The Black & Decker AirSwivel was so light and compact next to the other vacuums we tested, but it still packed a lot of cleaning power. It was also easier to maneuver due to its swiveling head. We were able to get it around a room quickly. It lacks some accessories and features that competing units have, but it is still competitive, especially for the price.
We used flour to simulate the fine dust particles that collect on flooring, and the this vac was great at clearing it from our test carpeting, especially from medium-pile carpeting, which is most common in homes. This model was not the best on sawdust, which was meant to represent lightweight messes like leaves. It tended to push the mess out of the way rather than getting it into the dustbin. All of the vacuums cleaned the messes eventually, but the AirSwivel was slower on sawdust. It did a very respectable job of cleaning kitty litter. When we averaged the scores from all our cleaning tests, the AirSwivel was above average, outranked by only two products. For even better suction, though, check out the Shark Navigator.
The average price of the budget vacuums we tested was about $75. This vacuum was well below average on price, which is a definite selling point. It doesn't even cost $50 in some places online, and although it took more cleaning passes than average in some tests, it competed well overall with more expensive options.
This one really has the perfect dimensions for a budget vacuum cleaner. It is truly compact and is almost the lightest vacuum cleaner we tested at just 8.8 pounds, so it is easy to take up and down stairs, and for cleaning stairs. The cord is even relatively long at 20 feet, though that is a little shorter than average.
The dustbin holds just about the average amount at 2 liters. That's respectable. You won't have to stop and empty constantly. We found it pretty hard to empty, though. The latch did not want to come open, and there was a definite dust cloud when it finally did. All bagless models create a dust cloud when you empty them, which is not ideal if you have allergies.
The AirSwivel does not allow you to adjust the distance from the cleaning head to the floor to optimize suction on different flooring types. Some competitors have a dial that allows you to do that. It also has fewer tools than many comparable models. There is a hose but it is small and there is no extension wand. There is a crevice tool and a truly tiny dusting brush. There is also an upholstery tool with a rotating brush. That might make up for the lack of a proper dusting brush.
The AirSwivel is comfortable to use. The handle is ergonomic and the swivel head is so much easier to maneuver than traditional cleaning heads on competitors. Getting under tables and into corners is so much easier with this unit than with others. And it is less noisy than average, so it is more comfortable in that way too. It is easy to store because it is so compact that it will take up just a tiny corner of a closet.
The warranty is just one year, and that is not ideal. Many in the budget category only have one year of coverage, but a longer warranty is always reassuring.
The Black & Decker AirSwivel is one of many budget vacuums we tested that can clean all types of debris from all types of flooring – it just didn't do it as quickly as some. It is still easy to recommend since it maneuvers so easily with its swiveling head, ergonomic handle and light weight. This is almost the least expensive model we tested, so it is very competitive for its price.