The great advantage of cordless stick vacuums is that they can be easily moved from room to room for ongoing cleaning without worrying about cord lengths and outlet locations. Of course, they use rechargeable batteries, so that limits their run time; if you need a stick vacuum that allows you to clean for a longer period of time, see our discussion of corded stick vacuums elsewhere in this report.
If you want a stick vacuum that can potentially replace your fill-sized upright, let us introduce you to the Dyson V6 Animal (Est. $400). This stick vacuum is one in a line of four Dyson V6 models, all of which get excellent to very good reviews -- and all convert to a handheld. Pricey compared to other stick vacuums, yes, but experts and owners say they're worth every cent.
The V6 Animal gets the best reviews, though, for its extreme versatility and exceptional performance. In one professional test, it earns an Excellent rating for carpet, bare floors, edges and pet hair. It's only average score is for noise. At Reviewed.com, Jonathan Chan includes the basic Dyson V6 in his roundup of the best cordless vacuums of 2015; it's not his top pick because of a few quibbles, which we'll get to in a minute, but he says it's by far the most powerful. Over at CNET, reviewers Kate Pilkington and Andrew Gebhart also test the basic $300 V6 and say it stands out "as one of the best stick vac buys we've tested." At TheSweethome.com, the Dyson V6 is the runner up, with testers saying, "cordless vacs don't get more powerful than this."
The Animal gets its name from its attachments that are targeted toward pet owners, although they're useful for just about anyone. Those include a combination tool, crevice tool, dusting brush, and small, motorized brush head for cleaning upholstery. All of the attachments can be used on the main vacuum or on the handheld. Users say it's super easy to convert the vacuum to a handheld, as it is to attach and detach the tools, and that it's amazingly powerful for a cordless vacuum. Quite a few people who bought it for "touch-ups" say it works so well they no longer need their full-sized upright. At 5 pounds, it's reported as very comfortable to use and hold, and runs for about 20 minutes on a charge.
But, as we noted, there are some quibbles. The V6 does not stand up on its own as some cordless vacuums do. A docking station is included, but has to be mounted on a wall; some say the instructions for doing so are a bit confusing, as you have to thread the cord through the station. However, once it's up, they say it's an extremely clever, easy-to-use design.
Although the V6 Animal comes with four accessories, there is no onboard storage and the docking station is only designed to hold two of them -- or only one if you chose to store the small, motorized head there. The dirt cup is also reported as small, with users saying it needs to be emptied too often, and that it doesn't dump easily, you have to dig out the debris. However, this seems to be more of a problem with those who use the Animal as their main vacuum and deal with a lot of carpet, or who overfill the cup. Others say the size of the cup is fine for a couple of vacuuming sessions and it empties nicely. One last issue: the exhaust will blow back in your face if you hold the vacuum in a certain way. Still, even after acknowledging these negatives, the vast majority of reviewers say this stick vacuum is the best thing that's ever happened to them.
The Animal is not the only model in the V6 product line. Most are as well-reviewed as the Animal, and all convert to handhelds. The basic Dyson V6 (Est. $300) has a less-powerful motorized cleaning head, and includes just a combination tool and crevice tool. It's also only one of two models in the V6 line with HEPA filtration. This basic Dyson stick vacuum is the one most commonly tested in expert roundups and gets top scores all around; the upgrades in this line have the more powerful, direct-drive cleaner head.
The Dyson V6 Motorhead (Est. $350) does not have HEPA filtration, and it also includes just a combination tool and crevice tool. However, it's the first in the series to sport the direct-drive cleaning head for better performance on carpet and plush area rugs. This is as well-regarded as the Animal by both experts and owners.
The most fully-loaded option, and the step-up from the Animal, the Dyson V6 Absolute (Est. $500) includes everything that comes with the Animal, plus HEPA filtration and a soft roller cleaning head for better performance on hardwood floors without scratching. While users give this model reviews that are equal to the high ratings we see for the Animal, experts say it's not worth the premium price compared to others in this line.
If you don't want to pay upwards of $300 for a cordless stick vacuum, as most people probably don't, you'll still find a top-end performer in the Hoover Linx BH50010 (Est. $130). It runs for about 20 to 30 minutes on a single charge, reviewers say, which is pretty good; most cordless stick vacs average about 15 minutes of runtime. Owners who were leery of that being enough time to finish the job say they were surprised at how much quicker you can clean when you're not navigating around a power cord. Some owners say they buy an extra battery, the Hoover Linx BH5000 (Est. $50), just to have a backup on hand or to be able to extend the runtime. The Hoover Linx uses a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery that powers the vacuum at full strength (no loss of suction as the battery runs down) until it's completely drained. It has a light that indicates how much battery power is left. A full recharge takes about three hours.
Not only does the Hoover Linx work well on different types of floors, but you can easily switch between floor types with a brushroll switch on the handle that's easy to flip on and off -- simply turn the brush roll off when you're on a hard surface to avoid the spinning brushes sending debris flying, then turn it back on for area rugs or carpet to "sweep" up dirt. It works quite well on carpet for a stick vac, say reviewers, although it's best for low-pile carpets and area rugs. However, it excels on hard floors, even with chunkier bits of debris. It also cleans effectively close to walls and around baseboards thanks to special edge-cleaning bristles on the powered brushroll. The Linx doesn't come with any attachments, such as a crevice tool, so it's not the best choice for cleaning anything other than floors. At 7.3 pounds, it's very lightweight and users say it's easy to carry around the house.
At 11 pounds, the Shark Navigator Freestyle (Est. $115) is not quite as easy to pick up and carry as the Linx, but its biggest claim to fame is its extreme maneuverability. Experts and users say the Shark Freestyle navigates seamlessly around any number of obstacles, and it gets a lot of praise for how quickly and easily it cleans under and around dining room tables and chairs -- or high chairs -- after messy family dinners.
Like the Hoover Linx, the Shark Navigator does not include any additional accessories; however, it tends to get better reviews overall from owners than the Hoover as a main vacuum rather than a backup unit for light cleaning, and it gets equally good reviews for carpet and bare floors.
There are some negatives. The brushroll shutoff is located on the head, so you have to either use your foot or bend down to turn the brushroll on and off. The Navigator uses a 14.4 volt nickel-cadmium (NiCd) battery. Most say it runs for about 15 to 20 minutes on a charge, but, unlike the Li-ion-powered Linx, the Shark will lose suction as the battery is expended (that's a by-product of its NiCd battery technology). According to the manufacturer, the Freestyle takes four to seven hours to charge.
With as many features as more expensive cordless stick vacuums, the Eureka Quick Up 2-in-1 (Est. $35) gets decent reviews for its versatility and performance. Unlike the Hoover and the Shark, the Eureka Quick Up converts to a handheld vacuum, and the hand vac gets good feedback for cleaning surfaces like upholstery and drapes. Users also say the stick vacuum part of the Quick Up 2-in-1 does a very good job even on chunky debris on hardwood floors, as well as vacuuming low-pile carpets and throw rugs. Its Ni-MH battery provides a fairly short run time, only 10 to 15 minutes, but many people buy an extra battery pack, the Powerextra 2200mAh (Est. $20).
We saw a few scattered complaints about the Eureka Quick Up. As might be expected at its very low price point, some owners say it feels flimsy and the parts don't always seem to fit together well -- especially the dust bin. The Quick Up is also quite small and taller users might have to stoop to use it, but, on the plus side, it only weighs four pounds. Many also say the battery run time begins to shorten very quickly and if it weren't for a second battery the charge would not last long enough to clean up all but the smallest messes.
Elsewhere in this report: