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Just as Miele had done the same with their lack of trial offer on their latest S7, it seems I've been flavour of the month but in the eyes of salespersons from John Lewis and sadly not Sebo. During November and the reach up to Christmas I had tried several Sebo models citing that the Felix was probably the best model I had tried. But with the start of a new life with new property around the corner, my mum knew that, despite my huge sell off of vacuum cleaners (yes, perhaps one day a Museum will surface) I just couldn't resist returning to the Sebo X range where our family owned X1 Automatic had lasted 13 years without gripe. Although I no longer have the family owned heirloom Sebo X1 Automatic, the X4 model from the market's point of view has been on sale for the last seven years, only receiving mild cosmetic updates - the X4 Pet model is no exception, this time available in black and silver to differentiate it from the normal navy blue and slightly strange orange coloured X4 or the optional red and black or grey and white X1.1 . For all that Sebo uprights are low powered because they are kinder to the environment, you'd think their range could do with a bit of an update rather than just a colour change and a few tooling changes. But think again if all you see is a colour change; clearly Sebo have taken note of the recession and Miele's new S7 upright model - the upside here is that prices have fallen dramatically.
** This is a long review but handy if you are about to consider this model **
Priced at £273 at high street shops such as John Lewis, the Sebo X4 Pet is the kind of upright vacuum cleaner that would do well for pet owners, or similar to Miele's Cat and Dog S7 vacuum (£283 at Currys, for example), have all kinds of tools applicable to clearing up after pets. Pet hair turbo brush, extension hose, extra pet hair filter able to cope with the odours and a free pouch of Sebo's excellent dry cleaning powder - all of these articles come with the X4 Pet free of charge. However the X4 Pet doesn't bring much to the table in terms of new specification; it still has a low powered 1300 watt motor like its lesser no-name added basic X4 that provides good suction even when the bag starts to get full but the most pleasing difference of my old Sebo X1 which had 850 watts compared to the 1300 watt built X4 is the lack of noise - clearly Sebo have been busy making their components quieter than previous models and this is a big welcome in a market where so many vacuum cleaners are noisy, whiney and have lots of hot air pumping out.
Clothed around the lightweight plastic body, the X4 Pet has by default an extra extension 6 metre hose that has to be clipped onto the existing small hose provided by the quick and easy pull plastic wand complete with its own handle. And if you don't need the wand, you don't have to use it - you can push it back into the machine at the back, unlock the small flexible hose which still doesn't reach to stair considerations and just use the existing hose and extension hose clipped on to give you 6 metres of stretch. The only problem that Sebo have always had with their X series is that the hose is therefore clipped at the top to the main housing and dirt bag and when the hose is pulled from the back, the machine will fall over to the ground. This has always been a design fault in my opinion and it's something that after so many years, Sebo should really start to re-design rather than assuming the owner will place the vacuum against a wall and take advantage of the fact that the hose can be twirled around in a 360º fashion and its long 10 metre power cord that can be wound up if there's too much excess on the main rear carry handle. As with other X models the X4 Pet also comes with a long crevice tool and T shaped stiff upholstery brush that sits below at the rear of the machine, flush fitting and easy to access.
This is not by any means any news to any existing Sebo X series owner since falling over with the hose is a design weakness - but the extension hose alone is available as a cost option of £9-99 to £14-99 if you don't happen to have the X4 Pet model. Then there's the extra addition of a charcoal embedded S Class filter that gives more filtration than the standard S Class filter that Sebo fit to their other X models (there are only 2 other models in the line up alongside the X4 Pet) and that's available as a cost option of £15-95 whilst the last tool that Sebo provide is a pet hair turbo brush free of charge. For the lower models that would cost you £24-95 of which sellers like John Lewis sell on their shelves. In total then you would pay out an excess of £55 for the tools and filters that would bring your existing Sebo X4 to the same standard of the Pet model. Sebo also give you a free pack of their excellent dry cleaning powder, DuoP which would set you back £7-95 for replacement pouches available online as well as Comet, Currys or John Lewis. In all then you're looking at a final excess charge plus bags at £15-95 with the filters added in (Service Box for the X model gives you 10 paper bags and 2 extra filters including a motor filter that goes on the hood) at a total and final cost of £78-95. Needless to say for pet owners, use of the DuoP dry cleaning powder is a godsend for clearing up those pongy accidents that occur.
Now if you were take the standard asking price of the Sebo X4 on its own at £249-00 it would hike the price up to £327-95. Suddenly the X4 Pet looks like a bit of a bargain for what you're getting - a direct saving of £54-95 or £98-95 if you go for an online purchase from many sellers who are selling the X4 Pet (including Sebo affiliated and registered sellers) at £229-00 and thus I fought hard with several staff at John Lewis to meet this price, and guess what!? They came up trumps in offering me a Sebo X4 Pet at the above price!
