Pros: long cord, efficiently cleans carpets, wood and linoleum floors
Cons: only cleans floors (not a complete vacuuming solution by itself)
I'd heard about Oreck vacuums for years before I actually bought one. It's actually hard to avoid that in my area. It seems like every other commercial on talk radio is advertising this vacuum or its siblings. Every weekend there are ads in the paper touting how many accessories you can get with purchase ("But wait! There's more!").
My reaction to this was generally "Well, gotta be pricey to pay for all that advertising." And I didn't look into it any further.
Then I got a direct mail piece offering a "factory reconditioned" XL-2400 model direct from Oreck for half the list price of a new one. Hmmm. With the old Eureka upright on its last legs and not doing a very good job at all any more, maybe it was time to investigate.
But I didn't respond directly to the offer. Instead I went to a local Oreck store (there are several in the Twin Cities area) to find out more. I talked to the man in charge of the store. He knew about the mail piece and offered to sell me instead a "factory reconditioned" (ie., returned) XL2-3610 model for the same price.
The 3610 is the middle model in a series of three uprights the store currently offers. It has a 24-armature motor instead of the 12-armature motor of the older 2000-series uprights. The new motor supposed to be longer-lived than the old motor (I think that's what the 'XL2' stands for - 'eXtended Life 2'). On the other hand, while I was at the store I spoke to an older gentleman who was reclaiming his vacuum after servicing. It seems this was the first time in 15 years he'd found servicing necessary, so durability in general didn't seem to be a great problem anyway.
The 3610 has a 'dust light' that the base model lacks. The 3610 also has a better filtration system than the base model (which is what makes it worth more than the base model, in my opinion - the light alone just doesn't do it for me!). The top-end model has a two-speed motor, which the 3610 does not (the lower speed is supposedly better for bare floors, as the machine then picks up more dirt instead of simply kicking it at high velocity across the room).
None of the Oreck uprights has a height adjustment for different kinds of surfaces or carpet pile depths. Just drive them wherever you want.
When I bought the 3610 I was given some extras - two drive belts (to go with the two already on the machine, the installed one and a spare on a bottom-mounted carrier), three free annual tune-ups (which will include cleaning, new drive belts, bags and seals), three free rentals of a multi-purpose floor machine (that machine requires supplies available only at, no surprise, the Oreck retail store. I observed a fairly steady stream of customers coming in to purchase various cleaning supplies, actually), and a pack of air-freshener tabs (which go in a little pocket inside the outer bag).
What I did not automatically get was an Oreck hand-held canister vacuum. I could have purchased the 3610 by itself if I wished. However I was also offered a chance to purchase a new Oreck hand-held canister vacuum at half the retail price (reviewed separately here). A supplemental vacuum of some kind is necessary, as the 3610 and indeed all Oreck uprights only do floors. There are no attachments available for any Oreck upright.
It is true that together the two vacuums were only a bit less costly than the standard offer a full-price upright and 'free' hand-held canister. But that offer normally includes only the base-model upright, so I feel I did okay.
Okay, so how well does the 3610 actually clean? I've had the machine for about a month and half, and so far it's done very well for the most part. My first clue was a dried stain on the stair carpet. The old Eureka never did a thing with it over a period of years. I thought it was permanent. After two vacuumings, the 3610 had broken it up and whisked it away.
The living room carpet is an Oriental rug. I could certainly hear all kinds of things coming up out of it when I ran the 3610 over it. Here is where I first noticed that the '8-pound' selling point is somewhat misleading. The 3610 pulls pretty hard at that rug and it takes somewhat more than eight pounds of force to get it to move. The 3610 will also easily pick up the edge of the carpet and try to eat it, so I have to be careful in those areas. Here again, the 3610 removed a stain that the Eureka hadn't (even after applying a carpet cleaner!).
There is a small throw rug near the door of my living room. The 3610 is useless on that, as the rug simply comes off the floor and tries to jam the vacuum. There is also a small throw rug with a lower pile and a stiffer back in the kitchen, and I can hold it down with one foot and vacuum it just fine. So perhaps I should replace the living room throw rug...
The 3610 seems to do a better job on bare wood and linoleum floors than a broom (it never actually occured to me to use the old Eureka for this - but for the price, I want to get as much use as possible out of the 3610!), at least on the parts it can reach. It doesn't get into corners or under cabinets as well as a broom does.
Although the 'low-head' design and fold-flat-to-the-floor handle are supposed to make it easy to get under obstacles, the back of the power head is still high enough that it hits the bottom part of many furniture pieces. Beds, tables, and desks are often high enough to allow passage, but sofas, loveseats, chairs and cabinets are often not.
The owner's manual recommends changing bags once a month even if they're not full, partly to avoid odor problems. Since I'm the lazy sort that vacuums only once a week, I hadn't managed to fill the bag after a month. But there were several pounds of dirt in the bag (where did it all come from?! And the vacuum isn't just eight pounds total any more, is it?), and the air-freshener tab seemed to have died, so it seemed reasonable to change the bag.
Changing the bag is easy, but not immediately obvious. It wasn't until I actually looked at the picture in the instructions that I found the reason I couldn't simply slide the bag off the inlet pipe was that there was a small catch designed to prevent exactly that sort of thing from happening. Once I knew the secret, the rest was straightforward.
At one bag a month, a year's supply costs $20 or so. That doesn't bother me too much, even if in my case most of the bag is still empty after a month.
The air freshener tabs...well, I personally don't find the scent too appealing. It's not exactly bad, but to me it's kind of heavy and cloying. It doesn't seem to deodorize so much as just try to mask other scents. I probably won't buy any more to replace my initial supply when it's used up.
When I bought the 3610 I was given a 30-day money-back return period. I was never tempted to use it. If the 3610 continues to perform as it has so far, I doubt I'll ever have any regrets.
Mainly this update was about putting in the link to my Oreck canister review. However, after more than six months I'm still happy with the Oreck upright. I've noticed that I can't hear much of anything coming up out of the large living room rug any more and that the bag doesn't fill up with pounds of dirt between changes any more. After each vacuuming the bag clearly has more material in it than when it started (and usually more than I would have guessed there was to pick up at all); it's just not accumulating as quickly as it first did.
I take this as evidence that the first few times I used it the Oreck was cleaning up material left by the old Eureka. Now that that job is finished, there's much less to pick up each time. Cool!
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