The Gtech AirRam isn’t your usual anodyne cordless vacuum. From across the room it looks like a blown-up version of my Grandpa’s pipe-rack if it had been designed by Mies Van Der Rohe. It’s a slim, lightweight, cordless upright vacuum cleaner in a gray or white. Appearances are deceptive, and though it might look like something in the closet at The Jetson’s house, it belongs in yours, too. AirRam is a simple, energy-efficient product that, at half the price of anything put out by Dyson, is also space-saving and surprisingly quiet.
The Gtech AirRam is not a traditional-type vacuum. Simple to put together, its aluminum handle slots easily into the main stem, locking securely into place. Similarly the battery slides into the back with ease. You are probably used to a motor-powered fan. Normal vacuums have a motor that powers a fan, which causes a pressure-drop, creates a filth-sucking vacuum. These sucking duties are accompanied by the assistance of a rotating brush which helps in feeding dirt into the intake. The AirRam improves on this fundamental concept by having 100W of power in its motor and conjoining a rotating fan with the vacuum, a bit of design common-sense which definitely empowers the power intake. This is sort of miraculous because, if you put your hand over the tube, its sucking motion is much lighter and less noisy than a traditional vac. I know it sounds vulgar, but this delicate baby can really, really suck! Which is what you want, isn’t it?
Dubious? I was, too. My kid and I had all kinds of fun throwing nasty stuff on a carpet. Screws, broken popsicle sticks, dust, toenail clippings (gross!), staples, roofing nails and ripped up bits of the Sunday funny papers: All of it on a mission to block up or break this bugger. This was a task that could cause blockages and damage to many traditional vacuums, particularly those with narrow hoses but here it was no problem. Our battery-powered toy passed with a kind of arrogant gusto. The Gtech Airam swept and sucked up more or less everything save for a few gathered flecks of dust. Anything that was too chunky to suck rattled very loud around the rotating brush, which made a simple task of removing it by hand or to shake out.
A clever rotating mechanism lets you steer the AirRam with a simple flick of the wrist, as opposed to having to force the wheels to the left or right to get the angle required. A second handle, half way down the shaft makes it easy to lift or vacuum stairs. Rough or smooth surfaces were no problem, whether it was oak planking, vinyl, old school linoleum or laminate: It did the job brilliantly! Everything from fine dust and powder to industrial staples got sucked away to a dusty death, without any necessity for push or pull exertion. The AirRam’s brush propels it forward, making vacuuming light work. There are also two clever filters which stop finer dust from clogging up the motor. Easy to remove, Gtech recommends they be cleaned by running them under a faucet once a month. The rotating brush is also easily cleaned in the same way.
There are a few negatives. The main one being that it doesn’t do too well with really thick shag carpets. At US$199.95, you get what you pay for. There are no attachments for the AirRam, so you can’t use a hose to get into corners or on furniture or curtains. Consequently, you’ll be on your hands and knees. Sure, it is indeed a perturbing limitation for a £200 vacuum, but it is powerful enough to suck up dirt and dust stuck from edges, such as next to skirting boards, making it less of an issue.
The key strength of the AirRam is that it’s battery-powered and one four hour charge-up gives you 40 minutes of power. No need to drag a cable around, or plug and unplug as you go. Nothing slows you down, other than a low running battery or a need to be emptied. Instead of using a bag or cylinder, the AirRam traps dirt in a compact plastic container which is a snap to lift out of its base and jettison directly into the garbage. The rotating brush compresses dirt well, although you’ll still need to empty it more often than a traditional vacuum.
Tech-wise, you can calculate how much you’re saving by plugging the AirRam into a PC (no OSX app!) via a USB cable you can order free. In addition to power used, the software tells you the condition of the battery and even how many calories you’ve managed to shed while vacuuming.