The problem is, much as I adore Sebo's efficiency and peace of mind when it comes to cleaning, many consumers will ask themselves if it's worth this extra cost in the long run? The whole idea of the X4 Pet is that it is now the flagship of Sebo's X range and with it - alongside the entire Sebo range of vacuum cleaners you get a 5 year guarantee parts and labour added in which is a great deal - if you know that in the long run all that the Sebo X4 Pet will need is the odd bag changing or added cost options dependent on the use of the filters. The Service Box including 10 bags and filters however is a great deal simply because 7 bags in a pack cost £7-95 alone (Miele sell a similar box for the S7 at £8-95 or £16-95 for two boxes of bags) and a Service Box will easily last a year and a half if the kind of home you have has many family members and pets to clean up after. Each bag has a standard 5.3 litre capacity, extra layered to add to the hospital graded, allergy efficient, British Allergy approved filtration system sealing the dirt in once and for all. And its top fill bags means the dirt does fall from the top to the base of the bag and properly fills up unlike other paper bags where the dirt circulates clinging onto the sides rather than at the bottom thus clogging more and filling up feeling decidedly airy when its time to dispose. I can't begin to tell you how many Hoover bags suffer from this problem. However for a flagship model, Sebo should be offering the Service box free rather than having the customer pay out for more and in defence of the bags which are easy to slide in at the top of the main dust bin, Sebo should be offering updated bags that mimic the Felix - fold over seals built into them rather than having to look for the bag seals when it comes to emptying. And if Sebo can make a reuseable washable dust bag for their commercial uprights, then its about time Sebo offered something similar to remain truly cost efficient and kind to the enviroment.
All this technological know how however comes from experience with the Sebo X range and the X4 Pet over the Miele S7 range is a revelation because it's a darn sight smaller, squarer and more compact to use. Just like my old X1, it still has a beautifully light gliding aspect but a pity that Sebo haven't improved the fact that only one corner of the floor head can do edge brushing sides. Despite this there is a marked improvement on performance due to the 1300 watt motor where dust and dirt gets picked up instantly. Over the Miele S7 which is really an oversized upright cleaner due to its oversized floor head and weight, the X4 Pet weighs 7.4 kg which means it is a lot lighter than Miele's 9.5kg weight and lighter than most Dyson uprights. Equally priced on both formats of the fact that both German models (not Dyson) are designed to clear up and benefit pet owners, the Sebo X4 runs rings around the Miele S7 despite its more traditional push and pull upright design. Just like my old X1, the X4 has the simplicity of an electronic rising and falling floor head that adjusts to floor types although Sebo have had no design changes to cope with extra thick pile carpeting which the Sebo X suffers with, badly.
The truth is, that whilst UK consumers are hit with a recession and that people are trying desperately to save, the X4 Pet may be expensive from its cost price but in general use it is an economic saving based on the fact that it has a paper bag that will last on average up to 3 months - can you say that about your Dyson even if it keeps going after a month of not being emptied? That's the problem with Dyson; you don't need a bag to buy to collect the dirt, but at half the capacity or at least a quarter less than Sebo's large dust bags you're then compromised to disposing airborne dust regardless of whether you do it outside your home or in your refuse bin.
For most people however the problem that Sebo are facing is that most buyers will go for a Dyson and it will be based on price and how the model looks and by performance. I was so very nearly swayed by Dyson's latest upright that looked like it could cut the mustard, looking swish, sophisticated and very curvy. The X4 by comparison is like an old Volvo = it is square, rectangular, lacks cosmetic glitter on its paintwork and doesn't shout attention unlike other vacuum cleaners where designs and labels are put on the machine to make it look like it knows what its doing. Sebo has its reputation at stake, but unlike Dyson, Sebo's reliability has always been top notch, more by the fact that our old model lasted so long compared to our Dysons and with an internal life time drive belt fitted, no need to fish out screwdrivers and an easy to dislodge roller brush by the push of a button. Truly there are other benefits to the Sebo X4 alone without the "Pet" moniker of this model. The fact that yes, you do need a paper dust bag to collect the dirt is an obvious weakness - but I'm a fan of paper bags for the very reason that its cleaner for my lungs.
Unlike the compeitition, I have never used any other upright vacuum cleaner that can lie straight to the floor and I've had the cheap bagged uprights that promise to do this but by looking at the floor head hovering over carpet surfaces and the lack of feel of vibration through the handle attests to this very fact that most uprights fail to touch the carpet. Also against Dyson models - which lets face it, unless it's a cylinder vacuum/pull along design - none of the Dyson uprights can get under a low space bed for example - where dust often falls off mattresses and obviously a tell tale sign if like me, you store suitcases under the bed, pull them out and they're covered in dust. Sebo's X4 does both applications and puts a tick in a box where most consumers feel the look of the X4 is old fashioned. Well, its old fashioned looking for a reason when it can get under low furniture due to its low hood and remain brushing carpet fibres when made to lay flat.
