Fun_People Archive
4 Apr
Good engineering thoughts: need a good vacuum cleaner? try a Fantom

Date: Thu, 4 Apr 96 14:28:58 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: Good engineering thoughts: need a good vacuum cleaner? try a Fantom

[Unix old-timers may find special interest in this report... -psl]
Forwarded-by: Keith Bostic <>

Subject: Good enginnering thoughts: need a good vacuum cleaner? try a Fantom
Date: 1 Apr 1996 19:48:54 GMT
Organization: Silicon Graphics, Inc.

(Just back from the kind of sabbatical where you do things around the
house, take it easy, do nothing exciting on purpose.  The most exciting
thing I did was help select a new vacuum cleaner (not really, but close
:-)).  Normally, it is unwise for anyone to show skill/knowledge about
cleaning, lest they get asked to do it again - incompetence here is best.
However, I always appreciate good engineering and creativity, especially
when somebody rethinks a device made by numerous companies and that you'd
have thought was completely mature. So here is my performance analysis of
a vacuum cleaner.  (Such analysis is traditional: remember the vacuum
cleaner called a VAX?)

Fantom is made in Canada, comes in black plastic, with purple  trim that
more-or-less matches our Indigo Espressigo.  Only place we could find it
was in K-Mart; never having heard of it before, we looked for it only
because our cleaning lady recommended it.

This is a combined upright/canister model - it is basically an upright,
with rug brush [settable to 3 height levels].  However, the handle that
you normally push with, when pulled out, can be used with various
implements like the tube on a canister type. The 3 implements have mounts
on the sides, so they stay with the cleaner & don't get lost.

It has a different approach to the basic suction mechanism.  Rather than
pulling thorugh a disposable dust-bag/filter, it has a clear plastic
container into which dirt is pulled:
	(a) You can see how full it is; you can also see if you've picked
	up something (like an earring) that you shouldn't.
	(b) It easily snaps out and is easier to handle than usual bags.
	(c) It doesn't suffer the loss of suction that often happens with
	   the dust bags as they get full, as the filter (good enough to
	   stop pollen, for example) at the tail-end of the process, rather
	   than being part of the dust-bag.
	(d) They make various claims about suction power; I haven't tried
	enough others to know, and am usually skeptical, but it certainly
	does seem to pick up a lot more than our previous cleaner.
	(I.e., a higher DIPS (Dust-inches-per-second) rating.)

It has other clever little touches, like:
- An 800-number-for-help imprinted in an unmissable place.
- The top has a little handle for carrying it up stairs.
- Of the two knobs around which you coil the electric cord, the top one flips
  down, releasing the coiled cord quickly, rather than making you unwind it.
- It comes with a videotape showing how to use it.

Anyway, all-in-all, these folks struck me like an SGI of the vacuum
business:  thoughtful engineering; good performance; cool, striking
styling; enthusiastic marketing.

(No, this is not a joke, despite the date.)

-john mashey    DISCLAIMER: <generic disclaimer, I speak for me only, etc>

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