Way back when Dyson first fussed about their new bagless cleaner that was set to change the way we vacuum Mike and I dashed out and bought the not-very-inexpensive first model to replace our heavy but efficient Vax. Our enthusiasm was short lived. The model didn’t live up to the hype after a couple of months of use (we only had three children then) and its efficiency seemed to deteriorate quite rapidly. It certainly wasn’t what we had expected for the hype or the money and the experience put us off bagless cleaners and Dysons in particular.
We then tried out a Henry and fell in love. Henry was strong, reliable and did a fabulous job of vacuuming. When Henry I died, he was replaced with Henry II. He was undoubtedly heavy. And he had a habit of catching his wire as you wound it up, resulting in you needing to unwind the wheel and rewind again very, very slowly. But he was reliable and sturdy and he did an amazing job of our carpets that no other hoover could match. Henry has been our choice for over a decade.
We approached the Gtech AirRam with the same scepticism we approach anything else but added to our scepticism was our loyalty to Henry.
The box alone gave us an idea of what we were to expect. Prior to unpacking we already nodded in approval at how lightweight the newly delivered package was. On opening the box we were initially puzzled. Where were all the odds and ends that are usually packaged with a new vacuum cleaner? Compared to usual hoover buys the contents of the box seemed relatively sparse.
The box contained the Gtech AirRam base, the handle, the battery pack and the charger. Oh, and the instructions. And that was it.
Removing the AirRam from the box was an experience. Used to lifting a heavyweight cleaner I used a little more excessive force than was actually necessary to take the Gtech out of the box. The manufacturer isn’t kidding when it refers to it as lightweight. At just 3.5kg it already won our approval for its lightness.
Putting the AirRam together took mere seconds. The top handle slid into the the base handle and clicked into place securely. The battery pack containing the machine’s 22v lithium-ion battery was then inserted into the lower back of the machine. All that was left to do was to charge the machine up.
A four hour charge will provide approximately 40 minutes of usage. As it charges the four bars light up one by one. When all four light up the machine is fully charged and ready for use. A one hour charge will give the AirRam a quick burst of power to enable a quick run around when you’re in a rush. Or in our case, it provided us the opportunity to try our new gadget out for the first time.
We were running our initial tests in the evening when the younger children had gone off to bed. The dinner table had been cleared, everything had been (relatively) tidied and Caitlin had already vacuumed the living room and kitchen.
We decided to begin in the kitchen and test out the machine on the hard tiled floors. Wanting a visual record of our efforts we decided to sprinkle some flour over part of the floor and began putting the AirRam through its paces.
We were pretty impressed. The AirRam managed to deal with the flour quickly, efficiently and effortlessly.
The difference between the AirRam and conventional vacuum cleaners is the way it gathers and stores the dirt and fluff it accumulates. Rather than wasting energy sucking the dirt through tubes and pipes the journey through the AirRam lasts a mere 1½ inches, travelling directly through to a tray in the base. As you can see, the AirRam made pretty light work of the flour.
This feature of the AirRam means that not only do you avoid the hassle of emptying an over-filled, dusty hoover bag but you also avoid the issue of carrying around its extra weight whenever you move or carry the machine. The AirRam remains slim, portable and lightweight which proved to be a popular and highly impressive feature for all of us. So far, so good.
As the living room had already been vacuumed we thought it a good idea to sprinkle some flour on a patch of our carpet. You know, to see how effective the AirRam was on the pile.
What a waste of time that was because what happened next truly shocked us.
Not only did the AirRam effectively gather the flour we had sprinkled but it also gathered a great ball of dust.
A ball of dust in approximately one square foot of carpet.
A ball of dust in approximately one square foot of carpet that had just been vacuumed.
A ball of dust in approximately one square foot of carpet that had just been vacuumed and is washed monthly.
If that was what one square foot of our carpet contained, what on earth did the rest have?
Did we even want to know?
Yep, we even used the AirRam’s superbly easy steering and impressively low profile to vacuum under the sofas. As if that isn’t asking for trouble.
This was the result from one room. A room which had only just been hoovered and was machine washed only a few days before.
My goodness. How filthy are we?
As you can see, I wasn’t entirely sure whether to be impressed with the Gtech AirRam’s performance or to paint a red cross on the front door while warning people away with screams of ‘Unclean! Unclean!’
I didn’t sleep very well that night, I admit.
Now let me begin by saying that upstairs is vacuumed every other day. Downstairs is usually done two to three times a day depending on what we’ve had for lunch or what activities have been going on.
The next day was going to be even more disturbing. The house had been vacuumed already with Henry. We decided to test the AirRam out room-by-room on a post-Henry cleaning experiment. Whose room was going to be the filthiest? It was an event the whole family gathered to watch.
Armed with a carrier bag and the AirRam, a love/hate relationship was clearly developing with this machine. I vacuumed one room at a time, pausing at the end of each for the grand reveal of the tray. The contents were then added to the carrier bag and a freshly emptied tray would begin the next room’s vacuum.
This was the AirRam’s result from an already-vacuumed five-bedroom house…
You never want to visit, do you?
I even weighed it.
60g of dust and fluff from an already vacuumed house!
Oh, the shame! Just whip, hang and quarter me now, filthy beast that I am!
Mixed emotions overwhelmed me.
The AirRam is slim, portable, lightweight and easy to store. As it lies completely flat we can actually just store ours under our sofa, ready to pull out and use at a moment’s notice. This is particularly advantageous in a house like ours where there are so many people and so much going on.
