We’ve covered Dyson fans and vacuums for years now, being constantly amazed at the utility and wild designs that come out of James Dyson’s wee English workshop. He makes things that suck and blow and his latest, the DC44 “digital” vacuum sucks with the best of them.
The DC44 is a hand-held vacuum that essentially replaces the DC31 and adds a few tricks to the hand-held magic show. The DC44 has a number of attachments, including a long “motorized floor tool” that allows you to extend the handheld’s reach all the way to the floor.
At first blush, it’s easy to underestimate the DC44. It’s amazingly small with a compact collection bin and an seemingly weak motor. Whereas the previous models sounded like jet planes taking off and actually offered an odd sensation of torque on ignition, the DC44 has a tiny “digital pulse motor” that apparently moves at 104,000 RPM and emits a shrill whine. The suckage, however, is quite impressive. We were able to easily sweep the kitchen and hard wood with the longer attachment and it’s an excellent solution for picking up scraps the kids throw off of the kitchen counter.
The best thing about the DC44, however, is the 20 minute battery life and dual speeds. We’ve used the old model, the DC16, for years and over time the battery life has dropped down to about two minutes. To have a vacuum this tiny and with such a long life is arguably exciting. The extra speed boost is a bit of a placebo – it’s already plenty powerful – but it’s nice to see a dedicated button for adding a little bit more oomph.
The charging solution is also unique. The Dyson mounts on the wall upside down, which means if you fill up the front tube you’ll have dust and dirt falling out of the mouth when you go to plug it in. They’ve designed it so the holder can hold all of the accessories – the long motorized sweeper included – but you need plenty of wall space to get the whole thing to stay put.
Now is this thing worth the $400 you need to spend to get super-sexy Dyson suckage? I’m not quite sure. It doesn’t quite replace a real upright – the floor tool is still too small to really vacuum and entire room (although you could try) – and plenty of hand-held vacs can be had for much, much less.
Dyson is the Apple of vacuums and, depending on your opinion of Apple you’re either paying for quality or for marketing and cool design. While I would argue that the DC44 is definitely a strong replacement to the older crop of Dyson handheld vacuums, you may need to examine a few models before deciding on this mini-vac. As a primary vacuum it’s a possible alternative to bulky bag or canister models but as an alternative to cheaper hand vacs it’s definitely worth the price.