Review: Dyson DC31 handheld vacuum

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The DC31 is a handheld Dyson. That’s probably all I need to say for you to know that it’s awesome.

Features

  • Dual power modes
  • Lithium-ion battery pack
  • Lightweight design
  • MSRP of $219.99

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Very simple design
  • One-touch waste compartment emptying

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • No battery life indicator
  • More expensive than most full-size vacuums

What is the only company that could get away with selling a $219 handheld vacuum? Dyson, of course, but only because its vacuums are outstanding — and the DC31 is no exception. The DC31 combines a very powerful motor with a minimalistic design that almost anyone can use.

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There are really only five parts to the whole system: suction nozzle, waste bin, filter, motor, and battery pack. That’s it; the simple design is one of the vacuum’s best features. Anyone can put it together and use it. Even my 2-year old son picked it up and immediately started cleaning with Mom right away. He even figured out that the big, red sliding button opens the waste bin and dumps the contents on the carpet, which was only cute the first time.

The simple design is very obvious when you compare the new DC31 next to the older Root 6 model. The new model is lighter and more compact, but still manages to have a larger waste bin — as well as a stronger motor, according to Dyson.

I can find no fault in the DC31’s suction power. It’s as strong as can be expected, especially when the turbo mode is engaged. But all this power must be used conservatively and in short bursts because the battery doesn’t last very long. Worst yet, when the battery is low, the vacuum just stops working instead of gradually losing suction. The first time it happened to me, I thought I broke the damn thing.

I’m sure battery life will probably improve with each upcoming model, but what the vacuum really needs is a simple battery meter. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a button with four little LEDs would be sufficient. I appreciate the high-power mode, but I didn’t use it frequently because I didn’t know much longer the battery would last.

Conclusion

Just like every other Dyson, this vacuum isn’t for everyone because of the high price. But if you need a serious handheld vac, the DC31 deserves your consideration.

Product Page

Update

A Dyson rep dropped me a note stating that there is in fact a battery indicator on the vacuum. I guess I should read the manual.

Real quick though: there IS a battery level LED, though it’s a bit different than the last version. With this model, it’s right on top. It’s a green LED and it flashes when there’s less than a minute of power left.

Great, but I used the vacuum over a dozen times and never noticed that. The battery indicator should be on the battery itself. That way you can easily check how much life is available instead of relying on a “one minute left” warning. Just saying.

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