Dyson makes good vacuum cleaners. Dyson makes complicated vacuum cleaners, but all that complex engineering work doesn't really matter to the customer that buys one. At the end of the day, it's just a vacuum cleaner, and it just has to do the vacuuming. Being complex also means being simple, really.
To demonstrate this, Dyson and Gizmodo teamed up to take a new Dyson Cinetic Big Ball apart, and then put it back together. To be specific, Dyson did the taking apart bit, and I tried the putting back together bit.
The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball makes some iterative but pretty significant improvements to the company's canister vacuum, moving the dust bin — itself 33 per cent larger than the current DC54 Cinetic — much closer to the ball itself and pushing the vacuum's motor much lower in the chassis, lowering its centre of gravity. It's this move that means the Big Ball can't fall over — no matter how hard you push or kick it.
Taking it apart is deceptively straightforward, at least at the beginning. First, you take the dust bin out — just like you would if you were emptying it — and put it to one side. The bin itself is a feat of engineering, with Dyson running 1800kg of dust through it in the Cinetic Big Ball's R&D testing. You're left with the Big Ball itself, with wheels secured by a single Phillips screw each — though that's where the easy part stops.
No less than 13 self-tapping Torx screws hold the Big Ball's big... ball together, with the top plate and the lifetime-warranted glass-pack HEPA air filter coming off together. That filter never needs to be changed, and it doesn't clog so there is zero loss of suction over the life of the vacuum. The motor itself is really quite small when you see it, but it packs a hell of a punch for its size in terms of suction and flow.
Inside that base, there's a hell of a lot going on. There's the vacuum's power cord wrapped around the outside, with a centrifugal reel that draws it back in whenever you press the button on the Big Ball's top. The motor on the inside. The filter wrapped around that. That power cord, by the way, is air-cooled by the Venturi effect with the vacuum's hot exhaust drawing in cooler air from the base, so it doesn't overheat.
Then you get to the Cinetic part — that's the 36-stacked individual nozzles sitting at the top of the dust bin, picking up dirt and debris through the vacuum's hose and wand. This is where the real magic happens. Each of those nozzles has been precisely engineered to oscillate at a specific resonance, breaking up dirt and throwing it into the bin while moving just enough air with just enough suction that each nozzle will never clog or be blocked. That's why Dyson's Cinetic vacuums don't lose suction.
One of the least visible but most important improvements to the Cinetic Big Ball is a simple silicone collar that sits at the top of the dust bin. Push the button to open the dust bin and in a double action, the door opens to let out debris — hopefully into your garbage — and the collar slides down the micro-perforated metal shroud, pushing off any straggling hair or debris caught through your daily vacuuming process.
There's no big chunks of metal throughout the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball — no heavy, solid pieces of steel or aluminium that act as a centrepiece. But everything fits together so precisely, and with such an easily understandable process, that it feels solid. Dyson has a two year guarantee on parts for the vacuum, and the labour to take it apart and put it back together — as unnecessary as that is likely to be.
When the Cinetic Big Ball came back together from its constituent pieces, after what seemed like a very short 20 minutes after taking the electric screwdriver handed to me by Dyson, I was confident that everything would work properly. It's all modular, it's all understandable, and as complex as it is, I was confident that I'd put it together in the correct order — despite no instructions to follow (and, I'll admit, a little bit of trial and error).
And when I turned it on, it worked. The Cinetic nozzles worked, the filter worked, the motor worked and it vacuumed up dust and dirt. It stopped being a pile of plastic pieces and Torx screws and started being a vacuum cleaner. It did a pretty damn good job, too, but the fact that it worked at all was impressive enough for me. I'm not an expert, I'm not a vacuum repairman, but I can put a Dyson vac back together.