Until trying the AirRam I had never realised quite how cumbersome Henry was. Taking him out of the cupboard, carrying him from room to room, unwinding the plug, plugging him in, dragging his hefty body behind me as I hoovered, unplugging him, winding the plug, hauling his chunky self up as well as my own up the stairs in order to repeat the process over and over…
Those days are gone!
In fact, the AirRam saves so much time and effort that everyone wants to get in on the act…
They even argue over who gets to hoover! Honestly! And it’s light and portable enough that they can even carry it upstairs by themselves to vacuum their rooms, so they aren’t waiting for mum or dad to carry it up for them to finish the job.
And when I say it’s light and portable, I mean it’s light and portable. Even Tim likes to join in…
…for a while at least!
And the kids aren’t the only ones. A couple of days after we first tried our AirRam out we had friends over for the evening. Conversation (un)naturally turned to hoovers. One of our friends (we’ll call him Paul for the purpose of this review. Mainly because his name is Paul), is a die-hard fan of his Dyson. (As you might be able to tell, we had a few glasses of wine that evening. Wine seems to induce passionate loyalty to vacuum cleaners). Before long he was enthusiastically vacuuming our living room. Impressed with the AirRam’s low level of noise, its superb lightness and its excellent manoeuvrability, it wasn’t long before he had hoovered our entire living room proclaiming that this was the machine they now needed themselves.
I don’t care how many drinks he had, he wasn’t getting ours.
We have used the AirRam for a couple of months now and our verdict remains the same. We love how easy it is to use, how portable and light it is to carry, and how its design makes it easy to store. Its vacuuming capabilities is unlike anything we have ever experienced before. Its slimline, lightweight design doesn’t compromise its power and the brush design enables efficient cleaning right up to the edges.
The only disadvantage we found was that it doesn’t always pick up slightly larger bits from floor tiles on the first go. We found that on occasions a little bit of manoeuvering was required before it would finally pick up some bits rather than just pushing them around for a while. This wasn’t prolonged at all and, given the steering capability is so flexible, it seemed almost insignificant to mention but I’ve opted to state it for the purpose of providing a balanced review. Let’s face it, if that’s the only negative we could find, we don’t think the AirRam has done badly at all!
Once our initial shock wore off and we’d used it a few more times I noticed an improvement in my breathing and needing to use my inhaler far less than I had ever needed to use in the past – only now and then rather than a couple of times daily . Clearly our faithful Henry just wasn’t doing the job we thought he was and since the AirRam came on the scene, poor Henry has been relegated to the coat cupboard, lonely and unused.
We charge the AirRam three times a week on average but I’ve already explained how much we vacuum. Those concerned about electricity consumption needn’t be; the AirRam uses only 100w of energy compared to approximately 1360w used by an average mains upright. The filters are easy to remove and clean – just wash them out once a month or so and reuse. You can also purchase replacement filters and battery packs to prolong the life of your AirRam should you need them.
If the lack of upholstery attachments is an issue for you a good option is to double it up with the Gtech Multi. This is a truly impressive version of the handhelds we had tried out previously which combines the portability of a handheld with the power and strength of an upright.
The Gtech Multi is provided with a complete set of attachments. As you can see in the photo above, the dusting brush attached to a retractable hose is conveniently stored in the main body of the machine. The head then attaches onto the dusting brush, making easy cleaning of stairs and upholstery.
A crevice tool is also tucked neatly within the body of the machine as you can see here:
All the pieces click into place quickly and easily. The Gtech Multi is once again powered by a professional-grade 22v lithium-ion battery with a four hour charge time providing 30 minutes of continuous cleaning.
Like the AirRam, the Gtech Multi also features the four light LED display indicating how much usage is left before it requires its next charge. The bright integrated searchlights at the head of the machine also highlights any dark nooks and crannies making it perfect for poorly lit hallways or those hard-to-see corners of the car.
Dust and fluff is then collected in the chamber which swiftly detaches for emptying, then clips securely back into place.
Proving itself far more powerful than other handhelds the Gtech Multi has the thorough cleaning capabilites of a full-sized vacuum without the bulk and the size. Its compact appearance does not compromise its high performance and its robust design reassures us that it will last several years of frequent use.
Our overall verdict on Gtech’s AirRam and Multi?
We love them.
Sincerely, honestly and loyally love them.
Would we recommend them?
100% without a doubt.
In fact, we think you would be hard pressed to find anything on the market that would be better either aesthetically, performance-wise or practically. And at just £199 for the AirRam and £149 for the Multi we think that they are absolutely fantastic value for money too.
Sorry, Henry. It seems your days for gathering dust are over. Or maybe they’ve just begun.
EDIT: Well, you know how I raved about how great the Gtech AirRam and Multi were?
I was wrong.
Within a short while after writing this review, the Multi stopped performing anywhere near as well as it should, which isn’t surprising as most handhelds are, in my opinion, pretty poor performing in general.
However, the AirRam, which I loved, soon showed its true colours. Despite regularly cutting out debris from the brush, it began to emit a burning smell, rather like burnt rubber, which I found quite concerning. This, along with the fact that it no longer wanted to pick up anything at all had me contacting them and a replacement was arranged. Unfortunately, it too lasted only a matter of a couple of months before it was resigned to the scrap heap.
I hate appliances that do not have the longevity you would expect.
This is one of them.
Verdict several months on: Avoid.
And a huge apology to Henry, who has reinstated his position back in our home.