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The High Cost of Maintenance
on January 9, 2009
Panasonic MC-CG885 OptiFlow Lightweight Bag Canister Vacuum Cleaner
This vacuum cleaner sucks. There I said it, now that that's out of the way let's get down to the nitty gritty the down and dirty. For the past five years or so I've only been using bag less vacuums. I have three. A Eureka upright, a Panasonic small canister and a DustBuster. Bag less vacuums are a breed unto themselves. You get to save the cost of the bags but you have to figure out how to empty them without making a bigger mess than you just cleaned up. You have to supply a bag of some sort so you can contain the dirt and dispose of it neatly. With a bag vacuum like the MC-CG885 that's not a problem. What IS a problem is the bag inside is quite small and very costly. As Amazon doesn't sell it (yet??) I found it on the Internet for about $6 per bag. For a bag as small as it is, that could be quite an expensive proposition to maintain. My first thought is if you have new carpet, they usually shed for quite a while (my bag less upright pulled up a lot of blue fuzz) and you'll fill these bags very quickly. Going back to my first sentence, this "OptiFlow" has a lot of suction power. That's good it pulled up dirt like nobody's business.
To begin back at the beginning, assembling this vacuum was relatively easy. The hose attaches to the body with an easy twist and the wands also go together with positive latching mechanisms that are quite secure. Just make sure you connect the outboard power line so the beater bar and light get their power. It's a simple, one way is right, positive connection. When it's all together I noticed a few issues. There is a hook on the body to support the wand and head in an upright position for storage or rest. It sometimes tips over. If the head is set to anything other than extra low it always tips over. It won't park as easily as an upright. It on the other hand isn't as heavy as a typical upright. It's fairly maneuverable too. It has three free spinning casters on its bottom and they roll easily on carpet or floor. I have both. The power cord is VERY long so you can plug it in and clean a large area or maybe two rooms. It retracts easily with the press of the large button on the top of the canister. Under the "hood" it has hidden storage for the crevice tool and small brush. Both work as expected. The business end of the hose has a pistol type grip and sliding on off switch. This is where you can attach the tools or by disconnecting the head end power cord you can use one of the rods for an extended reach. The power switch is an Off, Floor, Carpet three position switch. It also controls the beater bar on the head piece. It operates smoothly and efficiently.
I experimented with different heights for the head end. At its lowest setting it has a tendency to want to pull you forward, It's very strong and digs into the carpet. As I raised it that corrected the situation and still got the cleaning done. Just be careful to get the right height setting. As for cleaning a floor, not so good. Light or loose dust is fine but for heavier grime you'll need something better for that. It's not a mop.
Changing the bag is easy and neat. It rests in a basket that has a handle to lift it out of the body. It's all under the big hood that opens easily. That the bag is small and expensive is the biggest most damning strike on this otherwise fine vacuum. It is also relatively quiet for one that is as powerful as it is. I would love to see Panasonic come up with an emptyable cartridge that would go where the bag is, but that's not going to happen.
To sum up. It's strong, quiet, easy to use and does a very good job. I just can't get over the fact that you will be running up serious expenses on bags.
UPDATE: March 14: I would raise the Star level to 4 now that Amazon is selling the bags and at a reasonable price (4 for $10). It ends my biggest gripe.