I Spent Too Much Time Researching Vacuums.

I can’t remember when but a few years back I bought a Hoover Nano-Lite1For those who care, Model # was U2440-900. from Target. It has served me extremely well but recently broke down and died. I needed a new vacuum – and I like to research before I make these sorts of purchases. Not so much to save money as to find a really solid product. I don’t mind paying a little more, I do mind products and services that waste my time.

The Bissell CleanView 9595.
The Bissell CleanView 9595.

The first thing I did was see if the Hoover Nano-Lite was still available (it isn’t). My next step was to hop on over to Target and browse through their selection of vacuums. Why Target? Because Target tends to offer a decent range of the most popular products representative of the market as a whole – yet doesn’t offer anything. If I go onto Amazon I will give up researching – there are simply too many choices, so Target is a good way to narrow things down (and this is where I think places like Target still have a lead over Amazon).

Even using Target I ended up with a fairly vast list of potential vacuums. So I narrowed it down by seeing the features that the Nano-Lite had that I really liked and then finding the models that best matched or exceeded these features at a reasonable price point.2A reasonable price point is always a compromise between feature set and quality versus cost for the feature set and quality. For example, one may only pay a few dollars extra to move from a flaky product to a good product, and a few more to move to a really good product – to move into the top echelon of great products there is a huge price premium – and so the price per feature/increase in quality becomes significantly greater than at lower levels.

In the end I came down to two models – the Bissell CleanView 9595 and the Hoover Sprint UH20040. I’ve included a table below comparing the two models.

 

Company Name Model Price Roller Tools Cord Hose Bag Washable
Filter
Capacity Weight Warranty Path Rated Handheld Amps
Hoover Nano-Lite U244-0900 $50 Y Y 20′ ? N Y ? 11 1 11″ N 10
Bissell CleanView 9595 $75 Y Y 25’ 6’ N Y 1.7 L 15.1 2 ? 4.5 N 10
Hoover Sprint UH20040 $53 Y Y 23’ 7’ N Y ? 12.5 1 12″ 4 N 10

The Bissell was slightly more expensive but had a 4.5 rating on Target as opposed to the Hoovers 4, its cord was 2′ longer than the Hoover, and it came with a 2 year warranty. On the other hand, the Hoover was less expensive, had a 1′ longer hose, and weighed 2.6 lbs less.

The Hoover Sprint QuickVac UH20040
The Hoover Sprint QuickVac UH20040

In the end I decided to go with the Sprint primarily because of the lower weight (though still higher than the Nano-Lite). For me, weight had been one of the biggest factors in buying the Nano-Lite – I really love a vacuum I can easily maneuver/carry. I’m also a sucker for system monitoring (where the device monitors its own health)…oh, and the lower price didn’t hurt.

The vacuum should arrive in the mail tomorrow and I’ll be sure to give an update to everyone if I decide I made a mistake. Before I close this post let me just highlight a few items about vacuums generally you might want to know:

  • Not all vacuums have roller bars. I saw several nice, less-expensive vacuums but they didn’t have roller bars. These work on hard floors but really aren’t great on carpet.
  • By “tools” I mean essentially the detachable hose – some of the less-expensive models, especially stick vacuums don’t have a detachable hose – which to me is silly. Why would I want a tiny vacuum if in order to clean I now need to use two devices?
  • Some vacuums are bagless (like all three above) while others have bags. I’m torn over which is better. The bagless are less expensive to maintain (no need to buy more bags) but I’m not a big fan of the way dust sprouts everywhere when you dump them out.
  • A washable filter is nice, but you probably aren’t talking about a HEPA quality filter. I made this trade-off, but it isn’t one everyone will want to make. If you have allergies you may want to pay more to get a true HEPA filter…just remember these will also cost more to replace.
  • Capacity is important. These lite little vacuums are great for mobility, but their waste area isn’t huge. If you are coming from a more traditional vacuum, I’d guess that the waste disposal is 1/3rd the size on one of these little guys. I never found this to be problematic (and I had four cats), but you may.
  • By “path” I mean how wide the area that sucks up waste is on the vacuum. This is important to note. Some vacuums have much smaller sucking areas – such as 8″. This means that you’ll have to do more passes to cover the entirety of a room. On the other hand, if the path is too wide it will make it difficult to fit into narrow areas and require more moving of furniture.
  • You’ll also notice that none of these units are handheld. One of the nice features of the stick vacuums (which didn’t usually have tools) was that they detached to become handheld units. I decided that this wasn’t as important as the tools…though I’d really like to see an affordable unit combine these two aspects.
  • Finally, you’ll note that the ampage on these units is 10 amps each. The amps are the power of the motor. Some of the smaller, cheaper vacuums have significantly lower ampage – like 1.25-2 amps. I haven’t used a unit with this little ampage but I have a hard time believing the motor will be able to suck up waste effectively with so little power behind it.

