Ever try to spot-clean your car's interior or a carpeted floor in your home with an old Dustbuster? It couldn't suck up a straw wrapper, let alone real dirt. But times have changed: Thanks to high-wattage motors and smaller, more powerful batteries, the latest cordless, rechargeable vacuums clean almost as well as their plugged-in counterparts. Plus, they're still able to sneak into the hard-to-reach crevices. We attacked several apartments' worth of dirt and pet hair, spending time with each vacuum over a few weeks. During all tests, a decibel meter read each machine's volume, and battery life was recorded.
Bissell Lift-Off 2-in-1 Cyclonic Cordless Stick Vac
This purple hand vac provides 14.4 volts of power and can be converted to an old-school electric broom with an included stick attachment for cleaning hardwood floors. The 2-in-1 clocked the longest battery life in our test, at 24 minutes, and also ran the quietest – 79 decibels, on average. But while it could suck cereal off a hard floor admirably, it wasn't up to tougher tasks, like pulling cat hair from a couch. [$120; bissell.com]