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Having recently moved from a large four bedroom house to my daughter's much smaller house I was a little dubious when I saw that she'd replaced her standard sized vacuum cleaner opting for a hand held one. However, once I'd used it a few times, I have to say this Black & Decker is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone who has a small flat, house, caravan or who just needs an extra vacuum cleaner to keep upstairs.
Not only does it look good but it performs very well indeed even in a house with three adults and four cats! I would describe it as a rather sexy piece of equipment because it is well designed, stylish, sleek, compact yet deceptively powerful at 480 watts. As soon as you switch it on you get a feel of the power behind the technology as it 'jumps' into action. Surprisingly it weighs under two kilograms yet it has a generous 370 ml capacity for dirt, dust, crumbs etc.
From the Dooyoo picture you can see that the buttons are clear to see and that the handle is ergonomically designed making it comfy to use - I have very small hands yet other members of the household have much larger ones and no one has a problem. It has a cable (not retractable) which measures about 6 metres which is fairly generous and easily wraps around the unit when not in use.
The front part of the mini vac has a button that you press to separate it from the back making it easy to empty (no bag required) and clean the filter (a light goes on if you need to do this) so using it could not, in my opinion, be more simple.
It also has the facility to blow or inflate but we have not had the need to use this so cannot comment - having read other reviews however, this seems to be as good as the suction facility.
The vac comes with a draw-string bag which contains 14 accessories, most of which are used on a regular basis and are the type you would expect to find with a standard sized vacuum cleaner such as those intended for upholstery, the stairs, corners and hard-to-reach areas etc.
Although this unit was intended to be be a temporary replacement for my daughter's broken larger vacuum, we see no reason why she should purchase a standard one because it more than does the job on laminate, wooden and carpeted areas of the house plus conservatory.In my opinion it really comes into its own when doing the stairs because of the weight, the suction and the fact that it is easy to angle.
Having been the owner of a Dyson Animal hand held vacuum costing just under £200 I would definitely choose this Black & Decker one for under £40!
After our cheap vacuum cleaner finally bit the dust (sorry) after three years of use (or non-use, depending on which housemates lived there at the time), I decided to do a bit of research before choosing the next one. What I really wanted was a Dyson or one of the Samsung robot cleaners, but pushed for budget and with a house that seems to be shrinking in size every day, I needed a small hoover at a decent price.
To provide a bit of background, our house has laminate flooring downstairs and wood floors upstairs with the exception of the bathroom and kitchen which are lino. The only carpet in the house is thin, poor quality stuff on the stairs which is desperate need of replacing. We have three cats, one of which shreds a tremendous amount of white fur, so we needed something strong and hardy enough to cope with pet hair as a priority. For this reason I initially looked at the Dyson Animal hoover, a handheld which my parents own and which is advertised as being particularly good for pet hair. Having used it at their house a few times I was quite impressed, but with a price tag of nearly £200 it was way out of my budget.
Browsing Amazon I came across the Black & Decker VH780 which seemed to fit the bill. Initially I wasn't sure whether it would be able to cope with a whole house, being described as a mini dustbuster and weighing in at only a couple of kilos, but I decided to take the risk. It's got great reviews on Amazon and DooYoo, which is always a good sign, and when it arrived it didn't disappoint.
Looks and packaging
The picture above makes it look a lot more blue than it is; in the flesh I'd describe it as a deep purple with a shiny (not metallic) finish. This model isn't available in other colours at the time of writing this review, which is a shame because I'd much prefer it in black.
It arrived in a small box, and is quite easy to carry around (if you were intending to lug it back from the shops or pick it up from the post office). The vacuum itself is a bit heavier than it looks, but even when I accidentally dropped in on the laminate floor it didn't scare the cats. When it runs they just stare at it from a distance with really wide eyes (compared to our old hoover where they'd run outside immediately if I even went near it).
