Nice. Cheap.

Apr 9, 2010
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Good quality power cord
Narrow footprint
Looks nice

Cons:Restrictive handle angle
Lack of a stairs feature
Awkward cord holder

The Bottom Line:

Good for the price.

After having had a Kenmore upright for about ten years and watching it slowly fade from OK to unacceptable, I was not in a real hopeful mood about getting a replacement vacuum. So I shopped mainly on price. I settled on this model, which seemed like a good workhorse for my two-story house, and $70 was a good deal. This model fluctuated between $68 - $78 over the course of about three weeks while I was trying to decide.

It's about what I expected for $70. The 12 amp motor matches my old Kenmore upright, which was about $90-$100 I think when I got it way back when. It seems to work a little bit better. I've been using it for about two months now, and there are some differences which I like and some that I don't.

I like the smaller footprint, which seems counter-intuitive. The Kenmore was 17 inches and the Bissel is 15. It doesn't cover as much open space, but that doesn't matter much because of the overlapping lane way that I vacuum. Because it's smaller, it fits into more spaces and also I think has more power around the edges. However, the front collection chamber sticks out farther, which means that it doesn't go under tables as far. That is, when you lower the handle as far as it will go, it's actually taller than the Kenmore at the point where it hits the edge of a table (and at a weirdly strict large angle), so it bumps into it sooner. I don't know why it's limited to such a restrictive angle.

The power seems about right for what I need it to do. I have not found the handheld mini-spinner attachment (TurboBrush) that useful, although it's a pretty cool looking gadget. The only thing I've found that it can do is cat hair on the couch (it won't get litter all that well - little rocks spit from it). The power cord is nice and high-quality, very flexible and soft. It's five feet longer than the Kenmore, which means I don't have to use an extension cord to reach some of the back rooms that lack accessible outlets.

This vacuum has a manual cord wrap-up with two holders. But the location of the cord holders are on the right side of the unit, and they stick out pretty far, a good three inches. And bizarrely the lower cord holder is about the same height as the house's outlets when the holder is unlatched and lowered for actual use, so if you're not careful, you'll bump into a plug with it.

I'm not yet certain how to use this thing on stairs. The Kenmore had a convenient handle you could hang on to and treat it like a big dustbuster for each step. The Bissel has no such handle. In fact, the location of that handle on the Kenmore is where the release latch is located for the bagless container, which I found out real fast. The only other logical place to hang onto is the air outlet (along the left side, opposite the cord), which gets a little too hot. As I said before, the handheld mini-spinner unit doesn't work all that well. So I've yet to really figure it out for use on stairs. I think a couple models up has a specialty stair feature, but I didn't want to spend that much.

The filter:
I'm kind of on the fence about bags vs. bagless. On the one hand, it was a real pain in the bezephous to keep vacuum bags stocked for the Kenmore, not to mention the cost, and I didn't really like their capacity, having to replace them every three or four house-cleanings worth. On the other hand, they came with their own disposal bag when you had to throw them away, and once they're gone, they're gone.

I've emptied the bagless chamber a couple of times now. The first time was kind of messy. The second time I used a separate bag to dump it all into. That was at least clean, but it would seem to defeat the purpose of having a bagless chamber if I had to supply my own bag. Also, the separate foam filter clogs up rather easily and had to be WASHED after the second house-cleaning. Performance went down significantly because of the dirty filter. Maybe my house was so filthy after not having an efficient vacuum all these years that these first two uses were an anomaly and everything will be fine now? Somehow I doubt it.

Additionally, I realize that it's clear (see-through) so you know when to change it, but it's not all that pleasant to look at. I haven't vacuumed up a spider yet, but I don't look forward to it.

It's a nice looking machine, to me anyway. The noise is significantly reduced from the Kenmore, although it's not quiet -- it's still a vacuum cleaner. It's got a better feel while moving, like the spinning brush power is helping it along. I like that the power switch is closer to the handle. The Kenmore's foot-switch was a little awkward. And you can't beat the price for the performance it gives.
The main hose holder seems very flimsy. I can imagine that it would lose its usefulness in a couple of years, but I don't know that for sure.

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