Dyson DC31 Animal Handheld Vacuum Review

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December 3, 2009 · 7 comments

in 2009,Reviews

As you know, I am no stranger to reviewing Dyson products (Dyson DC14, Dyson Air Multiplier). I have always been fascinated by the way they look and I love that they brought a cool (a yellow vacuum is cool when the rest are grey) and functional design into an industry that never seemed like it was going to be updated.

I must have been a good boy this year, because the nice folks at Dyson gave me an early Christmas present of a Dyson DC31 Animal Handheld Vacuum cleaner.

You would think this is the first hand-held vacuum that I have received as a Christmas gift, but as I child I actually asked and received a Black & Decker Dustbuster, in I am guessing 1985. I was a special kid. The Dustbuster was a pretty cool, little vacuum, but it had some serious issues; it would fill up quickly and quit sucking, the filters were not washable and needed to be emptied and/or replaced, the battery life did not last too long, it was not that powerful even when empty. I also remember picking up things like screws and them falling right back out the second you stopped the motor.

I would say until recently (Or October 12th, 2006 to be exact) this was a common problem until Dyson released their first series of handheld vacuums, known as the Dyson DC 16 Root 6. The DC 16 addresses many of the issues that the Dyson full size vacs did when they came out. The DC31 is an even better version of the DC16 and has some unique features that will set it apart;

The DC31 Is even smaller than the DC16 weighing in at 2.9lbs, and is more balanced. There were some complaints that the DC16 was too heavy, and hard to maneuver. The DC31 should take care of that.

  • They have added 2 power modes to extend the battery life. 10 minutes at lower power or 6 minutes at full power.
  • They have included a motorized brush on the Animal version of the DC31
  • It has a new “Digital Motor” which is lighter, faster, more powerful and more energy efficient than a standard motor.

Well since none of this matters unless the vacuum can pick up a mess here is my review of the Dyson DC31 Animal:

As usual the Dyson packaging was impressive. It is not as amazing as apples, but it seems to be designed nicely, well packaged and pretty easy to open. The first impression I had of the unit when I saw it was that I loved the color. The DC31 Animal comes in this amazing metallic purple color. The feel of the unit was that of quality. The outside is made entirely of plastics, but they do not feel brittle or flimsy in the least. The unit feels solid.

Now comes the part that surprised me. Well I guess for 2 reasons. It was charged out of the gate, which I found surprising. The second and more important reason why I was surprised is that when I hit the trigger it sounded like a jet engine mixed with a dentist drill. I would say that this is the Ferrari of handheld vacuums. It just sounds really powerful and neat. (I will post a video so you can hear it soon)

Since my house was pretty tidy the first thing I did was dump some flour on my counter and suck it up. It did not stand a chance. The DC31 snorted it up like Scarface with cocaine.

The next thing I went after was my girlfriends couch. It is a plush couch and it seemed pretty clean. I put on the brush and went to town. Tons of really fine dust came out of the cushions and a bunch of the hair that was once on Sarah’s head. Sarah loved that you could see what was sucked up inside the clear canister portion of the vacuum.

I tried all of the attachments and did not find anything that it could not handle. The battery did not give any signs of dying, but Sarah reminded me that it was a bit late at night to be vacuuming the house. So I figured out how to empty it and put it on the charger before going to bed for the night.

The next morning I heard some commotion coming from the kitchen and asked what was wrong. A little coffee bean spill. I jumped out of bed and started seeking them out. Whole coffee beans went into the DC31 like it were a shop vac. It was awesome.

I installed a closet this weekend and used the DC31 to clean up drywall dust where my dc14 failed. This little handheld is powerful.

The other way I used it was to clean up my hairy mess after I shave my head. I am also looking forward to using it to clean my keyboards!

After using it a handful of times it has easily become my favorite vacuum in the house. My apologies to the DC14 and my Roomba 550.

The biggest complaint I read about was battery life. I did not see an issue with this, but I could see me trying to clean my whole car or house and running out of juice after 10 minutes. I think if you use it as intended you will never have a battery issue.

Overall I think this is a great vacuum. If you have a pet or a kid you should get one of these. It would be way faster then taking out the full size vacuum and do a better and quicker job then a broom.

