Stick vacuum cleaners Gtech AirRAM
Gtech says that its new AirRAM cordless vacuum cleaner is better than a Dyson, offering superior cleaning performance with maximum energy efficiency and even an in-built calorie counter. We got our hands on one and tried it out to find whether it really does represent, as Gtech claims, the biggest leap forward for vacuum cleaners in 20 years.
We don't test stick vacuums in our test lab (instead we've tested more than 140 cylinder and upright vacuum cleaners) but our researcher has given the new Gtech AirRAM vacuum a thorough going over to discover its pros and cons.
The AirRAM is exclusive to John Lewis where it is currently available for £229.95. You can also purchase it online through Amazon or Gtech's own website. The price is quite high and makes the AirRAM the most expensive cordless on our site, far outside the typical price range of £70 to £140.
Assembling the Gtech AirRAM
We were immediately impressed with the convenience of the Gtech AirRAM vac and found it simple to assemble.
All you have to do is remove it from the box, slide the handle into one slot, put the battery into the other and plug it in to charge.
Unusually quick to charge
Many of the stick vacuums we’ve tested need a full 24 hours of charging before they can be used for the first time, and will then take between 12 and 16 hours to recharge between uses. But Gtech says its cordless vacuum needs just four hours to reach full charge, regardless of whether it’s the first time or not.
This is an impressive claim and one that the AirRAM fulfilled - when we plugged it in for the first time, it took just less than fours hours to reach maximum capacity.
The four LEDs on the front of the machine indicate its current level of charge, and Gtech says the AirRAM will last 40 minutes without dipping in power – about double most stick vacuums we’ve seen.
But when we charged ours up and let it run flat, the total use time was 27 and a half minutes. This is still impressive for a cordless vac and provided ample time to get all our vacuuming done.
Dust-free bales of dirt
Our researcher used this vacuum on tiles, wooden floors and carpet, and found the results to be generally pleasing. While we can't comment on the absolute efficiency of dust pick up outside of our lab’s stringent tests, we were impressed with how well the AirRAM picked up bits of fluff - even right at the edge of the floor head and at the sides.
The dirt is collected into bales that are stored in the floor head. Gtech says the AirRAM uses compression technology to squeeze the dirt collected into these ‘dust-free’ parcels of dirt that can then be tipped into the bin.
There is no light to indicate when the compartments are full. Gtech simply instructs to empty the compartments 'once the vacuum stops picking up'.
Having twice vacuumed a dirty house, we did have two oblong areas of dirt collected, and tipping them out was easy - though not completely dust-free as some fluff remained in the bale compartment. This may have possibly been due to the compartments not having reached full capacity before being emptied.
The filters can be accessed by undoing the main head – this simply requires a coin rather than a screwdriver or special tool, which we found convenient. The filters can then be washed under a tap, left to dry and popped back in. Gtech recommends you do this once a month and clean the brush bar at the same time.
Manoeuvring the Gtech AirRAM
This vacuum weighed in at 3.6 kilos on our scales, which would be light for a mains vacuum cleaner but is heavier than average for a cordless stick vacuum.
Carrying the AirRAM around is helped greatly by the secondary, mid-level handle. Using this second means you can lift with the knees as opposed to having to hold the vac solely with the top handle.
Manoeuvring the vacuum when in use is fairly easy thanks to an interesting rotating handle, which helps direct the AirRAM around corners. We found it easy to control without much effort.
Energy, noise and calories
The Gtech AirRAM has a 100W motor. This is energy efficient compared with a lot of mains-powered vacuums, which typically have 1100W to 2000W motors.
Noise wise, you can have a conversation over the top of it with slightly raised voices.
One unusual service Gtech offers with this vac is calorie counting. You can connect the AirRAM’s battery to your computer via a USB and Gtech's software (once you've downloaded it) will show you stats including how long you've vacuumed, the condition of the battery and of course - how many calories you've burned. The instruction manual is also on here and you can view maintenance videos.
The USB data bridge required is currently available for free on the Gtech site. However Gtech says it will charge for it in the future, so if you do have an AirRAM it's best to order yours now. Currently the software is only compatible with PCs and not Macs.
Like any vacuum cleaner, the Gtech AirRAM has pros and cons, but overall we were pretty impressed with it in our initial tryout.
Pros Easy to manoeuvre, easy to empty and clean filters, secondary handle makes it easier to lift, quick to charge, seemed to be good at cleaning even at the edge of the floor head
Cons Heavier than other stick vacs, dirt bales were not quite dust-free, little bit noisy, no light to indicate the vac needs emptying, expensive