It wouldn’t be right if I did not have a look at what’s new in vacuums at the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago coming up March 11 – 13.

I had a preview of what’s new from Hoover.  First, their new WindTunnel 2 Complete Bagless Upright.

WindTunnel technology, first introduced by Hoover in 1997, and still a Hoover exclusive (and why not, it’s their patent!), it keeps dirt in the cleaner and not scattered out onto the carpet or surrounding areas.  I’ve tested the original design and it seems to do as advertised.

WindTunnel 2 goes a step further, they tell me, by featuring two patented air tunnels that trap dirt and channel it away.  While I can’t tell you how it may be better than the old way in a practical sense, I can tell you  that, in my brief hands on, it does not appear to blow any dirt out from the business end of the unit.

This new bagless is a vast improvement over their original bagless design that I tested a few years ago.  Overall, it’s a pretty darn good-looking vacuum.  This one features a dirt cup that empties from the bottom, and it’s very easy to do so.

There is also a lifetime, self-cleaning HEPA filter. That’s right, self-cleaning. The self-cleaning filter, according to Hoover, cleans itself every six seconds and is said to trap 100% of dust mites, ragweed and common grass pollen.  It also requires no maintenance – the filter never needs to be replaced – making it extremely convenient for consumers.

There is a pre-filter, however, that should be cleaned (an easy task, accomplished just by brushing it off) after each use in order to maintain optimum performance by the vacuum.

Also on the ease-of-use list is a maintenance-free belt. That is, the drive belt should never need to be replaced (I am assuming this means under normal use – that’s fair). So, another item you don’t have to worry about with this new model.

Also on the Complete model I tested are other features including an extra-reach hose allowing coverage of an incredible 20 feet; hard floor brush (soft brushes that clean hard surfaces); embedded DirtFINDER system to get the dirt you don’t see (this is technology that tells you when the carpet is clean – the red light means it’s cleaning, green means it’s clean); Surface Command Electronic Height Adjustment and Brush Shutoff (This feature allows you to move from surface to surface without stopping, bending or reaching.

Fingertip controls adjust height for different carpet levels and turn the vacuum cleaner on or off.  Also, the automatic hard-surface setting stops the brush roll when cleaning hard floors.  Pretty cool!

Also included are a pet hair cleaning tool and a handle that allows users to go instantly from floor to tool cleaning without interruption. The handle instantly converts to a telescopic wand and a tag-along grip to guide the cleaner.

Maybe that is why this model is called Complete!  Retailing for about $500 at the top of this line, other WindTunnel 2 models start at about $350.

The new Constellation that I have also tried has a retro-high tech look. It’s a canister style that floats on air.  Really.

Switch it on and a cushion of air is created allowing it to move effortlessly across carpets or bare floors.  It’s made of durable, lightweight steel and included a powerful 12-amp motor.  You’ll notice from the photo the furniture guard that encircles the unit.  This barrier should take away any possibility of damage to furniture or walls.

On the business end of the vacuum is their TurboPower Nozzle, which, frankly, really sucks, just as it should.  It, too, automatically adjusts to varying carpet depths.  There’s also HEPA filter bag that, according to Hoover, traps 99.98% of all particles down to 0.3 microns in size.  It’s easy to change and an extra one is included.

There are 19 feet of cleaning reach with this setup and it comes with a set of tool attachments for any job.  Going delicate?  No problem, using the suction regulator on the grip handle that regulates suctions for those times it is needed, such as when cleaning drapes and upholstery.

I also noticed this unit is quieter than uprights.  Powerful and quiet. A good combination.

Constellation models are priced from about $200 to $280.

You’ll find Hoover vacuums at most retailers. More information is at www.hoover.com or call 330-499-9499.

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