks so you can use them on any part of the Miele available. This however means that if you do order an attachment from another supplier, say a universal floor brush you would have to gain a 35mm adaptor as this is what the diameter sizing is against the more mass produced 32mm.
When all cleaning tasks are done, the S4210 has a good storage element with the only downside being that there is a lot of hose viewable despite the compacting metal extension tube. Like so many other cylinders on the market the S4210 has two park positions, one at the back of the cleaner when in use and one at the side. It is this side park position which causes so much of the hose to push itself out which makes storage tricky but at least the machine itself is small and can be pushed under average shelving or tight spaces; Sebo's K1 is better in this respect when it comes to putting everything away and whilst the Miele may be smaller it is heavier at 6.5kg it is more noticeable when carrying the complete vac plus parked hose and tubes together. Even if the Sebo is 1kg lighter, the Miele has a better and more open handle to lift the cleaner when needed.
The best news of course for me is the fact that it has a silent whisper quiet motor. Even my parents have taken to liking it as it doesn't annoy and conversations can still be done when in use.
** Downsides **
Which inadvertently means, they now have the Miele and I now have my K1 with me. Still, all is not lost because there are a few downsides to the Miele;
The most obvious design fault which the Miele lacks is the fact that it has no internal tool storage on the body and that's a great pity even though the 3 tool storer design has obviously been made with thicker plastic to ensure longevity. Infact many cylinders from other companies past the £100 mark usually allow tools to be fitted on the machine rather than on a more bulky tool storer clip. Three tools are supplied; a short crevice tool, a 360° crevice brush and a flat upholstery tool can all be pushed on and sit reasonably flush on the Miele tube; a somewhat advantage being that you can fix the tool storer clip onto any part of the tube, top or bottom depending on how easy you want to take out the tools for smaller cleaning tasks but clean under low furniture and one of the tools can fly off as it gets knocked off. Miele however do fit an upholstery brush as standard against Sebo's silly idea of making their upholstery brush an optional cost on their base K1 model but unlike Miele, at least Sebo's smaller tools (except their clip on upholstery brush) fit onto the K1 and have better length and design to them.
The bag indicator is a mechanical bag indicator which shows orange whenever the bag is full but I'm so used to the better electronic LED light on my K1 it smacks of cheapness on this otherwise premium branded product.
The height adjustable catch control is located behind the handle whenever the pipes have been attached and works very well. Against Sebo's K1 the Miele hose can also be independently and easily unlocked off the handle simply by squeezing the sides at the top. With Sebo you have to undo a catch but both models are extremely similar. It's a wonder that Miele and Sebo don't merge together!
The yellow colour is lovely but what a pity it shows up grubby marks very clearly.
Of more importance there is no visible bumper on this machine and already it bounces off walls very well but doesn't show on the body - yet it would be good if Miele had incorporated a bumper to withstand scrapes here.
** Filtration & Bags **
If there is one reason alone to consider Sebo's K1 against the smooth S4000, then it is the high filtration factor and the fitting procedure. Miele and Sebo may produce near identical bag filtration qualities - both companies use Electrostatics to grab the dirt for constant suction - but it is a disappointment that the Miele doesn't come with HEPA (High efficiency particulate air) filters as standard unlike the K1. You can upgrade to HEPA filters but that means cost options. And what a difference there is with the actual filters themselves in terms of general design too;
With each box of bags (5 against Sebo's 7 bags) you need to replace the Super Air clean filter, which to anyone who has never used a Miele before is a standard 3 / 4 layer unwashable micro filter which must be cut to size for the motor filter (set into its own grid by the motor) and a universal fit (doesn't need to be cut) Super clean filter which slides into the pop up locked filter grid set into the machine once the bin door has been opened. What comes across immediately is the fact that whilst these Miele filters do an excellent job, they are not as well made or as well thought out as Sebo; on the K1 you never get to see the motor because Sebo pride their system as being extremely well sealed and the design of the K1 is unlike anything else on the market. Those with allergies will not fare any less with the Miele however in terms of fitting a bag (they all have plastic pull seals) but the access is quite tight despite the high raising bin door and you would have to buy an optional HEPA filter for complete emission and odour control
To gain access to the motor filter you need to lift the bag out of the way (or before putting a new bag in) slide the cartridge out and the filter can be popped out before putting a new one in. But with Sebo, there's no cutting needed and the two filters on the K1 just slide and lock in without any worry that you actually touch or see any dirt. With Miele the principle is cheaper, more mainstream and both filters have to be replaced after 5 bags have been used up; with Sebo it is three times the amount of bags even though you have to buy the filters separately or choose their excellent "Service Box" deals.
