Hands-on: Dyson DC44 Animal review
There's something about a Dyson that not many other vacuum cleaner brands can match. Not only does the British company's line-up look futuristic and modern, but its big boys' toys are also sufficient enough to get fellas to do housework.
The Dyson DC44 Animal certainly falls into that category, perhaps more than most. It's cordless - operating on a rechargeable battery that promises up to 20 minutes of continuous run time. It's slim and adaptable, thanks to a number of different heads for close and upright-style control. And it's got a trigger and pistol grip so you can feel like you're in Star Wars.
Certainly, the aesthetic design of the DC44 is perfectly honed to help you pretend you're in some science fiction extravaganza, with extruding pipes and steam punk flourishes.
More important, however, is the design on the inside, and this specific Dyson Digital Slim model sports the company's proprietary Root Cyclone technology and 65AW of suction power in max mode (28AW standard). That's when using the "wand" - a lightsaber-looking add-on with a powered head at the end.
The DC44 comes with an array of other heads too, including a smaller motorised tool and a couple of plastic add-ons that help you to get dirt and dust out of more awkward nooks and crannies. There's also a battery charger that comes in the box, which can be wall-mounted - advisable if you want to leave the wand attached when charging.
We've now done a fair bit of vacuum cleaning with the "Animal" on laminated flooring, mats and even sofas and we have to say that so far, so very, very good.
When compared with a cordless vacuum cleaner from a rival brand, the Hoover Freejet 3-in-1, the Dyson, pardon the pun, wipes the floor with its competitors in power, versatility and lastability. Admittedly, there's a meaty price difference between the two, with the DC44 costing £279.99, but you have to look at what else is on the market before you can get a valid and fair judgement of a product's abilities.
We particularly like that the handheld unit with the wand attached is as capable of removing cobwebs and dirt on the ceiling (especially in the corners) as it is on the floor. Turn a majority of rivals upside down and you may get more than you bargained for.
There's one drawback to this: at 2.2kg, the main unit is considerably heavier than many other handheld cleaners. If you are using it as a short-range device, you may find your arm runs out of energy before the battery does.
You don't notice as much when you're using the wand attachment, however. And it must be said that the traditional Dyson ball joint at the bottom is a blessing for getting underneath tables, chairs, etc.
The only other minor issue we feel is worth mentioning concerns the battery and, specifically, what happens when you run out of juice. Unlike other cordless vacuum cleaners, Dyson promises "constant powerful suction" throughout the battery's charge-span. That means that it suddenly cuts out when it's drained, rather than slowly losing power.
We can understand this just fine; there's nothing as sad as a vacuum cleaner slowly wheezing itself to oblivion. However, rather than bleep loudly or give you an obvious indication that the battery is about to run out, the Dyson DC44 blinks a light on the top - starting when you have one minute left.
First, it's not easy to notice the small, green LED in bright sunlight. And second, even when you do notice it, it becomes a bit of a game of Buckaroo or Operation, with you trying to get those last crumbs off the floor before the cleaner cuts you off.
It's only a minor point, and if nothing else, teaches us to be more attentive. It's certainly worth the effort as this particular model in the Dyson Digital Slim range is the best yet.
You can buy the Dyson DC44 Animal from the manufacturer's own website, Currys and a number of other retailers nationwide.