Pros: Very good performance for a cordless quick vac!
Cons: Kurv design results in a less than ideal hand grip.
After giving up on Black & Decker cordless vacs (more on this later), I couldn't resist buying the new Dirt Devil Kurv when I found it in Office Max on sale for only $25. The Kurv is a newer model cordless vac that is follow-up to the Dirt Devil Cone, and the "Kurv" name fits as this vac features a new design with a curved shape. As in other cordless vac, there is a base that serves as a recharger, and the Kurv's base is designed to be free standing and cannot be wall mounted. The base provides an area for winding any excess power cord and is neatly concealed in the base. The hand vac rests in the base, and there is a built in light to indicate that the unit is plugged in and charging. I didn't realize it when I was in the store, but this vac is available in several colors....I guess some purchasers would want this vac to blend in with their decor! Overall, this vac appears to be pretty well built and should hold up well under normal use. It's sleek design with the switch integrated in the handle results in no protruding plastic pieces to break.
While the clever design of the Kurv is pleasant to look at, the design also falls short in some areas. The power switch is nicely hidden at the very top of the vac which features a tapered handle. However, the area that serves as the handle is the same smooth plastic as the rest of the vac. I find the handle to be a little slippery, and uncomfortable to hold for longer periods. It's fine for real quick pickups, but not great for extended tasks. This weakness in the design is something one should consider before purchasing this vac for people with arthritis or other medical conditions and/or hand strength problems. The nozzle opening is a somewhat small circular opening. It is probably designed to help maximize the suction power, but it also reduces the pick-up area when compared to typical cordless vacuums from Black & Decker.
The vac twists open for emptying the dirt cup and cleaning the filter. Here again, the "kurved" design results in a small filter and dirt cup. Although I don't find this to be a problem, it does require that you empty and clean the filter frequently.....probably after each use. I discovered that you have to be careful to line up the filter when you replace it, as there is one small notch in the filter that has to line up with the vacuum housing. I discovered this after having a problem with dirt and debris getting past the filter. Once I discovered my error, the problem corrected. The filter is replaceable. If you have ever used cordless vacs with cups and filters, you know that they can be a little messy.
Once the vacuum was plugged in and charged for the recommended 16-24 hours, I gave this new toy a good testing. But before I tell you the results, let me explain that I'm really unhappy with cordless vacs from Black & Decker. Years ago, after they first debuted, I was really happy with their vacs. They performed nicely, recharged easily, and lasted a long time. But, the last two vacs we purchased were terrible. Even though we paid more for models that were supposed to be better, they died very prematurely. While the vacuuming performance was good, it didn't take very long for the batteries to begin to fail, and in short order, the charge would fizzle in just a few minutes. Combine that with some bad experiences with other Black & Decker small appliances, and I have to admit an anti Black & Decker bias which may reflect in my wanting another company to do well!
So, with great enthusiasm, I decided to play with the Kurv. First task was to tackle the tv room and the crumbs from last nights fun. I found to noise level of this vac to be about the same as other cordless vacs and certainly not a problem. The vac picked up plenty of crumbs on the carpeting. The tapered nozzle made it very easy to vacuum the crevices and crannies of the couches. Then, I tackled the debris on the linoleum kitchen floor. Again, suction was more then adequate for picking up normal crumbs and stuff you find on the kitchen floor. Then, I saw a few Cheerios on the counter.....not a problem for the Kurv. After doing a quick filter check and emptying the dirt cup, I tackled the living room where there were some needles on the carpeting under the Christmas tree. Again, the Kurv was up to the task. By now, I'd say that the vac had been running for about ten minutes, and there wasn't any indication that the charge was running low. I ran it for a couple more minutes, and there was still plenty of power.
So, in spite of some flaws created by the design, I think the performance of this little vac was very good. After all, you buy these vacs for quick little pick-ups. My real concern will be the life span of the batteries and their ability to maintain many charge/discharge cycles. so, I'll provide updates later.
With only one day testing, I'll give this product a high recommendation. I think the full list price (around $50). If priced around $40, it would be in line with a lot of the competition. If you find it at $25 as I did, I think it's a bargain!
Update on 12/24/07
My wife has informed me of another point to consider. Due to the design of the Kurv, it will roll off of a counter or table very easily. This is just another instance where the desire for clever design can interfere with practical function. They could have easily avoided this problem by having a flat ledge molded into the casing. She also wishes that the nozzle had just a little bigger opening, but she's happy with it's performance and running time before recharging.