The smallest, lightest, most efficient cordless vacuum you can buy, but not the most effective
- Amazingly small and light
- Motorised roller
- Reasonable price
- Middling cleaning capabilities
- Short battery life
Cordless vacuums were once the rockstars of the vacuum cleaning world, but in recent times they’ve become more Will Young than Mick Jagger. The Gtech HyLite is here, however, to drag cordless vacuums back into the limelight – this is the smallest, neatest vacuum cleaner you’ve ever seen.
Broken apart (and yes, it’s designed to do this), the HyLite is compact enough to fit in a utility-room drawer or be put into a drawstring bag and hung on a hook. Despite its tiny dimensions, though, Gtech claims it performs at least as well as, if not better, than many of its more bulky rivals.
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Gtech HyLite review: What you need to know
The HyLite achieves its diminutive size in a number of different ways. First, the handle is telescopic, extending to a full height of about a metre at the touch of a button, and collapsing to around 40cm. Second (and unlike the majority of the cordless competition), the motor and dust extraction mechanism are housed in the cleaning head itself, allowing the handle to be detached and stored separately.
Interestingly, the HyLite isn’t a bagless vacuum, employing instead a tiny 0.3-litre bag that fits in a cavity under a flap at the top of the cleaning unit, and it’s not particularly powerful, either. Its 90W motor falls a long way short of most modern cordless vacuums. Gtech cites this as an advantage, though, claiming it’s far more efficient than rival vacuums and thus has less of an impact on the environment.
Gtech HyLite review: Price and competition
With prices of flagship cordless vacuums skyrocketing in recent times, the £200 asking price for the Gtech HyLite is refreshingly reasonable. In fact, you can purchase one from Argos for as little as £170 – it’s grey instead of the bright green model pictured here, and doesn’t come with the cloth storage bag or a tool for cleaning the brush and cutting hair away. It doesn’t come with as many replacement dust bags in the box, either, but the product itself is no different.
Even at this low price, however, the Gtech has some stiff competition. Our favourite cleaner at around this price is the Shark Duoclean cordless, which will set you back £248 and delivers cleaning that’s almost on a par with the impressive Dyson V10. Then there’s the Beldray Airgility Max, which isn’t as effective as the Shark or as powerful, but is around the same price as the HyLite at £200.
Gtech HyLite review: Features and design
None of these alternatives come anywhere near the Gtech’s compact size, though. Fully assembled, the HyLite weighs a mere 1.5kg and, if you detach the telescopic handle and use it to clean furniture or your stairs in “handheld” mode, that falls to a mere 1kg. As a result, it’s considerably easier to wield than more top-heavy models like the Shark and the Dyson vacuums.
It’s packed with thoughtful design features, too. The 14.4V battery, which is found on the left-rear side of the cleaning unit as you look from the front, is removable so you can replace it when performance falls away as it gets older.
The handle snaps on and off easily, allowing it to be stored in an impossibly small space – just squeeze a pair of quick-release buttons at the base of the handle, pull and the two parts separate. You can use the handle either fully extended or shortened, making stairs easier to tackle and, thanks to the low profile of both handle and motor unit, the HyLite is an ideal candidate for cleaning under the lowest of furniture. There’s even a pair of LED lights on the front so you can see what you’re doing.
Perhaps most impressive of all is that, despite its Lilliputian size, the Gtech HyLite remains a fully functioning vacuum, complete with motorised roller brush to give carpets that just-cleaned look.
Gtech HyLite review: Performance
The big question with a vacuum this small and a motor this low on power will be over performance. Is the HyLite good enough to be your only vacuum or should you keep a more powerful cleaner in a cupboard for bigger jobs?
It should come as no surprise that there are limitations. The first concerns runtime. The Gtech HyLite’s 14.4V battery has a capacity of only 2,000mAh, which is good for 20 minutes of use. I tested this and Gtech’s claims are bang on the money. It runs for 20 minutes, precisely.
Clearly, this restricts the amount of time you can spend cleaning and, with no eco mode to help out, there’s no way to extend this. The flipside is that the battery charges reasonably quickly (in around 2hrs 30mins) and, because it has its very own DC charging port, it can be charged whether it’s installed in the vacuum or not. This opens up the possibility for running more than one battery, charging one while the other is in use.
Another major limitation is in the cleaning power of the HyLite. Gtech has cleverly mitigated the low power of the motor by keeping the airflow path short. With the motor mere centimetres from the brush, it’s as efficient as it possibly can be. In our tests, however, it didn’t perform particularly well.
Our large-particle test, which involves attempting to vacuum 26g of Cheerios from carpet and then hard flooring, the Gtech left a considerable amount of cereal on the floor after one pass. And even after several passes, it still struggled to remove everything. Worse, some of the Cheerios became stuck in a channel behind the roller, and between the roller and the outer housing, so when I stopped cleaning, they dropped back onto the floor.
The second test I ran, which involves vacuuming 50g of plain white flour from the same two surfaces, provided similarly middling results, with the Gtech leaving 22g of flour in the carpet after one pass and 6g behind in the hard-floor test. The Gtech didn’t have enough power to lift all the flour from the roots of the carpet, either, and left a visible dusting behind even after a minute or so of pushing the vacuuming back and forth over the top. Even the Beldray Airgility Max performed better than this.
The final issue I have with the Gtech is the size of the bags. Gtech says each one will last you roughly a month, because the fluff and hair it picks up compress as you clean. I haven’t used the HyLite for long enough to verify that but, if true, that still means you’ll be changing the (non-biodegradable) bag 12 times a year. It’s just as well replacements are cheap, at £13 for 15.
Gtech HyLite review: Verdict
With such compact design, though, compromises are inevitable. It won’t clean your carpets as thoroughly as the Shark Duoclean or even the budget Beldray Airgility Max. Older Dysons like the V7 outperform it on the cleaning front, too, and it struggles with picking up larger debris.
That being said, there’s still a lot to like about the Gtech HyLite. It’s good enough to keep on top of day-to-day cleaning; it’s more efficient and consumes significantly less power than the majority of the competition; and the price isn’t sky-high, either. Most important of all, there’s nothing that can match its space-saving design. If you can put up with slightly less effective cleaning than a Dyson or a Shark, there’s plenty here to recommend.