With busy schedules, any device that helps to ease household chores, such as vacuuming, is much appreciated. Enter the Tefal Air Force 360 (AF360).
It is a cordless handstick vacuum cleaner, quite similar to the Dyson V8 Absolute Plus that The Straits Times reviewed last August.
Most handstick vacuum cleaners have the motor near the cleaning head, but the AF360 has the motor on the hand grip like the V8.
Thus, comparisons with the V8 are inevitable. But keep in mind that the AF360 ($599) is nearly half the price of the V8 ($1,099).
The AF360 comes with the main hand-grip unit, the rod-extension attachment, the main-roller attachment, a crevice attachment, two brush attachments, a sofa-brush attachment and a wall mount.
The main hand-grip unit looks like a futuristic gun when not fitted with any attachment. It has a trigger to start cleaning. There is a transparent bin in front of the trigger that lets you see the amount of debris collected.
There is a lever at the top of the hand grip that you lift to open the dust container. At the rear of the hand grip, you will find a Boost button, which you press for high-power vacuuming.
BATTERY LIFE: 4/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
Assembling the AF360 is easy. Just hook up the rod extension to the hand grip, attach the main roller to the rod extension and you are ready to vacuum.
The main roller is all you need, as it can clean most floor surfaces - from tiles to carpets - according to Tefal. The roller also has lights, so you can see where it is going in dark corners. This is the attachment used most of the time for this review.
Unlike the V8's trigger that needs to be pressed constantly during cleaning, the AF360's trigger is automatically locked when pressed. Press it again to unlock.
The AF360 is not as noisy as the V8. However, it is not as nimble as the latter. The roller head does not turn as well and there are some corners in my flat that I could reach with the V8 but could not with the AF360.
Also, there were many times when I accidentally pressed the Boost button with my forearm or biceps while squatting to reach those tight corners. Maybe having a slider button instead, sited on top of the hand grip, would be better.
Another downer is when opening the dust container. Its lid falls in front, which means dirt is being pushed backwards towards you. You might want to hold the hand grip further away before lifting the lever.
On paper, battery life is 20 minutes on normal mode and 12 minutes on Boost mode. But it lasted 30 minutes on normal mode during the tests - just enough juice to vacuum my 90 sq m flat cleanly.
It takes about three hours to fully charge the AF360's battery, which is two hours less than what it takes for the V8 to be fully charged.
• Verdict: The Tefal Air Force 360 handstick vacuum cleaner might not be the most expensive nor the cheapest on the market. But it strikes a great balance in terms of performance and price.