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.
This vacuum's tough, tacky hand grip feels like a power drill's, and its 22-volt motor provides impressive suction (as well as an ear-ringing 92 decibels). It quickly sucked up small mountains of everything from sawdust to pet hair, but its design, which places the dust bin under the nozzle and directly in the path of your cleaning targets, prevents it from being as all-purpose as the others we tested. [$250; gtechonline.com]