What you get
The box is the right size for the product, which is fantastic as there's no wasted packaging, and also means that it doubles up as a place to store the vacuum when not in use. There's a cardboard insert and the body of the vacuum came in a plastic bag, both of which I removed for recycling. Inside the box, you get the body of the hoover with attached plug and pre-fitted filters, a fairly cheap but practical black bag with 'Black and Decker' on it, a short instruction booklet and a variety of nozzles and tubes. The black bag handily stores all the attachments if you're worried about the dirt or parts getting lost.
There are so many attachments that I did find it quite overwhelming to start with! The instruction booklet is mainly made up of diagrams with numbers and letters on them, which to be honest I find quite confusing. There are written instructions in the back which refer to the diagrams in the front which made things slightly better, but I did feel it could have been explained and organised a little better even though admittedly they do have several languages to accommodate. What you need and attach depends on what you want to use the hoover for, although as a rule you'll need to pull down a small 'door' of plastic at the front of the hoover to insert your chosen attachment.
The attachments included are:
3 grey nozzles which each taper to a point (they look like the nozzles on glue bottles but bigger). These are used for inflating - yes, this hoover can also be used as a pump to blow up air beds, paddling pools and similar - fantastic!
2 metal poles - Attached together you have a firm tube with which you can use the hoover like a full size pull along hoover.
3 different sized and shaped purple attachments which fit onto the end of the metal pole for covering larger/smaller areas (probably good for cars as well).
2 grey attachments, again with slightly different shaped ends, which can be fitted to the main body of the hoover for direct hand-held hovering which is extremely powerful.
A reasonably wide purple 'foot' (sorry, no idea what the technical term is!) printed with the Black & Decker logo, which is designed to be used with the metal pole attachment and is basically a rectangular piece of plastic with a small black brush fringe underneath for picking up extra dirt, as you'd see on a typical hoover.
To be honest there are more attachments than most people will need, but this hoover really does have something to suit everyone and any type of cleaning.
Once I'd got used to the attachments, it was actually pretty easy to work out when is best to use each. Switching the vaccum on and trying it, I was extremely impressed with how powerful is it. At 2000 volts it's far stronger than my previous vacuum and will lift the lino up slightly in the bathroom (carpet and other floor types seem to have no effect in this regard thank goodness!). It cleans extremely well, and it's bagless so less maintenance there too. It can cope with cleaning several rooms, which I'm very impressed by, and there's an indicator on the side to announce if it gets clogged. With the amount of hair and fur in our house, as well as dust from the wooden floors, I'm impressed that this vacuum far surpasses our previous one despite its small size and copes equally well with all floor types. It doesn't need emptying as often as you'd think and because it's so easy to handle emptying it into tall bins is much easier than with a full size hoover.
Advantages and disadvantages
The fact that this vacuum can be used in so many different ways is a real advantage; you don't need separate products for inflating, hovering and cleaning your car as this does all three!
The other huge benefit is a really long cord (I'd estimate it at about six foot), which means that cleaning the stairs or the bathroom where plug access is difficult, is made a lot easier.
Cleaning the stairs without having to lug and position a heavy hoover is a major plus for anyone. This Black and Decker doesn't have a place to store the cord inside and it's recommended in the instructions that you wrap it round the hoover when not in use. At first I was slightly annoyed that it didn't store neatly away, but to be honest I now think it's an advantage as the cord just sits when you leave it and you aren't forever pulling more cord out or accidentally pulling along extension leads as I always seem to do!
Having used both the Dyson Animal handheld and this, I would opt for this Black and Decker every time unless you're desperate for a cordless hoover. Although the Animal holds more, it's much louder, not as powerful, much heavier, requires a lot of charging and is far more expensive.
I'd recommend this hoover to anyone looking for a reliable vacuum for a smallish house, a second home or caravan, or for car/stair cleaning. As it has so many uses, is lightweight, takes up very little space, can inflate as well as hoover, looks good, the noise is reasonable AND it's priced at a very reasonable £40, I really can't complain. This is one of the best products I've used in a long time and I can't give it anything other than five stars.
