Small, practical, and powerful, but a little heavy.
Cleaning my home is never going to be something I really look forward to. I make the best of it and get satisfaction when it is clean, but let's face it, we would all rather be doing something else and just come home to find our little abode sparkling by magic.
So anything that can make it easier is welcome, and this vacuum cleaner has certainly done that.
The first thing that struck me was the size. I have had various well-known uprights in the past, and have not been impressed with the hype. Often I have fallen back on a good, old-fashioned cylinder type. But though they do everything, they are bulky both to use and store.
This sweet little item is far neater. I have it plugged in next to a bookcase where it is almost unnoticeable, and as the hose is incorporated in the design, there are no bits sneaking out ready to trip me up! And, of course, it is cordless.
But does it work?
In a word, yes. And very well too. It is surprisingly powerful and even on my old carpets, it has done the job properly and sucked up the dust.
There are limitations. It is a small device and the dust collector fills up quickly. The hose is quite short. And if you have a very big house, you might run out of charge after 60 minutes; that hasn't been a problem for me. It mustn't be used for wet spills, and, like many domestic vacuums, you should be careful of very fine ash or sawdust; they can pass through the filters and the finest particles are then recycled into the air.
But it makes up for those in pure convenience.
I leave the base unit plugged in all the time (I am assured by AEG that it only draws power when charging) so I don't have to worry about charge up times or if it is ready to use. I simply lift it from the base unit and press the power button.
Oddly, there is a very short delay between switching on and it actually winding up. I have no idea why. It isn't a problem, but it threw me at first. But after a couple of seconds, I am off vacuuming the floors.
It has three power levels and always starts on the lowest. To be honest, I don't often turn it up as that seems to be adequate for most of what I do.
It has a flexible head with a small, but efficient rotating brush, and it is far lighter than a regular vacuum cleaner. Smaller too, so it slides under beds and around furniture quickly and easily. It cleans right up to edges, which was particularly impressive. The LED lights on the front of the main head are bright which helps spotting the dust as well as giving light under tables.
The main head unclips and can be replaced with a small, three-in-one nozzle that can be a dusting brush, an upholstery head, and a crevice nozzle for getting into those awkward places.
Changing heads is a little fiddly. The main head has a single push button to unclip it. It is quite stiff and as the unit is not that light, some might find this a little hard going. But it isn't a game-changer. The three-in-one nozzle simply pushes into the hose end. It doesn't clip but relies on friction to hold it in place. This I find less satisfactory. It works well enough, but when you come to remove it, you sometimes have to hold the hose to stop that pulling out at the same time. I lay it on the floor to change the heads; it is easier.
The FX9 Ultimate can be used to clean around door frames, coving, and shelves. For working up high, I use the dusting brush attachment (one setting of the three-in-one nozzle) and simply point the whole unit up in the air.
It's designed to do this, but it is quite heavy. I have large rooms and I found it tiring and awkward, to be honest. There is plenty of power there, however, and with it on the most powerful setting, cobwebs vanished and spiders ran for it.
The least impressive part of the design is the hose.
The motor and dust collector are in one unit and you can slide them up and down the stick to change the balance when you hold it by the front handle; you have to have it down to the bottom for it to charge. But since the integral hose is connected to it, it changes the length of the hose.
When the motor unit is at the bottom of the stick, the hose comes out to 70cm or so. When at the top, it only comes out 40 cm. Either way, the hose is not long and it is very springy, and if you are carrying the unit in one hand and using the hose for dusting, you don't have a lot to play with.
Emptying the dust collector is very simple. You unclip it from the motor unit and open over a bin. There are no bags. I find that hairs get tangled around the core of the dust collector where the filter screens are, so you have to pull this out to get it thoroughly clean. It is easy enough; just pull it out and push it back in.
The manual that comes with it is without text. I understand why companies do this, one version covers all languages, but a properly written manual would be nicer rather than have to guess what the pictures mean.
Overall, the FX9 Ultimate is solidly made, powerful enough for most jobs, and cleans very well indeed. I think it is really meant to be an additional vacuum cleaner, but I have been surprised that I am using it almost all the time. Because it is so quick to use and is cordless, I tend to grab it and use it much more frequently. Consequently, the house is staying cleaning longer without me putting aside time for a long session.
And this unit is made for stairs! It is light, small, and dead easy to use. My much older sister has a similar cleaner which she uses in her three-storey house, and she never uses her corded cleaner now.
I just wish it was lighter and had a longer hose.