Review: Two weeks with the Dyson DC31

According to its inventor James Dyson, the DC31 handvac has the fastest motor in the world at 104,000rpm &mdash five times as fast as a Formula 1 race car engine! That's cool, but what I really want to know is, does it bust dust cleanly and efficiently? I have been using its predecessor, the DC16, for about two years, and I'm sad to report that it has become virtually obsolete &mdash the suction is weak, the battery only lasts 2-3 minutes, and dust accumulates relentlessly at the nozzle. This review will not give an answer as to whether the newer DC31 will have a longer lifespan than that, but here's what I think of it so far after a couple of weeks of use. The DC31 is lighter, smaller, and doesn't require a giant docking station. These are all great improvements. It definitely has a lot more power than the 16 ever had &mdash it swept up everything from dog hair to human hair to wood chip fragments without hesitation. The .09-gallon bin is small but easy to empty, you just push a lever down &mdash I actually prefer it small because it urges you to empty it more often, which prevents old dust from hanging out in there for too long. There are two problems I wish Dyson would fix in their next iteration of a handvac, though: 1. This thing is still pretty loud. I would be willing to give up some of that motor power for a more quiet dust-busting experience. 2. This might sound nitpicky, but there are air holes in the top back portion that blow out a significant amount of air while the nozzle is doing all its high-power sucking. That's fine when you're bending down to vacuum the floor, but when you're working on a parallel or multi-tiered surface like on stairs or between furniture, this actually blows dust and hair away. Which is kind of annoying. And then there is the meta problem of handvacs being inefficient to begin with &mdash they're nice for daily upkeep, and I like having one in the house, but a device that only cleans a couple of square inches at a time with a 10-minute battery life that makes lots of noise may be a dying breed of gadgetry. Product page [Dyson]

About Lisa Katayama

I'm a contributing editor here at Boing Boing. I also have a blog (TokyoMango), a book (Urawaza), and I freelance for Wired, Make, the NY Times Magazine, PRI's Studio360, etc. I'm @tokyomango on Twitter.
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9 Responses to Review: Two weeks with the Dyson DC31

  1. Ponchyan says:

    I’ve been using a DC16 for a couple of years and I love it. It really sucks hard and, “doesn’t lose suction.” No comparison to any Dustbuster or Dirt Devil, etc. Work great for picking up dust bunnies in the corner, stuff under the sofa cushions, etc. The battery on my unit has worn out too, but that is to be expected with any rechargeable battery technology. The motor puts a great demand on the battery.

    I was so impressed that, when my canister vac broke, I went out and bought a Dyson DC25 Animal is a Dyson Ball. It takes vacuuming to a new level.

  2. Halloween Jack says:

    It really looks like Dyson is trying to turn a dustbuster into something sorta like a power tool, to get into that market. Oh, well.

  3. I totally agree. I returned this thing and got my money back, it’s a piece of CRAP!

    DWI lawyer NJ

  4. RedShirt77 says:

    At what point does a vacuum become so strong that it starts doing damage to the things it is supposed to be cleaning?

    Invent me a Roomba that that cleans hard wood floors and carpets well and stop your obsession with the super suck $800 vacu-drill, Mr Dyson.

  5. semiotix says:

    I have been using its predecessor, the DC16, for about two years, and I’m sad to report that it has become virtually obsolete —the suction is weak, the battery only lasts 2-3 minutes, and dust accumulates relentlessly at the nozzle

    I’m agnostic on whether or how well Dyson’s products work on the whole, but there’s something so viscerally off-putting about the sniffy tone of his “I just think things should work prohhpehlly” ads that makes me really glad to hear that at least one of his revolutionary, game-changing, outside-the-box miracle gadgets is only meh.

  6. Jim says:

    Just looking at the photo, I thought it was some sort of KitchenAid like slicer/grinder/cheese grater thing.

  7. vandenb says:

    (Lisa, finish your mdashes with a ; please!
    The website renders them ok, but the rss-feed does not…)

  8. Robert Dobbs says:

    I’ve got one pretty much like this… I think it’s the DC16. I’m happy with my Dyson upright and picked up the handheld when it showed up on woot one day.

    The suction is fine and gets stubborn cat hair but it’s too darn long and heavy. The gun grip hand position is really awkward compared to the “dustpan” grip position of a normal B&D Dustbuster. It’s too big to fit in most spots I need it (just try getting under the seat of your car.) I never use it and it irks me every time I see it sitting there all charged up.

    Writing this was slightly cathartic. Thanks.

  9. Rob Beschizza says:

    I didn’t mind the brief battery life, but did find the long, old-fashioned power cord a clutterance. Something this small should have a charging dock!

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