Most people would not consider a vacuum cleaner to be a gadget or even a tech site worthy topic. But what if the vacuum is full sized, cordless and can tell you how many calories you’ve burned while you’re using it? Designed in the United Kingdom, the Gtech AirRam cordless vacuum cleaner might be the first Gadgeteer worthy sweeper that we’ve had the opportunity to review. Keep reading as we get down and dirty with it. Literally…
Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size
Gtech AirRam vaccuum
Design and features
Out of the box, the Gtech AirRam looks like a small conventional upright vacuum. It stands 44.5″ high from base to handle and has a sweeper head that is 11.5″ wide by 10″ deep.
It comes in three parts that quickly assemble into the full sweeper with no tools required. First, the upper handle snaps easily into the main unit.
Then the replaceable rechargeable 22V lithium-ion battery snaps into the back of the main unit. Using the included AC adapter, it takes about 4 hours to fully charge the battery. One charge will provide approximately 40 minutes of vacuuming time and a 1 hour short charge will provide a burst of additional cleaning time.
Note that you can’t use the AirRam when it is plugged into the wall because the cord is only a couple feet long. It’s a shame that a much longer cord isn’t included with the vacuum so that you would never have to wait (even for an hour) when you need to sweep up a mess.
The battery is designed to be charged up to 1000 times, which should translate to 5 years under normal usage. The battery also has a USB B connector, which allows you to connect the AirRam to your Windows PC (sorry, there’s no Mac support) to change settings and other tasks. But more about that in a minute.
The AirRam’s sweeper head houses a brush that is suitable for carpet, hardwood and tile surfaced-floors. I tested the vacuum throughout my house, on different types of carpet, hardwood and vinyl floors.
One advantage of the AirRam is that it is a bagless sweeper. The lid of the sweeper head lifts off to reveal the dust bin. The lid houses two filters that are designed to catch the smaller particles of dust and dirt. It is recommend that filters are washed once a month in warm soapy water and then left to dry for 24 hours.
Before I began my tests, I charged the AirRam for a full four hours. LEDs on the front of the main unit light up to display charging status. These LEDs also light up while you’re using the vacuum and the LED segments will turn off as the battery drains.
Getting down and dirty
My first test with the AirRam was to sweep our basement living room which has carpet with a medium pile height. That’s the carpet shown in the image above.
With a press of the power button on the side of the handle, I set off to sweep the carpet. From the first push forward, I thought something was wrong with the vacuum. I checked for a height adjuster switch, but didn’t find one.
I continued to sweep and as I did, I discovered that the handle smoothly swivels to all for easy turning and maneuvering around furniture. The handle can be lowered far enough to allow sweeping under beds and some tables.
One thing to be aware of with the AirRam is that it does not have any other attachments. It’s designed specifically for sweeping floors and that’s it.
After less than 5 minutes of sweeping, I was worn out! It didn’t help that I was suffering for a bad head cold, but sweeping medium height carpet was not easy.
Next I carried the vacuum into my office which has hard wood floors. The AirRam only weighs 7.7 lbs, so it’s very easy to carry from room to room or up and down stairs. It’s nothing like the 1000 lb Kirby that we have had for 20 years or more.
As soon as I pressed the power switch, the AirRam seemed to sweep the office floor all by itself. It felt almost effortless. Much easier than sweeping the carpet in the first room. This made me do a double check of the specs to make sure that the vacuum could be used on carpets and rugs. It could.
My next test was to carry the AirRam upstairs and sweep the carpets in the bedrooms, and family rooms and then the vinyl floors in the bathrooms and kitchens. I immediately noticed that it was much easier to push the vacuum on the carpets upstairs as the pile was very short.
A quick sweep of the entire house (my house is only about 1700 sq feet), this is what the AirRam was able to pick up. I don’t have a picture of it, but that entire two section tray will lift off the sweeper head so you can easily dump the dirt in the trash. After a lot of vacuuming, the dirt is supposed to compress into two bales or dirt bricks. So far I haven’t swept up enough dirt to witness that effect.
As far as battery life, I was able to sweep the entire house 2 times before the battery was drained. According to the battery stats, one charge lasted me around 30 – 35 minutes. I knew this by connecting the Gtech AirRam to a Windows PC with the included USB B cable.
The software will show current battery power level, calories burned and energy savings.
The software also offers videos that show how to troubleshoot and clean the filters.
You can also adjust the power settings which will provide longer running times by lowering the performance. I left mine set to high-power mode.
Ram vs. Shark
Jeanne had a great idea to try a test to see how well the AirRam picks up dirt compared to another vacuum like the Shark Rocket HV300 vacuum that I recently reviewed. She swept one room thoroughly with the AirRam and then cleaned out the dust cup on the Shark so it was completely clean and empty. She then swept the same room she had just swept with the AirRam. Afterwards we inspected the Shark’s dust cup and were really surprised that it had a significant amount of dirt in it. This disappointed me because I was hoping to make the AirRam my main vacuum… Shark 1, Ram 0.
To buy or not to buy…
There is a lot to like about the Gtech AirRam. Unlike the Shark Rocket, it can stand upright on its own. That means easier storage and use. I also like the fact that the AirRam is cordless. For my small house, one charge was enough for two complete sweeps over the course of a couple days. The bagless design and cleanable filters are also high selling points for me. But then when you start using the AirRam, the bad points start outweighing the good. Pushing the vacuum on higher pile carpet takes a too much effort and there are no attachments that allow you to sweep in crevices or furniture. But worst of all is that its dirt sucking ability is lacking when compared to another vacuum like the Shark Rocket, which by the way, is about $170 cheaper than the AirRam and includes attachments. For now, the Gtech AirRam is my favorite rechargeable vacuum, but the Shark Rocket is my favorite overall vacuum.
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Gtech. Please visit their site for more info.