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Black + Decker

Black + Decker's newest cordless vacs aren't connected, but thanks to interesting features, they might still be pretty smart. In particular, via Autosense, the vac will adjust the power of its suction automatically based on the type of flooring it's navigating. Managing power and suction for floor types is a tricky balancing game, and if Black + Decker's new sticks can take that guessing game off of my plate while I work, that'll be a welcome innovation indeed.

Autosense will be a feature on three new Black + Decker cordless vacs, each available this April, the company announced at CES in Las Vegas. It's one of three features Black + Decker is dubbing SmartTech. The other two -- FilterSense and BatterySense -- aren't as exciting. Both should be helpful, at least. FilterSense will remind customers to perform maintenance regularly that might otherwise be forgotten -- I often disregard my vac's filter and a regular cleaning does drastically help performance. The BatterySense feature uses three LED lights to indicate charge level, and I'm glad to hear that'll be on these vacuums, but a similar display is pretty commonplace on battery powered cleaners.

Two stick vacs, one of which can stand on its own, and both of which convert to a hand vac, as well as a separate hand vac being sold on its own comprise Black + Decker's new SmartTech trio. Right now, the company only has price ranges for the models. The hand vac will sell for between $80 and $100, the sticks between $160 and $180, all prices reasonable for midrange models.

I'm glad Black + Decker isn't driving the price up for these SmartTech vacs, especially given that only the AutoSense aspect stands out as particularly interesting. Given the reasonable cost, if it's helpful at all without a sacrifice in performance, it'll be a win for these vacs.

I'm curious to try out AutoSense to see how precise it is. Black + Decker claims it can distinguish between hardwood, linoleum, and carpet. On high carpet, it'll automatically up the suction, then turn it back down for hardwood. That'll be helpful if it works, especially over the course of a whole house cleaning with a variety of floors, but it'll be even better if it offers multiple speeds that it can use to adapt the suction to medium or low carpet. At that point, I'll be ready to call these new Black + Decker vacs clever indeed.

Check out the rest of our CES 2016 coverage here.