You knew the unavoidable "suck" joke was coming. I'd hoped to hold off until the second paragraph, but, as you see, I couldn't make it past the headline. It sang to me—so base, so facile—and I was weak. Let's just move on.
To find out which vacuum cleaner is best, I tested eight different models that varied widely in cost and design. Which should you buy? First off, any vacuum purchase requires a few big decisions, which include:
Upright or Canister?
Uprights are the tall, vertical, one-piece vacuums you push with a handle. Canisters consist of a little module you pull around on wheels behind you. Uprights excel on wide tundras of open carpet. Canisters, with their myriad nozzle attachments, do their best work high up in a jungle of bookshelves and drapes. ("Above-floor cleaning," they call this in the biz.)
Both types will do a fine all-around job. But personally, I'm an upright fan. Dragging around a canister makes me feel like I've been harnessed—like I'm a husky hauling a teeny little sled across my carpet.
Bagged or Bagless?
The current industry schism. Both systems suck air the same way—the difference is just a matter of whether the dirt inside that air gets trapped in a disposable bag or (with bagless) in a reusable container.
Bags have ruled the market for decades, but their days may be numbered; bagless seems to be rapidly gaining ground. Even Hoover, for years an old-guard bagged stalwart, has recently rushed to meet rising demand with a new line of bagless models. Ultimately, bagged-to-bagless may be among the great consumer paradigm shifts of our age—up there with wired-to-wireless and granny-panties-to-thongs.
So, how to choose? Well, a thong leaves no visible lines under your dress. As for bagless vacuums, the advantages are:
1) The containers are see-through, which means you can easily see when a bagless vacuum has had its fill of dirt and needs to be dumped. With a bag you have to check all the time, opening up the vacuum and kneading the bag with your hands, and you often feel like you're guessing.