Here is hoping that my research may make someone else’s research a little less extensive. 🙂

Plink – An Interesting Rewards Program.

Plink's Logo
Plink’s Logo

I’m always interested in rewards programs. I’ve been doing them for years and have made a decent chunk of change doing so. Nothing amazing, but a few hundred bucks without a lot of effort. Recently I stumbled upon Plink – which is an interesting variation on traditional rewards program – and one which I think has a lot of potential.

Essentially, one signs up for a free account and links one’s credit card/debit card to the account. You are then able to select from a number of businesses you’d like to earn “points” from. You receive points as you make purchases from these businesses.

Right now the businesses available to me include Dollar General, Kmart, Sears, Old Navy, Gap, Burger King, Outback Steakhouse, Arby’s, 1-800-Flowers, Taco Bell, Regal Cinemas, United Artists Theatres, 7-Eleven, Red Robin, Quiznos, and Dunkin Donuts.

Honestly, I don’t really use any of those – so for me it isn’t that effective at the moment, but if they add say Chick-fil-a, Target, and BP – I’d be all over it.

The one annoying thing is that there is a cap to the amount of points one can receive from each business. In other words, spend too much money and you’ll stop earning additional points. I understand why Plink does it this way – it is better for the businesses – they only have to “pay out” for customers for a short time and hopefully get the long-term benefits of customers who stick around.

Plink also offers the ability to earn points through gift cards and travel. Some of the businesses here include Red Robin, REI, Lowe’s, CVS, and Regal Cinemas. Now, I’d consider buying my gift cards for Lowes through here – not b/c I give away gift cards but b/c I could buy them for myself, use them, and earn points at the same time.

Finally, Plink allows one to earn points through travel related purchases – and this would be a nifty way for anyone who travels frequently to earn points. Some of the partner businesses include Holiday Inn (including Express), Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, American Airlines, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and Alamo Rent a Car.

But, lets say I do use Plink. How easy is it to actually rack up rewards? Well, it appears that a plink point roughly translates into $.01. So, 2,500 plink points will get you a $25 gift card, 1,000 plink points a $10 gift card.

I’d estimate for someone who frequents the available businesses and/or travels you could easily earn $25-$100/yr. in gift cards without expending significant effort.

After looking further at the points awarded for purchasing gift cards, I don’t think I’d utilize it – the hassle of purchasing gift cards to make purchases is too high and the number of points received (15 per $10) is too low to make it worthwhile (unless you are a business).

Goodreads – A Great Resource for Managing Books.

I’ve been using Goodreads for a few years now and love it. It lets me keep track of the books I want to read, those I am reading (including the page I’m on), and to categorize the books according to topic (or anything else my heart desires). It provides an active community for discussing what I’m reading, integrates seamlessly with Facebook, makes recommendations based upon my recorded reading, and quickly demonstrates a community consensus on the quality of almost any book (allowing me to determine if it is worth my time).

Novels in a Polish bookstore
Novels in a Polish bookstore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you don’t already use Goodreads to manage your reading list – I’d highly recommend it. That said, I also have a few features/refinements I’d really like to see Goodreads add. Now that they have been acquired by Amazon, I don’t see any reason they shouldn’t be able to throw some extra manpower at these tasks and make them a reality. 🙂

What Do I Own?

Right now I have a category called “owned” but it isn’t entirely convenient. I’d really like a way apart from categories to mark a book as owned, wanted, loaned, or etc.

For example, there are some books I want to read but don’t care to own. I don’t want others purchasing these books for me – that would be sad.

On the other hand, there are books that I own that I don’t want folks purchasing for me either – b/c then I’d have duplicates – again, sad.

I’d also like Goodreads to provide a way for me to sell my books. If I own a book but don’t care to continue owning it (but won’t just throw/give it away), it’d be great to be able to mark a book as “available” and then when someone else goes searching for that book they could easily purchase it.

Finally, I love to loan out my books, but books are notorious for not returning to their owners and so I’d love to be able to mark it as loaned out to a specific person (which could be public/private based upon the desires of both parties) and perhaps receive reminders when the book had been lent out and not returned after x (customizable) period.

Help Me Curate!

I oftentimes find books I don’t want to read and right now I can create a category and they show up in that category – but what if I want them hidden from me on Goodreads in general? Say I’m paging through a list of science fiction or theology books. Every time I page through it I have to page through some popular books that I have no intention of reading. I’d like to hide them, so I can more easily find the “long-tail” of books – the books that aren’t as popular but that I want to read.

Amazon Associates

I’d also love to see Goodreads integrate with Amazon Associates so that I receive a commission off of any books I recommend that are sold. Not only would this be good for the end user, but it would be great for Goodreads/Amazon b/c user engagement would increase significantly and quality of user content would also increase as individuals saw the ability to earn money from their Goodreads data.