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For a long time I had been looking for a new vacuum to replace the very old one that I had inherited from my mother. My first aim was to make the transfer to a bagless system as this seemed both cleaner and more environmentally friendly. As I have polished floorboards and floor tiles in all of the downstairs rooms, I needed a machine that could clean hard floors easily; I also needed something that was easy to carry upstairs to the carpeted bedrooms. I have two flights of stairs so my vacuum needed to be easily adapted for stair cleaning. Finally I have three cats and a dog - so my vacuum needed very good suction and perhaps some pet-specific hand tools. After some research I decided to buy the cylinder version of the Vac Mach 5, reduced to £79 in the Argos sale. ~~ The machine ~~ The Mach 5 is a fairly large cylinder vacuum, with a height of 46cm and a depth of 36cm. It looks high tech and fairly sophisticated, with a silver exterior, a clear walled cylindrical dirt container, and pleasantly purple plastic operating buttons and interior cyclone separator unit which sits inside the clear cylindrical dust chamber. The large 2.3 litre dust cylinder has a large and comfortable silver handle at the back to carry the whole vacuum around the house. Large foot buttons rewind the cord and switch the machine on and off. At 250 watts it is a powerful vacuum but the motor is a little noisy for my preference. The Mach 5 comes with two hoses and one telescopic extension tube which are easy to fix into place. There is a comprehensive set of cleaning heads: - A crevice tool which clicks securely into the hose and can be easily transported around the hose to whip out when you unexpectedly need it. - A large turbo brush which provides efficient suction for large carpeted area. - A really ferocious little turbo head which is excellent at scooping up pet hair, but does increase the overall noise from vacuuming. - A hard floor head with stiff, short bristles which manage to eliminate most dust - A 2 in 1 dusting brush for upholstery, which I seldom have a use for but which is a small soft long bristled brush. The Mach 5 is very satisfying to use as the purple cyclone separator whizzes round inside the dust chamber and mixes the dust around like a food mixer. Whether true or not, this gives the impression of high power, almost as if the separator unit is creating a vortex to suck the dirt in. It is very reassuring to see all the dirt collecting inside the clear walls of the chamber. ~~ What I like ~~ There are many things that I really like about the Mach 5. The first is the power; the suction is excellent and quickly disposes of all the pet hair, especially if I use the turbo tool attachment. I like the two different hoses that are supplied; both clip easily onto the cylinder - one is extendable to 4.2 metres and is ideal for everyday use; the other is an extendable hose for stair cleaning - and this one stretches comfortably from the top to the bottom of the stairs without straining. The length of the power cord is just right at 6.50 metres and it snaps back quickly into place with the foot button. This means that if necessary I can carry the vacuum up the stairs without using the extendable hose; the length of the power cord means that (unlike my previous machine) it is long enough to reach the top of the stairs without pulling the plug out of the wall. The cylinder also grips the stair treads nicely with its rubber covered large rear wheels. ~~ What I don't like ~~ There really is only one thing that I dislike about the Mach5 - but this one thing is so important that I do not feel that I can really recommend it to anybody or give it more than 2 stars. This vacuum cleaner is big, heavy and difficult to manoeuvre. At 7.2 kg it is so heavy that carrying it up and down the stairs is an impossibility for me with a bad back. I always have to ask my sons to carry it for me, and if I am tempted to attempt it myself it always throws my back out. Trying to pull it behind me as I go around the house vacuuming is very difficult; it drags, it is heavy to pull and it always gets stuck around corners. Several times I have been so frustrated by this that I have checked the wheels to see if they have become stuck - but they are always moving freely. This vacuum just cannot turn corners without getting stuck - and generally it is too big and cumbersome for a cylinder machine. ~~ Cleaning and Emptying ~~ I have been delighted with the change to a bagless system. The Mach 5 is very easy to empty; the dirt container is easily removed by clicking the large button on the handle. It is then very easy to carry it outside to empty it. I recommend putting the entire cylinder into a bin liner before releasing the bottom flap and allowing the dirt to pour out. This bottom flap is quick- released by gently depressing the purple levers at each side and is frighteningly simple. A gentle press and the bottom flap flips open, cascading the contents out very quickly. The first time I just held it over the bin inside the house and the dust flew everywhere, missing the bin entirely. It really does whoosh out. As the dirt is usually compacted inside the chamber, especially if you have pets, it is then necessary to unscrew the transparent plastic walls and remove the sides of the chamber, leaving the central purple cyclonic separator exposed for cleaning. After the majority of the dust has fallen out, or been pulled out, the walls of the dust container are still covered with dust and should be wiped clean with a damp cloth. All that is now necessary is to re-assemble the chamber and click it back into place. Unfortunately the replacement and reconstruction of the chamber is not as easy as the emptying. I have now owned my Mach 5 for over a year and still struggle to reassemble the chamber. In theory this should be a simple task; the outer chamber slides back over the cyclonic separator and a simple twisting motion locks it into place. In reality, locking the cylinder into the correct position is very difficult, despite markings on the side to show when the position is correct. If the alignment is not exactly correct you find that the handle that is used to pick up the whole (very heavy) vacuum is horizontal instead of vertical, making it impossible to carry. I have spent a lot of time fiddling with the dust chamber replacement - and for me this is yet another design fault from Vax. ~~ Overall opinion ~~ Overall, I think that there are better bagless cylinder vacuum cleaners out there. I was tempted by the price reduction and ended up with something which had good suction, but poor design. Next time my criteria will be good suction, a reasonably light weight, and good manoeuvrability. The Vax Mach5 fails in many ways and out of these three criteria really can only be said to have good suction.
Short name: Vax C90 Mach 5