Unboxing: Black+Decker ORA vacuum cleaner

It’s an upright vacuum with 12 cyclones, which claims to have no loss in suction, with 3 attachments and a charging stand. But wait – there’s more! It’s also a handheld vacuum cleaner that detaches from the main unit and becomes a compact (though heavy) smaller unit. The vacuum’s power is all stored in this smaller unit, so you won’t have any less power when using it. The vacuum held up well in tests, removing a great deal of dirt from places where this dirt is invisible, and losing no power throughout. Watch the video above to see us unboxing the Black+Decker ORA.

The Black+Decker ORA vacuum cleaner is available now. Visit Black+Decker to find out more.

Breaking free from vacuum filters: the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball

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It’s certainly got an attention-grabbing name – The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball. But does Dyson’s latest vacuuming construction live up to its warrior-esque title?

Any newly-released vacuum by Dyson has to be worth taking note, especially when it claims to process dirt and dust into microscopic pieces without any clogging and by doing so eliminating the need for a filter.

So let’s have a look at what the tech press big guns have got to say about the new Dyson Cinetic Big Ball that has been dubbed as pushing vacuum technology forward.

GizMag got the chance to conduct an early review of the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball. Asides its annoying upright canister and base latch, which, if you don’t get right, causes the handle to keep falling back towards you, GizMag was impressed with quiet motor and “phenomenal” suction.

As well as sucking up “enough dog hair to make a third dog”, the Cinetic obliterated party mess with equal grit, as the bristle brushes swept up party streamers with ease.

In cleaning mode, the Cinetic proved its worth to the GizMag reviewer once more, getting rid of stains when spot cleaning was applied.

It’s maintenance-free

One of the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball’s biggest pros, writes Tech Crunch, is the fact it is essentially maintenance free. You can kiss goodbye to the days of arduously removing, rinsing and then drying filters. This is thanks to the fact the vacuum relies on smaller cyclones working together which create an intense centrifugal force. This force is capable of separating even the tiniest pieces of dirt and dust –hence no removable debris builds up.

That said, Dyson Cinetic Big Ball users will still have to empty the dust and dirt chamber. As Tech Crunch rightly points out, if they managed to overcome this requisite of modern vacuuming, they would “probably break the laws of physics.”

Another major plus point of the new Dyson, according to Tech Crunch, is all the accessories that most household vacuumer’s will need.

In terms of performance, the Tech Crunch reviewer believed the Cinetic “consistently outperformed” their own Dyson DC25 upright.

Old frustrations

In a slightly less praising review of the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball series, CNet claims Dyson’s latest vacuuming wares is stifled by old Dyson frustrations, namely that it’s a tad on the flimsy side.

Whilst, thanks to the ball it rests on, the Cinetic is pretty manoeuvrable, it feels flimsy and falls over, exclaim CNet.

Despite niggling concerns about robustness, what’s remarkable about Dyson’s Cinetic is that it’s filter-free. But does this really make a difference in terms of functionality?

Reviews.com seems to thinks so, claiming the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball is 54% better than the other vacuums they tested and giving it a score of 9.2.

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So how much is the new wholly machine filtration vacuum? £459.99 – not cheap, but then what do you expect for a vacuum without filters.

The Dyson Big Ball Cinetic is available now. Visit Dyson to find out more.

Dyson Hard – a treat for hard surfaces?

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Having previously developed a range of attachments and accessories to tackle the unique cleaning challenges posed by hard surfaces, vacuum specialist Dyson has today launched a new product specifically designed to help people with hard floors in their homes. Rather suggestively titled the Dyson Hard (DC56), this is the latest addition to the Wiltshire company’s ever-expanding product range, and it shares plenty of DNA with its siblings.

The Hard’s signature feature is an integrated wet wipe, which performs the duties of a traditional mop, while a double-edged cleaner head simultaneously vacuums away dirt and debris. A detachable crevice and combination tool facilitates access to awkward corners, and the Hard’s tall, cordless design nods to established Dyson devices such as the well-received DC35 and DC44 ranges. Although Dyson will market their own wet wipes, rival household products can also be used, avoiding expensive proprietary ‘lock-in’ accessories – something owners of computer printers will be particularly relieved about.

The net result of the Hard’s combined functionality is the abolition of a two-stage cleaning process, where vacuuming traditionally precedes the laborious task of going over tiles or wooden floors with a mop and bucket to remove more stubborn or ingrained stains. Conventional hoovers, mops and even steam cleaners all perform a solitary role, whereas the Hard aims to avoid duplication of housework, as well as the relatively inefficient task of wiping floors with a mop that becomes increasingly soiled by the very dirt it is supposed to be removing. Furthermore, the instant-on nature of the cordless Hard makes it suitable for tackling spills or marks as soon as they occur.

