I couldn't believe that I went a year using a broom and dust pan before I got this vacuum. I've had the Bissell PowerEdge Pet Hard Floor Vacuum Cleaner for a couple of months now and the amount of ease I've gained from it is immense. Sweeping with two cats and a dog was a nightmare before I got this vacuum and my floors never felt any cleaner after sweeping. This vacuum changed it all!
I love it how it has the plastic guides rather than bristles or brushes that hair would get clumped up on. It's nice to not have to bend over every few minutes to pick off hair from plastic bristles. This vacuum does a marvelous job sucking up all the hair and all the gritty dirt that gets tracked in on a daily basis. It will not pick up little pebbles if they're too dense, but it does pick up grains the size of fine kitty litter. It also picks up pieces of dried grass or leaves as long as they are quite small (longer pieces of grass or leaves will just get stuck at the intake hole). The advertisement shows the vacuum sucking up things like dry dog food, but I haven't had to use it for anything like that so I don't know how it actually fares. It doesn't have the strongest suction out there but it gets the job done for me since I'm mostly just picking up dirt, dust, and lots of pet hair, and for only $30 I can't really ask for more!
Also, it takes some getting used to with the swivel head and the V shape. When I first got it, I banged it into a lot of furniture legs and walls while trying to maneuver the vacuum, but neither vacuum, wall, or furniture seem any worse for the wear.
It is a little strange that they have the outflow of air in the front, but I haven't had any problems with this. It'll blow papers hanging off a table or on a wall, but it's not a big deal. Vacuuming under tables like the dining table or coffee table hasn't been difficult because of this--it doesn't really blow hair or dirt around all that much like some other people have said on reviews, and it's so much better than a broom that I'd never complain about something like that anyway. If anything, I've noticed that while vacuuming underneath these things that somehow the suction vs. the blowing makes clumps of hair gravitate TOWARD the vacuum, rather than away from it.
The vacuum is very light-weight, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It doesn't wear your arm out while using it, but if you stand the vacuum up and the cord behind it gets tugged even the slightest bit, it'll tip over. It's tipped over plenty times but hasn't broken or been damaged, it's just annoying.
If you have any sort of "lip" against a wall or in between rooms, it will not pick up dirt next to it if the vacuum edge or "foot" goes on top of the lip. You need to make sure the edge of the vacuum is flush against the edge of the lip but not on top of it. The lips I have in between rooms are from laminate floors and here are photos to show how not tall the lip actually is:
I've tried sucking dirt up next to the room divider with both the food of the vacuum and the center of the V where the suction hole is, but it still isn't strong enough that way to pick up anything except maybe hair.
The filter gets coated in dirt and dust pretty quickly, so I clean it fairly often. Usually I just take a soft-bristled hat brush and brush off all the dirt and dust on the outside/foam part of the filter and it makes it look almost like new. Only once have I actually rinsed the pieces with water. However, for some reason the instruction manual doesn't tell you that the filter actually attaches/locks into the cap of the filter cup. There's the cup the filter sits in, the lid that goes with it, and then the filter itself. The filter locks into the cap and then you can easily lock it into the cup. It was a pain to take the filter out and get it all to fit back together nicely before I figured that out. Here is a picture of the dirty filter with the cap of the cup locked onto it and a picture of it after I brushed it.
The "separator grill" is another part that is easy enough to clean when it gets hair tangled around it. I use this vacuum almost every-other day and I haven't had any problems with clogging.
The cord could be longer, but I bought a vacuum extension cord since I knew I'd be doing more than one room at a time anyway. And the vacuum is pretty loud too, if that would be a problem for you. I've never used a vacuum that isn't loud though.
Here is a video of the time I had to suck up some potting soil (and I have to say, it wasn't easy holding the camera while vacuuming). The soil was almost completely dry and I was about to water it (which is how it got tipped over). I would not recommend trying to vacuum up something that is moist or wet.
I seem to be listing a lot of negative parts about this vacuum, but they are so small and it's so much better compared to a broom that I overlook the few tiny drawbacks. I love this vacuum and I'd buy one again and again. It's a shame they don't seem to be available right now--I wonder if Bissell took them off the market indefinitely. The website says they're "no longer available for purchase" and not simply "out of stock" so I'm not sure if that means they're not going to produce any more. They have stellar reviews on Amazon, which makes me wonder why they'd take it off the market when demand was so high.
I just sent an email to Bissell asking them if they'll be in production again. If I get a response I will update this post. Either way, if you see one for sale somewhere (used or new), I'd say jump at the chance to get one! You can still get the regular version (Bissell PowerEdge Hard Floor Vacuum, 81L2) with bristles instead of plastic guides on the bottom at Amazon, Walmart, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, Overstock, and more places online for anywhere from $40-$60. It still has awesome reviews. Though, curiously, the Bissell website states that this one is also "no longer available for purchase."
Update Leap Day 2012: I got a response from Bissell "Consumer Care" about my inquiry. They don't seem to know much about the manufacturing of items, "We are sorry the Bissell PowerEdge Pet vacuum is no longer manufactured. We have not been notified if they will bring the machine back. However, we will forward your comments for possible changes." And then they gave me a link to see their current stick vacuums.
It's unfortunate that they aren't being manufactured, though apparently you can still find some of the 81L2 version on the internet--I suggest you take advantage of that ASAP if you're thinking about buying one. They may just be working on a new product that will be similar to this design though--I have no idea why they would take such a successful seller off the market!
Update 04/2013!: They have the Bissell PowerEdge Pet Hard Floor Vacuum 81L2T back up for sale again on both the Bissell website and Amazon. They are around $50 and assuming it's the same vacuum, I would still recommend it. When I bought it (for $30) it was the Deal of the Day on Amazon, which is why it was so cheap for me. I haven't been using it as much in the past year because we moved to a house that isn't all hard-floored, but sometimes I take it out to vacuum the kitchen if I don't feel like sweeping the little area. Still works great!