So can your existing vacuum be thrown away? Yes, with caveats. What Dyson hasn't exaggerated is the power of the DC44. It doesn't truly rival a full-size mains-powered machine but, just as with cordless drills compared to mains drills, it does the job for the vast majority of tasks, with only the most engrained dirt or heavy detritus proving troublesome.
Dyson supplies the DC44 with four heads - an 8in narrow one for crevices, a wider brush tip for uneven surfaces, a mini motorised brush bar for agitating carpets or upholstered furniture (perfect for cars) and a long reach 'wand' with motorised head for general vacuuming - and with each it performs brilliantly.
The most noticeable success is as a replacement full-size vacuum. With the long wand and ball-fitted motorised head attached the DC44 feels very well balanced and is far lighter and more agile than a full size machine. Suction is plenty strong enough for most carpet dirt as the brush head does the hard graft of prizing out the stubborn stuff, such as hair.
That 20 minute run time is crucial too as we found it reached this with some to spare (21 minutes 53 seconds) which makes is long enough not to rush. Yes using it on max cuts this time dramatically (we got seven minutes 43 seconds on constant), but we found it was only required now and again in short bursts.
Like one of the best aspects of the DC35, the DC44 is also incredibly low maintenance. Each month the filter should be washed, but it lasts a lifetime and is easily accessed by pressing the 'Filter' button on the top of the unit. This effectively splits the DC44 in half exposing the filter.
So what are the caveats? In short they are the understandable side effects of a small vacuum doing a big vacuum's job, and they have not been fixed from the DC35. For example the bin size means it needs to be emptied at least once during every clean and, while perfectly fine for flats, the longer battery life will still be a problem for large houses over multiple floors. Furthermore, given it is most efficient to store the DC44 in its charge dock with the long wand attached, we're not convinced how much real world space it really saves over something like the highly compact DC24. That charge dock release mechanism also still bugs us - the release sound should be satisfying, not terrifying!
Take a deep breath because the DC44 costs £280. Is this good value? It depends on individual circumstance. The DC35 costs £260 and it is certainly £20 better and if your apartment is small then arguably the role of the DC44 as both a handheld and full size vacuum makes it fairly attractive (in Dyson terms). On the flip side for those with larger houses who will still need a full size machine the DC44 is somewhat superfluous as you might as well just buy the DC34 Animal dedicated handheld (which Dyson will keep on selling) for circa £150. Then again if you have a large house, maybe you can afford both.
Dyson is right, the DC44 is a game changer because it does cross the threshold where a handheld can replace a full size vacuum... but only for those with smaller apartments. Key to this is the more powerful brushhead for effective carpet cleaning, and boosted battery life means you don't need to rush. Meanwhile it is a superb handheld machine for small spills, even if it is a little bulky compared to some handhelds. The flip side is the DC44 can't take on larger houses and as such you'd be better off saving £130 by buying the DC34 dedicated handheld to go alongside a full size machine. Ultimately though we have to say hats off, Dyson has created a genuine hybrid device. Evolution or revolution? A bit of both.
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