Vax’s redesigned dual-purpose floor head does its best work on both hard floors and carpet
- Dual-purpose floor head
- Good selection of attachments
- Two batteries
- Lacks anti-tangle
- Top heavy
- Lags behind rivals for suction power
Compared to the incremental upgrade that took us from the Blade 3 to the Blade 4 (which delivered little more than a battery boost), Vax has taken the Blade 5 to a whole new level. While the overall shape and layout of the cordless stick vacuum remains fundamentally the same, there are some significant upgrades.
The one that will probably make the biggest difference to your cleaning is the introduction of a fluffy roller, which has been built into the floor head alongside the standard brush roller, as seen only in Shark’s DuoClean floor heads. Vax calls this VersaClean, but it’s essentially the same concept. If you have to cover both carpet and hard floor, a floor head that’s equally effective on both surfaces is a real boon.
Vax ONEPWR Blade 5 Dual Pet & Car review: What do you get for the money?
While the Vax ONEPWR Blade 5’s dual-roller floor head is a game-changer, it isn’t the only upgrade. The other major enhancement is the replacement of the LED battery indicator with a snazzy screen, on which you can view the battery life in minutes, giving a vastly more accurate idea about how much charge remains.
It appears that suction power has been improved, too. I measured it using our manometer and, on the lowest setting, it’s more than double the figure I saw when testing the Vax Blade 4 – as you can see from the chart below. Crank it up to its highest, and the Blade 5 sees a 64% increase in suction power.
Beyond that, however, it’s business as usual. The device weighs 3.85kg and measures 270 x 260 x 1,040mm (WDH). The Blade 5 has a 700ml collection bin, which sits mounted on its side at the top of the vacuum.
Inside the box, you’ll find the standard selection of accessories. These include a combination crevice tool and dusting brush, plus a motorised pet tool designed for picking up fur from upholstery (it’s also rather handy for vacuuming the stairs). The latter tool can be attached to the handheld unit, the extension wand for extra reach, or a powered bendy hose for reaching into trickier areas such as car seats.
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You’ll also find one other tool accompanying the Blade 5. It has a flat base and a pointed top – it looks a little like an iron, but with soft bristles around the edge. Inside, there’s a felted surface and a number of holes through which it can suck dust. Vax refers to it as a “Tech tool” for cleaning out dirt from keyboards and the like. With its bristles to dislodge crumbs from gaps, and smaller holes that won’t let small components disappear up them, it’s a useful device.
There’s one other element to the Pet & Car version of this vacuum that’s worthy of mention, and that’s the inclusion of two 4Ah batteries. Easily removable, the kit comes with a charging dock, making it simple to switch out the batteries to have one charging while the other is in use. The batteries are compatible with Vax’s ONEPWR range, so can be used to power other Vax devices, too.
The chart below shows the battery life of a single Blade 5 battery. While it doesn’t compare well to similarly priced rivals (and even lags a little behind the Blade 4), the addition of a second battery effectively doubles battery life, making this the best of the bunch.
Vax ONEPWR Blade 5 Dual Pet & Car review: What’s it like to use?
On the whole, the Vax ONEPWR Blade 5 Dual Pet & Car is simple to use, working as you’d expect. The dual floor head means you can whizz around the floors of an entire house without having to swap out heads for changing floor surfaces (as you have to do with a Dyson), achieving decent results regardless of the floor surface you’re cleaning.
As with previous Blade models, the handheld unit is rather heavy (2kg), while the floor head is lighter (1.5kg), even with the additional roller. Overall, this makes the unit feel top-heavy in floor-cleaning mode.
The ankle connection between the floor head and the extension wand isn’t particularly flexible compared to the ball socket of a Dyson, for example, and with the heavier top end, it leaves the whole unit feeling cumbersome and sometimes tricky to control. On medium-pile carpet, for example, I found the floor head planing around somewhat, instead of twisting and turning under the control of my wrist.
I was pleased to see the addition of the soft roller, but Vax hasn’t taken every recent vacuuming innovation on board. One feature I particularly miss is anti-tangle tech. There are long-haired members of my family and I hadn’t even taken the vacuum to my regular tangle test zones around their hairbrushing stations before hair started collecting around the brush bar. If you have long-haired cohabitants, then be aware that the roller is going to need regular detangling.
