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REVIEWING: 5 Cordless Handstick Vacuum Cleaners that Suck (literally)

Call them sticks or handsticks, these cordless vacuum cleaners are the next best thing since sliced bread. We love them because they are not as hefty as their canister or upright counterparts, and they take away the main gripe of vacuuming – the constant need to plug in and out while cleaning the home.

If you’re shopping for one, here’s a tip: don’t get sucked in (haha) by the numbers and specifications. They can only mean so much. A handstick vacuum cleaner’s true ability to clean lies beyond their battery voltage, suction power or wattage – although they do play a part; it’s just not the be-all and end-all. Look out for design features and ease of use as well, but don’t get caught up by the bells and whistles – find one that truly fits your needs.

Today, we’re reviewing 5 cordless handstick vacuum cleaners. We used them for over a week, testing on manoeuvrability, effectiveness to clean, noise level, time taken to clean the home, as well as ease of maintenance (e.g. empty the dust canister and washing the filters). The consensus? Not all handstick vacuum cleaners are made equal. Here’s a table to summarise their individual specs:

BOSCH DYSON ELECTROLUX PHILIPS TEFAL
Price $799 $899 $549 $449 $599
Battery Voltage 25.2 V 21.6 V 18 V 25.2 V 21.9 V
Dust Canister Size 0.9 L 0.54 L 0.5 L 0.6 L 0.4 L
Charge Time 6 hrs 5 hrs 4 hrs 5 hrs 3 hrs
Runtime (on lowest setting) 1 hr 25 mins 50 mins 1 hr 20 mins
Noise Level* (at lowest setting) 64 dB 62 dB 67 dB 69 dB 68 dB
Weight 3 kg 2.6 kg 2.5 kg 3.4 kg 2.8 kg
*Noise level readings are based on what we tested, using an app on our smartphone. It isn’t the reading given by the brands themselves.
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1. BOSCH ATHLET ZOO’O PROANIMAL HANDSTICK VACUUM CLEANER (BCH6ZOOO)

$799, available at Bosch Experience Centre and major electronic and departmental stores

A CLOSER LOOK:

Main head
Filters

THE GOOD: One of the most stable vacuum cleaners I tested, but that’s also probably because it was one of the heaviest. However, it had an easy glide that did not make my hand feel tired when I was cleaning up and down.

THE MEH: Smaller crumbs were easy to suck in, although the bigger ones had problem. It features a very clunky design, which made it difficult to reach underneath furniture. There wasn’t a separate handheld equipment unlike the other vacuums. It did come with an awkward-looking equipment that you have to sling it across your shoulder to use. My husband remarked that I looked like I was fogging mosquitos. The other attachments that came with it can only be attached to the shoulder equipment. It took a lot of brute strength to attach and remove the attachments.

SEE IT AT WORK:



 

2. DYSON V8 FLUFFY PRO**

$899, available at major electronic and department stores

A CLOSER LOOK:


 

Filters

THE GOOD: Out of all the vacuum cleaners, Dyson’s edge cleaning impressed me the most. It was also able to suck up small and big crumbs easily. As it was lightweight with a very flexible main roller head, it moved around and glided effortlessly. I also liked how easy it was to change the attachments. The colour codes on the vacuum cleaner also provided me with a visual guide to what can be changed around (Red) and what can be cleaned (Blue).

THE MEH: You have to repeatedly press the main trigger button to get the vacuum cleaner moving. After 10 minutes of continuous vacuuming, I could feel my finger starting to hurt. The Fluffy Pro doesn’t have as many attachments as the Absolute version, but it has enough to make things confusing. I took a (long) while trying to figure out which attachments worked with what before resorting to the PR company for help. I could also feel the hot air emitting from the motor after vacuuming continuously for 10 minutes. Finally, I had initial problems emptying the dust canister. I realised later it was because I did not pull it open fully to allow the lid to pop open. It did require a bit more strength to empty the canister compared to Tefal.

** I was provided with an old version, the Dyson Fluffy, to review. The newer model, Dyson Fluffy Pro, features fewer attachments. To be fair, I did not review the extra attachments that are not in the new model. The technology, setup and design for the old Dyson Fluffy and the new Dyson Fluffy Pro are the same. The only difference is the colour of the handstick. The old Fluffy features an orange stick, while the new Fluffy Pro comes with a blue handstick.

