Stylin' Vacuums

Bright colors and high-tech designs. Today's vacuums are sporting these and more. They're anything but your grandmother's vacuum.

Consumer Reports tested more than 60 vacuums, including 37 uprights. There were ones from Kenmore, Hoover, and Dirt Devil, as well as lesser-known vacuums from Halo and Riccar.

They cost anywhere from about $60 all the way up to $1,900!

Bob Markovich, Consumer Reports, says "A lot of new vacuums have unique folding and storing features designed to make them easier to use." And easier to store.

Others offer handles you can remove and use as a canister-style wand. One vacuum even has a special cleaning system designed to keep the filter clean and running smoothly.

Markovich says, "The problem is that some of the vacuums with the fanciest features aren't the best at cleaning. And if you're like most people, you want a vacuum that does a great job on carpets."

In general, uprights are easier to store than canister vacuums and are better for carpets.

Consumer Reports' John McAloon uses a variety of tests to size up a vacuum. This sound meter measures the noise level and this device determines the force needed to push and pull a vacuum, an important consideration.

To determine how effectively a vacuum cleans, testers sprinkle 100 grams of sand and talcum powder onto a test carpet. Then they use a roller to push the dirt down into the carpet.

Testers then run a vacuum back and forth 16 times to see how much dirt it picks up. The top-rated upright is the Kenmore progressive with direct drive, model number 35922. And at $300, Consumer Reports named it a best buy.

Canister vacuums tend to be better for tool use and tough-to-reach places, but they can be awkward to store.

If you are looking for a canister, a Consumer Reports' best buy is the Kenmore progressive model number 27514 for $300.

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