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Hands-on Gear Review
Bissell AirRam ReviewPrice: $200 List | $159.99 at Amazon
Pros: Very easy to use, solid performance on hard floors
Cons: A little pricey, heavy
Bottom line: This middle-of-the-road vacuum didn’t win any awards, but performed alright in our tests and would be a good value pick if the price is discounted
On the whole, the Bissell AirRam did very well in our test, beating the majority of the competition and earning the fourth-highest score of the entire group. However, fourth place isn't enough to merit an award and there are definitely other vacuums out there that we would more readily recommend. The AirRam is very easy and convenient to use and didn't disappoint in our cleaning tests. It's lightweight and easy to use, as well as doing a great job at cleaning under furniture.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The AirRam did slightly surpass the score of our Best Buy award winner, the Shark Navigator Freestyle, but costs substantially more. It couldn't quite match the performance of the Dyson V6, but it does retail for about a hundred bucks less. This leaves the AirRam in somewhat awkward position, where it's good, but not great, and it costs too much to be a Best Buy. It would be a great vacuum if its price was reduced by $80 or so to compete with the Navigator, but for now, there are definitely more attractive alternatives on the market.
To find out which stick vacuum came out on top and sucked away the competition, we bought the best models available on the market today and tested them head-to-head to find out which one came out on top. Our comprehensive testing process was divided into four weighted rating metrics — Ease of Use, Carpet Cleaning, Hard Surface Cleaning, and Convenience — each weighted proportionally to its importance.
The entire point of this class of products is to provide a more convenient option than a conventional vacuum, thus our Convenience metric accounts for the largest portion of the overall score at 35%. We based the score for each stick vacuum on how well it could clean other parts of your home beside the floor, how much it weighed, whether or not it was corded or cordless — and correspondingly, its maximum reach or battery life — and how convenient it is to store each vacuum. The Bissell AirRam did reasonably well, earning a 6 out of 10 for its performance.
The Bissell is restricted to vacuuming floors, hurting its score slightly. While other models could transform into a handheld vacuum, the AirRam lacks and transformative abilities. This model is also a little on the heavier side, costing it a few more additional points. This vacuum is also stable enough to stand on its own and the handle retracts to make it even more convenient to store.
You can see in the chart below how this compares to the rest of the products in the pack.
This cordless stick vacuum did distinguish itself by having an exceptional battery life, lasting for a total of 35 minutes before calling it quits in our tests. The chart below shows how this compares to the rest of the models in the group.
The AirRam also charges relatively quickly, only taking about 3 hours and 20 minutes to completely top off the battery.
Hard Surface Cleaning
Next, in our review, we assessed how well the Bissell AirRam did at cleaning hard flooring types. To do this, we spread out rice, flour, cereal, oatmeal, and pet hair out on a section of laminate wood floor, then evaluated how the AirRam did at picking it all up again. It did quite well, meriting a 6 out of 10 in this metric, which was worth 30% of the overall score.
The Bissell started off with a rather unimpressive performance in our rice test, flinging a non-trivial of rice about the room as it cleaned. However, it did do a much better job at collecting flour, only taking two passes to get all of the flour — even stuff that was between the cracks in the boards.
It continued its strong performance in our pet hair and cereal collection challenges, sucking up all of the debris without any sign of a struggle. The AirRam finished out this metric with a solid performance at collecting oats, though it did fling a few across the room inadvertently.
Ease of Use
This metric, worth 20% of the total score, ranked each vacuum on how easy it is to use, focusing on its noise level and cleaning options, as well as how well each product cleaned close to the edges of a room and under furniture. The Bissell scored very well, earning a 7 out of 10 for its showing.
The AirRam does an average job at cleaning along a wall, leaving just a little bit of debris along the wall and in front of the vacuum.
This product also did exceptionally well at our cleaning under furniture test, satisfactorily cleaning under our simulated sofa in its entirety, reaching over 37".
The Bissell AirRam also has swivel steering, though it isn't the most agile when it comes to maneuvering.
The Bissell is exceptionally quiet, measuring in at 74.2 dBa on our SPL meter, with the following chart showing how this compares to the rest of the pack.
Losing a few points for this, the Bissell only has a single cleaning mode, with no option to adjust it for different floor types.
Accounting for the remaining 15% of the total score, our Carpet Cleaning metric assessed each vacuum at how well it could keep soft floors sparkling. We again used rice, oats, flour, cereal, and pet hair, this time testing on both low-pile flat carpet and medium-pile fluffy carpet.
The Bissell had a similar problem to the hard floor metric when collecting rice from the flat carpet, flinging some of it around. However, it did much better on the fluffier carpet, collecting all of the rice without issue.
The AirRam didn't particularly impress us at collecting flour, leaving behind a decent amount. It did redeem itself by doing an excellent job at collecting Cheerios, requiring minimal effort on both flat and fluffy carpets, with no noticeable residue. It did a decent job at sucking up oats, only launching a few flakes across the room. However, this vacuum delivered a poor performance at picking up pet hair, leaving tons behind on the carpet. This is definitely a deal breaker if you have pets and should probably consider an alternative product.
The AirRam isn't a terribly good value, feeling slightly overpriced relative to its performance in our test.
All in all, the Bissell AirRam is a solid stick vacuum. While it didn't deliver a stellar performance, we didn't overly dislike it — there are just better options available.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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