When it comes to vacuum cleaners, three decades in the industry have taught us that you largely get what you pay for. Yes, there are exceptions, but because the vacuum market is more price-compressed than the carpet cleaner market, the difference between a $100 and a $300 vacuum cleaner is going to be more noticeable than the difference between a $100 and a $300 carpet cleaner, and over time, you’ll end up spending as much in $100 vacuum cleaner replacements as you would have if you’d originally just bought the $300 vacuum.
As a result, this is one area where we urge our friends and family not to simply look for the cheapest machine they can find. To that end, Oreck is one of the heavy hitters in the high-end vacuum market, and two of their biggest stars are the Magnesium RS (LW1500RS) and the Elevate Conquer (UK30300). Several staff members own one or the other, and we decided to pool all of them together to figure out what exactly we all liked and disliked about them.
Pros and Cons of the Oreck Magnesium RS Swivel-Steering Bagged Upright Vacuum (LW1500RS)
While we loved the ergonomics of both Orecks (not to mention their designs), we found the Magnesium RS had more elements that made us want to use it on both personal and professional cleaning jobs. The SlimSwivel isn’t a gimmick; the Magnesium RS turned on a dime. We also enjoyed being able to maneuver under platform beds, although not all of us had the flexibility to follow the Magnesium RS there. The 99.97% filtration rate at 3 microns wasn’t a selling point for us, but it certainly would be for families with allergies. Cleaning capabilities were top notch, as expected. We were also fans of the LED lights for cleaning in the dark (or more realistically, cleaning in corners and dark parts of well-lit rooms).
The Quickswitch speed variation was relatively intuitive (low speed for wood and tile, high speed for carpets). On the logistics end, we were particularly impressed by the 7-year warranty, 5 free tuneups, and the near-featherlight weight at under 8 pounds. The weight makes it, per Oreck, the lightest full-powered upright with swivel steering in the US. Those were a lot of qualifiers, but the important thing was that the Magnesium RS was easy to push around. The only significant downside we found from multiple owners was that it sometimes took a while to get the tuneups scheduled and completed.
Pros and Cons of the Oreck Elevate Conquer Lightweight Upright Filtration Bag Vacuum (UK30300)
The Conquer, we discovered, had a loyal following among many on our team–not as many as those of the Magnesium RS, but they made up with it with their praise. Despite weighing slightly more than the Magnesium RS (at right around 10 pounds, it wasn’t quite as senior-friendly), it never felt heavier. The swivel steering was just as fluid, if not more, and the two-speed controls worked in exactly the same way. Indeed, in many respects, the cleaners were more similar than different. The Conquer also featured 99.97% HEPA filtration at the 3 micron level. However, unlike the Magnesium RS, we found the lighting system in the Conquer handy enough to use without additional light. We also liked the 35-foot long cord that allowed us to go pretty much anywhere in a room without worrying about being yanked back into reality and out of our cleaning haze.
In fact, aside from the greater weight, it was hard to think of things we didn’t like; the most significant was the warranty and tune-up discrepancy between the two cleaners; the Conquer only featured 1-year of warranty coverage (compared to 7 in the Magnesium RS) and only 1 tune-up during that warranty period. At this price range, we’d like to see multiple years of warranty coverage, or at the very least not such a large change from one model to the next. Aside from these minor quibbles, though, we were more than satisfied. Both can clean any flat surface without struggle.
Conclusion – which is the better value for a $500 vacuum?
This is a question we find hard to answer; out of the two dozen cleaning staff, we were almost completely split in our preferences. However, the Magnesium had a slight majority of votes due to the advantages already mentioned (i.e., very lightweight, much longer warranty), so if you’re completely on the fence, go with it. If you’re not, neither will let you down.
Canadians can buy the Oreck Magnesium RS here; unfortunately the Elevate Conquer is not available.
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