Quirky, but nice vacuum
powerful, pretty, easy to use
heavy, cheap construction
The Bottom Line:
For the price, this cute, but quirky vacuum is worth a look.
I bought the Eureka Boss Smart Vac at Lowes. I think they have the highest price out of any retailer around, but they were the only ones near me that had it and I really wanted it! I didn't need a vacuum (I have 35, I collect them as a hobby), but I really wanted this one. I used to sell this model at Sears (it's been made for at least the last 10 years, in all sorts of colors, the one I sold was hunter green, same machine), so I was very familiar with it. I have a lot of older vacuums, and only a few new ones... two of my favorites (which I have also written reviews of) are the Dyson DC 14 and Hoover Self-Propelled WindTunnel. I've so enjoyed having uprights with on board tools, that I wanted to have this vacuum as well. This vacuum has a common feature set, but a unique look and lots of power. This vacuum has been a Consumer Reports Best Buy for a number of years. While I don't *always* agree with them, this vacuum is a good value for the money.
What's in the box? Is it easy to assemble?
In the box of a brand new Eureka Boss Smart Vac is the cleaner itself with one bag installed already, owners manual, attachments, and an extra belt (rare for a modern vacuum to include an extra belt). The machine is very easy to assemble. All one has to do is slide the handle onto the body and attach 3 screws with a phillips head screwdriver. Then snap the attachments into their respective holders and start cleaning!
Is it easy to use?
Yes! Very easy. Everything is pretty much self explanatory. Recline the handle, press the power switch, and push the vacuum over the dirt. There is a 7 position carpet height selector dial on the front of the vacuum. There is also a switch on the bottom that will allow the brushroll to be turned off for bare floors. Using the hose and attachments is easy, but does require an extra step not necessary on most modern vacuums. This Eureka has a suction diverter that is controlled with a dial. It must be turned from "floor" to "hose" when the attachments are used. Most modern vacuums simply require the user to pick the hose up, and suction will be there immediately. Some people say that the diverter on this vacuum allows the suction to be more direct, and therefore more powerful. I think the jury is still out on that! The suction is very powerful, but I think it has more to do with the motor than anything else. The bag is easy to change as well. Just pull off the bag door and release a lever. The bag will drop out. Pop a new one in, and close the door. Very easy!
How does it clean?
This vacuum has tremendous suction and airflow, and the brushroll is very aggressive. The first time I turned it on, the cleaner flew out of my hands and slammed into a wall because I wasn't gripping the handle tightly enough. Despite popular misconception, this vacuum is NOT self-proplelled. It feels like it is (forward motion only) because of the powerful brushroll. The bristles are very stiff and really work to get deep dirt out of the carpet. When the dial is set to "floor" mode, a tremendous amount of suction is clearly heard in the nozzle area. I've never met a vacuum that has this much suction before, and I know vacuums! This vacuum is also great for bare floors, with the brushroll off. However, care must be taken to not lower the height all the way. One up from lowest setting is appropriate. Otherwise, the cleaner will suck down and seal itself to the bare floor and be impossible to push.... if it is able to be pushed, it will push the dirt in front of it instead of sucking it up (referred to as snowplowing). There is no motor power control or suction relief valve on this vacuum, so it is on "full blast" at all times. This vacuum is not only hungry for dirt, but also a champ at lifting worn carpet nap. I have a cat and I like to bake so I often vacuum things like cat hair, scattered litter, flour, sugar, salt, dirt from outside, dust.... it does well with all of them.
What about the attachments?
This vacuum comes with a nice set of attachments, that are shockingly better quality than anything else out there in the big box stores. The are almost reminiscent of vintage attachments! The best thing is that there are individual dedicated attachments for each task... a dusting brush, an upholstery tool, a crevice tool, and a turbo tool. Many manufacturers today are trying to combine the dusting, upholstery, and crevice tools all into one "thing" and those are a pain to use and don't work well at all. I'm especially impressed with the dusting brush. It's got a nice thick row of soft bristles all the way around, rare for a modern dusting brush. Just look at a Hoover dusting brush in comparison to see what I mean.... awful! The only attachment I don't like on the Eureka is the turbo tool, called the Power Paw. It slows down a lot when touched to a surface to be vacuumed. It still works, but my Hoover and my Dyson turbo tools do not do that, so I'm spoiled. Also, to clean it out, or change the belt, a screwdriver is required. Most turbo tools come apart easily (like the Hoover for example) with the press of a couple buttons. Not so with this Eureka. Plus, the Power Paw is stored on a flimsy plastic clip right up by the the handle... it's easy to knock off accidentally and the clip seems like it will snap in two if one even blinks at it the wrong way! There are also two nested extension wands on the vacuum. Nested means that one fits inside the other for more compact storage on the cleaner body. They work, but can be tricky to figure out which end goes where when trying to assemble them for use. The hose on this vacuum is designed very well. It is clear, so one can see if it gets a clog. It is also anchored at the bottom of the cleaner (much like a Dyson, and unlike a Hoover) so that the machine will follow instead of fall when tugged by the hose. The hose is a little on the short side, about 5 feet, but that's average for an upright. An extension hose is available for purchase if needed. The best thing about this hose is that it doesn't fight the user when using it. When I use the hose on most vacuums, (Hoover WindTunnel, Panasoinic anything, Dyson), the power of the cleaner keeps the hose pulled tight and makes it very hard to use... quite often when the hose or connected attachment is touched to the surface to be vacuumed, the hose will snap tight and the cleaner will crash to the floor. Not so with this Eureka, and that makes it a pleasure to use! The Smart Vac gets an A+ for attachments and hose in my book! The suction is very powerful through the hose, just like it is on the floor, but one has remember to flip the dial back to floor when finished with the hose!
