* Prices may differ from that shown
Yes, you have read the title correctly and although this product category is for the long standing Vax VX upright range (also under the AVC model designation) it initially appeared in the UK under Bosch branding (such as the Bosch cyclone jet buc11700uc). Before thinking that this is a model entirely designed by Vax UK, think again.
For a start the AVC/VX range has already established itself as a premium upright bagless, cyclonic vacuum cleaner for a matter of some years now, putting it up against fresher models from Dyson and brings to the table a few advantages as well as a few lengthy cons. For starters the size of the VX upright is massive compared to other cyclonic bagless vacuums on the market, mostly aping the size of other rivals and made with a supposed quality which justifies the £200 or so asking price. But there is more to this giant than meets the eye. This is also a long review.
** Nars Quick Skip Product Spec **
34cm x 113cm x 39cm size: This is quite a large and bulky vacuum.
4.2 litre dust bin capacity. (But when it clogs, its hell!)
Bagless technology with central filtration: Easy enough to clean and empty because of bottom trapdoor release function on the bin.
Lifetime HEPA filtration: Has one main filter and a bottom replaceable washable filter.
1700 Watt motor Its very noisy!
Switch off brush bar function sounds good but doesnt always pick up dirt the first time because the brush bar gets in the way.
Front release wand with concealed extendable hose doesnt stretch far enough.
Onboard Storage of crevice and dust tools. Tools are generally okay but strangely shaped.
Auto cord rewind a first on very few upright vacuums. Cord length however is an average 7 metres not good enough at this price.
Patented beyond edge to edge cleaning does work well and also has a larger floor head as a result.
Priced between £200 and £250; suggests premium design and quality see review. Reconditioned prices range from £80 to £140.
The design of the VX1 is very similar to the older AVC (Advanced Vacuum Cleaner) of which Vax sold before replacing this with a higher motor fitted into this model, but on appearance mirrors the old with few changes. Here you get black plastic and silver chrome inserts which suggest a premium space age look matched by the general design of how the hose connects at the front to the slide in space age small cleaning tools.
As a relief employee for a cleaning service, the Vax had proved to be a mixed bag of good and bad through general use. Although there would appear to be a large 1700 watt motor, it is fixed in power (Bosch/Vax used to feature a variable control suction dial on higher models and its not featured here) and very noisy. Its so noisy that it appears to have scared a friends child the moment the Vax was switched on. Generally though, Vax (or whoever) have appeared to include a few advantages on this vacuum cleaner which seldom get seen on other rivals.
For a start it has an auto cord rewind, and through the bottom pedal located on the left hand side of the machine defies logic as to what it does the moment the pedal is pressed. The only problem is, with the additional short cord of 7 metre (compared to say, 10 metres on other rivals including Sebos bagged X range which sits in price alongside this Vax model) the cord rewind is located at the bottom of the upright and unless you duck out of the way with your foot firmly pressed down on the auto cord pedal, you will incur personal pain as the plug hits you in the back of the leg when its time to put the Vax away. For most consumers however an auto cord rewind is a blessed aspect of owning this Vax regardless of the elevated pain.
The Vax also has an easy to do, switch located on the front of the handle to stop the brush from spinning. For most then, this suggests that the Vax VX1 can pick up dirt on hard floors without damage from the brush. And it works well on most hard floors even though the brush bar gets in the way and larger debris can block the hose. It is a pity however that Vax put this as the first switch on the handle at the top, so most owners will confuse themselves thinking this is the on button. The on button is therefore located at the bottom of the handle at the front which is slightly strange but still welcome that its located at the top rather than anywhere else.
** In Use **
In use the Vax VX1 is easy enough to use as an upright vacuum cleaner but it isnt long before it shows up its weaknesses. Designed at the end of the 1990s when Bosch and Vax both launched the same model in the UK, both models were seen as the latest designs, so despite a rubberised grip handle a la Oreck, the motor hinge prevents tall owners from using this upright without having to stoop to ensure the floor head sticks to the floor. The floor head is also quite large, with vents either side to view the condition of the brush measuring a bit more than 12 on average uprights and can get stuck between legs of tables and chairs due to its invariably large T shape floor head. Make no doubt about it, if the VX appears to show its weaknesses from the word Go, then its merely because this is the kind of cyclonic bagless upright which would probably fit into a larger 4 or 5 bedroom house, or a house which has a large mix of hard floors and carpets or so Vax would have you believe. It is also heavy to lift at nearly 9kg so you'd think the hose would be long and stretchy in lieu of carrying for stair cleaning.
Aside from the large floor head, the Vax has a unique central removable front hose with a handle. This smacks of copying Sebo, right down to the clip at the back of the sturdy handle which releases more of the rubber hose which compacts inside the metal wand. And like Sebo, the wand and hose is the only way of transferring dirt from the floor head to the bin, but unlike Sebo due to the way the hose travels, the Vax hose is short despite its extra length through the wand which will have the owner bending down to use the hose rather than keeping upright with more length on the pipe. At least the end of the hose has permanent short brushes fitted in order for it to offer up a versatile way of picking up dirt. There is no other extension pipe available on this upright, either as an accessory order or complete with the upright in use. For most people this may well be fine, but I find it a large downside because the hose (unlike Sebo) has a tendency to clog all the time because of the way it bends and snap fits back into the upright once the hose has been used and locked in.
