Pros: Light, powerful, versatile upright and handheld mode.
Extremely functional style. Big bang for your buck.
Cons: Pricey if you don't shop carefully. Cleaning cylinder leaves a stubborn dustline.
As an Apple computer user, I recognized the Dyson DC44 as a soul mate. They share the same packaging detail and instructional simplicity-- mostly graphics-- and the fit and finish of the Dyson matches any Apple product for form and function. It did not suprise me to learn that Dyson shares space with Apple products in New York's prestigious Museum of Modern Art Design Collection.
With a small condo I had no interest in a fullsized floor model. I wanted versatility, bagless, and cordless. Dyson has it in two similar models, the DC36 Digital Slim with 15 minutes per charge, and the DC44 Animal ofering a 20-minute runtime.
I had to pick and choose where to buy the DC44 because at most retail outlets, even online, it's $399.00. I wasn't going to pay that much for an appliance which did not also do my laundry or teleport me into the future when it's already been washed.
In December 2011 Home Depot carried this model online for $319.00 with instant manufacturer's rebate. I ordered it, and on my way to pick it up, I stopped at Costco and discovered the DC44 "Mark 2" on sale there for $299.00 -- curiously I couldn't find this Dyson model listed on Costco online, only in store. I got proof of the offer and brought it to Home Depot during my pickup -- and they matched it, although the model being sold was not a Mark 2, it was the original edition. I'm uncertain what has been improved, but a couple things needing attention on this otherwise sexy and powerful cordless bagless item come to mind:
- Emptying the bagless cyclinder requires thought. The Dyson picks up not just regular dust but very fine particulate. You don't want to inhale this stuff. I read online a suggestion of wrapping the base of the cylinder in a plastic shopping bag before dropping the bottom trap door. That helps contain the dust, but don't squeeze the air out of the bag to tie it off as you remove it, you'll defeat the purpose. In fact, don't squeeze or tie it off at all, just gently remove the bag from the cylinder and drop it into your covered trash container.
- Cleaning the bagless cyclinder to full sparking shine --you want that, because the product is so shiny outside-- is not as easy as it should be; there are protrusions and seams which collect dust and it's stubbornly lodged. Yes, you can remove the clear plastic cylinder itself and wash it clean-- but even then a line of dust remains lodged in a rib of plastic designed inside the cyclinder. Ugh.
- it may be advertised as an easy ceiling vacuum but after a few minutes you are not going to hold the fully tubed mode with motorized head aloft with one hand, not unless you are Arnold Vacuunegger.
On the plus side- of many plusses-- this is the perfect small-condo vacuum for all seasons. You can use this in full height mode with the long blue aircraft aluminum tube attached, or remove the tube and replace it with an accessory tool - everything is click-snap-- and search and destroy in handheld mode. This is how I've done some of my most effective dustbusting--- bookshelves, under the bed, the blocked grille of the window fan (not a Dyson).
It comes with three tools: a classic crevice tool with a clever side hole so you can suck out crevices without gluing the stick to the object-- the side hole keeps the tool from sealing; an extending brush tool; and a mini motorized head with impressive suction for stubborn pet hair and small crevices in upholstery.
For me the most useful of these is the extending brush tool. I've cleaned everything from my office chairs to my miniblinds to dust-encrusted ceiling fan blades with this tool. I wish it were a foot longer.
The main motorized head is embellished with not just nylon brishes but anti-static carbon filments which relaly dig into carpets for that ground-in dust. It's very effective on carpet as well as wood floors. On carpet I was not using it to pick up animal hair, just stubborn feathers from a leaking pillow. The internal filter is also re-usable-- wash it once a month, pop it back in.
I have seen how it can collect strands of hair and tangle the main head- a user compaint. Perhaps the "Mark 2" design addresses this.
This vacuum expands the mind. The Dyson DC44 has opened possibilities as to where I might find and destroy dust-- so many areas of the condo I'd ignored over the years as inaccessible to my 25-year old Hoover corded portable. But when you can lift the thing right off the wall charger and patrol in handheld mode, you actually want to vacuum.
It's also at least four times quieter than most vacuums, little more than a heavy whoosh, an important factor if you have insomnia and you're looking for useful things to do besides sleepwalk in wee hours.
The very adequate battery charge (over 20 minutes at normal speed, less than half that at Boost mode) makes it ready for any new area I've been in denial over.
Finally, any retro science fiction film being made in your neighborhood will benefit from loaning the DC44 to the production as the coolest ray gun ever.