Panasonic MC UL915 Bagless Cleaner Metallic
About every eight to ten years I find myself driving an old, worn out car that's getting to be more trouble than it's worth, what with replacing parts, fixing rust and so forth. And every time I go looking at new cars, I'm amazed at how much the technology has advanced since my last purchase.
Vacuum cleaners, however, don't advance quite that fast. Twenty years ago, when I bought my house, it came with an an old Eureka bag vacuum, a machine that was already at least ten years old, but of a design that had been around since the 1930s. I used that machine for a good decade, until I was seduced by the new high-tech looking bagless designs that were coming on to the market. Seduced by those Dyson ads (but not wanting ot pay Dyson prices) I bought a fancy looking Eureka on sale, and that machine has given me good service over the years, with only a few filter and belt replacements. I don't know that it actually cleaned any better than the old model, but it looked great, and it did have a hose and attachments, which the old Eureka didn't have. Emptying the dirt canister and washing the filters was more trouble, and took a lot longer than simply swapping a bag on the old machine, but at least I didn't have to keep bags on hand. When I had the opportunity to evaluate a new Panasonic, I was curious to see if any real improvements had evolved in the world of vacuums since my last purchase.
My first reaction as I unpacked the machine from its box was that there were a lot of pieces, and it wasn't clear how they all connected together. A quick glance at the manual cleared that up, and everything snapped or slid together easily. I fired it up and took a tour of the wooden floors and rugs in my living room and dining room. My first impression was that this was a pretty well engineered machine. The extensible handle can be adjusted with the touch of a button, and easily accommodates my 6'2" frame. No more stooping. Switching from carpet to hardwood floor is much easier than with my old Eureka, too, as it requires only a light tap with the toe on the base of the machine.
Changing over from floor cleaning to furniture, walls, drapes and so forth is much easier on the Panasonic, too. On the Eureka, I had to bend over and detach the hose, remove the two-part rigid extension from the other side of the machine, assemble it, attach it to the hose, and lastly attach the cleaning attachment. On the Panasonic, one simply detaches the handle from the top of the machine, with or without the extension, by choosing which release to push. Snap on a cleaning attachment, and you're ready to vacuum. The attachments include the usual crevice tool and a wider tool for general vacuuming plus a clever tool with an air-powered spinning brush designed for removing pet hair from upholstery. I don't have any pets but I imagine this might also be useful for hard to reach bits of carpeting and carpeted stairs.
Emptying the Panasonic is much easier than emptying the bagless Eureka, too. You simply lift a lever at the top of the canister and tip it forward- no effort required. Disassembling the canister to empty it is no more complicated than on the Eureka, and it doesn't have the multiple pre-filters found on the Eureka that require washing and drying every time you empty it. Panasonic claims that their cyclonic system does a better job of separating out light light particles, too, which means the HEPA filter lasts longer between changes. And there's something new to me- a dirt sensor. This is supposed to inform you when you've removed at the dirt in a given area so you know when to move on, by using optical sensors to detect whether particles are being sucked up in the airstream. This is intended primarily for carpets and as I have mainly hardwood floors I didn't pay much attention to it while vacuuming.
All in all, a very effective machine that's easy to use, easy to empty, and costs much less than some of the fancier bagless vacuums on the market that cost several times as much but probably don't clean any better. I think the Eureka will be retired to basement duty, while the Panasonic takes over the principle cleaning responsibility for my house.
Update: I had friends over for dinner last night, and they noticed this unit and mentioned that they were looking for a new upright vacuum. I immediately went into my sales spiel, demonstrating the features I mentioned above- how easy it is to extend the handle or wand at the touch of a button, how the dirt canister comes right off with no effort, and yes, how the dirt detector works. My girlfriend was laughing herself silly at my apparent impression of an appliance salesman, but my friends were convinced.
Get your Panasonic MC UL915 Bagless Cleaner Metallic Now!