The hose however can be removed from the metal wand by releasing the hose from the lock located at the back of the wand, but you then have to either thread the clear acrylic hose through the open arch way where the hose meets the back of the bin, or through the front which then shortens the hose because of this open arch way set underneath the handle. The smaller tools therefore are slightly strange:
The crevice tool is a short item, not long like Sebo which on the Vax limits reach. Whilst many owners would probably end up using the wand and the hose together, the crevice tool provides good suction but at the cost of more noise if its not as bad with the motor together. Whilst the crevice tool doesnt look strange, it is too short for extra length whilst the second upholstery tool is a strange looking device which sits at a right angle in use, and the neck can be turned in a 360º fashion. Lint pickers on the underside show that whilst these pick up general dirt on upholstery, the necks angle feels thin and liable to break off simply down to its right angle design. Why Vax dont fit a standard T bar upholstery brush is beyond me. Both tools however slide into an aperture which is located underneath the handle before the arch way where the hose is located. It sits flush and the tools can be pulled down from the hinge holder before the tools can be picked out. However you have to take out both tools if you want to get the crevice tool; simply daft and cost cutting here.
Moving through furniture also presents a problem for the VX1. Coupled with the motor hinge which presented this 6ft tall owner with stooping to ensure the floor head meets the floor, or standing farther away gripping the handle to ensure the floor head remains flat, the sheer size of the Vax is actually considerably apparent. I found moving between furniture very difficult, not just because the floor head got in the way, but also because the Vaxs motor hinge is so large, it is impossible to get under low furniture. Vax state in other countries websites that the VX1 is quick at cleaning, but unless you have a room void of furniture, the VXs size will start to nip away at you!
** Emptying it **
The Vax canister is very easy to remove since it has a lift up/down handle release mechanism which allows the owner to release the bin from the upright. And it reveals a rather large and bulky bin which has a bottom trapdoor release mechanism from the top which allows dust to drop straight into a bin. Whilst I found this easy to do, there is a second button on the top of the bin in red which is supposed to release the top filter to be cleaned. This then separates the filter from the main bin and be prepared for mess!
Unlike most cyclonics Ive used I was generally impressed with the quality of the Vax filter. Its not an outward paper pleated filter which has to be cleaned, but rather like Vaxs cheaper V047 upright, has a mesh (in this case, steel) membrane outward filter which can be brushed clean before the paper pleated filter behind it is revealed. And from what was revealed was a very thick dust cloud as the filter was shaken into a bin. Needless to say like most Vax bagless uprights Ive used and own, the filter is a messy business when it comes to emptying because if you dont clean it the suction gets cut the moment the Vax is activated. Putting it altogether again is childs play but it is messy and not what Im used to when using a bagged Sebo upright.
** Maintenance **
Maintenance however on the VX1 is the vacuums largest downside. If for example dirt debris becomes clogged from the floor head, a series of screws and removing has to be done if not from the central hose, but also at the back of the hose which can be removed by removing a screw. The worst aspect of this vacuum cleaner is maintaining its air channels to ensure all suction gets a chance to move through the cleaner; avoid it and the motor will get burnt out. A lot of removing hoses, screws and bending over results in a machine which hasnt been thought out terribly well.
The drive belt is supposed to be an internal motor which like Sebo, sits within the machine and doesnt need to be replaced. However in reality, if there is a blockage the brush bar will stop moving and the Vax will go into automatic shut down; this is like Sebo but unlike Sebo, the Vax will take 2 minutes or so to start up again so that the brush bar can be looked at in the meantime. Here is where I prefer my old Sebo. You press a button, the roller brush is instantly removed and blockages can be cleared (or through the additional trapdoor) On the Vax? Removing 8 screws on the floor head sole plate reveals more time wasted on removing the brush head if you cant find the blockage just by looking at the brush bar.
And whilst there are problems with general maintenance the VX1 has a reputation of its brush motor burning out. The brush bar itself has a set of plastic teeth designed to function its edge cleaning ability. If the brush bar becomes obstructed, these teeth burn away from the belt which is still trying to spin the brush and can cost up to £50 to £65 for a replacement brush bar not a great idea on a premium branded upright.
** Conclusion **
Despite its good looks, space age design and general design additions, the VX1 is a poor vacuum cleaner in my experience. Made at prices which take the consumer into commercial territory, the Vax VX1 isnt a force to be reckoned with for general day to day cleaning. Its too noisy and bulky unless you have a room full of carpet and little furniture to clean around. And for the price Vax are asking, youd be a fool to consider this premium vacuum cleaner. At a third of the cost however it's not too bad for short consideration - long term however it reveals its weaknesses in a very short time. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2007