Finishing in the bottom portion of the group, the AirSwivel Lite delivered an overall uninspiring performance. This budget vacuum cleaner is one of the least expensive models we tested, but it was outperformed by some other budget models that we vastly preferred to this economical offering from BLACK+DECKER. It is relatively easy to use and highly maneuverable — even surprising us a bit with its exceptional prowess at picking up pet hair, but it did deliver disappointing results in our carpet cleaning and hard floor cleaning tests with other types of debris, severely hurting its score. It sells for a good price, but it is hard to justify spending money on a vacuum that doesn't clean carpet all that well.
BLACK+DECKER AirSwivel Lite Review
Pros: Inexpensive, maneuverable, solid at picking up pet hair
Cons: Doesn’t clean hard floors, carpet very well
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
This model finished in the lower portion of the group, finishing just behind the Oreck Commercial and ahead of the Hoover Windtunnel 2. The BLACK+DECKER is a bit easier to maneuver then either of these other vacuums, but can't clean carpet as well as either of them. The Oreck is a bit better than the BLACK+DECKER at cleaning hard floors, while the Hoover is worse. They all do about the same at picking up pet hair, but the BLACK+DECKER is the least expensive of the group.
To figure out which vacuum cleaners are really the best you can buy, we have spent months and months buying all the best models and testing them head-to-head, continually updating our review as newer models have been released. We split our testing process into five weighted rating metrics, with the AirSwivel Lite's results in each of them described below.
The most important set of evaluations when it comes to these products, our carpet cleaning metric is responsible for 35% of the total score for each upright vacuum. We scored each product on how well it could suck up rice, flour, cereal, and oats from both flat and fluffy carpet, with the AirSwivel actually doing quite poorly, earning a 3 out of 10.
This vacuum cleaner did alright at cleaning up rice from the flatter carpet, getting most of it with 2 passes and all of it with 3 or 4, but it delivered an abysmal performance on the fluffy carpet. It failed to collect hardly any of the rice and crushed so much of it up that it practically made a bigger mess than what we started with.
It didn't any better with the flour, leaving tons of residual debris behind on both types of carpet, with even more remaining on the low-pile carpet than on the medium-pile carpet.
It again failed to impress when tasked with picking up Cheerios, being far too low to the carpet to collect and pushing them around instead.
Continuing a trend, it also delivered a disappointing performance in our oat collection challenge, leaving tons and tons of fragments behind on both types of soft floor.
Ease of Use
Following our suite of soft floor cleaning evaluations, we moved on to looking at how much of a hassle each of these vacuums is to use. We compared how easy it is to switch between hard and soft floors, how close each one could clean along the edges of the room and under furniture, and the maximum reach of each product, as well as the noise level. The AirSwivel did a bit better in this set of evaluations compared to the previous one, earning a 5 out of 10.
This vacuum does a great job at cleaning right up to a wall and in the corners of the room, though it can leave a little bit of debris if you go straight at the wall, rather than traveling parallel to it. It does do slightly above average at reaching under furniture, able to reach up to 7.5" under our simulated sofa.
However, this vacuum doesn't have a terribly impressive reach — only having a 20' cord — and doesn't offer any way to adjust its clearance for cleaning different floor types.
Next, we moved on to assessing how maneuverable and agile each of these appliances are. We rated and score the overall maneuverability of each one, as well as how easy it is to clean a flight of stairs and the effort required to push or pull each vacuum across carpet. The BLACK+DECKER did significantly better in this trio of tests, meriting an 8 out of 10.
While the hose on this vacuum can only reach about 6 stairs, it is one of the lightest upright models we tested, making it fairly easy to carry up or down stairs.
This also means it is fairly easy to push or pull across carpet, but the wheels just don't glide quite as nicely as some of the top products. This vacuum does have a swivel head, but still isn't the most agile, ranking about average in the group.
Hard Surface Cleaning
Next, we ranked and judged how effective each vacuum is at keeping your hard floors clean. We again used rice, flour, oats, and cereal to test our each vacuum cleaner, with this quartet of tests accounting for 10% of the overall score. Unfortunately, the AirSwivel delivered another disappointing performance, earning a 3 out of 10.
Starting off with the rice, the BLACK+DECKER did pick up a fair amount — in addition to flinging a fair amount all over the place.
It did more or less the same thing with oats, leading us to conclude that we would have been better off with a broom.
The AirSwivel Lite doesn't have sufficient clearance to pick up Cheerios, perpetually pushing them around. However, it actually did pick up a fair amount of flour, though there was a film left behind after it vacuumed that it failed to pick up.
For the last 10% of the total score, we scored each vacuum on how much pet hair it could collect. The BLACK+DECKER did quite well, meriting an 8 out of 10 in this test, conducted on medium-pile carpet. We spread out 5 grams of donated dog fur and made our way through the testing zone. This vacuum collected about 89% of this fur, comparing quite favorably to much more expensive vacuums.
While the BLACK+DECKER AirSwivel Lite is on the less expensive side, it's not the best value, as there are other products that offer much more bang for the buck.
All in all, this lackluster vacuum — while economical — didn't really impress us and there are other models that we liked significantly more.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer