“ Brand: Starlyf / Type: Bagless Upright „
Before we purchased the short-corded but powerful Panasonic 1300 watt cylinder vacuum cleaner, my other relative saw it best to order something she claimed from a shopping channel would fit the needs for both her, her caravan and the rental property we both part own. What she thought would be better by going for a cheap deal, I relented when I watched the television commercial showing this upright with a 3 in 1 hand held upright vacuum cleaner and became interested with its design, not least for the fact that it isn't cordless but came with a claimed 10 metre cord - or so the brand claimed at the time. "Perfect for a rental and perfect for the caravan," she kept enthusing until the vacuum arrived from Best Direct TV and we tried it for a week, which then ended up being a month due to Best Direct TV's shocking customer services to pick it up from us!
Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec
* Model name: "Starlyf," Cyclonic Upright 3 in 1 Vacuum Cleaner.
* 850-watt total power, fixed.
* Mains powered, converts from hand held to an upright vacuum cleaner.
* Air driven permanent turbo roller brush.
* 3.8 kg total weight, two extension tubes supplied, crevice tool and dust brush.
* Easy to store with fold down handle.
* Size: 50cm by 10cm by 20cm - very compact!
* 5-metre power cord length - UK model only.
* Washable HEPA filtration.
* Best Direct TV UK price £49-99 including a 1 year guarantee and £12-95 per year top up.
Design/Quality & First Impressions
Design wise, the Starlyf Cyclonic vac really looks like a great, space efficient design - here we have a compact upright vacuum cleaner with a detachable hand held vacuum - and a claimed long stretch power cord on board giving you continous power without the power weakening that the cordless types provide. But there's a wee bit more where this machine and concept is concerned. The beauty of the Starlyf is that it is very easy to store due to its slim shape, taking up as much space as a standard large sized floor broom and very lightweight to lift and to push to boot thanks to its two large rear wheels on the floor head. Thanks to its locking foldable handle that includes the pop out, press release hand vacuum where the main motor is contained, this is a very easy vacuum to carry around and when fully assembled, the overall size is smaller than Gtech's famous cordless sweepers with its handle at its highest position1 Although clearly made of black plastics, the Starlyf has a shiny plastic quality about it and there are very few sharp edges. The whole machine looks like it has been designed well, with an easy grip release on the handle, red accents here and there, giving it an almost sporty colour combination to the eye and with cord hooks that also have a smooth finish that apes its UK pricing.
Internally this is quite an easy vacuum to inspect for clogs too and the removable friction fit floor head is extremely easy to inspect since the main dust channel is oval from the brush roll and out of the dust channel leading into the mouth of the hand held part of the Starlyf before the top handle. Getting a rod or a wired brush into this area would be easy to do, provided that you use a bottle cleaning brush or flexible bendy knitting needle if you have one around - but as far as the inspection design goes, this is the least of the Starlyf's worries.
In the UK however, this model has been seen before but very briefly, known as the Oreck "Electrikbroom," in cordless form, whilst the Starlyf has also been sold under several different names in the U.S under titles such as "Windstorm," "Space Vac," and the "Singer Lazer Vac," all of which are Chinese made and have received seething negative reviews regardless of being cordless or corded.
The 3 in 1 design equates to the model being able to be used as a mains power hand held vacuum, an upright with a roller brush, or the hand held slip out dust buster part with other tools used in tandem.
General Performance & Downsides
When it comes to performance, the Starlyf tries its best but it isn't a shinning example of an average bagless upright vacuum cleaner lacking the patented and premium priced Dyson design cyclonic system. With the only unique abilities it does possess comes down to its physical design, allowing the floor head to move left to right, getting under low furniture design and the detachable hand held vacuum for more quick-to-clean areas above the floor line.
The main problem I find with the Starlyf cyclonic upright vacuum is that it isn't exactly powerful on carpets. This is surely one of the basic features buyers look out for carpet cleaning and I couldn't believe that something with 850 watts could be so poor at carpet thread, pet hair or deep dirt that requires a brush roll moving at all times. My old Vax Quicklite with the same power ate carpet dirt in an instant and was just as lightweight! The lack of power is down to the brush roll floor head where the makers claim that air from the motor moves around the vacuum cleaner internally to power the air turbine floor head. It is quite noisy the moment the Starlyf is activated regardless of it being used as an upright vacuum or a hand held dust buster whilst the red accent vents at the top of the vacuum ensure hot air gets blown out from the motor to the sides, as opposed usually to the front that can blow paper or dust around. The other air channels in the design are clear and viewable made out of acrylic plastic, and easy to spot and remove any clogged dirt in use.
However, what the makers of Starlyf don't tell you is the fact that the turbo brush has a large vent hole right at the back of the floor head. The non-coverable grill lets out suction air and as a result, the badly needed suction air that is being let out provides little "power" to the moving brush roll on board. The Starlyf is woeful on brush roll performance on carpets whilst the spin on the brush is okay for hard floors. Offer it carpet or rugs and the resistance of the brush roll on the carpet is very apparent. Hair, threads and dust is extremely hard to pick up in one or two passes, as a result of the grill exhaust at the rear. On hard floors, performance is marginally better, but if your floors are dusty the filter packs up quicker than expected and as a result, suction power alone starts to weaken.
The hand held unit which incorporates the main dust bin is better with a large open oval dust channel mouth that doesn't actually need any other tools wedged into it unless you want precision cleaning and having the suction to hand is better. The weight of the hand held isn't too bad either, with only around 2kg total regardless of whether you use the additional light tools and cleaning curtains as it is advertised at doing, does the job quite well, provided you have a mains socket located nearby. HOwever the short cord means you're saddled with the job of plug hopping - where corded hand held vacuums are concerned, nothing seems to beat the stretch and travel of my old Black and Decker VH900GB.
Whilst the suction only tools can be wedged into the open, oval mouth at the bottom of the hand held, the actual turbo brush can also be used, but it is very cumbersome and with the different extensions applied, you can get a claimed 22 different variations of the tools swapped around leading either from the hand held's mouth or the main upright vacuum. Sadly I only got 6 variations that were compact and easy to use! With only five metres of power cord length on board though, you won't get far with the hand held vacuum either, made all the worse with no attachment holders on board that would allow you to use cleaning tools at the same time as the hand held.
The tools that you do get comprise of two long plastic extension tools, a 1.5 metre stretch hose, a crevice tool and a dusting brush - but for all that they are handy, you have to plan in advance what you need - and then leave the tools in a memorable place for next time. They're not the best made either, with the straight extension tubes flexing about too much due to their cheap plastic and the dust brush, though handy to have doesn't have long enough bristles to gather dirt in, but rather pushes it all around. The stretch hose provided has a tendency to bend too much resulting in cut suction and the nonsense of having to unravel it all the time for use.
Filtration, Emptying & Other Downsides
As a low power vacuum cleaner in a small flat or caravan though, the Starlyf Cyclonic vac should be justifiable, but one is left wondering how long the large dust bin can cope with and here is where the other downside makes itself all the more apparent.
The main filtration system is very similar to what has appeared before in the Electrolux/AEG Ergorapido design - there are two main filters, one outer plastic shell that incorporates a mesh filter similar to a plastic tea strainer you'd find in a teapot and can be easily brushed clean. Inside that you get a detachable HEPA paper filter cone where smaller dust particles get wedged into the paper pleats of the cone. When this happens, the suction from the machine will weaken until no suction will emerge - unless you wash and clean the HEPA filter every time suction starts to go and Best Direct TV don't offer a secondary filter in the meantime, meaning you have to let the main HEPA filter dry until it can be put back in again. It would be all very well if the HEPA filter cone was actually larger, but its small mini size means suction from this vacuum cleaner starts to go per room in the home with nearly every long cleaning task requiring the filter to be cleaned out and unhelpfully, you don't get a spare one to use in the meantime when the original one sits on the sink top waiting to dry out after washing.
What a relief to find that emptying the dust bin is very easy, as with most bagless vacuums these days but if you are expecting to find a bottom trap door release, be prepared to be disappointed. Due in part to the poor plastics and reverting to the old way of emptying dust from cyclonic vacs like the Dyson DC01, you have to go about unlocking the top of the main hand held unit, twisting the top open and turn the dust bin around pouring the dust into a bin. However, the bin looks and feels as being bigger than anything on the market, it's a bit of a false economy when very little is picked up when used as an upright vacuum! The plastic holder that contains the HEPA filter has a very flexible feeling and although made of frosted plastic, it is too thin and fragile, liable to crack if you hit the bin off a hard kitchen bin to loosen dirt.
One of the issues that I spotted early on though, is that Best Direct UK are selling this machine on the back of the video commercial that can be viewed online at their UK site. The video shows a 25 foot cord, which clearly equates to roughly 7.2 metres - not exactly a long amount of cord where most major upright vacuums are concerned and the UK model only comes with a short 5 metre cord total reach. Couple that with the small size of this vacuum and its main hand held, and you'll find you won't get very far without a series of plug hopping.
Another issue that I had is with Best Direct TV. On return of this product, to which we demanded our money back with its return offer, Best Direct TV really faffed about with their courier services - Hermes. I had to call Hermes five times to ensure the booking had actually been recorded with them as three phone calls and emails to Best Direct TV resulted in the complaint being lodged but no booking recorded on their system for the Starlyf Cyclonic vac to be returned and refunded. It took Best Direct TV three attempts to get their act together. Eventually Hermes called for the vacuum cleaner but they gave me no card other than a tracking card and I had no information from Best Direct TV to write in the "not sold as seen" number they had issued to me on the telephone.
Best Direct TV also apologised that I was misled by the video infomercial and all that they could do at the time was offer a full refund and pick up of the product, with the video online still not being updated to reflect the short cord. In short, as with the product itself, it's a very misleading concept and Best Direct TV should be looking at better ways to compensate their buyers, recession or not!
In light of the fact that the Starlyf Cyclonic vacuum is only available to buy online through shopping channel, Best Direct TV UK, I strongly recommend not to buy this vacuum cleaner, no matter how small your living space is. Whilst the Starlyf Cyclonic looks like a great idea at the time, its main filter design means a lack of suction throughout use with a slow-as-molasses turbo brush that neither aids cleaning carpets faster than using a mechanical push dust sweeper. Tie in the short power cord and a lack of storage for the copious tools you get and despite its £50 reduced pricing, the Starlyf is no real rival to any vacuum cleaner on the market even if it has a unique design and a mains power cord.
If you have a current bagless or suction only vacuum cleaner, you may as well seek out a main size turbo brush for the same cost price, alone. The Starlyf Cyclonic vac is a total waste of money and doesn't offer prolonged performance without having to clean out the filters each time. Not my idea of efficiency, no matter how small the space this vacuum takes up or for its 3 in 1 design promise that causes more problems than ease of convienience. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2013.