Sebo's X4 Pet does have a new trick up its sleeve where the use of the pet hair turbo brush comes into use. Whereas my old Sebo X1's main suction blockage light would come on the 4 LED fascia panel on the hood the moment the pet hair brush was clipped onto the hose (and thus the only way of using the turbo brush was to make a little hole in the hose itself to let air out), Sebo's X4 Pet model reduces the suction automatically as if it is sensing that the turbo brush has been added on and drops the motor down a gear to compensate. In use, the pet hair turbo brush sounds like a jet engine, whizzing and picking up hair with ease and like most of the Sebo attachments is made of thick quality PVC plastic that isn't afraid of being abused. Like our old X model it still has the same 4 light system telling you when the brush head is lowering, rising, bag full blockage and a roller brush clog.
So it is a pity that once again despite all these wonderful new benefits, Sebo still resort to putting a clip on the handle neck to support the cost optional tool brush that you have to pay out for with lesser X models. Again, you get another tool free with the X4 Pet but its about time Sebo moved the game on and updated the Sebo X model for all that its simple and beautifully efficient at cleaning with decent space on the machine itself to accommodate all the tools you get with it. For example there's still no place for the long extra extension hose to go unless you allow it to dangle freely on the handle's spine creating a most practical effect if only it didn't fall down over the body when this vacuum is being used as a normal upright whilst the additional pet hair turbo brush has to sit out somewhere in a cupboard because it has no tool storer on the body of the X4 Pet to accommodate it - and that's a big black mark given that Miele have been able to accommodate such things into their S7 upright.
Time then is beginning to catch up with the Sebo X4 Pet upright vacuum. Quiet, capable, reasonably lightweight and easy to manoeuvre with a large dust bag capacity and good technology remains the tour de force of what its like to be a Sebo X4. And the X4 Pet adjusts to the owner well reinforcing Sebo's quality and thinking behind it's core values. However Sebo themselves need to update the X4 in a market that now involves a bit more power, extra carpet height adjustment for newer flooring not to mention somewhere on the machine for all those tools to go to. For the price against lower X models in the range, the Sebo X4 Pet is a bargain - but it could be so much better given that it sits at the top of Sebo's domestic range and thanks to Miele, now looks second hat in the UK line up of premium bagged upright vacuum cleaners. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2009
http://www.sebo.co.uk/Pages/video_clips.html (Click on X model to see video demo, WMP player only).
The automatic X4 Pet Vacuum blends a simple design and hard-to-beat cleaning performances / This 1300-watt upright vacuum cleaner boasts S-class filtration and comes with the reassuring British Allergy Foundation Seal of Approval / As an upright vacuum cleaner, the Sebo automatic X4 Pet does not rely on the brute force of strong suction power to clean your floors / though it certainly has that too, thanks to its ultra-efficient airflow / Rather, the brush-head agitates the carpet as you use the machine, lifting dust and pet hair into the suction, which swiftly dispenses it to the 5.3-litre bag / A computer control system optimises performance parameters depending on the conditions / S-class filtration is achieved by a combination of a multi-layer, sealable filter bag and electrostatic filtration / This system traps dust particles effectively while maintaining a more open filter texture, thus improving airflow without compromising cleanliness / Odours are taken care of by the activated carbon filter, and a final exhaust filter ensures that the air leaving the machine is clean and pure / Other highlights of the Sebo automatic X4 Pet Vacuum Cleaner include onboard tools for stairs, upholstery, and furniture / You'll also appreciate the extra-long hose system and 11-metre operating radius, not to mention the relatively light 7.4 kg weight of this premium machine / Sebo vacuum cleaners are made in Germany and used in hospitals, office buildings, and corridors of power all over the globe / Now you can bring their legendary quality into your home with the Sebo automatic X4 Pet Vacuum Cleaner ! Characteristics Type Bagged upright vacuum cleaner Power (Watts) 1300 Sound level (dBA) 68 Bag volume or reservoir (litre) 5.3 Filter type Multi-layer S-class filtration, activated charcoal carbon odour filtration Indicator for bag content Yes Ergonomy Telescopic tube No Cable length 10 metres Others Colours Black and silver Included accessories Stair & upholstery turbo brush, crevice and upholstery nozzle, dusting brush Bag reference Sebo 5093ER Weight (Kg) 7.4 kg / Short name: Sebo X4 Pet