Review: Dyson Digital Slim DC44 cordless vacuum

2 Nov 2012

The Digital Slim DC44 cordless vacuum from Dyson

No one likes cleaning, but like death and taxes it is one of the certainties of life. What I mean by that is a certainty we will all try to avoid this necessary chore. The new Digital Slim DC44 cordless vacuum from Dyson is a novel and potentially lucrative attempt by celebrated British inventor James Dyson to change this perspective.

There was a time when many of us used to complain of being cash rich and time poor. Now everybody is just poor generally – cash poor and time poor. According to statistics from Dyson, 76pc of cleans we do about the house are quick cleans.

The time to do a thorough house clean is something rare. I know my partner and I keep saying ‘right, this weekend we’ll clean the house from top to bottom.’ The plan inevitably falls apart and some rooms get more attention than others.

The Dyson Digital Slim DC44 may change all this for the better.

Dyson engineering to the fore

Traditionally, cordless vacuum cleaners are meant to do small jobs like a quick clean of the car or to tidy up a mess quickly. Inevitably they lose power and suction and just add to the clutter. The main fatality is battery life.

I’m a big fan of Dyson’s story as well as his technology. He has a Steve Jobs-like attention to style and an appreciation of aesthetics as well as an engineer’s appreciation of ingenious and innovative machines that harness natural physics and the latest technology to optimum effect.

In particular, Dyson’s inspiration to replicate the sensation of an actual cyclone within a machine has made him a household name.

The DC44 looks nothing like most cordless vacuums on the market. Like most Dyson creations, you can see inside and marvel at the cyclone effect and its industrial design gives the appearance of silver plastic melting onto the sprockets and levers that drive the device.

The most outstanding achievement is first and foremost the digital motor and the Root Cyclone technology that makes it up to three times faster than conventional motors and which can operate non-stop for 20 minutes. Actually, I put this to the test and got between 23 and 25 minutes on a number of occasions. The key word here, though, is consistency, unlike rivals it is unlikely to fade away and die, but will keep on soldiering. It has a 22.2V nickel manganese cobalt battery pack which releases its charge evenly.

The motor spins at up to 104,000rpm, almost as good as any Dyson ball or stand-up models and apparently five times faster than an F1 racing car.

Where this really manifests itself splendidly is the different parts that come with it. Firstly it’s a handheld that can be used to access hard-to-reach areas, such as under furniture, tight corners or if you’re cleaning the car. It also has a motorised head technology that has these stiff nylon bristles that can remove stubborn dirt from carpets, as well as remove fine dust from hard floors.



Where I think the Digital Slim DC44 will resonate will be with people with young families or people who live in apartments. It has this lightweight aluminium wand covered in a beautiful cobalt blue that converts the handheld vacuum into a kind of replacement for a full-blown vacuum cleaner.

Another cool feature is the device comes with a holder that can be screwed into a wall and which allows you to just grab and clean without a second’s thought. Very convenient and again, extremely practical for people who live in apartments and who have kids.

Apparently, the machine has some 350 patents largely based around the digital motors in the machine. It is the result of three years of intensive R&D by a team of 40 engineers and cost Dyson €19m to develop and design. Some €12m of this went into the design of the digital motor.

To give you an idea of the kind of testing – some 200 hours of reliability testing went into it with 7,462 accidental collisions being simulated, 4,008 impact tests by striking the machine and its wand against the floor and the machine was put through a push-pull testing rig, travelling 582km.

Weighing just 2.3kg, the machine has a nice balance, even with the wand attached and the ball technology at the top of the machine head made it very manoeuvrable.

The machine itself looks bulkier than it feels but is surprisingly nimble when you put it to work.

The trigger mechanism is the secret weapon in this device – instead of power running continuously you just pull the trigger when you want to pick up dirt so in essence as well as 20-25 minutes of continuous power you get longer because you are saving on needless energy wastage.

The Digital Slim DC44 went on sale in Ireland in October and the device is available in all electrical retailers for €329.99.

While it costs the same if not more than most household cleaners and is first and foremost a handheld, the Digital Slim DC44 can in most cases replace a standard household vacuum cleaner and for people who live in apartments or family homes takes up very little space.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years