When my boss first asked me to vacuum with his new Dyson Absolute DC17, I was skeptical. He readily sang its praises, but I wondered how good a vacuum cleaner could be. A few rooms later, I was quite impressed!
James Dyson, founder of the company, invented the first new vacuum cleaner technology in nearly 100 years. As the story goes, he was vacuuming in 1978, when he became frustrated at the lack of suction. An engineer by trade, he dismantled the machine to determine the problem. He realized that soon after inserting a new bag, the pores of the bag clogged with dust, reducing the suction power of the machine. He was determined to find a better way. Over the next 14 years, he put together over five thousand prototypes, determined to design the best vacuum cleaner ever.
Research, Design and Development are at the core of Dyson. One third of Dyson employees are engineers and scientists. The team has developed more than 20,000 prototypes, filing one patent per day to stay ahead and keep ideas as their true currency. Dyson has more than 1,100 patents and patent applications for more than 150 different inventions, including the Dyson Digital Motor with diagnostic capabilities. In 2005 alone, Dyson invested £50 million in research and development.
Besides selling over 20 million vacuum cleaners worldwide, Dyson vacuums have received countless design and innovation awards. Museums around the globe, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - among others - have displayed Dyson products.
The DC17 comes with some wonderful attachments, including a "mini turbine head", which is great at removing pet hair from small spaces such as stairs or automobile upholstery, and an attachment made specifically for vacuuming mattresses. There is also a "low reach floor tool" for easy cleaning under furniture, a "flexi-crevice tool" for awkward gaps and spaces, a "stiff bristle brush" for removing ground in dirt, and a "soft dusting brush" for delicate surfaces.
Dyson's customer support is impeccable. After I got some clothing stuck in the roller brush, the rollers stopped working. Thinking I'd broken the machine, I sheepishly called Dyson's help line. The friendly technician explained to me that by holding down the roller's on/off button for 20 seconds, I'd reset the circuit breaker. I did, and the DC17 now works better than ever!
I have found one small fault with this machine, however. The top prong to wrap the cord around for storage moves too easily, often shifting out of position, which makes wrapping the cord more difficult than it needs to be. For all the company’s thousands of patents, it’s surprising that such a simple aspect of the design was neglected.
Other than that, it’s one heck of a vacuum cleaner.