'Evolution not revolution' is a phrase that has become all too familiar in recent years and it would seem to fit the 'DC44' perfectly. Both visually and numerically the handheld vacuum appears to be the logical successor to Dyson's 'DC35', so we were rather surprised to hear the company thinks it will change the way we look at vacuuming forever. And it just might…
None of this comes through at first sight. Sit the DC44 before the DC35 and it is quite hard to tell the difference. Aside from a more matched colour scheme the DC44 looks identical to its forebear and has the same dimensions (205 x 115 x 322mm) and weight (1.33Kg).
Construction is also the same. It's made from hardwearing, but primarily plastic materials with a gun-style trigger that's pressed and released to start/stop operation. The removable battery sits horizontally underneath the trigger and there is a clear plastic bin for dirt which empties unceremoniously by flipping open at the bottom when the vertically mounted red release catch is pushed - careful you aim it the right way as it opens towards you!
Meanwhile the bulbous head of the DC44 hides Dyson's patented 'cyclone technology' which uses centrifugal forces to spin dirt around the sides of the bin as it is collected to avoid it clogging up the filters and reducing suction. Behind the cyclones is the motor (more of which below) and at the front is the nozzle where appropriate accessories can, with consummate ease, be snapped in to tackle different cleaning tasks.
What differentiates the DC35 and DC44 from the DC34/DC34 Animal (yes, Dyson hasn't made this easy) is the inclusion of the long motorised brush attachment and a proper wall-mountable charging dock, additions which explain the hefty step up in price.
The wall mount allows the DC44 and the large hose to hang out of harms way to save space, and it also holds up to two nozzle accessories (a strange point, being as three are included). Unfortunately the dock is a somewhat underwhelming moulded plastic unit that feels cheap and makes a rather disconcerting cracking sound each time the DC44 is taken out - a method which is no more sophisticated than giving it a good yank. While we're sure it has passed Dyson's famously rigorous stress tests, it feels like the first thing that would go in any warranty claim.
All of which leaves us feeling a little non-plussed, but the revolution comes not from the outward design. What excites us are the breakthroughs Dyson has made with the DC44's performance. The motor still spins at a mind boggling 104,000RPM (and maintains two power modes: standard and max), but Dyson claims it now delivers twice the power at the cleaner head to drive bristles deeper into the carpet with more force.
The second part of this one-two punch is the increased battery life over the DC35 which gets a 25 per cent bump from 15 to 20 minutes on standard power and from six to eight minutes for the max mode. This change comes from swapping the Lithium-ion battery for nickel manganese and altering its chemical composition to create a higher discharge rate. The result is a battery akin to those used in Tesla electric sports cars.
Ultimately why this combination of more power and greater battery life excites Dyson is because it believes they push it through the threshold where it breaks the divide between handheld and traditional vacuums. It claims whereas previous models were essentially handheld vacuums with the bonus of being able to add an attachment to have a go at carpets, the DC44 is a serious do-it-all machine which can replace both full size and handheld machines. As such hopes are high that it can redefine how people picture the home vacuum.