They say it's powerful, light, safe and quiet. Supersonic is Dyson's brand new foray into the world of hair care, and while it is at its core a hairdryer, what it represents is so much more.
It is taking a product that has been around forever, looking at its flaws with a critical eye, and setting out to fix them -- with science. But does it live up to the promises? I took a closer look to find out.
The first thing you notice about the Supersonic is its styling. This is one very shiny machine, and unmistakably Dyson all over. Crucially, there's no fan on the head for your hair to get caught in -- there's no fan in the head at all, because the motor is in the handle.
Picking it up, it feels lighter than my trusty hairdryer at home, although to be fair my personal air-blasting machine is around 6 years old.
Dyson claims to have created a hair dryer that reduces noise by, among other things (such as the aforementioned motor being in the handle), making part of the motor run at a speed that creates a frequency inaudible to the human ear. Seriously.
I switched it on expecting a slight reduction in noise, but it was actually pretty darn impressive. There were rumours that this might be the world's first silent hairdryer, and while the Supersonic is not that, there is still a quite drastic reduction in noise.
You can easily have a conversation and dry your hair at the same time. As someone with a mild hearing problem, this feature would make it much easier to hear my hairdresser, effectively stopping me for just nodding along at whatever they say. Who knows what I've agreed to in the past? This would fix that.
The whole premise of this gadget is to fix existing problems with the humble hairdryer, effectively turning into an engineering experiment of which hair care has never seen. But weight and style and noise aside -- it has to actually work.
The Supersonic felt a lot cooler than my regular hairdryer -- that's because it is designed to not burn your scalp. 20 times a second the output temperature is measured, communicated, and adjusted to keep both burns at bay and your hair from suffering damage.
The slightly cooler output took a bit of adjusting too -- I think I've been conditioned to think if it's not hurting, it's not working. It took a little time to see the results (I tested it on dry hair, sprayed with water to dampen it a little) but when it was finished my hair was super shiny and the results were great. As promised, the attachment stayed cool to the touch.
Since it does what it set out to do -- making hairdrying easier, safer and more comfortable -- think the only real sticking point for the Supersonic may come with its price point. Although it won't be released in Australia until later this year, pricing in other markets see it retailing for the equivalent of around $600 Australian dollars. Add the ever-present "Australia Tax" into the equation, and you're looking at a very fancy hairdryer with a very fancy price point.
I suppose innovation comes at a price, and this is the first true reinvention we've seen for the hairdryer since they first became handheld. For a product that appears -- at first impressions -- to have kept its promises, it might just be worth the investment.
Rae Johnston travelled to Tokyo as a guest of Dyson.