Pat Pilcher: Bissell Air RAM

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Vacuum cleaning, it's a necessary evil that most of us rate right up there with root canal surgery. Taking this into account I was curious to see if a high tech re-imaging of the humble vacuum cleaner could help make housework into less of a chore.

Using our aging vacuum cleaner had more in common with lugging a bag of bricks on wheels around the house and the hassles started from there.

For a start there's never enough power cord, and that's assuming it didn't find something to tangle with, or that the vacuum bag doesn't fill up, tear and so on.

Enter stage left the Bissell Air RAM. According to the bundled marketing bumpf the Bissell incorporates a whole bunch of clever engineering tricks and a hi-tech design that's supposed to make the Bissell suck more so the actual chore of vacuum cleaning sucks less.

After a spending some quality time with the Bissell, I came away quietly impressed.

Size Does Matter

Unboxing the Bissell, I was pleasantly surprised and more than a little curious given its ultra-compact design at where on earth fluff, dust and all the other stuff that a vacuum would suck up from around the house would be stored. Maybe Bissell had also developed a Tardis where the vacuum bag lives?

Slipping in its rechargeable battery, the entire Air RAM shebang weighed in just shy of 3KG, which is a massive difference from the wheezing half tonne wheezer we'd painfully lugged around the house for years to give the dust a nudge.

Cutting the Cord

Perhaps my single biggest peeve with vacuum cleaning is however the cord. A cord limits the cleaners range, gets caught on anything and everything and is just a total pain. The Bissell has more in common with a mobile phone in that has an external battery that is charged up and then inserted so the Bissell can do its thing. I managed to wring a full 2 vacuum cleaning sessions spanning the entire house before the Bissell's battery bit the dust.

Having used a battery powered dust-buster in the past and finding that it was worse than useless, I had concerns about the battery powered Air RAM's ability to make a clean sweep of things. After much testing (my wife loves it when I review vacuum cleaners) my fears were proved groundless thanks to the Bissell's rotary brushes which agitated crud out of our rugs and floors which was in turn sucked up.

About the only negative was that the Bissell didn't like rug tassels and other small items which could cause it's sweeper brushes to jam. When this happened a safety mechanism engaged and stopped the Air RAM until the object is removed and the Bissell re-started.

No Old Bags Here

The proof at the end of the day was not only a major reduction in the amount of greyhound hair around the place, but also in the huge amount of dust and fluff the Bissell picked up from seemingly clean rugs and floors.

In another victory for those of us that detest vacuum cleaning, the Bissell incorporates a bagless design and collects debris in its cleaning head. This not only meant there was no grief with vacuum bags, but also made disposing of dust an utter breeze.

In another victory for those of us that detest vacuum cleaning, the Bissell incorporates a bagless design and collects debris in its cleaning head. This not only meant there was no grief with vacuum bags, but also made disposing of dust an utter breeze.

In use the Bissells lightweight build won it serious brownie points. Weighing in at a fraction of the weight of our normal cleaner made the entire chore of vacuuming a far less arduous affair. Its pivot handle design also meant that manhandling it around corners involved a quick flick of the wrist rather than a full on tussle and at the end of our weekly housework session I didn't feel like I'd wrestled with Godzilla when vacuum cleaning the house.

Verdict

Hand on heart, I can truthfully say that that Bissell Air RAM really sucks, and that this is definitely a good thing when talking about a vacuum cleaner. Not only did it manage to clean both floors and rugs with few problems (aside from the odd rug tassel), the use clever use of lightweight materials, a cordless and bag-free design also put a whole new spin on vacuuming, reducing it from being a detestable chore to one that was only semi-detestable.

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