Black & Decker Dustbuster Flexi first look

Put simply, this is the best-performing handheld vacuum cleaner CHOICE has ever tested.
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Black & Decker Dustbuster Flexi handheld vacuum

Black & Decker Dustbuster Flexi PD1200-XE

4 1/2 stars out of 5

Price $169


Past testing of handheld vacuum cleaners has found plenty of good performers. Now, we’ve found the best performer of all (so far): the Black and Decker Dustbuster Flexi.

This handheld vac is a bit different from others in that it has a short, flexible hose built in. You can unclip the hose from the handle and reach nooks and crannies that other handheld vacs cannot. The hose can also be left clipped in and used like a typical handheld model. It includes a small motorised brush head (separately battery-powered), a crevice tool, upholstery tool and dusting brush, plus an AC adapter for charging.

We put the Dustbuster Flexi through our usual handheld vac tests on hard and carpeted floors and car interiors, and found it excelled at all of them. The motor head helps, particularly with picking up pet hair. This model has the best overall cleaning performance of any handheld vac we’ve tested (though note that it’s not intended for cleaning up wet spills). It’s noisy at 80dBA, but no worse than most other handheld models.

You’ll get eight minutes of full power vacuuming on a full charge (16 hours charging time). While this isn’t as long as many others, it’s long enough for most jobs, including efficiently cleaning all of a car’s interior.

The Dustbuster Flexi is easy to use. It’s quite compact, and although it weighs in at 2kg, this weight isn’t very noticeable in practice as you don’t tend to use handhelds for long periods, and with its detachable hose, you’re likely to use two hands for many cleaning jobs. The different cleaning heads can be clipped to the unit for convenient carrying. The charging adapter has two jacks, one for the main unit and one for the motor head. And emptying the unit’s bin is straightforward, though cleaning the filter can be a bit messy.

The only downside we found is its NiCd (nickel-cadmium) battery. These are generally being phased out in favour of more advanced technologies such as NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) and Li-ion (lithium ion). Although NiCd batteries are robust, cadmium is a toxic heavy metal, dangerous in landfill, so NiCd batteries should not be disposed of in ordinary household garbage. The Dustbuster Flexi’s battery is user-replaceable, so when it eventually dies you’ll only need to replace the battery, not the whole unit.

CHOICE verdict

The Dustbuster Flexi easily and effectively tackles spot vacuuming tasks. If you’re in the market for a handheld vac, be sure to check it out.


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