If you choose a corded stick vac, you don't have to worry about running out of battery power in the middle of the job, but you may need to reposition the cord into different outlets several times in one cleaning session. Cordless models are generally more popular among reviewers because of their convenience, but if you live in a small space and are using a stick vacuum in place of a regular vacuum cleaner, corded is probably the way go. Corded vacuums are also less expensive than their cordless counterparts.
In one expert review, the reasonably priced Hoover Flair Bagless S2200 (*Est. $40) performs very well at picking up debris on tile floors and along the edge of a wall. A foot pedal switches this stick vacuum from bare-floor mode to carpet mode, but it receives just an average performance rating at removing debris from medium-pile carpet. Owner reviews at Walmart.com and Amazon.com are generally positive about the suction on bare floors. Most users like the 10-inch-wide swivel nozzle (though we did read a few complaints about the nozzle cracking and falling off), but don't recommend it for carpet.
Experts rate the Hoover Flair's noise level as quieter than other recommended models. They also found this 9-pound stick vacuum easy to use. Notable is a 20-foot power cord with a quick-release feature (so you don't waste time unraveling the cord). Testers note that this stick vacuum releases more particles into the air during operation than most other models reviewed, making it a less desirable choice for people with severe allergies.
Due to its poor performance on carpet, we recommend the upgraded version -- the Hoover Flair Bagless with Powered Nozzle S2220 (*Est. $55) . It has a motorized brush-head that's better for digging debris out of floor coverings, and it gets a higher rating of 4.1 stars from more than 1,400 consumers at Amazon.com, who seem happier with its performance on low-pile carpet and rugs. As with most stick vacs, we read some complaints about reliability; some say the vacuum died within a year. Hoover backs both stick vacuums with a one-year warranty.
The 6-pound Dirt Devil Power Stick M084100 (*Est. $40) weighs less than the Hoover Flair models and experts say it achieves excellent results on ceramic tile floors and carpet. On the downside, it doesn't work well on edges and is noisy. The unpleasant noise level is the key problem noted by one-third of the 130 reviewers at Amazon.com, who give it the lowest rating. Many of the more than 80 consumers posting reviews to Walmart.com also complain about this stick vac being loud. Feedback is mixed on how well the Dirt Devil Power Stick M084100 sucks up dirt; some say it works quite well, but others report having to vacuum the same area multiple times in order to remove all the debris. Some owners also complain that in order for the Dirt Devil Power Stick M084100 to function well, the filter must be cleaned frequently, which can be a hassle.
If you only need a stick vacuum for bare floors, there are a couple of inexpensive options. The Dirt Devil Versa Power Stick SD20000 (*Est. $25) is widely available and consistently earns high marks from owners at Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com. Reviews recommend it for hard surfaces or small spaces such as dorm rooms. By removing the handle and nozzle, it converts to a handheld vacuum. It also comes with a crevice attachment. However, even the good reviews for this vacuum concede that it doesn't work well on carpet at all. It might pick up some surface debris, but that's about it. Weighing just under 4 pounds, this stick vac is the lightest among recommended models; however, the dirt cup is smaller and will need frequent emptying to achieve maximum suction. Additionally, consumers who need a stick vac for larger areas may find the 16-foot power cord on the Dirt Devil Versa Power Stick to be too short.
The Bissell FeatherWeight 3106 (*Est. $25) is another extremely easy-to-maneuver and cheap option for hard floors that converts to a handheld vac and includes a crevice tool. More than 350 owner reviews at Amazon.com are generally positive, but most users agree it has limited effectiveness on carpet. Like the Dirt Devil, it has a narrower cleaning path, smaller dirt cup and shorter power cord than more expensive models. Another inconvenience is the on/off switch, which is located on the hand vac, rather than the handle. Some shortcomings compared to the Dirt Devil: the crevice tool doesn't clip to the handle and the unit doesn't have wheels. Both the Dirt Devil and Bissell are covered by a one-year warranty.