After the pandemic forced people to rethink household chores, there is a growing preference for convenient and efficient home cleaning solutions to achieve the desired hygiene and safety without increasing time spent on these chores. That explains why more and more brands are putting out vacuum cleaners, robotic vacuum cleaners, clothes dryers and dishwashers—products that were not very popular in India even a couple of years ago.
Philips recently launched its line of cordless SpeedPro vacuum cleaners in India. At first glance, you might mistake them for Dyson’s range of cordless vacuum cleaners. And that’s not a bad thing. Dyson has upped the ante amongst cordless vacuum cleaners, not just in form but also function, so Philips doesn’t have to work hard to establish the product category and its use-cases (cordless vacuum cleaners have evolved from those small, underpowered ones used for cleaning cars or occasional messes at home). And one expects Philips to not just put out a me-too product but offer its own set of benefits.
Cordless vacuum cleaners allow the users to make vacuum cleaning an efficient, everyday task instead of what used to be an occasional chore with those traditional, clunky vacuum cleaners — with bulky motor units that needed to be plugged in and the long hoses for suction — for spring cleaning or getting ready for the festive season.
Using these modern vacuum cleaners, even with their myriad attachments, is quite easy and these cleaners allow you to reach trickiest of nooks and corners of your homes.
The Philips SpeedPro boasts of an ergonomic design with appealing colorways. Since the “PowerBlade” motor sits below the handle, most of the weight of the SpeedPro is cantered on its handle, which makes it easy to manoeuvre as well as allows for firmer and smoother motions.
On the top of the handle, there’s a display panel that shows battery level with an option to switch to the turbo mode. Unlike the Dyson counterparts, one doesn’t need to continuously press a trigger to vacuum. I prefer a trigger mechanism since one often takes a break between motions and it’s natural to release the grip and have the vacuum cleaner take a breather – but that’s just a personal preference.
The “PowerCyclone” technology works quite well, and I’m comparing it with the best in the market. The 180-degree suction nozzle is able to pick up dirt even in awkward places.
One of the neat tricks is the detachable handheld unit that makes SpeedPro two devices in one. The brush attachment is integrated into the stick so it's always at hand to dust your furniture, appliances, counters, etc. while you are on your vacuum cleaning round. Doing the same with Dyson vacuum cleaners requires alternating between two separate attachments which is a little bit of hassle.
The main head of the SpeedPro comes with a row of LEDs. It’s an excellent idea since the bright LEDs light up dark corners as well as crannies under or behind the furniture. The only problem is that these are always on. Since one doesn’t need it all the time (although it does light up the surface quite nicely increasing the ability to spot dust particles, hair, and other particles), I wonder if a toggle switch could help preserve battery by turning them the LEDs off when not needed.
The claimed battery life is about 50 minutes, and you can sometimes squeeze the same, but switching to Turbo mode greatly reduces it. A mixed usage, typical in a normal household, will give an average battery life of 30-35 minutes. That’s good enough for a typical apartment, but a larger house might require two separate shifts, since the device takes five hours for a full charge. For most people though, it is not a botheration since one ends up placing the vacuum cleaner on the mount after they’re done and then only pick it up when needed. Essentially, it’s charging when its parked.
The SpeedPro is a fuss-free device when it comes to maintenance. After you’re done with cleaning, all you need to do is remove the dust compartment, shake out the dust in a trash can, and you’re good to go. Of course, one has to wash the filter every two weeks (let it dry for 24 hours before reuse) as well as clean the compartment occasionally.
Philips insists that its vacuum cleaner portfolio was designed with Indian households’ needs in mind. That said, the products were already available in other markets so I’m not sure of the claim.
What makes it an interesting proposition for Indian households though is the wet mopping feature available on the Philips SpeedPro Aqua, the top variant in the portfolio. Most of us, due to the extreme dusty conditions in India, aren’t contended with just vacuum cleaning. A good mop, or pocha, is when we really think it’s ‘clean’.
This is why, while cordless vacuum players are getting popular, most people follow up vacuum cleaning with a round of wet mopping or vacuum clean daily while mopping every alternate day or when desired. The latter was my pandemic routine with my Dyson cord-free vacuum cleaner. The robotic vacuum cleaners, like the one from Xiaomi, too want to fill this gap. They are quite useful but have challenges of their own.
The SpeedPro Aqua offers both wet and dry cleaning capabilities. Along with the regular vacuum nozzle, it includes a mop module which has a small water tank on top, a mopping pad (with a micro-fibre cloth) that goes underneath, and a pedal to control the release of water as you go along. Just water is fine, but you can also add your usual cleaning detergent or floor cleaner in the tank if you so prefer.
The mop module goes along with the vacuum nozzle, mind you. So, you don’t have to do two rounds – one of vacuum cleaning and the other for mopping. The dual setup sucks up dust first while the mop system mops the just-vacuumed area in the motion.
Overall, the mopping implementation is pretty good and functional. There are a couple of issues though.
One, if the vacuum cleaner misses a hair or something on the floor, the mop immediately wipes over it. A second pass over the surface – now wet – makes it difficult to pick up dust or other particles. Second, the 280ml water tank is a tad small and might require a refill between your mopping round. Also, while there’s a pedal to control the release of the water, by default, a good amount of it passes to the mop and sometimes the mop ends up being more wet on some surfaces – like the times as a kid when you were not allowed to walk into your room with your slippers on because “it’s still not dry”. Occasional water marks or ‘wetter’ mopping though are just minor trade-offs for an otherwise very significant convenience.
At ₹35,999, the Philips SpeedPro Aqua checks all the boxes. It works quite well, and offers undeniable convenience, while undercutting the Dyson offerings by a big margin. It also allows for family members of all ages to pitch in for cleaning duties since it’s an effortless exercise, unlike the traditional brooming and mopping routine. My teenager nephew often volunteers to give it a go when he’s visiting us to lend a helping hand to my wife and me.
Mind you, this review is based on my experience of the Philips SpeedPro Aqua. There are a couple of other variants which are cheaper, but both don’t offer wet mopping capabilities and the two differ in terms of available features. Evaluate them basis their vacuum cleaning features – and they are quite handy vacuum cleaners by themselves. The Aqua just ups the ante and the appeal if you’re in the market for a cordless vacuum cleaner for your home with its mopping powers.