Pros: Canister lifts off the base for portability
Cons: Unit tips easily when using the hose. Edge cleaning.
When vacuum shopping, I faced the classic problem of whether to buy a upright or canister vacuum. Each has their benefits, but after finding the Bissell Lift-Off, I feel I have the best of both worlds. This versitile upright vacuum features a central unit that can be removed from the vacuum's "base" and carried easily up stairs, to the garage, or anywhere else you can imagine. Whether used as an upright or as the canister, I found plenty of cleaning uses and plenty of power.
I liked the fact that this vacuum came with a plethora of attachments and accessories including a crevice tool, brush tool, drapery tool, hose extension, "power brush," and a bare floor attachment and carrying strap for the canister. All of these tools with the exception of the bare floor attachment (which is essentially a vacuum with no rotating brush that can attach directly to the hose), ride on-board the base so you don't have to hunt for tools when you need them. The power brush attachment, a miniature rotating brush head about the size of your hand, is fabulous for couches, chairs, and stairs, however does not seem as well-made as the rest of the machine. Days after purchase, my first power brush broke when the brush no longer turned. A quick phone call to Bissell got me a new one mailed for free, but I wonder about the quality of this specific attachment in the long-run.
I was surprised by the vacuum power of the upright and pleased with the vacuuming options provided. When vacuuming with the upright, you can choose from 7 height settings for the brush to insure you get maximum cleaning and also have the option to turn off the rotating brush entirely with a flip of a switch. After one vacuuming I was amazed (and disgusted) at the amount of lint and cat hair that my old Dirt Devil had left behind. A 30' cord allows you to move freely and a wide head makes vacuuming large areas fast, but makes vacuuming tight areas difficult. Edge cleaning was so-so and I find I typically have to go back around the edges of my hallways with a crevice tool afterwards. Unlike my last Bissell, which turned me off Bissell for years, I have had no problem with hose clogs or machine clogs anywhere.
I was hesitant when I first looked over the package for this unit since it includes not one, but three filters and typically that means lots of expensive filters to replace constantly. The good news is that for all that filtering, two of the three filters are washable and reusable. The third HEPA filter does need replaced, however they are not overly expensive and readily available at any store I've visited. The two washable filters are simple to remove and require only a rinsing and drying to be good as new. The dirt cup for this unit is quick and simple to remove and easily rinsed out in the sink when it gets too dusty. I do have to empty it several times during cleaning, however this is mostly due to cat hair. Overall, it is a larger cup than I had in past vacuums and has posed me no problems.
A couple problems
-The largest problem I do have with this model is tipping. When using the hose with the attachments, the vacuum tips backwards very very easily. While the hose will stretch for what seems like forever, I feel I need to stay close to the unit to prevent accidents.
-While I love and adore the lift-off canister, there is some hooking, unhooking, and fiddling with the hose that must be done to attach and unattach the canister. To me it's worth it, but it does seem like a design flaw that could be worked out.
-With the canister attached, this is a pretty heavy vacuum at about 22 lbs. Although the lift-off function means you don't have to carry the base everywhere, moving it to vaccum my upstairs is a chore.