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The Latest In Vacuums

vacuum cleaners
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After the holiday decorations are put away, many revelers find themselves left with a big mess of pine needles and tinsel embedded in their carpets. With such a tough cleanup job, this might be the perfect time for a new vacuum. Real Simple magazine's Kris Connell visited The Saturday Early Show to help in picking the right one.

Many of us have had the same vacuum for years. But, if you find yourself frustrated with your old vacuum cleaner because the retractable cord keeps getting stuck or the suction's not strong enough then it might be time for a new one, says Connell.

Before you start shopping for a new vacuum there are a few things to consider.

  • Does anyone in your house have asthma or dust allergies?
  • Will you be carrying the vacuum up and down stairs?
  • Do you have bare floors or wall-to-wall carpeting?
  • Do you mind buying vacuum-cleaner bags?
  • Do you prefer an upright or a canister?

The editors at Real Simple magazine recently featured some of their picks for the best vacuums on the market.

The vacuums featured are in two categories: canisters and uprights. The canister is very portable, easy to carry up and down stairs, great for hard-to-reach places. The upright is more a traditional vacuum, a bit more convenient to store and easier to maneuver.

Under each category each vacuum is rated as good, better or best. Also featured is the vacuum of the future, the Roomba Intelligent FloorVac.

Canisters

Good: Miele Naturell

Pros: Equally strong on bare floors and carpets. The dust bags seal themselves automatically when removed. The streamlined design and bright colors make the machine feel more like a sports car than an appliance. A switch on the floor nozzle retracts the brush, changing from bare-floors to carpet mode. Retractable 21-foot cord.

Cons: The bags need to be replaced, at a cost of $13.50 for five bags.

Warranty: One year for parts; five years for motor.
Cost: $249
Available at: www.miele.com or 800-843-7231

Better: Hoover WindTunnel Plus

Pros: Made by the Ohio company that's been making vacuums since 1908. This model has equal suction strength on bare floors and carpets. An indicator light alerts you when the bag is full. The switch for surface selection is located on the handle. A variable speed control lets you clean different materials. The retractable cord, controlled by a foot pedal, is 25 feet long.

Cons: When you're not cleaning carpeting, the bare-floor attachment must be used. The WindTunnel is heaver and larger than most canisters tested. Bags need to be replaced, at a cost of $6 to $9 for three bags

Warranty: One year for parts and the motor

Cost: $330
Available at: www.hoover.com or 800-944-9200

Best: Bosch Compact Plus Hard Floor

Pros: Despite its name, this vacuum is equally effective on carpets. Quiet and lightweight, it's ideal for carrying up stairs. Attractive design. Retractable 17-foot cord. HEPA-filter. (A HEPA-filter is a high-efficiency particulate air filter that screens the air the vacuum expels. A HEPA filter can remove most allergens. HEPA filters cost from $20 to $80 and most HEPA vacuums require at least an annual replacement. They are said to be helpful for people who have asthma or are allergic to dust.)

Cons: Dust bags ($12 for five) must be replaces and the HEPA filter ($40) must be changed annually. Suction control is manually adjusted with a dial on the canister, which involves bending down.

Warranty: One year for parts, five years for motor

Cost: $350
Available at: www.boschvacuums.com or 866-442-6724

Uprights

Good: Bissell Powerglide Ultra

Pros: Lightweight and easy to lug around the house, this vacuum can get under beds and sofas. The onboard attachment and hose are easy to access and put away. As long as the bag isn't chock-full, it won't spill when it's removed. Thirty-five-foot cord.

Cons: Machine is very loud. Works better on carpets. Bags need to be replaced at a cost of $10 for two bags.

Warranty: Limited two year repair or replacement of defective or malfunctioning parts

Cost: $100
Available at: www.bissell.com or 800-237-7691

Better: Dirt Devil Platinum Force Bagless

Pros: The suction on this sleek machine with a HEPA-filter is noticeably stronger than most others tested. The pile height is adjusted by a lever located at foot level. The brush roll for carpets can be turned off for bare floors with a switch located on the handle. Thirty-two-foot cord.

Cons: Machine is very heavy to carry up and down stairs. The HEPA-filter ($25) should be replaced annually. The dirt bin's design allows dust to escape during emptying if the bin is too full. For best results, empty it frequently.

Warranty: Four years for parts; six years for motor

Cost: $180
Available at: www.dirtdevil.com or 800-321-1134

Best: Dyson DC07

Pros: Debris is sucked away with one stroke. An automatic pile-high adjustment makes changing surfaces easy. You can empty the dust bin without coming into contact with the contents. Hose is 17 feet, cord is 35 feet.

Cons: Too heavy to carry up and down stairs.

Warranty: During the two-year warranty period, Dyson will arrange the pickup, repair, and return of the vacuum with approximately seven days at no cost. After two years the same service is available for a fee.

Cost: $400-$460
Available at: www.dyson.com or 866-693-9766

Robotic

Roomba Intelligent FloorVac

Pros: The Roomba is a six-pound, 13.4-inch round robotic vacuum that was introduced this past October by the iRobot Corporation. The Roomba uses navigation technology that iRobot developed for the U.S. military to sweep for land mines. With a non-contact wall sensor and a side brush, the robot is able to clean all the way up to a wall.

Cons: It has a tiny dust bin and needs to be recharged after about 90 minutes. If it gets stuck it turns itself off and waits to be rescued.

Cost: $200
Available at: www.roombavac.com