* Prices may differ from that shown
After my nightmare experience with the Dirt Devil vacuum I reviewed previously I was resigned to going back to my Tesco machine. My husband had other ideas and while returning the Dirt Devil he used the refund against the machine I had my eye on from the start - a delicious Miele S4212 Plus, which at £169.99 was well out of our initial budget. When he brought it home I fell gleefully on the box (yes yes, I know, very very sad but I have two children who leave a trail of crumbs and glitter behind them constantly) and removed my shiny new vacuum.
First impressions were very very positive - a shining moulded vacuum unit that just oozes quality. It feels very sturdy and well designed and its almost a thing of beauty (its a vacuum-I have to draw the line somewhere!). Its quite a bit heavier than the lightweight Dirt Devil unit but it is very easy to carry and manoeuvre and I love it! The base unit has two large silver buttons with rubber lines applied to prevent slippage when you turn the machine on or off / wind in the cable. They are beautifully designed to be perfectly placed for your foot and the rubber lines 'catch' your foot, so no slippage. In between is the floor selection dial which has pictures of 6 floor types to indicate which setting you should use-from lino to what looks like a woven floor covering like sisal. Above this is a display which shows how long until you need to change the bag- a red line creeps along as you use it and when the display is fully red it is time for a bag change.
The bags themselves are typical Miele quality, reinforced and very sturdy-no paper nonsense here. They are somewhat expensive however-retailing at £9.99 for four on the Miele shop website. You can get them cheaper from Amazon and other shops however e.g. £6.78 delivered from Amazon. I have had it for a month and have cleaned four rooms and the stairs regularly with it, and the bag is only one quarter full-impressive considering the sheer weight of crumbs my children can produce. Changing a bag is very very simple, slide the old one out and the new one in and as each bag comes with a change of filters you can do that at the same time if you wish.
The hose and telescopic handle and similarly good quality and they click together rather than having to be pushed on. To release you have to press a button on the handle above the piece you want to remove which slows down tool changes but also means you don't lose the attachment half way through the cleaning process. The tube also extends beautifully and smoothly at the touch of a button, once retracted you can hook the large brush head onto the back of the motor unit for more compact storage. As well as the three usual smaller tools (brush, small rectangular head and crevice tool) and the main carpet head you also get an elegant medium tool that cleans my upholstery beautifully. The smaller tools come ready attached to a small piece of plastic that clips onto the base of the flexible hose, close to the motor unit.
Also in the box is one free bag, a manual and a warranty card for two years free warranty. According to the small print you get one year automatically but in order to get the second you have to return a card to Miele/visit an area of their website so its best to make sure you read everything that comes with the vacuum.
***Performance and Use***
At 2000 Watts I was expecting this to be less powerful than the 2200 Watt Dirt Devil we had just returned as faulty. But, lo, behold the power of the Miele motor and tremble at its terrific suction. Its motor is very powerful but not very noisy; not exactly quiet either but not frightening to my toddler son. One interesting feature is that the exhaust is on the top of the machine, so when you turn it on you get a blast of hot air upwards. Nice in the winter or if you want the Marilyn Monroe effect whilst vacuuming, not so much fun in the summer I would have thought. Anyway this is how the Miele performed on the various surfaces in the house.
*Cheap Thin Carpet* Where I was impressed with the Dirt Devil I was totally over the moon with the Miele as it sucked all the dust, hair, crumbs etc out of the carpet and did a better job than the Dirt Devil on the trampled pile. It literally lifted the carpet off the floor and the dirt stood no chance. Actually nothing stood a chance so I have to do a check of the floor first before I vacuum because I can't rescue anything out of the bag until its full - something I only remembered after losing about ten pieces of lego and almost losing three plastic necklaces (cue mass wailing from my children). I only had to do one sweep of the floor as no piece of carpet needed another going over. Even better pieces of dirt/rice cake that only just went under the edge of the carpet head as I vacuumed were pulled in by the powerful suction as it cleans right to the very edge of the head. I was incredibly impressed as this halved my vacuuming time as I could make wider sweeps with the vacuum head. The machine glided after me and dealt with the door sills very easily, it never got stuck or wedged which is quite unusual as we have a compact house with tons of junk in it! 10/10
*Bare Floorboards* Zips over them, sucking up lots of bits I could and couldn't see. Boards felt much cleaner as did the bits between them. It even copes with the odd sunken corner, whereas I had to go back with a smaller tool with the Dirt Devil.
