Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday ToolTalk: Black & Decker FLEX

My love of tools is widely documented. And, I think I’ve long since established what the best kind is, be it manual or power: multi-functional. So, it was with great joy that I discovered a few weeks ago that Black & Decker had sent me one of their new FLEX cordless cleaners.

This thing is like a Dustbuster – on steroids. In fact, the company says it has 40 percent more suction power than a Dustbuster. It’s compact, lightweight, has tools attached in a handy caddy, has a hose that stores neatly beneath it (and extends up to four feet!) and is easy to empty and clean. (I’d advise emptying the reusable cup and shaking out the reusable filter after each use if possible.)

I’ve put it through a variety of tasks including:
· Auto interior – First on my list had me vacuuming Pearl’s interior. A few hard to reach spots were no problem when I pulled out the crevice tool. And, dusting the dash and going over the leather was easy too, when I flipped up the built-in brush on the suction nozzle.
· Hard floors – Quick messes (spilled cereal, cat litter off Toby’s feet, sugar that popped through the bag) were no challenge on wood, laminate or ceramic tile surfaces. I tried all three.
· Carpet – We don’t have carpet upstairs anymore, just throw rugs. I attached the pet hair tool and was amazed at how much it was able to suck up. (Hair that our Kenmore vacuum left on the floor!) Even the mother, who is not easily impressed, gave it a thumb’s up.
· Stairs – One of the few places we do have carpet is on the basement stairs. It was great to be able to vacuum the stairs and not worry about losing my balance or about a full size vacuum tipping over.
· Drapes, upholstery – I flipped the brush into place and quickly took dust and lint off of velvet boxes, heavy draperies, and canvas throw pillows.
· Other hard surfaces – After we got finished putting up the tree and decorating the mantle, there were bits of debris all over. The FLEX made quick work of that mess.

One complaint – and my only complaint about the FLEX – is battery life. The operative word is “quick.” A single charge will give you somewhere between 5 and 7 minutes of fairly decent suction. Definitely enough time to do an average car interior or to suck up a small mess.

It may last another minute or two beyond that but with continually decreasing suction. That by itself wouldn’t be so bad except you then need to wait another 20 hours or so to use it again! Either increase the battery life or make an adapter you can use to finish what you’ve started.

Conclusion: Gets an A+ for performance and versatility, a C- for battery life, and a B for overall value. A great holiday gift idea as the FLEX is at home in the kitchen, the car or the garage.
Cost: $65-$70 at most stores and online retailers.

Full Disclosure: I accepted an offer to join the Black & Decker New Products Team and as a result, received the product described above for evaluation. I did not receive any additional compensation for participating in this program.


sewwhat? said...

You should be glad, my Dyson gives me about 20 seconds of battery life, after getting a new motor and a new charger, this is what I got for $150. I'll try anything to attack that cat litter issue!

Karen Anne said...

That's too bad about the battery life. I try to have as little "stuff" as possible, but this looks ideal for stairs. Not at 5-7 minutes, though.

Kate said...

Great review! It answered all of the questions I would have had about it.

Anonymous said...