What's great about this vacuum?
My favorite thing about this vacuum (besides the color, the purple is very pretty), is that is isn't very loud. It's not silent for sure, but like many Eurekas isn't a screamer either. It's got a very solid throaty motor sound, that is only enhanced by the gentle thud of the burshroll tapping against the floor and the whooosh of the powerful suction going through the nozzle. Most vacuums are so loud, the burshroll and suction can't even be heard! This vacuum also has a lot of clear parts, so identifying a problem is easy. The fill tube that goes to the bag is clear, and can be easily removed to clear a clog. As previously stated, the hose is clear. The agitator cover is clear, so one can easily see if the brush roll is spinning or not. There is even a clear belt view window on the bottom of the vacuum so one can see if the belt is broken before taking the machine apart. The handle is a contoured loop style handle that feels really good in the hands. The brushroll turns off automatically when the handle is in the upright position. The HEPA filter is actually SEALED, which means there is a rubber gasket around it so no air can escape. Many vacuums have the HEPA filter just sitting in the machine with no seals or gaskets and air is able to escape the filter (Hoover Windtunnel for example). This vacuum also has a 30 foot cord with a quick release cord wrap. 30 feet is good for an upright, most are between 20 to 25. The Smart Vac comes with a carrying handle on the back, about midway up the cleaner body that enables it to be carried easily up or down stairs. The brushroll is a large diameter so hair isn't likely to get tangled up around it as it does on a normal vacuum.
What's not so great.
My first complaint with this vacuum is that none of the controls are in a good location. Well, one is, the pedal to step on to release the handle from an upright position, but that's the only one. The power switch is in the middle of the vacuum, so one must reach to turn it on or off. The height dial and bare floor switch are on the bottom front, and they require the user to actually BEND OVER to manipulate them. They should all be more easily accessible. The headlight looks really cool, but is really just there for looks. It is off to once side, and it shines straight up in the air when the handle is reclined. I don't often look at the ceiling when vacuuming the floor, so that's not practical. This vacuum requires the removal of a few screws to change the belt, it would be easier if it just had thumb clamps. There is no bag check indicator on this vacuum. The bag door feels flimsy and is hard to put on. The nozzle on this vacuum is 15 inches wide. That may be good for a commercial hall way, but homes typically have things like tables and chairs to go between, under, and around This vacuum is clumsy in those areas. It will lay flat to go under beds, but is so "thick" that it likely won't fit under most beds. The plastic on this vacuum creaks when the vacuum is moved while it's off (can't be heard with the motor running), and it all feels very flimsy. This is a vacuum not to be abused for sure, for the plastic parts will surely snap off!
This vacuum is quirky, and many people echo the same complaints. I agree with almost all of them... this vacuum isn't perfect, and it's issues seem rather consistent. This vacuum uses a weird belt. It is made of Kevlar (think bullet proof vests), and is supposed to last longer than a typical rubber belt. Most people say it doesn't, and that this machine goes through belts like crazy, but I haven't had an issue yet. Lots of people complain that this vacuum is heavy. IT IS! 21 pounds is very heavy for a vacuum that isn't even self-propelled. It's OK for me because I'm not feeble or old, but just beware, this doesn't weigh what an Oreck does (of course it cleans a million times better than one too!). Lots of people have issues with the tools and hose falling off the vacuum as it's being used as an upright. Mine is still new, so things are still tight, but I have seen aged Smart Vacs before, and this seems to happen with most of them. Lots of people have trouble releasing the handle from the upright position. It is rather difficult, it takes a good bit of pressure. Same thing with the bare floor switch. Some people say this vacuum clogs, but I have not found that to be the case. The fill tube is large! I even sucked up a whole paper towel just for fun and didn't have any issues. If a clog does occur, this vacuum makes it easy to remove. So, those are some things to consider if you are thinking about this vacuum.
But it's not bagless!:
True! When bagless vacuums first came out, they were a fad. Now there are lots of people wanting to return to the bag. The have found that bagless vacuums are a mess to empty and clog fast. This Eureka Smart Vac is one of only a handful of bagged vacuums still available to the average consumer in big box stores (probably why it's so popular).
While there are better vacuums out there (I wholeheartedly recommend the Hoover Self-propelled Windtunnel for those considering bagged, and a Dyson anything for anyone who insists on bagless), it would be hard to find one with the power and feature set of this one for the price. It's definitely a worthy contender in the vacuum war! Buy it from a place that has a liberal return policy so that if the quirks are too much for you to handle, you can get one that suits you better.
I wanted to write an update to add a few details that I forgot to include in the original review. The first thing is that the motor is 12 AMPS. Of cousre, that means nothing about cleaning performance. That is how much electricity it uses. Airflow and agitation are much more important than amps, and this vacuum has tremendous amounts of each! I only mention it because people often wonder how many amps a vacuum is. I have 3 and 5 amp vintage Royals and Eurekas that will clean circles around this thing, and this is a good vacuum! Another detail I forgot is that the manual is poorly written. It lacks details and simply doesn't have enough information. The final thing is that the back wheels are rubber coated (not all Smart Vac models have this feature, older ones had plastic wheels) so that it will not scratch or make a terrible racket on a bare floor. Thanks for reading :o)