I once owned it for a couple of days and had to return it. I had no problem using it as a vacuum cleaner. But as a blower, it is no use. I only bought it to use mainly as blower for an invention of mine. But in matter of minutes, it starts getting hot and the efficiency falling. That was around three years now. May be in the mean time it has been improved. That's what I am trying to check up, in order to buy it again.
We own an industrial strength Kirby vacuum cleaner and needed something less bulky to handle the occasional dry spill, and hoovering the stairs. Having previously invested in a string of cordless vacuum cleaners which always seemed to fail to meet expectations, we decided to try a corded model when our latest disappointment - a cordless Dustbuster - started losing its charge too quickly.
After a quick look around, I settled on Black & Decker VH780 Dustbuster Mini-vac ("VH780"), which seemed a good combination of power, price and accessories. Unlike it's cordless cousins, it has proved to be (quite literally) a roaring success.
The VH780 is a corded 780 watt bag-less hand-held vacuum cleaner intended for light household, garage and patio use. It comes in a fetching sleek and curvy blue shiny plastic with silver lettering and light grey control buttons, and makes for an attractive looking unit. The cable, which is around 6 metres long, does not retract and is best wrapped around the machine when not in use. It looks and feels quite solid and robust, with excellent build quality. The front of the unit detaches at the press of a button to reveal a 370ml capacity dust and dirt "bowl". There is also an indicator on the side of the unit to tell you when the filter inside has become clogged.
The curved handle is ergonomic and fits well in the palm of the hand and the unit feels well balanced. I would estimate it weighs no more than a kilo and a half - heavier than other Dustbusters I have had, but not tiring to hold. The back of the unit is flat, so the unit can be stored upright, and its tidy shape means that it will not take up too much space regardless of where you decide to keep it.
The VH780 combines a powerful vacuum cleaner with a light blowing and inflating capability in one compact unit. It comes with fourteen accessories (as detailed in a separate section below), which makes it excellent value for money and a very versatile unit. Also included is a black, Black & Decker branded drawstring bag to store the parts in.
The bread and butter of this unit - vacuuming - is done from the front opening and the accessories provided cater for a wide variety of tasks. There are three accessories that plug straight into the front of the unit. Two of them, moulded in grey plastic - the brush tool and crevice tool - are stored on the underside of the unit and slot into the mouth of the vacuum direct. I found getting these in back into the storage recess a little bit of a challenge, so take note of how they come out, otherwise stowing them can be frustrating.
All of the other vacuuming accessories work off a blue nozzle adaptor, to which the rest of the accessories (i.e. the flexible hose and extension pipes) are fitted. This adaptor clicks into place in the front opening easy enough, but it proved something of a challenge to get back out again. It actually took a fair bit of arm strength and my wife has had trouble managing it without my help. She's a strong girl, so that gives you some idea how difficult it was.
The other main accessory for vacuuming is a flat floor head (think of a small version of a conventional vacuum cleaner head) which is well designed and engineered. There are four small rubber wheels on the bottom, allowing for a smooth rolling action, and two small levers on top, which, with a satisfying "click", allow you the option of: (a) locking a wide brush in place on the bottom of the floor head for use on carpet; or (b) stowing the brush away so you can use the accessory on wooden or other flat floors. The head pivots to allow the angle to be adjusted effortlessly in use.
Three separate interconnecting ten-inch rigid pipe sections are provided, allowing for a variety of extension lengths for both vacuuming and blowing. A springy and stretchy two foot flexible hose is also in the box for getting to hard to reach places.
> Blowing & Inflating
There is a hinged flap at the back of the unit which encompasses a filter, which easily pulls open with the thumb to reveal the opening for blowing and inflating. For light leaf or dirt blowing, a grey moulded attachment slots firmly and easily in place, to which you attach the rigid extension pipes, and then one of two blowing accessories - one has a narrow, wide aperture that blows air out in a wide "spray" and the other has a wider mouth and blows in a more concentrated blast.