Here is a quick summary:

Positives:
Small, Powerful, No Filters, No loss of Suction, Good attachments, Great for hair/fur, Excellent feel and quality, Beautiful color, Awesome powerful sound, 2 year warranty.
Negatives:
Expensive, Short battery life if you want to clean your whole house, Too loud to use at night.

All in all I recommend this to anyone who thinking about buying it. It would make a great Christmas gift to those of us out there who actually like receiving useful gifts and tools!

What I would really like to see changed with this handheld vac are the following:

  1. My old dustbuster had a charging cradle/wall mount. I would love to see something like this for the DC31 because it does need to be charged and plugged in. The battery is removable and can be charged while removed, but an all in charging cradle would be useful. I guess the best way to describe my feelings are I need to have this item at the ready. I want it in a place where I know it will be ready, and I can go and grab it, know it is charged, and choose my accessory and get back to the spill/mess and get it taken care of.
  2. I am not sure if it is possible, but I would love to see an option to charge/power the item with a longer cord. That was I could run around my house and vacuum the whole thing if I wanted. Even like a 12v cigarette adapter would appease those who want to do their car.
  3. I did not really like the build in brush/other tool. I like the rounded brush tool I have with my DC14. I think a small round brush may be useful. I will know if it is needed when I clean my keyboards though.
  4. Charge time. The card/instructions say 3.5 hrs. How come my ipod can do 80% charge in 1 hour or my power drill can do a full charge in 18minutes? I would like to see a speed charge mode, if possible.

None of the complaints are deal breakers. I am really blown away by this handheld vac, and it is light years better than my Dustbuster was 20+ years ago. It has 100x the power of that unit, and I would say almost close to the suction that my DC14 does. Dyson congrats on another great project/product, and thank you for letting me play with it!

I would love to see Dyson try building a wet/dry vacuum or shopvac, and a robot vac to compete with Roomba.

I wish I would have taken photos of my unit when it was clean… I will post what it looks like to the site shortly!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sean 12.03.09 at 4:20 am

Noise = Power. I used to care about the noise on appliances but realized that the less noise means less power. The Blend-Tec I bought is loud as hell but blends everything. I don't think noise should be a negative unless it doesn't have the power to match or it's blowing out your ear drums.

I think the car adapter would be awesome. I'm always stopping at the gas station to use their air vacs. I wonder if the charger is some kind of universal one that can be bought at a hardware or electronics store.

How much does this thing go for? If I had a dog I'd easily pay $200 for a vac that actually picks up the hair without getting clogged up.

2 Pet Vacuums 01.16.10 at 6:53 pm

Great article. Dyson DC31 is one powerful hand held vacuum! The linear battery technology works great as it doesn't lose power even when the battery is running low. The negative, battery life is short and charging time is long.

To me any vacuum job bigger than 10 minutes work, really shouldn't be using a handheld vacuum.

You made a good point. They should have a 12v cigarette adapter. It would appeal to those who want to do their car.

3 dawna 03.05.10 at 1:55 pm

i can't wait for dyson to come up with something comparable to the hoover floormate…which isn't available in canada for me anyhow; i got a dyson for my carpets for xmas; WOOOHOOO: and it's REALLY not like me to be excited about housework… probably because I've never had any FUN AND EFFECTIVE equipment so far… i try using the vaccum in my kitchen but it's not good for wet items; such as macaroni from the kids' lunches etc.. haha; too bad-sweeping isn't for me; nor is getting down on my hands and knees

4 Christopher 10.03.10 at 2:01 pm

For those who want a car adapter just purchase one of those power converters that let you plug in household items, only $30 at your local walmart, if you have the money to purchase one of these you can definitely afford that, and a longer cord for doing your entire house was solved like 200 years ago with the invention of extension cords. All problems solved.

5 werty 10.03.10 at 9:20 pm

That is good in theory, but the cord does not allow it to be charges and be used at the same time. I think this is a big oversight for the unit. They really should make it allowed to work while plugged in, or have some car adapter. Shame on James Dyson!

6 Beatrice Beverly 03.05.11 at 9:53 am

Let me know, when you make it cheaper, or on easy payment's, I'm on a
fixed income, I live in a senier housing developement, and the tenents
have to clean there own stairways two flyts up!
I own the small dyson for my apartment, I love it, picks up everything.
Thank You
Bea

7 Beatrice Beverly 03.05.11 at 9:59 am

If you went on qvc, And make a great deal. You could sell many of them
Thanks Bea

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