*Stairs* Very easy to manoeuvre and sits on the steps nicely. I could do one step with one or two sweeps of the head. 10/10
*Lino and Laminate* Not bad, especially with the brushes on the main head down. I still prefer my dustpan and brush/mop 9/10
*Antique Persian Rug (Thin)* I had to have it on the very lowest setting to clean the rug as the higher settings all pulled the rug up from the floor and warped it as I cleaned. It did do a very good job of cleaning the detritus from the rug very gently and did not damage the tassels on either end but I had to take my time with it. The rug was very velvety when I had finished and it seemed much cleaner than before 10/10
*DIY Debris* No way is my beautiful vacuum going anywhere this stuff. Also I was very aware of how quickly the bag would fill up and the cost of the bags. So the Tesco rubbish model has been deputised as a solely DIY cleanup vacuum. 0/10
*Upholstery* The wide, thin extra tool (despite not having a place to be stored on the unit) does a very quick and efficient job of getting the muck off my sofa, my curtains and also odd things like a hanging dressing gown that had fallen in some dust. 10/10
The rewind button is very powerful and gets the cable back into the machine incredibly quickly. Its generally best not to get bits of you between it and the unit as it goes at quite a considerable rate! There are no hitches, no loose bits of cable hanging out the end of the machine, it just works...really really well.
Storage - The head of the vacuum is supposed to clip onto the back of the motor unit but I found that the hose sticks too far into the air, so I just rest the tube and hose on the top of the motor unit, which seems to reduce the chances of me catching against it in our small house.
Maintenance - It all just clicks apart so its very easy to check the tubes for blockages and clear them out. The inside of the machine needs the occasional clear out and filter change and I tend to do this once a week as the machine undergoes daily heavy use and picks up a lot of hair which can clog it after a while. The tools are all also easy to clean and dehair.
This is a lovely quality piece of machinery. Everything is beautifully put together and it all works incredibly well. The suction is as superb as the build quality. The only negative is the price and the fact it regularly requires new bags at additional cost. Would I buy it again-oh yes indeed! Would I recommend it? YES!
Out of the hundreds of vacuum cleaners on the market and amongst other premium German brands, Miele has been a universal brand that meets approval from buyers and consumer organizations such as Which and GHI. Coupled with strong lasting motors and an ability to "just do what it says," there aren't many outward downsides to Miele vacuum cleaners other than their expensive cost prices from the offset and a fact that when a new model comes along, the old one disappears off the market. Like all healthy vacuums, Miele persist to use disposable high filtration dust bags that can last up to three months. Up until now, Miele's newer, lighter and bigger bagged S2 models are cheaper by £20 on average and whilst it appears as a more modern design, there is still cause to consider the older S4000 range; particularly as the S4000 range has a greater motor, better suction and remains the compact "baby" of the family, despite the confusing model numbers.
Miele's S4212 is based on the S4210 when it first appeared in 2005 and like that model, the design is very similar to the one I had that, and upon recently was sold off to a private buyer on Gumtree who was looking for a healthy alternative to their Dyson. It didn't take me long to realize I may have made a mistake in selling it which is why I've purchased the S4212 before it completely disappears off the shelves. The Miele's S4212 retains the same compact body that hides a 3.5 litre dust bag, Super Air Clean filter cartridge and a powerful variable suction controller in the form of a silver dial with 8 positions of selective power and noise levels. At the heart of the S4212 the 1800 watt motor from my model has been raised to 2000 watts for maximum rivalry in the market and as this is the last model that Miele will make for the masses, it is priced competitively at £159-99. I'm sure the price will fall as Miele release more S2 models onto the market, but for the mean time over Hoover and Electrolux vacuums, Miele's S4212 is well worth considering if you need a quality vacuum cleaner that doesn't shout or scream the moment you switch it on.
Despite the lack of a moving brush such as Miele's Turbobrush that comes with the bigger S5 models (and more expensive S4000 models that aren't available to buy on the high street) I wasn't surprised to find that the strong 2000 watt motor deals with every kind of hair and thread excellently. Stubborn dirt that sometimes needs a rolling brush to agitate carpets needn't be a worry for the S4212 since the motor can be raised to the max if you really need dirt to shift the first time around. Like my old Miele S4210, the S4212 is also a great little vacuum that can be used at any hour in the day or night thanks to its supreme noise, or actual lack of noise. It also has economy and silent settings just incase you can't find it on your vacuum. When a friend of mine stayed over recently, he couldn't believe that the vacuum was switched on! Then there's the actual maneuverability coupled with the lightweight gliding around thanks to three small castors and the best ability to compact up thanks to its small, narrow body - a fact that it is smaller than Miele's more modern S2 in this respect.
When it's not on the floor, one of the aspects that I love about the Miele S4212 is the fact that this vacuum weighs about 4.5kg and is an incredibly easy vacuum to carry up stairs thanks to its comfortable oval shaped handle and the fact that unlike other vacuums on the market the tubes can be locked in at the side of the machine. There's also a tube/floorhead storer at the back of the vacuum too and the Miele can sit on stairs without falling over. Coupled with its 1.5 metre hose, 5 metre cord length and height adjustable tubes and tools, this is a great vacuum to consider for cleaning stairs although the power cord could be a bit longer despite Miele's claim that it has a 9 metre radius for cleaning. It is a pity though that the tubes themselves weigh in excess of 600g, much more than Sebo's K series tubing, so cleaning ceilings for example can be arm wrenching and the long hose can sometimes waggle too much resulting in whacking off doors. At least like SEBO, the tubes, hose and floorheads lock on and can be released by the touch of a button, unlike Bosch, AEG, Electrolux, Hoover and Vax who persist in fitting friction fit tools and tubes that fall off.
