Hands-on review: Proscenic P11 cordless vacuum cleaner
Image credit: Proscenic
Get your Spring clean on, cordless style.
With the vacuum cleaner now such a generic household object, manufacturers need to identify a new niche for their latest contribution towards the endless pursuit of domestic cleanliness.
These days we have vacuum cleaners with air purifiers, vacuum cleaners with special 'anti-hair-wrap technology' (Shark, we're looking at you), ones with uniquely powerful proprietary motors and suction styles, others with whisper-quiet operation.
In recent years, cordless vacuum cleaners have become quite the thing. It's a logical, welcome progression. No more snagging the machine's power cord on the door frame and sofa legs, or tripping unsuspecting home companions. No need to estimate the best choice of wall socket for optimum reach and coverage, when you almost always have to unplug and replug elsewhere anyway to do a full vacuuming job. With a battery-powered, cordless model, you're free to vacuum anywhere. Keeping every corner of the house clean? Sorted. Keeping the car clean? Way easier with a cordless vacuum.
Chinese company Proscenic (its name, unusually, a portmanteau word derived from 'prosperous' and 'scenic') originally established itself starting in the late 1990s building OEM products for big appliance brands such as Panasonic, Hitachi and Philips.
These days, the company oversees a range of household appliances under its own brand, with the Proscenic P11 one of its popular cordless vacuum cleaner models, first released in the UK last year (a new 'smart' variant of the P11 has just been released, if you really want to see vacuuming modes on an app on your phone).
With the retail price of the standard model now seemingly permanently dropped from is original £200 to something closer to £120, or thereabouts, we thought we'd take a critical look at the P11. At this lower – and also probably more realistic – price, it's a more attractive proposition.
Proscenic itself must also be acutely aware of its fellow Chinese manufacturing peers now offering what look like almost identical products, so can the P11 clean up the competition?
In design terms, the P11 – like those rival products – appears to have cottoned on to the style pioneered by some of Dyson's cordless vacuums. Namely, a main chunky body and dust retention section, a long telescopic arm to shift between close work and floor work, and a variety of brush attachments to fit according to need.
Whoever designed it first, Proscenic is proceeding with the principle that if it ain't broke, don't break it. It's the ideal blend of form and function for a device like this. Sometimes you need a good length to vacuum floors and the curtains; sometimes you need to get close-up with sofas and car seats.
The P11 has a strong 450W motor, apparently capable of 25,000pa's worth of suction from its three adjustable suction modes, accessible from the touchscreen built into the top of the main body. If you're looking down at the vacuum cleaner while you work, you'll be staring directly at this screen, which makes adjustments on the fly nice and easy. From the screen, you can select one of the modes suitable for hard floors, carpets, pet hair or floor washing.
Yes, floor washing, because the P11 doubles as a mop. This isn't a wet/dry vac, so don't try filling the P11 with water, but there is a dedicated attachment you can use over lightly soiled tiled or wooden floors. This magnetic water tank can be attached to the handle and used in conjunction with the main roller brush. Don't expect to lift off years of ingrained grime, but for recently deposited surface dirt it will get the job done.
The P11 also boasts various vacuuming smarts, such as adjusting its suction power as it senses a transition between hard floor and carpet, as well as between lengths of pile, e.g. carpet to fluffy rug. In this way, the P11 makes some concessions to energy efficiency, operating in either auto, energy-efficient or max mode, according to the surface and level of dirt. The motor is not going full throttle at 13,000rpm all the time, which is a relief.
It also has LED headlights, so you can check how things are looking under the furniture, or just vacuum in the dark for fun, if you're especially bored at home of an evening.
A high-efficiency four-stage HEPA filtration system sucks in and traps 99.99 per cent of dust and bacteria ejected while cleaning, the company claims, also locking in small particles. Proscenic's own take on anti-hair-wrap – the bane of our vacuuming lives, you'd think, given all the manufacturer attention devoted to this aspect – is a special roller brush that cuts and remove hair from the brush, saving you the trouble. This seemed to work as advertised during our testing in a house with multiple long-haired occupants.
The various attachments supplied cover most of the common vacuuming needs: a long 'crevice nozzle' for those hard-to-reach places, a round brush head ideal for removing hair and dust from curtains, sofas etc, and a cute mini motorised brush designed to extract deeper dust from soft furnishings, cushions etc.
Being cordless, the P11 needs its juice. A wall mount is included in the box, so you can set up a permanent storage home for the device next to a wall socket. Alternatively, the battery can be removed from the unit and charged separately. Spare batteries are also available, should you require more run-time (e.g. if you're a self-employed cleaner with a full daily diary).
With quick-charge technology, the battery can be fully charged in under three hours, which will then give you around an hour's worth of vacuuming time. For most homes, this should be plenty. Naturally, the touchscreen indicates battery level. Proscenic also says it has redesigned the battery to feature a cooling air duct, to avoid the unit shutting down due to overheating during extended periods of use. We haven't experienced any issues while using the P11 for the last couple of months.
Do we like the Proscenic P11? Yes, we do. Are we bowled over by its performance and style? Not really. It's hard to get (over)excited about a vacuum cleaner, but the P11 is at least a decent machine. A perfectly nice, modern, well-equipped and basically stylish device, although – as its competition demonstrates – we have reached the point now where pretty much any vacuum cleaner is likely to do a similarly decent job.
The P11 feels exactly like you would expect a value-priced, Chinese-made vacuum cleaner to feel. It's lightweight, which is good when you're lugging it around the house, going up and down stairs, but at the same time there isn't that sense of reassuringly solidity in terms of its construction. We can't speak for its longevity yet. Precision German engineering this is not – but then precision German engineering is going to cost you.
As with so many products now, the choice for consumers is as simple as it is familiar: do you go for a trusted brand, a long-established household name, and pay more for the expected bump in quality and performance? Or do you drive down the price and roll the dice on a lesser-known Chinese brand undercutting those big brands with a product that – at least visually and on paper – looks like pretty much the same thing?
Perhaps more importantly, when it comes to something as generically functional as a vacuum cleaner, do you really care? As long as it gets the floors clean when you ask it to, job done. And you may also have saved yourself a tidy sum into the bargain.
The Proscenic P11 has always made an acceptable fist of tidying up the usual household messes and spills for us during the time we've owned it, so we have zero complaints about this core functionality. It has done exactly what we've asked of it as a vacuum cleaner. Would we recommend the P11 to family and friends? Sure – providing the price is right.
RRP £199 (shop around for best price)
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