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Vax Blade 2 Max 40V review: Passable vacuuming on a budget

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
249
inc VAT

What the Vax Blade 2 Max lacks in power, it makes up for in price

Pros 
Comparatively cheap
Charges quickly
Cons 
Weak suction power
Heavier than most stick vacuums
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The Vax cordless stick vacuum cleaner range currently comprises three machines: the Blade, Blade 2, and Blade 2 Max. All of these machines, predictably enough, vary in both price and power; the subject of this review, the Blade 2 Max, is the biggest and baddest of the lot.

Vax claims Max can out-vacuum the top ten best-selling machines in the UK: a bold claim, particularly when the opposition is headed up by the likes of the Dyson V10 and the powerful, yet flexible, Shark DuoClean.

READ NEXT: Our Dyson V11 review

Vax Blade 2 Max review: What you need to know

First and foremost: this is a cordless stick vacuum cleaner. If Mr Dyson has his way, these lightweight machines will be the future of domestic dust-busting. Slim, portable, and easy to use, you can spot one a mile off by its skinny frame and chunky handle.

The Blade 2 Max is no exception. In the box, you’ll find the body of the machine, a detachable wand and three nozzle attachments: a standard vacuum head; a thin crevice tool; and a mini soft brush head. These can attach to the wand or the body of the Blade 2 Max, clicking on and off via an easy-to-use quick release mechanism.

The box also contains a wall mount, to keep the machine upright and out of the way when not in use plus a mains cable. 

Vax Blade 2 Max review: Price and competition

As I’ve already mentioned, Vax is at the cheap end of the manufacturer spectrum. The Blade 2 Max will set you back £249, which is frankly a bargain compared with the competition. Dyson’s Cyclone V10 range starts at £399 with the V10 Animal, and reaches a dizzying £499 for the premium V10 Total Clean. Obviously, Dyson is preceded by its reputation, but the brand is hardly synonymous with the word “budget”.

Lower your gaze slightly and you’ll find Shark, whose cordless stick range sits just below Dyson on the pricing scale. The cheapest Shark DuoClean model costs £349, and the most expensive, a considerable £499. If you haven’t noticed by now, Vax is gunning for its competitors by undercutting them significantly on price.

READ NEXT: Our Dyson V7 Animal review

Vax Blade 2 Max review: Features, design, and accessories

Vax has its own signature cordless stick vacuum design that errs on the side of modularity. In other words, most of the key components can be removed: most notably, it’s possible to unclip the horizontally-mounted bin from the body/handle, making the Blade 2 Max a doddle to clean.

The motorised vacuum head is a little on the minimalist side in that it lacks the dual brushes of, say, the Shark DuoClean but it has a bright LED headlight, which – aside from terrifying your pets – helps when cleaning under furniture in not particularly well-lit areas of your home.

Glance at the handle, and you’ll find three buttons and a battery indicator. One button switches the thing on and off, another activates the motorised head, while the final one adjusts the power of the vacuum from “Normal” to “Boost”. Vax says you’ll get 45mins of cleaning from the Blade 2 Max with normal use and around 12 minutes if you leave Boost mode enabled continuously.

Pleasingly, the Blade 2 Max charges in a little less than the advertised three hours, which is as speedy as you can expect from this type of cordless vacuum cleaner.

In terms of physical heft, the Blade 2 Max is a little on the porky side, weighing 3.1kg with the wand and motorized head attached. Even when you remove the head, you’ll still find it a little tough to hold the vacuum aloft for long: the machine weighs 2kg without the standard attachment, which makes it a good 0.4kg heavier than the Dyson Cyclone V10.

But while the motorised vacuum head is a little chunky, meaning the Vax struggles to get under low-clearance items of furniture, it isn’t particularly wide, which gives the machine a bit of an advantage in narrow spaces. Nothing quite beats the Shark DuoClean’s articulating elbow, though, which allows users to easily clean under furniture from a standing position.

Vax Blade 2 Max review: Cleaning performance

The Vax handles most of your garden variety carpet dirt with no problem. And, hoisted into the air, it coped admirably with the corners of my ceiling, too, although it wasn’t long before I was feeling that extra 0.6kg in my wrist.

Faced with the ridges of my living room rug, however, the Vax struggled to produce that pleasing just-vacuumed look without resorting to Boost mode, and the motorized bristles made for a slightly bumpy experience. Fortunately, the machine handled smooth surfaces – linoleum and wood - much better, without the need for warp speed to be engaged.

In most cases, Vax Blade 2 Max’s Boost mode came to the rescue. And if you engage it for only short intervals – only when absolutely necessary – you can eke considerably more than the quoted 12-minute clean out of the battery.

In our suction power test, the Vax Blade 2 Max managed 7.5kPa (kilopascals) of suction power with an empty bin in standard mode. In Boost mode, the machine fared slightly better, kicking out a maximum 17.5kPa. In simple terms, these results are weak, although not much more so than comparable stick vacuums.

The Shark DuoClean Cordless IF250UK produced 14kPa in lower power mode and 24kPa in high power mode – this is about as strong as you could hope for from a non-Dyson stick vacuum, and proves that the Vax lags behind a little on the power front.

The physical effects of these weak results are noticeable. As highlighted above, carpets and rugs will inevitably require a couple of attempts to look cleaner without fairly constant use of Boost mode. If you're looking for something to remove deeply ingrained dirt or keep a shag-pile carpet looking pristine, we suggest you look elsewhere: this is a machine best suited to hard floors, ceiling corners, and furniture.

Vax Blade 2 Max review: Verdict

The most appealing thing about the Vax Blade 2 Max is how little it costs. The benefits of its size, weight (to an extent) and cordlessness can all be applied to its main rivals, but that low price is sure to catch the eye of anyone in need of a replacement for their chunky old upright vacuum.

As always though, you get what you pay for. The Vax Blade 2 Max isn’t as good as either the Dyson V10 or the Shark DuoClean. That said, the vacuum’s speedy charge time and pleasingly simple controls might just tip the scales in the machine’s favour.

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