Whilst the body is protected at the rear of the vacuum incase it gets knocked, the bright paintwork on the top and sides marks really easily and in this respect it is clear to see where Miele have cut corners. As such the auto cord rewind and activation pedals can also get scratched easily as well as the main control suction dial. Silver plastic parts give the S4212 a classy look against its Royal Blue colouring though and from the way parts move on this vacuum, Miele have had to cut corners somewhere and the Sebo K1 is a far better built vacuum with better protection.
"Somewhere" translates into a tool storer, which is on board the bigger S5 but not on the S4000/S4212 or the S2 ranges. Instead there's a nifty tool holder clip that slides and locks onto the main hose mount just above the top of the Miele S4212 bin lid. This effectively gives you two possibilities; when the tool holder is clipped to the base it makes it easy to get at the tools on offer as well as being able to be clipped on the main suction tubes. Now, compared to SEBO the Miele S4212 still suffers from tools that fall off, particularly if the tool holder is clipped to the main tubes and the tubes knock off various furniture. On the body, the tool holder is better located and positioned on a slider mechanism so that the tools can taken off or on at angles. Of the tools you do get, a short crevice tool is supplied which is somewhat noisy, the excellent 360° long bristled round upholstery brush that can be cleaned straight upwards or at corners thanks to its ingenious neck and a flat T shaped lint added upholstery "brush" that is ideal for getting pet hair off as well as using on delicate furnishings. The "Plus" derivative of the S4212 means that you also get a mattress nozzle as well, which gives you four extra added tools as opposed to three on the standard S4212 model.
Another downside compared to the Sebo K1 is that when either pedals are activated on the main machine part, the S4212 has a knack of falling over and doesn't remain stable. You can blame the lightweightness of the machine for this particular annoying aspect. Also, the front motor exhaust puts out hot air, which means you get a nice little facial each time you bend down to change the suction speed. With Sebo's K1, the air comes out the sides so you don't ingest the clean air that comes out.
The suction floor head is however better made than the S2's all plastic affair and although it has a metal soleplate to ensure longevity, the pedal that pushes down stiff lines of brushes for hard floor cleaning works every time without the feeling that it will break long term. It is also relatively easy to select the setting as the pedal is lightweight in use and feels well made. Edge cleaning sides ensure edges and awkward corners can be attacked too without stress or having to manually bend down with just the hose.
Now when it comes to filtration and bags, being a Miele means you have options at your fingertips and you may well need them. Granted you get the standard filter on this model, which translates as the "Super Air Clean," microfiltration filter. Now, whilst this can combat smells it tends to suffer after three bags have been used and the "HyClean/AirClean" Miele bags have 6 layers of filtration added for good cause on top of what you get from the multi packed pleated standard filter. Of course it very much depends on what kinds of dirt your vacuum is used to sucking up but if its pet hair, forget the standard filter and source the HEPA or Active Air Clean charcoal filter. All of these filters have their own cartridge designs and changing the filter is easy on the Miele S4212 but word of warning - keep the original Super Air Clean filter cartridge if you do change over as you get a Super Air Clean filter free with every box of bags (4) that can cost between £7-99 to £9-99.
A box of bags should last a year on average, which makes the extra costs more economical. They are also easy to install and take out. However on the basis that the Sebo K1 comes with hospital grade filters and is slightly heavier at 5.5kg, but 7 bags in a box, the Miele is slightly more expensive in general upkeep and the Miele has a mechanical dust bag indicator compared to Sebo's electronic LED which is more reliable.
All in all, the Miele S4212 is as classy as my old S4210 with a little bit more power but the same healthy disposable dust bags on board and the weight, which hasn't increased. Coupled with a stronger and still-as-quiet motor, the Miele S4212/Plus is well worth considering, particularly if you are fed up with noise and vacuums that have let you down. Being a Miele owner means however that you can also buy several tools and other optional kits later on if you need them although the four smaller cleaning tools you do get are worthwhile in their own right. Is it as good as Sebo's K1? No but then again both are German and both are better made than a lot of brands with useful features that make life easier - including quiet motors! Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2010
BUILD QUALITY: 6/10
EASE OF USE: 8/10
COST OF CONSUMABLES: 8/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 8/10
Whats the first thing you do when you buy a new house with your new husbbie!? In my case i like to fill it with nice shiny appliances and gagets. The Miele S4212 Vacuum was my first love. So neat and so compact, it made vacuuming the stairs a doddle, it did nt feel heavy to pull along so no arm strain or back ache. Within its compact features the attachments were contained in a small compartment on top of the Miele S4212. The Miele S4212 has 2000 watts of power making it powerful enough to blow the cobwebs from a dusty old home to removing unwanted filt for your expencesive rug. It will fit in with any home as its compact and easy to store. Other features are that it has a filter system built in and the bag will take 3.5 litres of filt and dirt from your floors. It may be only a vacuum cleaner but it one of the best. Its a steal for under 200 pounds at most retail outlets, so give it a test drive to day. I did and we have been together since.xxx
Short name: Miele S4212