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Sunday, August 26, 2012
Hoover WindTunnel Air: Powerful Vacuum With Intuitive Controls
Momma Told Me: Trust the one in Red.
I grew up with Hoover. For me, my childhood memories on this particular brand go back much further than Dad's favorite brand of boots, or Momma's preferred baking mix. This was the first chore I ever learned, the first identity I had as a valuable part of my family, my first responsibility. Not only has my family trusted the Hoover name for generations, but the very same unit I once pushed through our condo hallways later went with me to my very first apartment. And, on an even more sentimental scale, Hoover was there for us when Momma became ill, and my father looked to me to help her out. Yes, there are photos of me, in our family album, proudly pushing our little Hoover stick vac (the kind with the tall chrome pole and a big billowing red bag), with the silliest grin on my face. I couldn't have been older than 5, and Hoover's (then) revolutionary lightweight vacuumed ensured I could help Momma with the chores in our family's time of need.
Of course, there was one other household name,in our family, concerning vacuum devices; the equally trusted (often portable) Dirt Devil machines. That cherry red color, each and every Dirt Devil and Hoover, seemed to come in, always stuck out in my head. Our Dirt Devils were even more lightweight, and easier for my small frame to maneuver, though they were often built for tidying up, and small cleaning projects. I still have my family's first Dirt Devil handvac, right next to my trusted Hoover, in storage. It's no coincidence that these two names should come up alongside one another- for they are both owned and maintained by TTI Ltd. Outside of splurging on a Dyson (which, in honesty would only be from all the hype and exclusivity of their products), I consider Hoover to be my brand of choice, concerning home cleaning electronics. I purchased a Max Extract several years back, when I was leasing a home, and am still found preaching it's value to strangers today!
This all being said, I did go through a dark time more recently. When I had to downsize from a 4B house into a space equivalent to a loft, I had to give up a lot of my electronics and cleaning tools. My biggest regret, of course, was letting go of my Hoover. Through the course of our 5 month stay, waiting to move into our condo, I went through an astounding 4 vacuums! My intentions, the entire time, being to invest in a nice Hoover when we moved into our new home, and to pick up a cheap (small canister) unit to get us through the few months. Well, where we were staying the carpet was piled quite thick, and also fairly new, so each off-brand unit would collect the surface layer of fibers, human hair (I shed a lot), and kitty litter and fry within 2-3 uses. Call us tough on our vacuums, but I point the finger at device after device promising to be 'tough on pet floors', or to 'never lose suction'. Ha! Needless to say I simply could not wait for my Hoover, and began shopping well before we finally moved.
Our most recent Hoover adoption, the WindTunnel Air, uses the brand's patented WindTunnel technology to channel suction through 3 chambers, preventing common clogs and belt issues. This entirely bag-less upright features a multi-cyclonic filtration system with rinse-able HEPA filter and 99.97% micron reduction rate. This impressive figure is due largely in part to the WindTunnel chambers, which eliminate most blow back and expulsion of finer particles and dust. What this means to our home, with low pile carpeting, simulation wood floors, and plenty of kitty litter dust, is a more breathable atmosphere during and after cleaning. If you've ever tried to vacuum kitty litter before, you've likely seen the cloud of white smoke kicked back by clay based litters- I've experienced none of this with my WindTunnel Air.
Out of the box, the WindTunnel are is clearly a modern take on the classic WindTunnel uprights. In honesty, I miss the days of solid Red Hoovers, but understand the company's desire to showcase the WindTunnel action and technology upgrades. It's nice to be able to see into the bag free canister, and even view the base brushes at work during use- but the lime green accents are a turn off for me. Hoover has spent a bit of time researching methods to make their unit's controls as accessible and intuitive as possible. They've highlights all the key latches and buttons in lime green, with bold tactile and visual cues. The placement is perfect, and the color is certainly easy to see, but it makes the unit look more like a toy, in my opinion. However, one feature along this point truly did stand out as a desirable innovation. When plugged in, and on, the WindTunnel Air will run it's motor, though the suction will not kick in until the user tilts the body back. The brand has eliminated the need for a kick pedal, or latch, and the vacuum tilts entirely on it's own, with the user's urge; generating a slightly louder electronic whir of suction. This feature most reminded me of self propelled units, though this is not one, the sounds and ease of (push) operation are quite similar.
A common pro/con for vacuums is their weight, and I would be remiss if I did not praise the 12lb footprint, I consider light. There were quite a few back and forth discussions as to how genuinely 'lightweight' this was, and my final answer is that weight should be considered with power and capacity. Yes, I can purchase a 6lb vacuum, but will it handle tough dirt and pet spills the same way as my Hoover WindTunnel Air? My simple answer is, No. 12lbs is light enough for most young children 7+ to maneuver, and certainly a tribute to the standards I grew up with in the brand. One reason I may find this unit to be so lightweight (even knowing it's weight), is the sheer ease of maneuverability. The 30' cord is exceptionally long for a mid level vacuum, and covers over half our condo without a re-plug. The canister, as a result of size and weight, does tend to fill fast, however, requiring 2 dumps during our first use. Keep in mind this is in part due to the lack of power and suction from our old unit. Subsequent touch ups have been on cleaner floors, meaning less debris to pick up. Regardless, the canister does seem to be a little small in capacity for the power of the unit.
Cleaning and assembly of the Hoover WindTunnel Air is just as intuitive as the controls. Decals aid the user in washing and assembling the HEPA filter, while the hose attachment system is clearly explained as well. Unfortunately, I found the hose to be the downfall of this unit, and consider it a non-selling point. It is functional, and nice to have when needed, but not something that would encourage me to use it on a regular bases. The hose seems to flop out of the guides from time to time, as well as the snap on brush- and having to bend all the way down to switch intakes can be a concern for elderly or disabled users. Other features include the intuitive telescoping handle (for height adjustment), carry handle for storing and transport, and unique brushroll switch (which effectively converts the device from carpet to hard surface cleaning. The unit also tilts back quite far, to recline for cleaning under cabinets and furniture, though this only gains about 1' of depth with the round base and bagless chamber.
The Hoover WindTunnel Air includes a 2 year manufacturer's warranty with no-scuff bumper base, to ensure peace of mind in purchase, though I feel I should sum this up by stating; this particular device is not a one-fits-all scenario. I do not consider that there is any one vacuum great for every home- the WindTunnel Air is a more compact, yet air friendly and powerful vacuum. I feel it is perfect for apartments, offices, condos, dorms and small homes. It is great for pet families, and various flooring, though I expect the bin will fill much faster in a residence that is entirely carpeted. What this unit does do, is exemplify the WindTunnel technology; which is sold in a variety of units and capacities- I highly praise these technology and the Hoover brand. Based on this experience alone, I can best remind buyers to shop for the WindTunnel that fits their space needs the best. Based on a lifetime of brand loyalty, I can attest to the versatility and durability of these units, especially the WindTunnel technology.
What Daughter Says: While the colors may have evolved with the technology, Hoover is just as integral a part of my daily routine as ever.
As Required By The FTC: I received a sample of this product to facilitate my review, but my opinions are entirely my own.