By Patrick Avenell
Back in the 1980s, early model TV remote controls were actually wired to the television set – the convenience was that you could still control some of the functionality from your sofa, provided it was within a 2-metre radius of the device.
Back in the 1990s, early model mobile phones came equipped with a suitcase, combining an antenna and a battery pack, that you carried over your shoulder – the convenience was that you theoretically could make a phone call from anywhere, provided you had taken your peptides that day.
Back in the 2000s, transferring media from a computer to a device required a painfully slow USB transfer – the convenience was that you could actually watch a movie on a plane, provided you paid a small fortune for a 1GB MircoSD card.
The point is: cords are irritating.
And wherever cords exist, convenience is always limited.
Appliance manufacturers know this as much as the gadget crowd. Appliances are generally stationary — washing machines and refrigerators are rarely moved once set in place — but in those appliance categories where portability exists, cordlessness is a vertiginous pursuit.
Sir James Dyson, in his relentless pursuit of vacuuming perfection – a sport he enjoys almost as much as litigation – has released a series of outstanding cordless products, the DC44 Animal stick vac being first among unequals.
While not necessarily in direct competition with Dyson’s cordless offerings, American company Bissell has woken from its hibernation to unveil a bagless upright vacuum, the AirRAM (RRP $399), with around 40 minutes of cordless operation off one full 4-hour charge of its 22-volt Li-ion battery.
It may be heavier and sturdier than its battery powered rivals – and perhaps not as attractive, if floorcare aesthetics is important – but its technology and cleaning performance is peerless.
The AirRAM’s advantage is the placement of the motor in the head of the cleaner, between the brush and dust bin, meaning the motor has less work to do when sucking and transporting detritus from carpet to canister. To improve usability, the battery is detachable from the vacuum-proper, meaning it can be charged on a tabletop while the AirRAM stays hidden in the cupboard.
Bissell has been keeping a low profile over the past few years, focusing closely on the steam cleaning category, which has a rich heritage in TV shopping sales to complement a retail presence. If the AirRAM is an indicator of what is in store in traditional vacuuming from these venerable Michiganders, then bully for them.
American companies are great at providing lifestyle shots.