My mother owned her long canister Electrolux vacuum for my entire childhood—the exact model shown above. Meanwhile, I've owned 4 Dysons in the past 10 or so years. The funny thing is—right up until #4 kicked the bucket, I was excited to by each new iteration in much the same way I'm psyched every time a new iPhone comes out (my mom, it might be added, used the same rotary phone most of my childhood, too). And do you know how your iPhone weirdly, always seems to start really slowing down right when the exciting new model came out? That was always the same with me and my Dysons: just as my first upright was losing suction, then out came the cool new canister. And just as its cords and tubes were failing, out came the cool Big Ball; and just as the same fate befell it that cursed its predecessor, then out came the powerful handhelds (I actually bought two handhelds, so technically I've had 5 Dysons, but one was for a different house). And full, fair disclosure: two of those Dysons were factory refurbished, so while certified by Dyson, they were not brand new (but nor were they cheap).
So a few months back when my Dyson V8 handheld began to really lose its charge fast, I had had enough. And I know what you're thinking: who the hell buys a brand new vacuum, anytime a problem arises? My mom obviously didn't. But my experience with getting my first two Dysons repaired was that it always ended costing at least $200 and it was only a bit more to get a new, slicker model. Shame on me, I know.
But here's the problem with quitting Dyson—where do you go? Electrolux still makes canister vacuums, but by all accounts there quality is not what it was. You can go the Bosch or Miele route, but they're both quite a bit more than most Dyson models and you have to deal with vacuum bags, which seems so 30 years ago. There's a bunch of very flimsy Dyson knockoffs that you see on Amazon, but they seem the height of disposable.
I ultimately went with two models (which was a mistake, that I'll explain in a bit) and here's the tale of the suck. The first model was a corded canister from Shark—generally the higher-end of those aforementioned suspy models on Amazon. Prestige wise, going from a Dyson to a Shark is like trading in your Maserati for a Mazda, but I was in a panic (I mean look at that thing—it's an industrial designer's nightmare wrapped in light purple plastic). But my Dyson was kaput and the dirt was piling up. Normally I research any purchase over $200 to death, but there was no time. I reviewed this quite awesome review in the New York Times, clicked on Amazon (I know! But it was the pandemic!) and in 48 hours the Shark NV352 Navigator was at work in my living room.
And surprisingly, it's a pretty great vacuum cleaner, especially for under $250, which it was when I bought it. That's the cost of what fixing my Dyson would have cost and for that I got a light, compact model, that the first time out sucked up so much extra dust from the carpets that the Dyson had been ignoring for clearly a very long while, that I was a mix of pleased and grossed out. As you can see above the canister separates from the main unit to make it more portable. But "more portable" shouldn't be confused with actually portable. This in essence an upright vacuum cleaner, but one that does a heck of a job given its price point. It was corded, it was ugly, but I was happy.
This would have been the end of it for a while, but then by very odd happenstance, a PR firm in New York reached out saying that they were offering loaner models of a new vacuum company, Tineco, if I was interested. These are the the type of emails we get frequently at the magazine and for the most part I ignore them. But I was deep in the vacuum cleaner rabbit hole, so I said sure. And lo and behold a week or so later arrived a loaner model of the Tineco Pure One S12, the clunky named challenger to the Dyson throne. As I opened it I realized I had almost bought a similar model from Tineco at Costco a while back, but being unfamiliar with the brand I ignored it. My first impression as that the box it came in was like a circus car, but instead of clowns it was a never ending stream of attachments that poured out. Two different power head nozzles (one soft, one hard), a pet hair attachment, a long crevice tool, a normal crevice tool, a soft dusting brush, a hair cleaning tool, two batteries. A lot of stuff.
It looks similar to a Dyson, perhaps a little cleaner design (a little vacuum humour here) and it has a full digital display on top (similar to the one above, but fancier). It also has an app, that I installed on my phone and then never opened again. I still have no idea what it does. All of which is to say, the vacuum comes with a ridiculous amount of bells and whistles, almost none of which I've used during my trial run.
But that doesn't really matter because in its primary function—vacuuming carpets and floors—the Pure One is hands-down the most amazing vacuum I've ever used. It's light, it's got tonnes of suction, the battery life shames my old Dyson and there's a spare battery being charged in case you ever run out, which I haven't in any one vacuuming session. You can actually control the suction, which in theory would be good when going between carpet and hardwood, but given that I've yet to encounter any battery issues, I generally keep it at max the entire time. It even managed to get a full canister from that carpet that the Shark got the full canister just a few weeks previous.
That being said, it's a lot more expensive than the Shark. The S12 is the top of the line and it runs $800 (although it's on sale this week and next for $600). To put that it context, the comparable Dyson the V11, is $1100. So as I prepare to relinquish the loaner, the question is—would I buy it? The answer is big yes (especially at the sale price). As great a value as the Shark is, it's just very clunky and onerous to use. If my finances were more limited I think I'd go for the one Tineco model down: the S11 Spartan, which is the model I saw ay Costco and checks in at $350.
Now the big proviso is that every vacuum is great for the first little while, my Dysons included. They look great, they suck great, they hold their charge wonderfully. Time will tell if a two-year-old Tineco can keep the magic going strong, but I'm won over for the time being.