The Vax Blade 2 Max is the closest we've seen to an affordable cordless vacuum, and still manages to do the job well. Some stiff parts and mid-grade materials don't help matters, but it won't cost the earth, and has the suction power and modular design to make this a capable cleaning machine for your home.
Easy to empty
Stiff connecting parts
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The Vax Blade 2 Max is the latest cordless vacuum from Vax, a UK manufacturer of cleaning products and white goods – and one of our top picks in our guide to the best cordless vacuums.
It’s no overstatement to say that cordless vacuums are having their day. We’re finally at the point where cabled vacuums no longer have the edge over their cordless counterparts, which have gradually become sleeker, more powerful, and – crucially – more power-efficient than their tethered competition.
It’s not all domestic bliss, though. You still have to do the cleaning, after all, and most cordless vacuums are still held back by limited battery life.
The Vax Blade 2 Max is designed to give you the best of both worlds: offering the suction power and convenience of a high-end Dyson machine while sharply undercutting it on price. But in a market increasingly filled with cordless vacuums promising the end of cabled cleaning, does the Blade 2 Max make an impression?
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Price and availability
The Vax Blade 2 Max is available for £249, a significant step up from the original Vax Blade Max’s price of £179.
That’s still a decent chunk below what’s perhaps its closest competitor, the Dyson V8 Absolute, and only half the price of our top pick of cordless vacuums, the Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute.
So on price alone the Blade 2 Max is competitive, although your purchasing decision may come down to whether you’re willing to jump up another couple of hundred pounds for something more high-end.
The Vax Blade 2 Max is an iterative update to last year’s Vax Blade, and there isn’t much change in its appearance or build.
The design is largely gray and black, while the bulk of the body is in the sizeable handle and motor, emphasising steering control over shedding excess weight.
At 3.1kg the Blade 2 Max isn’t heavy, but it isn’t the lightest cordless vacuum out there either, opting as it does for regular plastic over premium lightweight materials, and focusing more on practicality than design flair.
Like other ‘stick’ vacuums, the motor sits at the handle end, with a long tube connecting the motor to the floorhead. The Blade 2 Max also features a neat modular design, though, allowing you to unclasp the central stick and shorten the length of the vacuum – ideal for cleaning in tighter spaces and corners, or stairs.
The mechanics here are a bit DIY, and the joints don’t click together or come apart as easily as we’d like – it’s here that you can tell where corners were cut to meet the competitive pricing – but it’s also intuitive and easy to get your head around, and the vacuum feels firm and stable when everything’s connected.
Sadly the same logic doesn’t extend across the board, and the floorhead particularly seems overly difficult to grapple with. Inside is a cylindrical brush that picks up hair during vacuuming, but rather than providing appropriate tools to remove this for cleaning it, I was advised to use a 2p coin – that’s a 2p coin mind you, not a 10p or a 5p – to unclasp the side of the floorhead and pull it out, and then use a knife or similar to drag off the strands.
The main changes over the Vax Blade Cordless are in the internal processor and improved suction hardware, which explain the significant price jump. Make no mistake, though, this is still a steal for what the vacuum can do.
Alongside a wall mount for charging, and a dusting brush for bookshelves and window sills, at the time of writing Vax is throwing in a tool kit which includes a flexible hose attachment and alternative floorheads for dealing with tough dirt or thick carpets – until November 20, at least.
The real test for any vacuum cleaner, of course, is how well it cleans.
Well, to start, the Vax Blade 2 Max offers three times the suction power of its previous model. The power rating has jumped from 32V to 40V, so expect the motor to spin a little faster – though the improved suction should mean you’re not having to tread the same patch of carpet over and over while it does so.
The Blade 2 Max cleans for up to 45 minutes off a three-hour charge, although the run time drops pretty drastically if you use the more power-intensive boost mode – maybe 12-15 minutes – which really isn’t very long for a house clean, so we’d advise sticking to the default power setting where you can.
While the boost mode does ramp up the suction, we found that the Blade 2 Max pulled quite hard at thinner sections of our carpet, which would cause it to drag rather than moving smoothly along – both a testament to the cyclonic technology used in the Vax vacuum and a good deterrent to overusing the feature. In general, though, cleaning with the Vax Blade 2 Max was everything we would have hoped for.
The default setting is well capable of cleaning up dust, hairs and dirt, and we found ourselves using the boost mode more out of impatience when cleaning than because of any shortcomings on the part of the hardware.
There's also a separate setting for heading into dark corners or under furniture, which switches on a headlight and speeds up the vacuum's rotations to suck in dust that’s just out of reach.
The head of the vacuum is also pleasingly flexible, curving into awkward spots and making it easy to navigate furniture. While Vax’s efforts don’t quite make vacuuming fun, the Blade 2 Max is pleasing to use, and is a huge jump in convenience over a regular tethered vacuum.
While competitor Dyson may have first popularised cyclonic vacuums – which use the torque of a fast-spinning motor to separate debris from the air sucked through the vacuum, rather than passing it through a filter – Vax’s take on the technology also works brilliantly.
When it comes to the real dirty business – emptying the bin – the end result is a practical cordless vacuum with a simple unclasping system to dump collected dust into a regular household bin, rather than having to fiddle around with filter bags.
The Vax Blade 2 Max offers convenient and efficient cordless vacuuming without the premium cost of rival machines. This new iteration on Vax's previous cordless vacuum triples the suction power, and makes a clear assault on Dyson's number one spot in the market, even if it doesn't take the crown.
At only £249 it sharply undercuts much of the competition while delivering strong suction and a smart, modular design that will let you clip together longer sticks or shorter heads to best suit the room or surface you're cleaning. The joints can be a bit stiff, but when you get to the actual cleaning it more than does the job.
We have some minor complaints about stiff parts and some fiddly assembly with the floorhead, but all in all the Vax may have cut a few corners to hit this price point, but the Blade 2 Max doesn't cut any when it comes to cleaning. You won't find the design flair or premium-grade materials of Dyson's offerings, but for the price this is one of the strongest arguments for cordless vacuuming out there.
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Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.