I also found a number of pinch points around the vacuum that collected blockages too easily. The worst of these is the junction between the collection bin and the extension wand. This presents a tight angle, where the tube turns to draw the dirt from the upwards travel of the wand into the side-mounted collection bin. The situation is made worse by a flap; it’s useful for closing up the bin when it’s removed from the main unit for emptying, but in my experience it had a tendency to catch larger items, which could then stop dirt such as carpet fluff from getting through.
There was a second build up of detritus in the tube at the ankle. Here, a fallen leaf I had vacuumed up in the hall failed to pass through the tube, and it was catching fluff and other bits and slowly building to a blockage. It didn’t seem to stop the vacuum cleaner from working, and neither was it problematic to clear out; but it’s an extra choke point that needs regular checking.
On the whole, operation of the vacuum proved simple. The screen that displays the mode you’re in and how many minutes of battery lids remain for cleaning is extremely useful. There are four buttons to control the device: an on/off switch, a turbo button for a blast of extra suction, and a button each for the carpet and hard floor modes.
The latter two simply control the level of power being delivered to the motorised floor head. It makes sense to label them carpet and hard floor while the main floor head is on the device, but it becomes meaningless when the pet tool is attached, for example, and you’re cleaning other things.
Vax ONEPWR Blade 5 Dual Pet & Car review: How well does it clean?
Having seen how well Shark’s dual-roller vacuums can cope with our tests, I was excited to put the similar design of the Vax ONEPWR Blade 5 through its paces.
We test cordless stick vacuum cleaners by dropping measured spillages of flour and Cheerios onto floors, seeing how much is gathered in a cleaner’s collection bin following a single pass. We repeat this test on both short-pile carpet and hard floor.
The Blade 5 didn’t disappoint, tackling both types of spill admirably on both surfaces. The soft roller at the front of the floor head made particularly short work of the Cheerios on hard floor and carpet. The fluffy roller didn’t push chunkier debris such as Cheerios particles ahead of itself, even on hard floor.
Instead it trapped the cereal rings, dragging them underneath and into the path of the vacuum. As a result, the Blade 5 collected 96% of the spilled Cheerios in both carpet and hard floor tests, with the leftover Cheerios usually shooting off at an angle. It’s nothing that couldn’t be chased down, with cleanup completed with a subsequent pass of the vacuum.
Flour is a tough job for any vacuum cleaner, particularly on carpet, where it quickly disappears into the pile. Again, the Blade 5 coped admirably. On hard floor, the vacuum swept up 94% of the flour we’d spilled across the floor, with the remainder becoming trapped around the vacuum and falling out as we moved and disassembled the device for measuring.
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It struggled a little more on carpet, although it still collected 86% of the spill. We only managed to get this up to 88% with subsequent passes, and a visible trace of flour remained in the carpet after several passes.
As you can see from the chart below, performance is vastly improved over the Blade 4, with the Blade 5 performing better than the similarly priced Dyson V8. However, it doesn’t quite match up to the cleaning prowess of the Shark IZ300UKT, which offers stronger suction power that helped it lift more of the flour in our tests.
Vax ONEPWR Blade 5 Dual Pet & Car review: Should I buy it?
The Vax ONEPWR Blade 5 Dual has plenty going for it. It’s an affordable stick vacuum cleaner that easily converts into a handheld. It arrives with a decent collection of attachments that make it useful for all sorts of cleaning tasks – including pet hair and car interiors. Handily, it’s also supplied with two batteries, so you can be charging one while using the other.
The Blade 5 proved significantly better in our tests than its predecessor, the Blade 4. Much of the credit for this can be given to its completely redesigned floor head. With both a fluffy roller and a brush bar built into the same unit, it’s as comfortable on hard floors as it is on carpets, without needing to switch heads as you would have to with a Dyson.
Unfortunately, it’s still found wanting next to the Shark IZ300UKT in this department. Shark’s floor head comes with an anti-tangle mechanism that stops long hair from wrapping itself around the rollers, and its omission here will leave many people needing to regularly snip trapped hair from around the brush bar. However, when it isn’t discounted, the Shark is £100 more expensive, so if you don’t live with long-haired people or animals, then the Blade 5 might be fine for you.
For a Dyson model that’s similar for features and price, you’d need to plump for a Dyson V8, with the Absolute arriving with floor heads for both carpet and hard floor. However, the Dyson is still around £50 more expensive (£379, at the time of writing), and you’ll have to keep swapping floor heads when you move between surfaces.