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What We Looked For in Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

The consensus among consumers and experts, according to vacuum cleaner reviews, is that overall performance in this price range is solid, with some models superior to others. Reviews -- and there are hundreds -- for the models we researched often comment on vacuuming performance, noise, and weight.

Users deem cleaning ability the most critical attribute.

The primary difference between entry-level and higher-priced upright vacuums boils down to convenience. Up-market Miele vacuums, for example, can swivel and lay flat to reach under furniture and feature an extra-long 39-foot power cord. This brand also offers a seven-year warranty compared with the more standard one- or two-year warranties at the budget end of the market. Nonetheless, plenty of reviewers find budget uprights plenty convenient and good values, to boot.

Cleaning Performance.

A vacuum cleaner is only as good as its ability to remove dirt, debris, and dust from surfaces, carpeted or smooth. Much depends on the suction, and in this dimension the bagless Bissell CleanView with OnePass 9595 (starting at $69) is a standout performer. Consumers are blown away by its power, writing in vacuum cleaner reviews that it picks up everything in one pass, from dust and grime to cat litter, construction dust, and other annoyances that get stuck in carpeting. Kudos also extend to the Eureka 4870MZ Boss SmartVac (starting at $140), whose users report suction sufficient to eliminate pet hair and dig deep into carpets for a thorough cleaning, even to the point of reviving the plush feel. The pet-oriented Hoover T-Series WindTunnel Pet Rewind UH70210 (starting at $129) boasts two suction channels that produce results that sometimes shock first-time users; one writes of being "disgusted" but gratified by what was sucked up.

In contrast, the Eureka AirSpeed Zuum AS5203A (starting at $100) loses points in upright vacuum reviews for unreliable suction. Users report it tends to fade out after just a few uses.

Low Noise Level.

Vacuum cleaners have long suffered a well-deserved reputation for emitting ear-splitting noise. Muffling the sound can send the price skyrocketing, however, so reviewers are often inclined to forgive budget upright vacuums their loud ways. We read comments in several vacuum cleaners reviews that pass as faint praise regarding noise level. One user, for example, considers the Eureka 4870MZ Boss SmartVac to be loud but not deafening and useful for scaring pets out of the cleaning path. Some also say the Bissell CleanView with OnePass is quieter than anticipated.

Here's a tip: If the noise is really irksome, try using earplugs while vacuuming and/or wait until no one else is home.

Bagged vs. Bagless Vacuums

It's a perennial quandary: Do you go bagged or bagless? Vacuum cleaners that suck dirt into a sealed bag are generally considered more effective and less messy to deal with. They do, however, require ongoing outlays for replacement bags. A bagless vacuum saves money over the long haul, but emptying the dirt cup can be a messy affair. There's no right choice and the decision is totally a matter of personal preference.

Review continues below

Among the models we researched, the Bissell CleanView with OnePass 9595, Dirt Devil Dynamite Plus (starting at $59), Eureka AS5203A Airspeed Zuum (starting at $100), and Hoover T-Series WindTunnel UH70210 are bagless vacuum cleaners. The Hoover U5140900 Tempo (starting at $80) and Eureka 4870MZ Boss SmartVac are bagged uprights.

Hose and Attachments

The hose is a handy feature commonly found on upright vacuums that, when used in combination with the onboard attachments, lets users vacuum non-floor surfaces like furniture, window frames, moldings, and drapery. The Hoover T-Series WindTunnel UH70210 features a hose that stretches to eight feet, compared with a 6-foot hose on the Bissell CleanView with OnePass, 5-foot hose on the Hoover U5140900 Tempo, and a 4-foot hose on the Dirt Devil Dynamite Plus. Specs for the Eureka 4870MZ Boss SmartVac are silent about hose length except to say it stretches to five times its original size.

Most low-cost upright vacuums, including those we researched, come with at least one extension wand for reaching the tops of windows and other difficult spots; the Hoover U5140900 Tempo boasts two. The uprights we researched are also equipped with a variety of attachments, such as crevice tools and dusting brushes. Additionally, the Eureka 4870MZ SmartVac features a Power Paw for stair risers and upholstery, the Bissell CleanView is packaged with a turbo brush, and the Hoover T-Series WindTunnel UH70210 provides an attachment with rubber blades to better pull pet hair from furniture and other surfaces.

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