Powered by a compact motor that spins at over 100,000rpm, the Hard is capable of operating for 15 minutes on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery, while a high-intensity boost setting provides six minutes of extreme stain removal. That isn’t sufficient to clean a whole house, but it’s certainly enough to shift muddy paw prints from the hallway. The Hard’s family-proof credentials are bolstered by being manufactured from the same rugged ABS polycarbonate used to make riot shields, while test models justified their proposed title by being subjected to almost six thousand different impact tests during a two-year development programme.

With its UK launch taking place on Halloween, critics have yet to experience the treat of a two-in-one cleaner and suction device. However, the Dyson Hard’s best trick may be convincing people that one floor-cleaning product is better than two.

Price: £249.99. Available exclusively at Tesco from October 31st.

iRobot Roomba 660 Vacuum Cleaning Robot

They say a dog is a man’s best friend, yet it’s quite possible that statement may be under threat. After all, when was the last time your dog vacuumed the lounge for you? IRobot’s founders have been innovators in domestic robotics since the late 90’s after a stint collaborating with NASA on space robots convinced them there was much to be gained in developing them for the home. Cue the Roomba in 2002, the world’s first affordable robot hoover (gasp – did I say Hoover??). Since that ground breaking moment, there are now 5 million of them busily going around our homes sucking up dirt and grime from our carpets and floors.

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So ten years on what has changed? At first glance not a lot, but the new Roomba 660 has a whole lot of new things going on under her skirt flaps.

There’s an improved cleaning system for a start; a spinning side brush sweeps dirt into the main cleaning head on hardwood or laminated floors, whilst on carpets the brushes agitate the fibres to bring the dirt particles up to the surface. Then there’s AeroVac technology which sucks the brushes clean of debris into the waiting integrated bin whilst the iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology ensures the Roomba covers more of your floor more thoroughly with multiple passes.

So, what’s it like in practice?

I found it a little noisy, (although this model is less noisy than its predecessors) and it did indeed glide around the house poking its nose everywhere it could; under the couches, around the tables and even under my feet now as I’m typing! You can set it to burst into life on a schedule and, with an added extra of a floor based sensor, limit it to a particular room, although shutting the door will achieve the same result.

Its main failings are the curved design which makes it impossible to get into corners, and the Roomba’s compact size meant it needed to be emptied out more than once during a cleaning cycle. So, you could go out and leave it to do its thing and come back to dirt free floors.

On the plus side, I loved the way it found its base unit when it needed charging (a charge lasted around 90 minutes), it did clean efficiently and I found it strangely good company to have around the house, popping into the room now and then.

Now all I need is a washing bot, and a cooking bot and I’m pretty much all set.

The iRobot Roomba 660 retails at £419.

Hands on: Vorwerk’s Kobold VR100 robotic vacuum

Being gadget-obsessed, we jumped at the chance to get ‘hands on’ with the VR100 – a robotic vacuum that uses laser technology to automatically clean your house. The VR100 is an improved version of the Neato XV-15 that we reviewed last summer. Changes include a new motor with almost twice the suction power, a side brush for edges/corners and a long-lasting lithium-ion battery rather than the NiMH (which suffers from memory loss effect) in the Neato.

The VR100 uses laser technology to map its surroundings and to then automatically and systematically clean your house, even when there’s no-one at home. The vacuum can be programmed to clean at a certain time of day or to combat a specific zone, such as a room you use most often. Other ‘smart’ technology in the VR100 includes the ability, when at low battery, to return to its base for charging. It will then go back to its previous position to continue cleaning where it left off.

The VR100 is a bag-less device with 0.6 litre capacity for dust collection. The quick-charging 64Wh lithium-ion battery has a reported battery life of 90 minutes. The unit comes in at around 5kg in weight with dimensions of 32.5 x 31 x 10cm. Check out this video of us unboxing the VR100:

After a week using the VR100 to clean our test living room (which the dog ‘re-furs’ every night!) we were pleased with the results. We used the supplied zoning tape to stop the device from mounting the fire hearth and only once, while under a table, did it stop with a ‘could not navigate’ error message.