The unit is a little more awkward to hold the "wrong way" round and feels slightly unbalanced with a fair bit of pressure on the wrist. As the power cord also comes out the back, I find it easiest to hold the cable along with the grip so it doesn't get in the way. I didn't buy the VH780 as a leaf blower, and although it performed well the one or two times I have used it in that capacity, I can't really see myself using it that way as I already have a heavy duty garden blower.
The inflating function is more practical, and as we have a paddling pool and a couple of inflatable mattresses, this does come in very handy. You use the blower attachment as before, and then instead of the rigid pipes, you use the flexible hose. To that, you click on one of the three heads provided, each with a different aperture nozzle to cater for various inflatables. On each head, there is a thumb sized "blowhole". To inflate, you insert the nozzle into the inflatable, turn on the power and cover the hole. To stop, you simply lift off your thumb to allow air to escape to avoid over-inflating. Simple, but very effective,
PERFORMANCE & USE
This is without doubt the most powerful and effective handheld vacuum I have used. The suction beats - hands down - any cordless device I have previously owned, and, in relative terms, gives our full size Dyson (the predecessor to the Kirby) a real run for its money. That said, there are two trades for all that power - it has a fairly noisy motor (the instructions claim its around the 60 decibel mark - louder in confined spaces), and there is a little bit of vibration that you can feel through your hand and forearm that may make prolonged use quite tiring.
That said, this unit is designed for occasional and light use only, so the likelihood is that it won't be on for more than five minutes at a time. You are losing the convenience of picking up a cordless without fussing with power cords, but that kind of misses the point - the VH780 is in a different league to its wheezy cousins, so if convenience is more important to you than performance, this may not be the Dustbuster for you.
We have consistently been using the VH780 for small jobs around the house rather than lugging our heavy - but highly effective - Kirby around and have found its various attachments practical and useful. For instance, I have never made such short work of vacuuming my car before, and the extension pipes make reaching top corners and behind furniture a doddle. The blowing function is particularly useful with summer inflatables and has happily eliminated the daze inducing chore of inflating things with lung power.
This is simplicity itself. When you remove the dust bowl, the main filter unit is easily removed by pressing on a tab and disengaging it from the unit. The filter is reusable and, along with the dust bowl, and the exhaust filter at the back of the unit (revealed when you open the hinged flap to get to the blowing function described above) is fully washable in soapy water. Once dry, the main filter unit clicks easily back into place without fuss.
The brief instruction booklet is mainly pictorial and provides: (a) an overview of the main working parts; (b) an inventory of the accessories; (c) illustrations on the various combinations in which the accessories can be used; and (d) easy to understand and well written instructions (in English only) on fitting, cleaning, care and storage.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
I was hoping to pick up, or at least view a model off-line, but I could not find one in the usual high street shops, so I ended up ordering one sight unseen from an Amazon Marketplace retailer called Toolbank. It cost £39.42 delivered (£34.24 for the unit plus £5.18 for delivery) and despite the fact that delivery was advertised within three days, it turned up via courier the very next day. It comes in compact, 100% recyclable packaging.
The VH780 is a value for money, highly effective and versatile cleaning machine which has, through its convenience and performance, made previously tiresome household chores (like hoovering the stairs) a lot easier - and much likelier to be done. It performs its core function - vacuuming - with consummate ease and it would have made a great machine if that's all it did. The blowing and inflating function are the icing and cherry on top respectively. I had my doubts that the VH780 would live up to its billing, particularly given my experience with Dustbusters before, but I need not have worried. This little baby blows the competition away. Highly recommended.
© Hishyeness 2009
780w motor for the best performances in vacuuming, 14 accessories for maximum versatility, Blowing facility to clean garages and small outdoor areas, Inflating facility to be used with mattress and rafts, Bag-less for maximum convenience, Clog indicator to have always the filters clean and best performances guaranteed, 3 stage filtration to collect all the dirt / Short name: Black Decker VH780