For a country that is constantly battling with dust, the Dyson V8 Absolute+ vacuum cleaner has met its match. Its mind-boggling engineering is focused on one thing alone - to make cleaning easier.
For a brand that predominantly makes white goods, Dyson doesn’t like to be referred to as a home-appliance brand. Instead it is a technology company, and rightly so. The V8 Absolute+ is their top-of-the-line, battery powered vacuum which shares an engineering canvas with a high-performance sportscar rather than a dirtbag. It’s the epitome of what Dyson is currently capable of in terms of their motor design, 3D printing prototyping, acoustic design, ergonomics and a further refinement of their Cinetic Cyclone engine.
Design: Back to the future
The design itself is more than four years old now but Dyson has kept on refining every part, making the V8 go from a cordless to a handheld, effortlessly. It will be one of the first Dyson products to be launched in India when it opens its first store in New Delhi this month and as a showcase of technology, there couldn’t be a more impressive candidate. The V8 looks sci-fi even before you turn it on! In fact, it’s one of the few home appliances you wouldn’t mind showing off while it’s docked to its charging station at a power outlet near you. It doesn’t give you a reason to hide it away in the dark recesses of your home like you had to with other vacuum cleaners, until now.
The V8 and V7 both have two variants each and they can all be detected by the different coloured extension rods, the metallic orange signifies the top-of-the-line V8 Absolute model we have here on test. In V8 Absolute+ guise, it adds all attachments inside the box so you don’t have to shell out for anything extra. What you do shell out dear sums of money for is the whole Dyson experience. Starting with a store visit which is unlike any other consumer electronics store to the day when a technician comes to your house to install the V8 with the most professional approach I have ever seen, you are made to feel that you’ve brought something special all along. Using kid gloves, a Dyson branded mat to spread out and brief you about all the attachments and heads to the run-down on the technology, a single Dyson engineer walks you through the whole process and leaves you eager to get your hands on that trigger.
Possibly the most endearing quality of the V8 Absolute is its ability to go from full-stick to handheld in less than it takes you to switch channels from NBA to Jockey101. All the weight of the heavy components is kept close to the hand, making it easy to move around tough spots. The battery, motor and the Cyclone engine with the dustbin are all packed into a small area just around the grip so it’s easier to get the V8 into higher spots with one hand without feeling the weight bearing you down.
One of the masterstrokes of the design is that no colour or detail has been used without reason. All the parts marked red are the ones that the user can interact with like the trigger, bin release hatch and release clamps for attachments.
This makes it snappy to locate the attachment points and also makes it foolproof, since you always have the right side pointing to the attachment end. Similarly, all the blue coloured parts are the filters, one of which can be easily cleaned with water and reinserted upon drying while the other can easily last the life of the V8.
Technology: Science of dust
The charging dock is best if wall-mounted where you just pull it out when required and let it hang after you’re done. The intelligent battery system prevents it from overcharging and cuts off power once it’s fully juiced up. So you never have to switch off the mains. An indicator near the battery pack always lets you know what the charge levels are. Dyson claims a run time of 40 mins on a full charge but switch to Max suction mode and it drops to 7-8 mins. Similarly, if you use one of the motor-driven carpet or hard-floor heads, the run time will be shortened again since the power is drawn by both the Dyson Digital Motor and the brush motor on the head as well.
The Dyson Digital Motor is where most of the magic happens. Spinning at a mind-numbing 110000RPM, it provides the suction power that makes the cordless/handheld form factor possible. Developed over a period of eight years with 150 Dyson engineers working on it from breakfast to high-tea, it is what has made Dyson a cult brand. Well, that and its signature Cinetic Science that puts a number of cyclones on top of the bin that gives every Dyson vacuum its distinct and futuristic aesthetic. Dyson goes through 40 tonnes of 3D printing raw material every year.
All that nylon powder has translated into a final design that is functional, attention-grabbing and iconic; you can’t mistake the Dyson V8 for anything else. The what and how it does is even more impressive though. Each little radial cyclone pulls in air at a very high speed and the resulting centrifugal force separates the dust from the air and drops it in the bin. To ensure even more fine dust is collected in the bin, each cone is rubber tipped and these rubber tips oscillate at more than 5000 times a second to ensure no dust sticks to its insides and easily falls off into the bin. Hence, no loss of suction even after extended periods of use which is a huge deal when you think of how all other vacuum cleaners you have used until now have behaved. All this R&D for a vacuum cleaner you ask? The first cleaning session reveals a lot more….
Performance: A product of passion
When you get to the nitty gritties of dirt, one of the first thumb rules to capture more fine particles is to agitate them first. Lodged between the carpet fabric, these are the pesky bits that all vacuums struggle to pull out and our brooming tradition only displaces it, without taking it out of the room. The Direct Drive cleaner head uses nylon bristles that are powered by their own motor and they dig deep into the pile to agitate the dust and then the powerful suction does its job, collecting copious amounts of dust in the transparent bin that will astound you initially.
With the assortment of attachments, it’s easy to find one that is just right for your use. Upholstery, leather seats in the car, hard floor or even just using it as a very expensive duster with the soft brush, the V8 quickly becomes addictive. The trigger-driven action might have something to do with impulse cleaning too but this is also the achilles heel of the V8. The constant need to keep the trigger pressed makes it tiring when you have a designated area to clean, such as a carpeted room. It takes a toll on your finger and the hard plastic around the grip doesn’t help much. While this was clearly a battery conserving move, a trigger lock would make it a lot easier to clean larger areas when you’re not worried about running out of juice.
The motor-driven brushes won’t suck up large debris but stubborn bits like threads, pet hair or dirt that have the tendency to stick to carpets and crevices were sucked up without a second attempt and eventually that’s what sets apart this from other cleaners. After all the sci-fi spiel is made, it stands up to its primary task and does it exceedingly well. The handheld mode is just a game changer for every other worse case scenario where we all have struggled. Be it the car, cobwebs in hard to reach places or behind the TV, the form factor along with the up-top or flexi-tube attachments make it useable in every situation. The articulated heads for the carpet and hard-wood floors help in alleviating a lot of effort usually associated with cleaning a large-ish area by moving just with a hint of a flick from your wrist. It’s the little things...
It is also unbelievably quiet compared to other vacuums, especially given its powerful motor that is spinning at many times the RPM of normal cleaners. The acoustic work that Dyson has put into this device is commendable, letting you have a normal conversation while cleaning is in progress. Dyson says it is 50% quieter than the V6 model and as a bonus, you also get HEPA filtered air as a byproduct of the exhaust.
Verdict: Expensive but investment-worthy
While not the cheapest option out there, it certainly is the best performing I have found and coupled with Dyson’s professional approach to installation and training, it makes you feel like you’ve spent your money well. To make you feel even more secure, Dyson is promising a unit replacement service if things should go awry with your Dyson appliance. While this might last until the brand picks up pace in India, it nevertheless is a deal maker. The engineering here is solid and build quality even more so, making this more of an investment than an indulgence. Time to give that house help a much needed rest, put those fingers to work instead!
To get this excited about a vacuum cleaner isn’t normal. But then the Dyson V8 Absolute isn’t a normal device. It looks and behaves like a product of intense engineering effort. It’s beautiful enough to sit in your living room and effective enough to clean your whole home on a single charge. It isn’t cheap but it’s still great value!