My wife and I have been mulling over the idea of a new vacuum recently, so I was intrigued when Black+Decker sent out their SMARTECH hand vacuum (model number HHVJ320BMF26) for me to review.
What is SMARTECH?
Before I get into my own experience with this vacuum, I want to get into what the “SMARTECH” in this product’s name refers to. In fact, Black+Decker has a whole line of vacuums that share this feature set. Here’s how their site describes SMARTECH:
SMARTECHâ„¢ BATTERYSENSEâ„¢ AUTOSENSEâ„¢ + FILTERSENSEâ„¢ features help you clean smarter, not harder.
BATTERYSENSE shows you how much battery remains, so you know how much longer you can clean before you need to recharge.
FILTERSENSE alerts you when it’s time to clean the filter so you continue to get maximum performance.
AUTOSENSE helps you power through your cleaning by automatically adjusting suction from bare floors to thick carpet.
POWERBOOST gives you added power with the push of a button.
In reality, I’ve come to expect the benefits of battery and filter notifications in any newer products where they would be applicable. I understand that other products may not offer this, so I’m at least appreciative that they exist here. On the other hand, AUTOSENSE and POWERBOOST are the pleasant surprises here, with AUTOSENSE being the headliner. Vacuuming can be such a mundane chore that it can be easy to forget to turn off POWERBOOST when you don’t need it. This can drain the battery faster than necessary and it becomes evident by looking at the BATTERYSENSE indicator. At nearly full charge, all three battery indicator lights are lit with POWERBOOST off. Turn it on and only two battery indicator lights are lit.
With all that said, I’m not sure AUTOSENSE works on – or is designed for – the handheld vacuum and may be more of a feature for the 2-in-1 vacuums that have a stick vacuum add-on. Whether this is the case or not, I was unable to experience AUTOSENSE during my testing.
Of these features, if I could change one thing, it would be the BATTERYSENSE indication lights. Some form of indication of minutes of use remaining would be far more useful to me.
Does it Suck
The lithium battery provides decent suction for typical handheld vacuum tasks like picking up small dirt and debris. There is a noticeable difference with POWERBOOST on and this was very handy when it came to removing cat hair from a cloth couch cover. While testing this, I was able to make a clear X on the couch cover distinguishing the vacuumed X from the untouched portion. I have four cats, which put this product to the test. On carpeted stairs, I had less success, requiring several passes to get all the cat hair up. All other tests with small debris were successful as I had expected them to be.
Pros and Cons
As mentioned above, I had limited success removing lots of cat hair from carpeted stairs and I imagine a more useful indicator of how long I can expect to run the vacuum on the remaining battery. Additionally, I found the air output to have inconvenient placement. The air sucked into the vacuum makes its way through the filters and then back out the bottom of the vacuum. While using it on the floor, air began to push around debris I had not yet vacuumed. Now that I’m aware of this I can be conscious about how I position the vacuum, but it would be better if I didn’t have to think about it.
There are a number of things I like about this little machine, as well. At just over 2 pounds, it’s light without compromising much in the way of power or features. The battery indicator, while not perfect, does differentiate between remaining usage expectations for normal use versus POWERBOOST. The extendable crevice tool helps with getting into tight spaces, but it also helps reach higher places and requires less bending over when cleaning up small messes quickly from the floor. Having only about 15 minutes of run time, the wall-mountable charging cradle can be a big plus. As long as you return it to its cradle when you’re done, it should always be ready for use. The debris compartment is pretty small, but it’s also bagless and very easy to clean by just pressing the release button, pulling out the filter, and then dumping the contents of the compartment into the trash.
AIR WATTS 22 Watts
CAPACITY 16.9 oz.
REPLACEMENT FILTERS VBF10
WEIGHT 2.13 lbs
Many companies (including Black+Decker) offer handheld vacuums that are cheaper, but they also have fewer features or may not work as well. This vacuum retails for about $89.99 and is worth the price. It feels comfortable but sturdy and shows promise of working well for a long time, which is worth spending a little more for. My gripes are small and few and I would easily recommend this to anyone shopping for a handheld.