What is the Vax Air 3?
Exclusive to Vax online, the top-spec Air 3 (U87-AM-C) boasts 225 air watts and uses multi cyclonic technology to theoretically ensure constant and powerful suction whether the bin is clean or full. Vax has always been generous with its cleaner cord lengths and the longer cord on this model enables a superb reach. Combined with the extra-long hose, the result is a cleaner well suited to cleaning stairs and other hard to reach areas.
The Vax Air 3 claims it can be manoeuvred easily around furniture with the flick of a wrist thanks to its ‘Air Motion’ technology. The main body and handle assembly pivots, which turns the head in the direction you are pivoting the machine for easy manoeuvrability particularly on high-speed cornering. The HEPA media filter removes dust particles, pollen and allergens and together with the Turbo brush head makes the Vax Air 3 great for households with pets.
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Vax Air 3: What accessories are included?
On board the Vax Air 3 you get a crevice tool/dust brush and the flatter upholstery nozzle. It also comes with one of the strangest tools we are yet to encounter on any vacuum; a long flexible crevice wand designed to get to the very deepest and darkest corners of your home.
In addition there is a flatter upholstery brush, a pet hair nozzle with rubberised strips across the bottom to grip and lift hairs and the Turbo Brush. While the latter is perfect for stairs, there is nowhere to store it on board the machine itself.
Vax Air 3: How well does it clean carpets and hard floors?
Having started with a great specification and a fantastic assortment of tools, the Vax Air 3 fell down pretty hard – almost literally – when it came to using it in real vacuuming situations. The Air motion system is fundamentally flawed in that the pivot point is not central to the weight of the machine. So, as you pivot the machine to the right, its own weight tips over the balance point and it feels immediately like it is falling over.
This felt really unbalanced in use so we gave the Air 3 several days of testing to see if it was something we would get used to. Unfortunately all this achieved was strain on the wrist due to being forced to stop the machine tilting over completely every time you turn a corner. Moreover, it feels like it wants to swivel one way or the other all the time, even when you are pushing in a straight line, so it took quite a lot of effort to keep it stable and straight.
While most able adults could steer the Air 3 with little problem or wrist ache, it would be all but unusable if you are frail or elderly.
In our three pass test on carpet the Air 3 performed adequately on the
main area, but left a lot of carpet freshener powder near the skirting,
indicating very poor close to edge cleaning. It fared much better with
dust, dirt and dog hair or hard floors, but with even less resistance to
steering movements the issues of its instability made cleaning even
harder work on the wrist.
Ironically the Vax’s supplied Turbo Brush head worked exceptionally well, made even more useful thanks to the long reach hose. The mad extended crevice tool may look weird, but it soon became a great accessory, particularly for cleaning down the back of radiators – an area that rarely gets a good vacuuming.
Vax Air 3: How easy is it to use on stairs?
In quite a comeback from the brink of disaster, the Vax Air 3 transpired to be one of the best upright stair cleaners we have yet to test.
Its compact dimensions and relatively light weight make it very easy to manoeuvre up and down stairs or place securely on a step and the extra-long hose has one of the longest reaches on the market. This was the first cleaner we have tested that got to the very top of our large spiral staircase with the machine sat on the floor at the bottom.
Its relatively light weight makes it easy to move up and down stairs for multi-level cleaning. Combine this with the compact but powerful turbo brush, which lifted dirt very effectively, and you have an upright cleaner that is near ideal for stairs.
Vax Air 3: How does it cope with pet hair?
Using the upright cleaner this cleared our 30cm diameter circle of pet hair in a very brisk 10 seconds and with the hose and turbo brush in around 20 seconds. We had mixed results with the rubberised pet hair nozzle and generally the turbo head was more effective on carpets and floors. However if your furry friends end up on the bed or sofa, this rubberised nozzle is great for a quick clean up.
The Vax Air 3 does not have anything like the sheer suction power of the flagship cylinder cleaners, but effective brush bar design, both on the machine and the turbo brush, make this a useful machine if you have pets around the home.
Should I buy the Vax Air 3?
The jury is split on this one. On the one hand you have a relatively powerful, lightweight machine with a great range of features and tools. On the other you have a fundamental design flaw that makes it hard work to use as a day-to-day upright cleaner as it tries constantly to tip over and turn rather than go in a straight line.
On balance, though, an upright cleaner should be just that first and foremost, and so we cannot recommend the Vax Air 3. Well, not unless you live in a house with a lot of stairs anyway.
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