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The Hoover WindTunnel 3 High Performance Bagless Upright review: A Hoover that could help with your allergies

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The Good The Hoover WindTunnel 3 High Performance Bagless Upright was a top performer with fine particles in carpet and features a HEPA filter, making it an excellent option for those with asthma or allergies.

The Bad It wasn't a showstopper on hard floors. It's also a heavy vacuum cleaner, so it wouldn't be the best option for people looking for a lightweight model.

The Bottom Line If you have primarily carpets in your home and want a sub-$200 vacuum cleaner that can help with your allergies and get pet hair and fine particles out of your carpets, the Hoover would make a good addition to your cleaning lineup.

7.8 Overall
  • Performance 8
  • Features 8
  • Design 7
  • Usability 8

According to the company history, the Hoover vacuum cleaner brand began in 1907 when Murray Spangler, an asthmatic inventor/night janitor, invented a primitive suction sweeper to help him breathe while he did his work. W.H. Hoover bought the patent soon after and the rest, as they say, was history. Full story here.

It seems that, true to Spangler's original intent, the Hoover vacuum's strong suit is fine particulate carpet debris. In our sand/sawdust tests, the $179 Hoover performed admirably, picking up the most particulate weight on low-pile carpet, coming in a close second on mid-pile, and a respectable third place on hardwood floors. In all of these tests, it outperformed vacuum cleaners costing twice as much or more. It also performed well with pet hair on carpet, collecting 100 percent of the debris.

It isn't the best with hard floors and, if you have predominantly hard flooring in your home, you would be better off spending a little extra on the $309 Electrolux Precision Brushroll Clean. If, however, you're looking for a sub-$200 vacuum that can handle allergy or asthma-causing dust and debris in your carpets, the Hoover WindTunnel 3 and its dual carbon and HEPA filter will get the job done without stressing your wallet.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Design and features
The Hoover WindTunnel 3 Performance Bagless Upright is a heavy, sturdy-feeling vacuum cleaner. It features a 40-foot cord, a generous lead that will give you plenty of slack to vacuum a large room or even two smaller adjacent rooms without needing to switch plugs. The extension hose is 12 feet long, which feels especially generous when compared with the Dirt Devil Dash Upright's 6-foot hose or even the 9-foot extension of the Eureka AS1104A Pet Vacuum.

In addition to the hose extension, the Hoover also comes with a variety of hose tool attachments.

The turbo tool features rubberized blades on a roller and is designed to scrape pet hair from furniture and stairs. I found it to be highly effective. In fact, it was one of the most effective of the turbo tools we've tested. I credit a lot of its success to the use of rubber blades rather than bristles.

Every brand has its own take on the turbo tool. Katie Pilkington/CNET

The pet upholstery tool works equally well and is, perhaps, better suited for more delicate upholstery and furniture surfaces. While the rubberized blades are stationary, they work well at catching hair, which the vacuum's hose then draws into the bin. Moving this tool side to side on a pet-hair-covered chair, I was impressed with its efficiency and performance.

The crevice tool is equally well-designed and features a lip and curved edge that will not only clean crevices but reach deep into the crack where a carpet and baseboard meet. It would also work well with detailing furniture, seats or carpets in your car, or hard-to-reach trouble spots.

On the side of the vacuum, you'll find a dial that allows you to select whether you want to use the vacuum to clean floors or use the tools with the hose for detailing or upholstery. This dial is responsive and, with only two options, virtually foolproof. If you select the tools option, the hose and its nozzle unlock easily from the vacuum body at the touch of a button.

Katie Pilkington/CNET

Like all bagless vacuums we've reviewed, the Hoover uses a dustbin to collect debris. The Hoover's dustbin is larger than others, though it's easy enough to manage. Reinstalling it on the vacuum can be troublesome, because you have to nest the base on the vacuum just so and align the top precisely so the latch will catch. This felt cumbersome to me, but it might not to everyone. Bin design preference seems to be pretty personal. The elements one of our appliance editors liked about one bin were the very things that turned off others.

As with turbo tools, every brand has a different approach to the dustbin. Some differences are subtle, while others are significant. Colin West McDonald/CNET (photos); Katie Pilkington/CNET (collage)

The Hoover lacks the maneuverability-intensive designs of Dyson's ball technology found on the DC40 Origin or the pivoting hardware present on both the Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away and Oreck Touch Bagless vacuums. That said, the Hoover maneuvers well enough for a fixed vacuum and I had no trouble using it. In this way, it reminded me of other fixed vacuums like the Eureka or Electrolux, neither of which will pivot and yet still feel quite easy to move around.

Perhaps the most useful feature you'll find on the Hoover is the height adjustment dial. This dial gives you a range of flooring options, from bare floors to high-pile carpet and adjusts the height of the vacuum nozzle and brushroll accordingly. You'll find similar controls on the Electrolux and Eureka.

Control design factors largely into whether or not a vacuum is enjoyable to use. And, yes, I understand that "enjoyable" is a relative descriptor for vacuuming. Controls like the Hoover's make vacuuming less of a hassle. The lever which reclines the Hoover and the button which turns the brushroll on and off are both within easy reach of your foot. The power button is located on the handle, precisely where you'd want it to be. You can easily recline the vacuum and turn it on in mere seconds in what is a very intuitive sequence of steps. I appreciate this usability and think it's a very thoughtfully rendered element of the Hoover's overall design.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Given the intuitive nature of the Hoover's controls, it's an exceptionally easy vacuum to use. Turning it on and off, reclining the vacuum body, and adjusting the brushroll all happen with minimal effort.

The height adjustment dial proved more challenging. It was stubborn to turn, though I imagine it would loosen up with use. This may be more problematic for you if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis in your hands. In this case, the Electrolux, on which you adjust the height level switch with your foot, would be a better choice.

Two of the biggest concerns with vacuum usability, in my opinion, rest with dustbin and brush roll cleaning. The Hoover's dustbin is not especially difficult to clean, though it certainly isn't the easiest. Accessing the filter at the top can be tricky the first few times you do it, but soon will become second nature. My chief complaint with the bin is the shape of the bottom door, which is concave, meaning that even when the bin itself is empty, debris will likely still remain in the curvature of this bottom, requiring you to upend it completely to empty. This is not a difficult gesture, but it can feel inconvenient, especially when compared to the flat dustbin bottom of the Bissell.

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