The DC34 range have two power modes – high and low. The former delivers 8mins of operation while the latter nearly doubles this to 15mins, with suction power reduced by about half. In normal/low mode, it really is only suitable for dust-sized particles that are lightly engrained into any given surface. Stubborn dirt or larger particles will quite often be missed unless you’re really persist and precise about how you place the nozzle.
Switch to high power mode, though, and the 104,000rpm motor shows its chops, making the DC34 immediately become more versatile, picking up larger loose items and more ingrained dirt. It’s still not a patch on a full-size mains vacuum but could just about suffice as you main vacuum if you’re short on space.
Compared to other handhelds there’s a clear advantage in terms of raw power but as much of an advantage are those accessories. The crevice tool and main brush are great for poking in all the nooks and crannies of your house or car, while the rotor brush is brilliant for carpets, rugs and other upholstery.
There is a fairly major potential downside when viewing this as mainly a portable vacuum though, rather than one to perform double duty as your main cleaner too. As well as simply being portable thanks to being battery powered, one of the key attributes of a handheld vacuum cleaner is that it’s small, and as mentioned earlier that isn’t really the case here. As such, there are times when you simply can’t get an angle to get the business end of the cleaner into position because the rest of it’s wedged up against a car seat or such like. The backseat footwells of cars and gaps underneath furniture or kitchen cupboards are the most obvious areas of concern here. Some smaller handheld vacuum cleaners are slender enough that the whole thing will slide under a kitchen cupboard for instance.
As for longevity, we found Dyson’s claimed figures to be pretty accurate. This is fine for occasional spillages, cleaning the car or having a quick spruce up, but if you’re having a proper spring clean you’ll probably find it only lasts a couple of rooms rooms before needing a recharge.
A final plus point of note before we look at value is that the clear, easy to empty collection cyclinder does make it particularly easy to pick through any rubbish if you think you’ve hovered up a receipt or precious penny.
As with nearly all Dyson products, where the DC34 Animal potentially falls down is price. At list price (£199.99), it’s simply too expensive but for the £150 or so you can find it online for it’s just about worth considering. Other handheld vacuums can be had for as little £20 so you really are paying quite a premium here but we feel there’s just about enough on offer here to make it worth while.
The Dyson DC34 Animal is a great handheld vacuum cleaner. It’s more powerful than any other, it has some neat accessories and it’s really well designed in terms of usability. However, it is bulkier than many handhelds, doesn’t really rival full-size models for power, and is expensive. It’s certainly not a foolish purchase but not an outright recommendation either.