Hoover is the latest brand to join the pistol-grip cordless vacuum cleaner revolution with the affordable Freedom FD22G. This lightweight handheld combines extension tube and power brush-head for floors, and some neat tools for up-close detail cleaning.
The main cleaner is almost identical to the woeful Vax SlimVac we tested in December, so the Freedom suffers similar issues with handling, pet hairs and low-quality build. Yet better floor-head and tool design, plus being less than half the price of the Vax, make this Hoover a slightly more appealing proposition.
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It took about a nano-second after getting the Hoover Freedom out of the box to realise that the main cleaner is all but identical to arch-rival Vax’s SlimVac Total Home. A couple of different mouldings and slightly different colour, but essentially the same item straight out of the same Far East factory.
Two key differences in the overall packages are the tools and the price. The Hoover includes fewer, with a different floor-head and tools, and a much smaller price ticket. At £129.99, it's less than half the price of the Vax – which is just as well, as we called that a "cordless catastrophe".
The main body offers up the same angular design of the Vax, so it's no surprise to discover it's seriously uncomfortable in the hand. It has the same lock-on trigger that's all but inaccessible, depending on the hand in which you're holding the cleaner. There's a single removable filter that pulls out of the back.
Red highlighted clips beneath release the bin flap and battery. Since the charger plugs into the cleaner handle, having a removable battery is all but pointless, as you can’t charge a "spare" battery while using the machine anyway.
The tools are quite good, however. The floor-head is basic but offers an electrically powered brush and easily removed bar should it need cleaning. Its neck is a little limited in movement to just tilt and swivel, but the underside of the floor-head is well thought out, with four wheels and air-channels that run out to the side of the head.
The upholstery tool features a basic but functional design, with cut-outs to stop it sticking to your sofa. A soft and good-sized dusting brush that clips to this, and looks suitable for battling high-rise cobwebs.
The tool complement is complete with an extension tube and a basic, but again very serviceable, crevice tool. It's fairly long, suitably narrow and quite robust. That said, the tool clips are positioned on the cleaner body rather than on the tools, which makes dismantling awkward.
You get a plug-in wall-wart charger and a wall-mount bracket. The latter will take a little DIY to install, but holds the cleaner with extension tube and floor-head attached, plus a tool each side.
The wall charger has a thin cable with small plug that fits into a socket in the Freedom’s handle. Just to make this a little more awkward, there's an almost identically-sized screw-fixing hole just above the charge socket. One assumes that after a few months of stuffing the charging cable into the wrong hole and nothing happening, you'll get used to that.
Once the charging cable is connected, the light on top flashed red and blue. From a completely flat battery, it turned blue to indicate it was fully charged some five-and-a-half hours to six later.
It's a lithium battery pack, so putting it on charge even if it's only half depleted won't affect the long-term performance of the battery. Smart charging also means that you can leave it on charge permanently to ensure it's always ready for cleaning duties.
The brush bar spins relatively lethargically, but that does mean it doesn’t rob you of too much run-time. We managed a little over 21 minutes of cleaning with the brush bar engaged.
This is a good few minutes shy of the similar Vax SlimVac or, indeed, Hoover’s own claimed run-time. However, there's certainly a little more suction power on offer than the Vax – and a more efficient floor-head – so we're happy to lose that 4 minutes.
The pistol grip at the rear of the cleaner with motor, battery and bin in front give the Freedom a very front-heavy design.
This isn’t so much of an issue when you're using the tube and floor-head to support the cleaner. Lifting it up to clean anything above the floor, or even moving from room to room, does require quite a feat of wrist strength. Getting those high cobwebs with the extension tube and tool attached is definitely a two-handed operation.
The other thing you'll notice on lifting the Freedom from the ground is the sloppy fitting between cleaner and tube, and tube and floor-head. There's a huge amount of play, and you can feel that as you push the cleaner back and forth.
Since the floor-head appears to have some stick-down when the tube is more vertical at the end of the backstroke, pushing forward to overcome that creates some alarming flex.
The handle and trigger also resulted in some serious handling issues. Using the cleaner above floor level, the angular design causes various edges of plastic to dig into your hand. The lock-on trigger is also something of an enigma. For me, it's impossible to reach if I have the cleaner in my left hand, and the lever digs into the top of my finger.
Conversely, our small and dainty octogenarian tester – with hands slightly smaller than a Barbie doll – said she couldn’t reach the trigger if she held the cleaner in her right hand. But her small grip and fingers did make it easier to get to the switch when she held the cleaner in the left.
In either hand, the one thing we can guarantee after 20+ minutes of cleaning is wrist-ache and a few areas of soreness where plastic has been digging into your hand.
I'm not sure the cleaning results are worth the pain, either. Suction appears to be a little better than the SlimVac, but when spread across the larger floor-head it's still rather asthmatic.
On the plus side, the floor-head, and particularly the detail tools, are better designed. The floor-head has more bite and pulls dust and debris from the carpet better, although our carpet test still showed it wasn’t great.
There was a fair-sized band close to the skirting that remained untouched, and the cleaner didn’t do a great job of picking up the heavier granules of carpet freshening powder.
With no dedicated hard-floor head you'll need to use the standard floor-head, even though the brush can't be switched off. With its fairly low air-flow and limited suction power, the brush bar simply jettisoned most of the spilled oats on our standard test backwards across the floor.
The day was saved to an extent by the crevice tool and a good dual-purpose upholstery and cleaning brush. Both are a decent size, and with the airflow condensed into a smaller area, both provide reasonable suction.
The brush tool was a real favourite, being large enough to clean a good-sized area and with bristles soft enough for a variety of tasks.
The low suction power and lethargic brush bar didn’t really stand much of a chance with pet hair embedded into a nylon test carpet. The results were very poor.
On shorter-pile wool carpets, passing over the same area time and time again, it did pick up the majority of hairs. Performance was no better than a mains cleaner with no brush bar at all.
The Hoover’s canine-Achilles’ came with a stiff test of our Collie’s bed. Like the Vax SlimVac, the Hoover has a rubber valve flap on the business entrance to the bin. This tends to trap balls of pet hair, which quickly clogs up the main tube.
Although this happened less frequently with the Hoover than on the Vax, it was often enough to suggest that this cleaner is far from pet-friendly.
If you have the wrist strength and energy to manoeuvre the Hoover Freedom, it’s actually quite handy for stairs.
With the floor-head attached directly to the body, it is possible to leap up the stairs gazelle-like without fear of coming a cropper on a trailing cable.
Unfortunately, the combination of limited cleaning ability and our coarse stair carpet with embedded pet hair was a challenge too far for the Freedom, and its struggled to clean efficiently.
Using the upholstery tools on the stairs produced a much better result, albeit taking a while longer than with the larger floor-head. The action of agitating the tool against the carpet shifts a fair bit of debris – but again, you need some arm strength to do it.
The Freedom from Hoover is almost identical to the Vax SlimVac, but with slightly better tools and a much smaller price ticket.
Its cleaning power on carpets and hard floors is equally limited, however, and its disappointing build quality and poor ergonomics make it an ongoing challenge to use.
As a quick tool for spot cleaning, it's passable. But its performance is long way away from taking over as a home’s main cleaner.
An affordable cordless cleaner, but difficult to handle and delivers poor cleaning results across the board.