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Bosch BCS122GB Unlimited (Serie 8) review: As good as a Dyson cordless?

Our Rating :
£299.99 from
Price when reviewed : £385
inc VAT

A decent enough cordless vacuum cleaner but rivals offer more for the same price

The Bosch Unlimited is a vacuum cleaner that ticks all the boxes. It’s light and manoeuvrable and, as modern vacuum cleaner fashion dictates, it’s cordless, too, meaning you don’t have to worry about finding a new plug socket when you move from room to room.

And although it eschews bright colours in favour of a more low key white, black and chrome colour scheme, it manages to still look modern and sleek. It’s on a par with some of Dyson’s Vacuums when it comes to price, too – the question is, can it compete with them on performance?

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Bosch Unlimited (Serie 8) review: What you need to know

I’ll get to the question of cleaning prowess later on in this review. For now, though, I’m going to focus on the vacuum’s key features and, on this front, the Serie 8 compares pretty well with Dyson’s cordless cleaners.

By now, you’ll be familiar with the design: the handheld motor unit and dust collection part can be attached to a variety of cleaning accessories to do the cleaning. The main attachment consists of a motorised carpet cleaning brush that attaches to the Bosch via a long wand (or stick).

The Bosch Unlimited also comes with a flexible crevice tool and an upholstery brush, two rechargeable batteries and a docking station to charge the battery. It isn’t quite as well-equipped the Dyson V8 Animal, which comes with an additional smaller motorised head for cleaning the stairs more easily, or the Roidmi X20, which comes with a mop attachment.

Bosch BCS122GB Unlimited (Serie 8) review: Price and competition

The price you pay for Bosch’s flagship stick vacuum is pretty standard for a flagship stick vacuum. It will set you back £385, which is slightly more expensive than the Dyson V8 Animal, which is £349 on Amazon. The latter comes with only one, non-removable battery, but one extra accessory – that mini-motorised staircase cleaning head.

For around £395 you can pick up the superb Xiaomi Roidmi X20, which adds a mop function, but you’ll have to import it from China. There’s also the Shark Duoclean Wireless, which you can also buy with twin rechargeable batteries. That costs £337.

Bosch BCS122GB Unlimited (Serie 8) review: Design and features

The configuration of the Bosch Unlimited will be familiar to most people by now; if you’ve seen a Dyson V8, you know the deal. The vacuum motor, battery and dust collection bin are all housed in a compact, handheld unit that you connect your cleaning attachments to.

As popularised by the eponymous Dyson, this Bosch is also bagless but it only has a capacity of 0.4l so you’ll have to empty it out pretty frequently. It’s smaller than the Dyson V8’s 0.54l bin, although on balance there’s not enough in it to make a significant difference to the way you’ll use the vacuum.

There are plenty of differences between the two machines, however, and the main one does not make good reading for the Bosch. Put simply, the mechanism used to remove the dust collection bin for emptying is a disaster. For starters, it’s not immediately obvious how to do this. It turns out you have to press a release button and pull the bin down and away from the main body of the vacuum, but this is a contortion you have to guess at. There’s no indication on the vacuum itself whether you pull, push or twist the bin to get it off and no label on the release button either.

This made worse by the fact that it takes quite an effort to dislodge the bin from its moorings in the first place. And, in my case, the release button was rather hard to push down, too – if I didn’t press in the right place, the bin stayed firmly stuck in place. All-in-all, it’s a rather poor piece of design, which is a shame because the rest of the vacuum is sensibly put together.

The quick-release battery, for one, is a great idea, especially since the Bosch Unlimited is supplied with two in the box and a docking station for charging. This means you can leave one battery on charge while you’re vacuuming and, if the battery you’re using runs out of juice, you can simply swap it out and carry on.

The small 3,000mAh batteries last a decent amount of time, too – around xx minutes per charge on max power and nearly an hour on low power. They charge rapidly, too, in around an hour and, as a bonus, are also compatible with Bosch’s Unlimited range of battery-powered domestic tools, such as the firm’s Cordless Hedge Trimmer AHS 50-20 LI.

Another useful feature is that, when you manage to remove the dustbin, there’s a small handle in the top that knocks dust out of the filter’s nooks and crannies when you turn it. This means you don’t have to knock the filter against the side of the bin; it’s cleaner, and less messy method than most bagless vacuums and doesn’t result in great clouds of dust being released every time you empty the dust container.

Aside from the dust bin release system, the whole thing feels well made. It’s slightly disappointing that there’s no smaller motorised head for cleaning the stairs but you can use regular head without too much hassle. And it’s a bonus that you don’t have to hold your finger on a trigger to keep the vacuum on. Just pull the trigger once to fire up the motor and then pull it again to turn it off. Simple.

Bosch Unlimited (Serie 8) review: Performance

The Bosch Unlimited has two cleaning modes – standard and “Turbo” – which you can toggle between by pressing a button on top of the vacuum’s pistol-grip handle. While the standard mode will get you plenty of battery life, it isn’t particularly effective, producing only 4.5kPa of suction.

This is less powerful than the low power modes on all its key rivals. The Dyson V8 and V7 are far more powerful, as are the Xiaomi Roidmi F8 and X20 and the Shark DuoClean Wireless. Even the budget Beldray Airgility Max produces more suction than the Bosch at low power.

Things change when Turbo is engaged but the Bosch still isn’t great. It’s more powerful this time than the Beldray but lags behind the Dyson, Xiaomi and Shark vacuums.

The good news for the Bosch is that, in real-world use, it’s pretty effective and it cleaned up in the majority of our tests on both carpets and hard floors. The low lip on the front of the motorised brush head means you’ll have to detach it and use the crevice tool for larger particles – like the Cheerios we use for testing – but that’s the only scenario in which this vacuum is found significantly wanting. The Dyson V8 isn’t brilliant with large particles on hard floors either but its Direct Drive head does cope better in this particular scenario.

The flip side is that, while the Bosch struggles with large particles on hard floor, it outperforms some of its rivals with fine particles on carpeted surfaces because it creates a tighter suction seal. Overall, the Bosch is a decent performer, just not exceptional.

The good news is that battery life is excellent. Even from a single battery, the Bosch lasts longer in high power and low power mode than the Dyson V8, lasting 11 minutes in Turbo and 50 minutes in standard mode. Switch to the second battery, of course, and you’re doubling that.

Bosch Unlimited (Serie 8) review: Verdict

There are plenty of things to like about the Bosch Unlimited (Serie 8) vacuum cleaner. It has interchangeable, fast-charging batteries that can also be used on other appliances. It cleans effectively if you choose the correct attachment and it looks slick, too. 

The trouble with this vacuum cleaner is that it’s just as expensive as many of its rivals and not, overall, as powerful or effective. Both the Dyson V8 and the Shark Duoclean Cordless 250UK are better choices and cost less while the Dyson V10 and V11 both out-perform it significantly.

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