As an avid reader of Wired Magazine, I was ecstatic to see the that their writers were able to extend their normal geeky/amazing coverage to my world: vacuums. Considering my normal high regard for Wired‘s product reviews (from motorcycles to electronics), I was pretty shocked to find that their vacuum reviews fell short, mainly by becoming victim of aggressive marketing campaigns and ignoring critical factors like performance, reliability and price.
If you didn’t catch Wired’s June 2009 edition, which featured a side-by-side comparison of four upright vacuums, then you can catch the reviews individually on their website. Featured in this comparison were the Sebo Automatic X4, Dyson DC28 Animal, Eureka Boss 4D Pet Fresh Bagless Upright and the Hoover Platinum Collection Lightweight Bagged Upright. Among these four upright vacuums, which ranged in price from $150 to $699, Wired Magazine declared the Dyson DC28 Animal as the “Editor’s Pick”, leaving me a bit baffled considering the lackluster reviews we’ve heard from our customers. Another sticking point was the fact that Wired actually missed out on an entire market of vacuums, that being canister vacuums. True, the US market heavily favors the upright vacuum market, but the versatility and performance of many canisters (and let’s not forget their dominance worldwide) cannot be ignored in a product review from a magazine of Wired’s stature.
But, in order to give an intelligent rebuttal to Wired’s review, I sat down with GoVacuum’s product specialist, Chris Jones.
“While it was nice to see my favorite upright, the Sebo X4, finally getting some overdue respect from the media, especially Wired Magazine, I was not very impressed to see that the Dyson DC28 beat it for the top spot as ‘Wired Editor’s Pick,’” Chris said. Citing its ease of use, Chris also highlighted the superiority of the Sebo X4 because of its automatic height adjustment (as opposed to having to manually select on the Dyson) and the fact that the Sebo’s are among the easiest machines to repair, due to its direct access to the beater bar without the need of any tools.
The Dyson, on the other hand, requires the vacuum repairman equivalent of a rocket scientist to successfully repair the machine without breaking machine’s cheap plastic casing. And the do-it-yourselfers among Wired’s readership may be thoroughly disappointed by the fact that repairs on a Dyson require proprietary tools, not your common flathead or Phillips screwdriver. Even a belt change becomes an arduous task; one that generally requires you paying your neighborhood vacuum shop to do, quickly diminishing any cost savings between the Dyson and Sebo (or any other machine for that matter).
Price is obviously a consideration for those purchasing a vacuum, especially in this economy, so it was no surprise that Wired highlighted the $699 price tag on the Sebo X4, but it was a bit odd that similar criticism wasn’t given to the Dyson, despite a mere $100 difference and big difference in quality. Remarking on the machines’ longevity, Chris pointed out that the Dyson’s would be lucky to get 7-10 years of consistent performance, meanwhile the Sebo’s have been impressive by lasting over 20 years, guaranteeing a better return on investment with your Sebo (and a cleaner house).
Lastly, Chris told me he was excited “to see the new Hoover Platinum Collection Lightweight Model on their list, this is an excellent choice if you are in the market for a powerful, yet lightweight model. But consumers should realize that as a lightweight upright, you lose some features that full size models offer, like on-board attachments.”
Obviously, I am going to continue to be an avid reader and follower of the products that Wired recommends. But I can’t help but feel disappointed when offered the opportunity to shed light on an easily dismissed industry (vacuums), Wired’s review, frankly, sucked (excuse the pun).