Cordless handheld vacuums often receive higher ratings than their corded counterparts and tend to be more popular with consumers. Reviewers say these hand vacs are powerful enough to suck up spills and are handy for cleaning vehicle interiors and hard-to-reach spots. However, with their lightweight portability comes a downside -- rechargeable batteries have fairly short run times and most top out at around 10 to 15 minutes. Still, many owners say cordless hand vacuums are a convenient choice, and they do well enough on the small jobs for which they're designed.
Black & Decker has released a newer version of its top-rated 18V Cordless Pivoting Hand Vac PHV1800: the 18V Pivot Vac PHV1810 (*Est. $55) , which is quieter and lighter weight than the original. Like the PHV1800, it offers 18 volts of power and a pivoting nozzle. The new PHV1810 hand vacuum has a crevice tool that extends from the nozzle and an integrated upholstery brush that flips out. The newer model, however, only has one speed (the older PHV1800 had two) and doesn't include a wall-mountable charging base (the power cord plugs directly into the back of the vacuum).
User reviews of the Black & Decker 18V Pivot Vac PHV1810 are excellent. Nearly 300 owners posting to Amazon.com give the Black & Decker hand vacuum an average rating of 4 stars out of 5, with half of the reviewers giving it a perfect rating. Owners report good suction and excellent all-around design. Many reviewers previously owned the PHV1800 and say the improved PHV1810 is just as powerful. Not only is it smaller and quieter, they report, but the dust bin is larger. Although the nozzle pivots more than 180 degrees, debris tends to spill out when the nozzle is rotated downward. The Black & Decker 15.6V Cordless Hand Vac (*Est. $75) gets similar reviews at Amazon.com. It doesn't have the pivoting nozzle, but it includes a wall mount with an Energy Star-rated charger. A number of dissatisfied owners for both these models complain of a faulty battery that only holds a charge for a few minutes. Black & Decker hand vacs are covered by a two-year warranty.
The Dirt Devil Extreme Power Hand Vac (*Est. $45) isn't covered in professional reviews, but it gets comparable reviews to the aforementioned Black & Decker hand vacuums. The vast majority of the more than 160 owner reviews at Amazon.com give it 4 or 5 stars. Reviewers agree it's powerful, works well on pet hair and the battery runtime of at least 7 minutes is sufficient for most tasks. Users say the crevice tool, which flips down from the nozzle, is handy for making the suction more powerful. At just over 3 pounds, this hand vac weighs significantly less than the Black & Decker 18V Pivot Vac PHV1810. It is covered by a three-year warranty and the filter (*Est. $7 for a pack of two) is replaceable (although many owners say they have been using the same filter for years).
If you want a cordless hand vac with a HEPA filter to reduce allergens, the FilterStream DirtTamer Supreme V2400 (*Est. $60) may be a good choice. It also picks up spills and wet debris. This 12-volt vacuum comes with a crevice tool, an upholstery tool and a squeegee attachment for wet pickups. The foam filter in the three-stage filtration system is washable, but the HEPA filter will require periodic replacement. The two dozen owner reviews for the DirtTamer Supreme at Amazon.com are mostly positive, but a few consumers say it didn't work right out of the box. The staff at AllergyBuyersClub.com gives it 3.5 stars out of 5, because it's rather heavy and its HEPA filter clogs quickly. The 14.4-volt FilterStream DirtTamer Ultima (*Est. $90) gets good performance ratings in one professional review, but it wasn't as effective as the Black & Decker Dustbuster 18V Pilot Vac on bare floors and pet hair. Both models have a two-year warranty.
The Dirt Devil Scorpion 6 Volt Cordless Hand Vac (*Est. $30) has an attractive price, but reviews at Amazon.com are quite negative. While the light weight (1.7 pounds) and handy flip out crevice tool are advantages, reviewers say it doesn't pick up debris and starts to lose power after just a few minutes.