November 28, 2006

Behold, The Beast

Our new vacuum arrived yesterday, and once everyone was awake, I finally got to give it a try. I like it!

Its moniker is actually "The Dyson Absolute D17 Animal", which brings up quite a number of connotations for me. There's the Def Leppard song. And then there's this Animal. And of course, how could I leave out the non-animal? I think, however, that the marketing minds at Dyson actually had in mind its ability to pick up pet hair, at which, I can now attest, it is truly magnificent.

So, you might be asking, what do you get for ~$500 worth of vacuum? I'll tell you: quite a bit. (and, for the record, that was on a sweet sale, with--naturally--free shipping.) My comparison is to a really very adequate Hoover, which I purchased 10 or 11 years ago from Sears, largely on the strength of its ability to pick up particles (like cat food pellets and stray cedar shavings) and the fact that it could be fitted with "micro-filtration" bags.

I'm lousy at suspense, so I'll just start with its coolest feature: it has a waaaaay long extendable arm, which connects to a truly amazing little power-beater upholstery/car seats/stairs tool. It's amazing because a)it works pretty much as well as the floor beater-bar; b) it stretches out to a full 16 feet on the extender thingy(I was able to do our basement stairs for what is likely the first time in four years--we've been sweeping them, which makes them look better but is hardly helpful in my situation...), and c)the power source to it can best be described as magic, since there are no plugs or anything...you just stick in onto the extender arm and it goes. How DO they do that? I remember using a canister vac in the '80's where you had to be sure the little power plug was connected from the "mother vacuum" to the powered beater bar, so now I'm really curious. Anyway, it's a very handy feature, and one of the reasons we got that model (so now I'm feeling very smug.) My only criticism is that the extender arm thingy does put one aways away from the action, but I can see the engineering point: if you're designing the beast for people who are trying to eliminate allergens, it's probably just as well to make it harder for them to have their faces right up in the bugs (and the bug poop, which is, more accurately, what makes me sneeze, cough, etc.)

It does a superior job of "fluffing" up the carpet, and is no louder (and may actually be a little softer) than our former vacuum. Both the main and the accessory power beaters turn off at the slightest hint of having caught a snag of something; very important as they are both very powerful. They both come with separate and fairly convenient on/off switches. Once I got used to it, I also appreciated the fact that while the vacuum will turn on, the beater bar doesn't come on until you tilt the whole apparatus into it's "I'm doing the carpet now" position; that's good for when you don't feel like turning it off but want to play with the attachments, as it has a pretty powerful desire to move around the cabin at the slightest touch (and this way, with the power bar off, it holds still). It comes with an under-beds-and-couches attachment to hook to the extender wand thingy; I haven't gotten around to trying that yet, but seems like a good solution for the otherwise tall profile of the main canister part. It does seem to do great at automatically adjusting itself to the height of the floor your're working with.

Did I mention how much I loved the upholstery tool? Now that the beds are fairly encased and I wake up in the morning breathing through my nose--a novelty!--I'm really noticing all the other dusty places in my life. One of them has been the rocker I sit in twice a day with Emily. Having attacked all the upholstery in the basement last night (wearing my trusty but science-fiction looking RediMask all the while), it was entirely better.

The whole thing is pretty light weight, nice when you live on three floors as we do, and also nice because, while I appreciate getting a housekeeping workout, I'd just as soon be able to determine its intensity on my own. (To the point where Matt wondered if it was a little flimsy; it comes with a two-year warranty, and has so far been stubbornly idiot-proof [I am living proof that they're always coming up with a better and higher quality of idiot!], so I guess we'll find out. I have a feeling that it's lightweight because it's almost entirely built of high-impact plastic.

Emptying the canister was a little challenging, but that's really because of my one main criticism of the whole shebang: no extensive written directions. They have cool pictures, but somebody needs to tell them that in spite of the "picture is worth 1,000 words" thing, sometimes pictures are ambivalent. I may be the last of a dying breed, but I really and truly like to open a new purchase, maybe get it part way out of the box to see what I'm dealing with, and then sit on my keister and read the directions booklet. This, alas, did not take me long. But I have figured out most of it (see "idiot-proofing", above).

Anyway, I debated internally for a while whether I wanted to have a bagless model--risk of dust being re-introduced to the environment, versus the endless purchasing of specific brand-name vacuum bags. Cheap won out, and I'm feeling okay about it since I can do the emptying over our outside garbage bin, and while wearing a mask. To empty this particular puppy, the canister snaps off of its mooring, then there's a release button you push and the hinged bottom drops away from the canister, dumping all the small particulate out (we got about two inches last night....yuck!). There's an inner assembly which can be removed from the canister; that tends to collect the pet hair (which is staticky, so may require a little hand action to remove--that's the messy part), but it's just like taking the lint off the dryer lint filter, except it looks more like a colander that you're dealing with. Again, now that I know how it works, I don't think I'm going to get a snootful of allergens when I empty it. And, since it has that patented "never loses suction" thing, even when the canister is full, I don't need to do it every time.

I don't think I've mentioned it, but of course it has a "lifetime" HEPA filter, which was the number one reason for the whole purchase. It's supposed to "clean the air" that it exhausts, and you know, it did seem not to kick up as much dust as the regular vac; there's no way to avoid some dust movement as long as you're pushing something around on the carpet, but they seem to have done as much as possible to make breathing easier around it.

I am very happy with it so far, and would freely recommend it, especially for pet-owners and allergy sufferers.

Also, Laura recommends it because....it's a very cool purple!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You wanna know what is REALLY REALLY cool about that looooong extension vacuumy thingy? (highly technical terms, I know...)

THE KIDS CAN VACUUM THE STAIRS WHEN THEY GET OLD ENOUGH!!!

Sorry to shout. But having someone, ANYONE besides ME doing any small part of the housekeeping, well, it's pretty freaking cool. Okay, I have to admit that I occasionally have to bribe them with either cookies or money (or both). You, too, will experience this as they age.

I hated our old vacuum because it didn't reach far enough to do the whole staircase from one location, and I always freaked a little bit at the prospect of the kids pulling the vacuum down on themselves from the top step.

Isn't it gross how much dirt that Dyson first picks up? The stuff of nightmares...

If you ever have a glitter explosion, fear not. The Dyson will make quick work of it. We proved it just the other day. ;)