James Dyson started making vacuums in the ’80s. By 2007, he had become so good at his craft that he was tagged with a “Sir” on the start of his name. Through varied innovations (trademarked cyclonic suction, swiveling heads and bagless emptying), his namesake company has become something akin to Apple or Bose — a brand whose products are the benchmark to which everyone else’s will be compared and scrutinized. Each successive Dyson device is, therefore, a sort of directional industry compass.
Enter the new Dyson Cyclone V10 — a cordless, handheld vacuum with what Dyson believes to hold so much promise and power that, after 35 years and 27 models, will spell the end of Dyson’s run making upright, corded vacuums. The Cyclone V10 boasts huge peak suction power for any vacuum — corded or cordless — is lighter, easier to empty, comes with all the Dyson goodies you could want and claims to have a longer-lasting battery. But is it worth its $500+ price tag? Much like the inner-workings of the machine itself, it’s complicated.
The Good: A smattering of easily-detachable and surface-specific heads, a well-balanced 5.5-pound carrying weight, somewhat less noisy when active and plenty of suction are all quickly noticeable and commendable when using the V10. Starting at three, then five and ultimately six, each successive V10 model comes with more heads to match more surfaces and situations. I tried all six on varied surfaces — tile, hardwoods, a shaggy area rug, carpet and my dog’s bed — and had no issues cleaning with more than a quick back-and-forth. I even crunched up various pantry snacks and threw them about in an attempt to trip it up (pretzels, for god’s sake) and didn’t have a problem.
The machine is easily maneuverable with one hand, and I say this as a particularly trim person without much in the way of arm strength. On suction levels below max, it performs its duty quietly enough to run in the evening without pissing off neighbors. It is indeed louder on max, but it’s fine in bursts to detach clinging dirt and dog hair. The bin-emptying mechanism is simple and clean. With no more than a quick push, all the collected debris is flushed out.
As with all Dyson products, there’s the added benefit of Dyson’s incredible customer service team, available seven days a week to answer all vacuum-related inquiries.
What to watch out for: The max suction setting is fun and makes for a great pitch — “Dyson Unveils Its Most Powerful Vacuum Ever. It Weights Just Six Pounds” — but it’s deceptive. Running on full blast, the vacuum won’t run for more than seven or eight minutes. And while it’s advertised to have a more effective battery than other Dysons, it reportedly won’t run longer on it’s lower settings than previous generations, either. Using the max power mode sparingly, I still killed the battery in my tiny Brooklyn apartment in 15 to 20 minutes in each testing session. It was enough to clean my space, but I imagine any larger and it’d be a race against a clock that takes three-and-a-half hours to charge back up.
The features in “The Good” section are still very good, but apart from the battery-destroying supercharged suction, they aren’t all completely unique. Previous Dyson handhelds were nearly as light (about half a pound heavier) with nigh-identical effective run times and all the same detachable heads.
Who it’s for: The V10 is for those who live in small apartments — or very, very small homes — don’t mind dropping coin on a new and powerful vacuum and those with pets whose shedded coats are markedly difficult to pull from couches, carpets and rugs.
Alternatives: Luckily for fans of Dyson and cordless vacuums, the V8 performs nearly the same and can be had with all the same accouterments for the price of the base model of the V10. If you’re reading this and realizing your living space is perhaps too large to sweep in one charge, manufacturer-refurbished corded Dysons remain plenty effective and are discounted on eBay and Amazon regularly.
Verdict: The impressive numbers seem a bit a hollow in this situation — the V10 may have marked the end of Dyson’s work on traditional upright vacuums, but it doesn’t mark the beginning of a must-have cleaning experience. The gains made in max power, bin-emptying and size, weight and noise level altogether equal a meager bump in utility and don’t fully justify a cost currently $200 more than its previous model.
What others are saying:
• “I can’t ignore that—even $500 is a lot to spend on a vacuum, let alone $700 for the top model—but as a person who has tested and owned several cordless vacuums over the last 10 years, it’s my opinion that there really is no match for Dyson’s build quality and ease of use … Hey, at least you can sit on an extraordinarily clean floor while you save up for a couch. — Michael Calore, Wired
• “The V10 is a lot pricier than the V7 and V8, and we don’t think its slight improvements are worth its hefty price tag. If you’re looking for an upgrade from the V7, we recommend going for the V8 while it’s still in stock.” — Michelle Ma, Wirecutter