We were also pleasantly surprised by the vacuum’s ability to pick up the aforementioned dog hair – something which other, more powerful, stand-up vacuums have failed to do. The VR100 is easy to use, being very much plug-and-play with a big a green button to get it started. We also tested the scheduled clean which took place without incident – apart from scaring the unsuspecting dog! Here’s some video of the device cleaning our test living room:

The VR100 costs £649 and is available exclusively from VK Direct.

Clean up in style: The latest and greatest in vacuum cleaners

Who would have thought you could be stylish while you’re vacuuming? Well Yat Wong-Jones, buyer of small electrical appliances at John Lewis, who, we suspect, is going to turn out to be the Gok Wan of the gadget world, reckons you can vacuum AND look fabulous.

Vacuum-Cleaners

His choice for stylish cleaners? Well if you want 1940s glamour, you should opt for the Oreck XL4 Upright vacuum clearer with Multi-Vac Canister. Not only does it boast chic, retro styling, but it is half the weight of a conventional model and has a C-shaped handle, which reduces stress on your arm, wrist and back (personally I think the best way to avoid this stress is to get someone else to do the housework but if that’s not an option this is the next best thing). Its bristles are shaped in a double helix (this must be the science part), which means they can lift up embedded dirt from your carpet, and sweep hard floors without scratching them. The bag features a Saniseal system, whch closes the bag as you remove it, so no more nasty accidents with bags full of fluff and dust. The price for this glamorous model? £295

Contemporary domestic goddesses (and gods) should opt for the Sebo Airbelt D2 Storm Cylinder vacuum cleaner, which has been designed in conjunction with the German Design Council. It has a Turbofan motor, which uses turbine technology to get the best results. It also has ‘parking’ and ‘carrying ‘ slots to make storage simple, and its on/off button can also alter the power levels. All this contemporary coolness for £229, exclusively at John Lewis.

If you prefer the futurist approach – and hate pushing a vacuum across the floors – opt for the i-Robot Roomba 555 vacuum cleaner, which can cover up to four rooms on a single charge, and is able to find its way into hard to reach areas such as under furniture and around wall edges. You can preset it to clean while you are out, and it also has anti-tangle technology so get out of cord tangles and tassels. When it’s done, it heads back to its home base to recharge – all for the princely sum of £349.

Finally, if you’re a city slicker, the Dyson DC35 Multi Floor vacuum cleaner is likely to be more your style. This is a lightweight cordless cleaner, ideal for those with little in the way of storage space. It has a motorised floor tool that uses ultra-fine conductive carbon fibre brushes to remove fine dust from hard floors and stiff nylon bristles to agitate the carpet to dislodge and remove ground-in dirt. Finally, a combination accessory tool with a wide nozzle picks up crumbs and large particles. It also converts to a brush tool for dusting, so you can get your cleaning done quicker. This lightweight cleaner costs £199.

All the cleaners above are available from John Lewis. Style tips from Yat Wong-Jones, will, we suspect, cost extra!

Electrolux UltraSilencer vacuum – Music Edition?

Have you ever started carrying out a mundane household chore, such as hoovering and found yourself unable to muster any kind of enthusiasm for the long task ahead?

If so, the Electrolux Silence Amplified vacuum cleaner could be the answer to all your housework-related prayers. It’s a hi-tech appliance fitted with an iPod dock and a powerful set of speakers embedded on the front of the machine. This combined with an ultra-quiet engine (the sound produced by the vacuum cleaner amounts to about 68 decibels, equivalent to the noise level of a normal conversation), is apparently the secret to turning a simple cleaning gadget into a multi-sensory entertainment station. And not only is the model virtually soundless, its patented optimised air flow and suction mechanism also help make it an eco-friendly option.

This all sounds like good, clean fun, but is the whole concept just a bit too wacky to work? Well, the company have certainly done their housework, er, homework. They’ve conducted rigorous studies in a test lab where volunteers had their hoovering prowess monitored while they listened music using the machines.

These experiments produced some interesting genre-specific results: jazz made the test vacuumers more thorough, while hard rock and heavy metal helped them get the job done faster. In addition, vacuuming assisted by music of any kind increased the number of nozzle sweeps, which in turn improved overall cleaning performance.

So while the idea might sound a bit far-out, it is based on genuine science. And as the second largest manufacturer of home appliances in the world, Electrolux’s technological expertise is certainly not to be sniffed at.

At the moment the Electrolux Silence Amplified vacuum cleaner is just a prototype, but the company claim to be able to mass produce the product to meet consumer demand. So it’s quite possible this lean, green cleaning machine could be coming to a living room near you early in the new year. And if you’re looking for a vacuum with va-va voom, it might be the neatest purchase you ever make.