Handheld vacuum cleaners Black & Decker Dustbuster Flexi
The Dustbuster Flexi breaks the handheld vacs mould. It's excellent at vacuuming in tight and twisty spaces, owing to its simple and effective coiled hose design. We gave the £80 Dustbuster Flexi PD1200 a first look test, and pitched it against the £130 Dyson DC31. See how they fared in in our video.
With the hose coiled you can hold the Dustbuster Flexi with one hand, as you would any other handheld vacuum cleaner. The 1.5-metre hose easily unclips and is great for manoeuvring around seats in the car. The curved end angles the nozzle, so it’s easy to attack high surfaces or get under and around furniture.
At 1.6kg it’s not the lightest model around, but it’s still comfortable to hold whether the hose is coiled or loose. The power switch is within easy reach, so you don’t have to adjust your grip to switch it on and off.
There’s a dial on the side of the vac so you can rotate the filter inside – turning it should reduce the possibility of the filter clogging. Emptying the dust container is simple, if rather messy – you open the door on the side of the vac and tip out the dust. The filters slide out and can be washed and put back when dry – lining up the notch on the filter helps you to replace it properly. We found that the seal around the door was a bit of a dust trap – it can be wiped clean, but you can’t wash the container or door.
The cleaner runs for more than nine minutes on a single charge, but you notice the suction deteriorating as the battery runs down – we only found it really effective for around the first seven minutes.
Attachments include a combination crevice tool and soft brush, and a long crevice nozzle. Both are easy to attach and remove. The Black & Decker Dustbuster Flexi PD1200 model also comes with a motorised brush attachment that has its own battery. The vac and brush can be charged simultaneously using the same charger, but neither has an indicator to let you know when they’re fully charged.
This is quite a noisy vac, and with the motorised brush it’s even noisier. The brush has its own power switch, so it has to be turned on separately. The brush seems to rattle a bit as it turns, which makes it sound a little cheap, but it works well enough to lift fluff from carpet. It’s not particularly easy to clean, however, and you can only use the motorised brush with the hose uncoiled.
This model has a two-year guarantee and comes with a ‘caddy’ – a bracket that clips onto the side of the vac with space to store two nozzles, so you can keep all the bits together.
There are two other versions of this vac. The Flexi Auto PAD1200 is the ‘car’ version. It’s not cordless – it has a 5-metre cable, which plugs into the cigarette lighter socket in your car. It comes with a carrying case, but it doesn’t have a turbo brush. The cheaper PD1080 is a lower-voltage model – the manufacturer says it's a little less powerful and has a slightly shorter running time per charge. It comes with a combination nozzle only.
The Flexi range is due to launch in late September/early October 2009, and should be available from retailers including Currys, Comet, John Lewis and Amazon. The Dustbuster Flexi PD1200 will cost around £80; the PD1080 around £70, and the PAD1200 £50.
Pros: Versatility of the hose, great for vacuuming small and otherwise difficult to access spaces, well positioned on/off switch, comfortable to use
Cons: Rather noisy, effective running time per charge could be better, motorised brush could be easier to clean, no ‘fully charged’ indicator