** Running Costs **
This brings me into the next aspect; the price of bags and consumables and since I've compared Miele with Sebo along the way, why stop now?!
~ Miele ~
For sheer peace and ease of mind, Miele have incorporated the filters into each box of bags and prices for the Miele box (code FJM which are used right across the whole range of Miele vacuums with the exception of larger machines) range from £6-95 to £8-95 on the high street (Comet, Currys, John Lewis and a lot of other high street shops who sell Miele vacuums) although John Lewis sell two boxes of bags (10 altogether) for £13-90.
~ Sebo ~
Sebo's K1 box comes in at £7-95 for 7 bags but have no filters but Sebo also sell their service box which includes the two filters and 8 paper bags for £18-95. Separately the filters would cost £9-50 to £12-00 total but they only have to be replaced after 16 to 27 bags have been used.
~ So who is cheaper? ~
The outcome is that despite the filter differences, compared to other bagged vacuums on the market the Miele can be just as expensive as any other manufacturer who produce bags for their models but unlike others sometimes, Miele also give the consumer the filters needed at the same time as the bags and in this respect rather than writing a number on the bag each time used, buying bags which have the filters at the same time is a hell of a lot easier when it comes to changing! For consumers who may have allergies, the K1 is much better in this respect; all Sebo products have been approved by the BAF (British Allergy Foundation) whereas only a select few Miele models have the seal and unfortunately the S4210 isn't one of them.
And let's not forget that whilst Sebo have HEPA/S Class as standard the Miele does not. So whilst you may well get the 2 standard filters in the box of bags, an extra HEPA filter for the exhaust would cost you £18 to £20 just for this filter. Who is trying to beat who, Miele?
** Dirt Capacity & User Manual **
The official specs across the board suggest that the Miele has a 3.5 litre capacity dirt bag but it actually uses the same 4 litre capacity bags which other Miele models use; the difference is that the bag in the Miele is smaller fit so what if there is a slight deficit of space available? Whilst I haven't actually measured the amount of dirt the bag has actually accumulated already, it is nearly half full with the amount of dirt and traffic dust which the Miele has already picked up and suction is still terrific and able even on the lowest setting. Generally a 3.5 bag should last on average 2 to 3 months with any Miele although this depends very much on its use and what gets picked up.
The user manual is quite a long affair comprising of nearly 40 pages, half of which is actual good sense and well diagrammed as to what the S4210 does. It is a pity then that Miele choose to use a universal manual which makes you have to look at your vacuum closely as the manual covers the entire range from the S4210 to the S4780 and there are quite a few differences right down to the flooring attachment options. Miele also give you warnings and general use tips as well as info to optional flooring attachments. Again like Sebo you need to order from Miele what is available for specific needs.
** Final Conclusion **
In terms of cost the S4210 at full price can be seen as a very expensive cylinder vacuum cleaner but then you need to consider the benefits of a premium quality brand who offer against their larger machines, a compact vacuum cleaner which uses suction only and offers fantastic performance.
Tie in the brilliant quality and its ease of use and it is easy to see why Miele are the company they are today. Against their price brand new, they don't give much of a bargain however against Sebo's K1 and in this respect Sebo are better outright for all round health and versatility. The Miele is close to the K1 on everything but has a more manufactured feel with less quality on the tools, general fit and finish to the most exacting eye and standards and for the price, who wouldn't be comparing?
For anyone looking for a great quality compact cylinder vacuum which uses bags, the first port of call should be the Sebo K1 range. Miele's S4210 takes second place but that's no bad thing. That quiet motor really has to be heard to be believed but Miele could up the ante here against Sebo in offering places for the tools to go rather than flying off the cheap tool holder on the tubes. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2007. ** An exclusive review for Dooyoo, appears later elsewhere **
** UPDATE! AUGUST 2007 **
Miele are celebrating 80 years of manufacture. They have launched a S4 model (similar to this) but with a higher 2000 watt motor and all in Gold metallic paint. Whilst it may well be a limited edition run of 10000 models, the price of £169-99 from John Lewis is an immediate stumbling block. It may well come with a year's supply of bags (*Miele are adding 7 bags to the deal and warranty/guarantees) but at £170 for a limited edition, I think this is too pricey.
Short name: Miele S4210