Miele Canister Vacuum: Callisto S5280 Canister Vacuum In the Test Lab

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Product: Callisto S5280 Canister Vacuum
Price: $799
Rating: Simply Irresistible

Miele vacuums have always been on short list of "if we had the money" appliances, garnering praise from neat freaks and allergy sufferers all around. But unlike your Hoovers and Dysons, they tend to be as rare as a Prius parked at a monster truck rally. Aaron over at ATNY has recently tested the Miele Pisces, being fortunate enough to call one his own and sung its praises. While we're not quite blessed yet to call one our own, we were loaned a Miele Callisto S5280 Canister model to use our around our apartment to test not only its cleaning prowess, but also to measure what sort of environmental impact the vacuum had while in use...

As you can see from the introductory image, the first thing we did was to use an airborne laser particle reader (the same we used to test our beloved mechanical family member, the IQAir Health Pro Plus) to get a reading from the outgoing top vent while vacuuming our living room rug (which would give a reading of 2 million particles when rustled). Many HEPA branded vacuums actually pollute indoor air quality while in operation (we used to have an upright that would immediately create a small dust plume upon turning it on despite its HEPA labeled bags), so we were extremely impressed to see Miele's tight construction, stringent quality control and an active HEPA filtering unit resulted in an absolute "0" reading. For allergy sufferers, one should not accept anything less, justifying the Miele's premium price tag with its undeniable performance.

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If we did have a criticism about the Miele Callisto S5280 it would be its slightly awkward handle system. While using it, we'd occasionally encounter certain arm/wrist positions while maneuvering that strained comfortable use. This was mostly because the handle was constructed with huge hands in mind, so if you're petite in size, be sure to give the vacuum a test run before ordering. We'd also wish the floor cleaning heads would pivot just a little further for under-furniture access.

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Now to the good stuff, which was a laundry list of items: the vacuum simply performs like one would expect from a $799 vacuum and then some. Upon immediate inspection, each and every component of the Miele Callisto reminds you where your money went. From the black hole suction strength, to the quality hand tools housed inside the unit, to the various power and noise settings available, the Callisto proved to be a well engineered product made with little compromise despite it's mid-tier lineup placement. The large 4.76 qt vacuum bags themselves were reason enough to feel confidence about the vacuum's performance, looking less like a typical disposable bag and more like a carefully woven permanent receptacle possibly used by NASA astronauts.

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Compartments open up for easy access to a selection of on-board tools that include a crevice tool, a dust brush and an upholstery brush which worked wonders on our living room, cat hair covered seating (it's shedding season). Floor cleaning options include both a hardwood floor brush and mid-sized 10.5" power brush that seemed to rejuvenate both our Target shag rug and our Flor tiles with equal hunger. I spent nearly 10 minutes just vacuuming the rug because I could continually hear the vacuum suctioning particles that our own vacuum must have missed, despite cleaning very often (and we're a no-shoes home). Only when I stopped hearing those small sounds of debris being suctioned inside the vacuum did I stop, imparting a confidence that the rug was genuinely clean.

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At 13.5lbs, the Callisto is no light-weight, but neither would one call it heavy. Its handle made it easy enough to carry around the house, and we vacuumed up and down our stairway with a bit a care only because we didn't want to damage or ding its beautiful black exterior. Other details we've learned to appreciate with additional use is the quick, but controlled cable retraction action alongside the quieter/lower setting options for various surfaces around the house. At its highest setting, the Miele made for one powerful gnat catcher that literally sucked in flying bugs from afar, while also being gentle enough to clean curtains at a lower mark.

Unlike Aaron, I'd be completely fine for settling for Miele's mid tier offering (which isn't settling at all). Living in a small apartment, the Callisto is practically a howitzer at a rifle range. Coming with a 1-year limited warranty on vacuum parts and labor and a 7-year warranty on motor and labor, the Miele Callisto will likely be one of those one-time investments you could very well use well into your later years, not something we'd necessarily feel with most gimmicky cleaning units out there. Combine that with its air clean performance and compact form factor, and you've got one nice vacuum. Trust me, we're going to use this vacuum as much as possible before having to return it.

Pros:
Active HEPA Air Filter emits "0" particle reading
Impressive suction with variable strength
Quiet to very quiet
Large dust bag with indicator
Excellent construction
Long cord (29.5' cleaning radius!)

Cons:
Slightly awkward handle
On/Off button a little unresponsive
Expensive

*Our Ratings:
Simply Irresistible
Recommend
Weak Recommend
Avoid!