Sir James Dyson is a clever fellow. You could easily mistake his latest invention for a replica lightsabre prop, but it's actually the future of the dustbuster. Is this the future our floors have been waiting for?
Editor's Note: This is an Australian review of the Dyson DC44 Animal. We've already got a review from our international feed up and if you want a read, head this way.
What Is It?
A ray gun-shaped, precision cleaning instrument from the boffins at Dyson.
Oh man, does this thing suck. As in the good kind of suck, not the suck like 'that sucked' suck. It picks up stuff from your carpet you never even knew was there, like ingrained dust, fur and hair.
The Dyson DC44 Animal comes with a bevy of attachments, so you're always stocked to clean new areas like your car, your keyboard, your stairs or the back of your cat (tried, tested and effective). It also has a boost button for when things get serious on your floors.
The bagless system is perfect because you can see the fruits of your labour as you clean -- a nice little incentive for those who need a bit of positive re-enforcement. The only issue with that is the fact that it's emptied by opening a downward facing flap, rather than the dust chamber being completely removable. This means you can expect a faceful of dust and an afternoon of sneezing if you pop it straight in the outdoor bin.
As far as the weight is concerned, I disagree with our feed writers. While it's not ideal in terms of balance, you won't wear your arms out before the battery does.
I won't beat around the bush with this one, because we're all probably thinking about it already: the cost. The DC44 Animal is expensive -- almost prohibitively so. When this was passed around the office so that everyone could clean out their keyboards (which also works incredibly well), I asked them to tell me what they'd pay for something like this.
Everyone said that it's a great product and it does exactly what it says on the tin, so estimates came in between $300 to $500 at most, and they were all wrong.
The DC44 Animal costs $549, which -- lets not kid ourselves -- is a lot of money for a glorified dustbuster. You can snare a device -- like the iRobot Roomba -- which does the job for you, for less than the Dyson. A premium price tag is to be expected on a Dyson product, but I didn't expect the premium to be that high.
It's not Dyson's most expensive sucker (that honour belongs to the $1099 DC23), but it's still more than most would be comfortable paying.
The only other downside is the battery. With a 20-minute use time, be prepared for it to die on you towards the end of the bigger jobs. Our US writers praised the battery life, but honestly, I think there's room to improve on 20-minutes.
Should You Buy It?
It looks like a lightsabre, is named like an aircraft, and it picks up stuff from your floor you never knew was there in the first place. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if one morning I found this thing in my kitchen cooking me breakfast. It's not a vacuum, it's the future of cleaning.
Having said that though, it is a pretty niche product. As I mentioned, I tested this both in the office and in my house -- both of which have an area suitable for vacuuming the size of a shipping container. Nevertheless, over the last few weeks, these surfaces have been Dyson-ed to within an inch of their tiny lives, with dust appearing in the filter I would have never known was even there. The performance is faultless, but on multiple occasions mid-clean, the battery would die and the DC44 Animal refused to finish the task at hand.
Dyson assured me that the battery chemistry on the DC44 Animal is faultless, and I'm ready to believe that -- the battery just needs to be larger. Either that or you should spring for an extra battery when you buy the thing.
If you're looking to keep your office clean or have a hankering to clean a small area like an apartment or townhouse, the DC44 Animal is (slightly expensive) perfection. If you've got anything larger than a two-bedroom though, save yourself the effort and spend your stack of hard earned on a robot vacuum instead.