Pros: vacuums like a corded cleaner, integrated accessories, lithium batteries
Cons: cost, brush tool, lithium batteries
For an executive summary, read only the bolded items.
I've been using Dustbusters since 1980s, and the first version worked best in terms of a balance between suction strength and battery life. Most cordless appliances still use nickel cadmium, NiCd, batteries, suffer the 'memory' effect and the quality of batteries is far worse in modern Dustbusters, regardless of brand.
As decades rolled by, different designs and competitors cropped up, but nothing was done about the memory effect. Increased DC volts in souped up models were meaningless since the main issue was less the basic suction strength but the diminish burn time occurs in about a month, if no reconditioning was done: discharge batteries to empty then recharging it full, repeat the cycle 1-3x times, to get like new performance. Burn time on all models were similar, about 5 minutes of full power, at best. Many vacs could run an added 5 minutes, but at a weak or useless vacuum, and most motors can still spin for 20+ minutes further at very low revolutions. 5 minutes is enough for small touch up jobs particularly on uneven surfaces such as dry dirt on couches or rugs, cleanups that couldn't be filled by a small broom & pan. A good Dustbuster could replace all jobs for small brooms if it worked long enough, to reduce the need for another cleaning implement.
Reconditioning batteries is annoying: I run out of power while doing a final task, if the Dustbuster was left off cradle to run until batteries were drained. If I leave the Dustbuster on to die on purpose, its will still slowly spin for 20+ minutes before I can recharge it. If recharged before truly 'dead', it won't be fully deep discharged. Hopefully I won't need it during the 3+ hours it takes to charge up from empty, and that I should do these task monthly for the life of the Dustbuster.
Attachments on Dustbusters had a tendency to get lost, even when future designs had them mounted on the Dustbuster itself.
Without cyclonic action, the motor sucked dirt directly to itself, protected by the filter. This caused the dirt to increasingly get jammed into the filter, making it harder to clean 'reusable' filters. Cyclonic action tends to make the dirt dance around the canister, and ball onto itself.
Due to erratic performance, I stopped using cordless Dustbuster in 2007 and converted to corded hand or floor vacuums. Corded cleaners are several times stronger in suction, and offer consistent power for the life of the vac, that it made up for the annoyance of dealing with the cord and loose attachments. In 2011, Black and Decker released a lithium powered Dustbuster, the CHV1410L, the compact hand vac 14 volt 1 amp Lithium. After a week comparing it a corded Scorpion hand vac, it surprisingly performed close to it and was worth recommending, as it did without many inconveniences of the other NiCd versions or the non-cyclonic designs.
Lithium batteries: unlike other chemistries, they can be charged anytime without a memory effect, and they hold a charge for months without recharging. Lithium batteries have highest power for weight, and can pump out stable power until they are nearly spent, compared to Ni-Cd which tend to slowly ramp down. Lithium batteries gives appliances more burn time for less weight compared to NiCd, or other non-lithium battery such as NiMH.
The accessories are integrated into the Dustbuster: they are not attachments, but are permanently part of the nozzle and are snapped to use when needed, similar to the crevice tool of the Dirt Devil.
Long narrow snout, essentially half the head is a crevice tool with a built in extender making it easier to reach deep corners. The narrow snout also makes the suction at the tip stronger, without requiring higher DC volts for a more powerful motor.
Snout can be rotated 360 degrees, so you needn't twist your arm to apply the nozzle to different surfaces.
Cyclonic action keeps the dirt spinning in the collection bowl, so dirt is less likely to be jammed into the filter, making for less messy collection bowl cleanups. Most pleasantly, cyclonic action keeps dust bunnies and hair from sticking on the filter, it still happens but less often, they tend to ball on themselves nicely so falls away when the dust cup is emptied.
The charging base is tabletop mounted, so the Dustbuster sits on it not locked into a wall mounted, it allows more flexibility in placement than the wall mount. The weight of the Dustbuster provides the pressure needed to maintain the electrical contacts. Although the wall mount seemed like a great idea, it has been more a problem over the years: if the cradle is not mounted, you need to separate the Dustbuster from the charger with 2 hands.
Consistent burn time of 8+ minutes after over a week of use, whereas in NiCd units, the claimed 10 minute burn time is the best case burn time, often with barely practical suction strength after 5 minutes.
Lithium batteries: have a fixed lifespan even if never used, down 80% in 4-6 years. By 2 years, the CHV1410L will burn as long as a standard NiCd buster, and by 3rd year, down to about 2-3 minutes. Although your actual lifespan can vary, few lithium cells make it past 5 years. You can reflect on your laptop or cellphone battery experiences to anticipate what will happen to this Dustbuster at that time.
Sadly, Dustbusters I had during the 1990s and early 2000s would barely hold a charge after 2 years, forcing me to switch to corded vacuums. NiCd Dustbuster can last for 4 years too, but the batteries need more reconditioning as it ages, adding to annoyances as one spends more time keeping the Dustbuster healthy than cleaning! Its easier to use a broom or a corded vac by then.
Brush bristles are too short and absent in the corner of the nozzle, so its inefficient for scrubbing out deep seated dirt. Future redesigns should increase the coverage of the brush, bristle length, and stiffness, 2x at least.
At $80, discounted, its one of the more expensive Dustbuster in the market, so the convenience has to be weighed over its expected use. My corded Scorpion ran me $24, and is still far stronger than the CHV1410L. Lithium powered vacuum cleaners are low in this price range, so its actually economical for its class.
If you've stayed away from Dustbusters because of poor battery life, the Lithium powered models will not disappoint. Many competitors in this niche include vacs with removeable Lithium battery packs that are charged on separate stations, but cost 2x as much, or the hyped Dyson which is 3-4x more. Others have the traditional design of a dustbuster with its minor annoyances. Beware that with lithium power, the non-cyclonic traditional vacuum designs tend to clog the filter quickly, requiring frequently cleaning, and teasing dust out of the filter. Vacs sold with separate batteries are often priced without battery or charger.
This Dustbuster exists in a pure NiCd version too, the CHV1410, if this unit is what you want, the proper designation is CHV1410L.
Black and Decker products have descended into mediocrity over the past decades, but this one item is a winner: it has the other reviews confirming its consistent suction power and battery life, with few annoyances compared to competitors. Whomever does their body designs deserves kudos, because over the decades they've come up with unique, functional, and attractive tools, and this Dustbuster has evolved from prior models. Alas, they have tended to scrimp on electronics and spare parts. Models that look just like the CVH1410 do not perform as well.
When the time comes to replace the batteries and the unit still works, hopefully a battery pack will be available or I will make my own using the new longer life lithium iron phosphate battery, that will not have the short lifespan of lithium ion. "LiFePo4" batteries have entered the consumer market in 2010 and are just beginning to make headway.