SEE IT AT WORK:



 

3. ELECTROLUX ZB3323B 3-IN-1 VACUUM CLEANER

$549, available at major electronic stores

A CLOSER LOOK:

Charging at the docking station
Main head
Filter
BedPro Nozzle

THE GOOD: It did a great job with edge cleaning. I loved how lightweight it was – it felt even lighter than Dyson. It was also flat enough to reach under furniture. Design-wise, it looks similar to the Bosch and Philips (motor located at the bottom), but it features a slimmer silhouette. The BedPro Power nozzle can be attached to the handheld equipment and comes with a UV button that you can activate which Electrolux claims can pick up dust, mites and allergens from bedding and mattresses. While I can’t test out how effective the UV component is, the BedPro nozzle was able to pick up quite a good amount of dust from my mattress.

Dust collected from mattress

THE MEH: Setup was annoying, and required a screwdriver (or a key) to fix the main handle in place. However, it does mean you won’t need to dismantle from here on after. You have to bring it over to a separate charging dock to charge the machine, which means there needs to be a designated location to charge it. It did have problems picking up bigger crumbs as well.

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SEE IT AT WORK:



 

4. PHILIPS POWERPRO DUO 2-IN-1 HANDSTICK WITH POWERCYCLONE (FC6172/01)

$449, available at Philips and major electronic and department stores

A CLOSER LOOK:

Main head
Upholstery head

THE GOOD: It felt a lot easier to move it around than Bosch, although the weight is supposedly heavier. This machine comes with the least amount of attachments, compared to the rest, but I liked that because it makes things a lot less confusing and there really isn’t a need to have so many. Besides the main head, Philips comes with an upholstery tool that I really liked. I used it to suck the dust from my two cushions and was surprised at how dirty they were. It also has a brush nozzle for general dust cleaning. Unlike Electrolux, you don’t need to charge the machine at a separate docking station. During charging, the handheld equipment also cannot be removed due to the in-built safety feature.

Dust collected from cushions

THE MEH: Suction for the main head wasn’t great, unfortunately. Crumbs spit out after vacuuming. I had to let it run for a little while on the spot so it was able to suck up my crumbs completely. Edge results could also be better.

SEE IT AT WORK:



 

5. TEFAL AIR FORCE 360

$599, available at major electronic stores

A CLOSER LOOK:

Main head
Filter

THE GOOD: Design-wise, the Tefal Air Force 360 is the most similar to Dyson, with the motor located at the top rather than at the bottom. With rollers at the bottom, it was a breeze gliding it around the house. Unlike Dyson, you don’t need to constantly press the trigger button for the vacuum to work, which makes continuous cleaning a lot less painful. The LED lights located near the head illuminates dirt at hard-to-see corners, making cleaning up a lot easier. I also really loved the function for removing dust from the canister – a simple flip and the lid pops open.

THE MEH: Edge cleaning could be improved. Turning it at a sharp angle also required a bit of manoeuvring and was slightly awkward. It doesn’t have the best suction – for that, Dyson wins – however it manages bigger and smaller crumbs well enough and doesn’t spit out like Philips. The motor head was also heavier than Dyson, so my arm got tired after a while. Holding it up to clean high areas like my curtain rod wasn’t the most ideal position to be in – I could only hold on to it for about a minute before my arms cried out for mercy.

SEE IT AT WORK:


CONCLUSION:

While the Dyson is a good machine overall, we think it still has some flaws that need to be worked out. Plus, it’s really expensive. A good (and cheaper) alternative is Electrolux, which gave us few issues and provided an easy manoeuvrability that makes cleaning up a breeze. Although it could be lighter, we also really liked Tefal, which is similarly built like the Dyson, with various improvements to its competitor such as the no-holding-required trigger button.

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BONUS: NOVITA HANDSTICK VACUUM CLEANER NV100

A frills-free, lightweight, low-cost option for basic needs

novita vacuum main head

Okay, so this technically isn’t a cordless vacuum cleaner, but we wanted to include it in because it’s a good low-cost option if you think the above vacuum cleaners are too pricey for you. The novita NV100 comes at a really affordable price of $99 (available at novita’s e-store and major department stores).

While it isn’t cordless, it comes with an ultra-long, 5-metre cable so I didn’t have any problem moving it around half my flat. We like it because it’s really pretty (you can choose from 5 different colours) and super lightweight – only at 1.59 kg. Sure, there are no fancy attachments, but for the price tag, it is great for basic area cleaning. It also features a smooth and easy glide.

The only gripe we have is that it doesn’t do well in cleaning underneath furniture. When laid flat, the vacuum floats off the floor, making no contact with the floor surface to suck up the dust and debris. Sucking up larger crumbs also proved to be a bit of a problem.

 


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