The Vax Mach Air boasts that it is the lightest full sized multi cyclonic upright vacuum cleaner in the world at 4.9kg, taking the fight right to the likes of Dyson. It looks very much like some of Dyson's models with a modular modern design, finished in Vax's signature orange and silver.
Generally speaking the orange elements of the design identify the working parts, so the buttons and switches are finished in orange, as well as the brush, the central cyclone unit and things like the cable stay and hose connector.
To save space the handle is adjustable, meaning you can stow it easily under the stairs or in a cupboard, and then extend it in use. It has eight height settings, so should cater for a range of users although we did find in vigorous action it did sometimes change positions. At its most compact it is 96cm tall; fully extended it is 112cm.
The cable is 6 metres which we found to be too short to roam from room to room cleaning. We would have liked a few more metres to save the number of times we had to move the plug around.
Switch on and you'll immediately appreciate the cleaning power on offer here. The Vax Mach Air rivalled our regular Dyson in terms of performance, coping easily with carpeted floors. There is a neat option for hard floors; press a button and the brush stops spinning, which is great for just using the suction to pickup dust and dirt, without flicking it across the floor.
The extendable handle can be released from the body for attachment to cleaning tools. Once the handle is removed, the hose has to be detached from the bottom of the Mach Air and clipped onto the handle. It is simple, although you will have to reach down and disconnect it, so you'll be scrabbling around the bottom of the vacuum cleaner to do this.
The hose unfortunately is not really long enough for the job, only giving you a few metres at full stretch, so it can't really cope with carpeted stairs, which is where the Vax Mach Air comes unstuck. It might be light, but it doesn’t really have the range for cleaning a staircase without moving the thing halfway through. A three-way cleaning tool clips to the back, offering the usual brushes and nozzles.
The capacity of the chamber is 1.5 litres which fits the compact nature of the Mach Air, but we found it needed emptying to complete a clean of a two-bedroom fully-carpeted house. Emptying is fairly easy, you simply detach the chamber from the main body and depress the catch on the bottom which lets the contents out. It is a two-handed job however.
You also get easy access to the filters for cleaning and the Mac Air is a HEPA certified device. You can also easily open the covers to clean the brush and there is a safety feature which cuts off the brush in the case of an obstruction to stop things getting damaged. A small red reset button lets you re-commission the brush once you've cleared the offending article (in our case a USB stick on a lanyard).
The Vax Mach Air is easy to move around thanks to its light weight and compact dimensions. On occasions it does feel a little unsteady, with the two rear wheels being close together, but overall we found it easy to get around furniture and under edges. Being able to switch off the brush is also of great benefit.
The mechanical process of moving the hose to use the tools might not suit those with limited mobility, as you'll have to reach right down to ground level to use it and the two-handed emptying process could be made easier.
Overall though, if you are short on space but don't want to compromise on suck, then the Vax Mach Air is an impressive cleaner and will get pretty much anything out of your carpets.