More power, a smart display and a brilliant new floor head make the Dyson V11 Absolute the best vacuum cleaner you can buy.
- Incredible suction power
- Adjusts suction power automatically
- Screen shows remaining run-time
- Great for stairs, carpets, hard floors and pets
- Good-sized bin with easy emptying
- Still only one battery
- Not cheap
- Review Price: £599.99
- 60-min/12-min run-times; 4.5hr charge time
- Three detail tools
- Wall dock supplied
- Three powered floor heads
- HEPA filtration
What is the Dyson V11 Absolute?
With the Dyson Cyclone V10, the vacuum cleaner company announced the end of its development of corded models. This year, Dyson continues to move forth with that promise by launching the Dyson V11 Absolute, the next-generation cordless model.
With some smart new sensing tech to adjust power automatically, and a screen on the rear this model is clearly designed to be the best a – and it delivers.
If last year’s model signalled the death of corded models, the V11 gives them that final push over the edge. In addition, the cordless vacuum cleaner is also available as the cheaper V11 Animal.
Related: Best cordless vacuum cleaners
Dyson V11 Absolute – Design and features
If you’ve used a V10, then the Dyson V11 will look familiar. It retains the same basic design, with the large bin (big enough for getting around a standard house) inline with the motor for better performance over the older models, such as the Dyson V8.
There’s a slightly bigger battery inside the V11 than the V10, which ups the weight to 3.05kg. Not that the difference is noticeable – the V11 is superbly balanced, feeling good in the hand.
A more significant change is the new V11 motor, which Dyson claims is 20% more powerful than the V10, delivering 185 air watts (that’s better than a lot of corded vacuum cleaners). The improvement in suction comes via the more powerful motor, but Dyson has made some improvements to airflow, too. These include a more efficient diffuser design that straightens airflow thus reducing turbulence, and a new impeller design.
Turn the vacuum cleaner around and the new screen is impossible to miss. Adding an LCD to a cordless vacuum may seem like madness at first, but once you start using the V11 it makes a lot of sense.
For starters, it’s easier to choose the mode you want to use, especially now that Dyson has renamed them so that they make more sense. Low, Medium and Max are replaced with Eco for better battery life, Medium for general use and Boost for those times you need a short burst of extra power.
If you plug in the new High Torque cleaner head, the Medium mode becomes Auto mode. Here, the V11 uses its Dynamic Load Sensor (DLS), which monitors brush bar resistance up to 360 times per second, to adjust the suction power between carpets and hard floors. This is useful, since who really wants to mess around trying to choose the right power mode anyway?
The display also rids another problem: battery anxiety. While the old V10 had only a basic display on the battery to show a rough level of charge, the V11’s screen shows a countdown timer, so you know exactly how long is left.
Should you run into a fault, such as a lack of suction or the filter needs cleaning, the screen runs a neat video to indicate how to rectify the problem. That’s quite brilliant, particularly since the manual is likely to be the first item to get lost at the back of a cupboard.
As with the V10 the filter unscrews, lifts off and can be washed under a tap until the water runs clear. The bin empties in the same way, with the trigger opening the end and sliding the unit forward and into the bin without spitting dust everywhere. As a result of the design of the bin, you have to remove the pole or accessories to empty it – a fair trade-off, given that you can prevent dust spilling out.
At the front, there’s the same socket to take the extension pole and accessories. Power runs down the extension pole for powering motorised brush heads; feedback from the High Torque head comes back the other way.
Flat-packed against the trigger is the battery pack. Again, it’s a fixed unit, so once you’ve run down the 60-minute time (on Eco mode with a motorised brush), it will need to be charged. This takes around 4.5 hours. Replaceable batteries for even longer run times would have been nice.
Once again, the battery has a handy rubber pad on it so that the V11 doesn’t fall over when you stand it up against a wall. It’s a small thing, but great for anyone who’s watched an older Dyson cordless cleaner fall to the ground.
Dyson V11 Absolute – Accessories
The Dyson V11 Absolute is loaded with accessories. The wall-mountable charging dock sports the same design as the one for the V10, containing two ports to hold accessories that aren’t in use. However, the V11’s dock is a little wider to accommodate the bigger battery.
This time around, I’m very pleased to say that Dyson has finally bundled a clip that fits around the extension pole and takes both the crevice tool and one of the brushes (the 2-in-1 wide nozzle tool/stiff brush or soft brushing dust_. Having these on-body means that you’ve got more storage space on the main dock, and you’re more likely to have the tools you need for a job to hand.
New this year is the High Torque cleaner head, which adapts the cleaner’s power to the type of surface it’s on. It has a clever elastic polyurethane sealing for better suction, pulling the head to the floor.
There’s a slider on the top to adjust two gates at the front of the brush. Fully lowered, the High Torque head has more suction to the floor; opened up, it allows air through. There’s a mid-position that gives you something in-between, too.
Having the gates open (or partly open) is useful on a hard floor, letting the head pick up bigger particles that would normally just be pushed around. Note, that you only get this new head with the Absolute mode; the V11 Animal has the older motorised head. To clean the brush, you simply insert a coin into the slot and turn, then pull out the unit for cleaning.
For hard floors, there’s the Soft Roller head, which picks up small particles easily. Again, the main brush can be removed for cleaning.
Finally, there’s the small motorised brush for tackling stairs, upholstery and the like.
Dyson V11 Absolute – Charging and run-time
The battery is designed to last for an hour in Eco mode, operating with or without a motorised brush. That’s the same as the V10, because the V11’s larger battery has the more powerful motor for increased suction.
Whack on the Boost mode and battery life drops to 12 minutes with the motorised head, and just five minutes with a standard head. The reason is that Dyson has optimised battery usage and suction for motorised heads, which agitate dirt and require less suction.
In either case, Boost mode sees up to a four-minute run-time improvement over the V10. Note that Boost mode will rarely be required; you’ll be fine in Eco or Medium modes for much of the time.
With around an hour of run-time, you should have enough power to whizz round an entire house. After all, with the trigger action, you’re only using battery power while physically vacuuming. Those with larger houses may find that the run-time isn’t quite enough. With 4.5 hours for charging, some people may need to change their cleaning schedule a little to get a full clean.
Dyson V11 Absolute – How noisy is it?
Turn on the V11 Absolute and you’ll find that it isn’t as loud as you might have thought. From head height, measured with the motorised brush in Eco mode, the vacuum comes in at 71dB. On standard mode it’s 74.6dB, and on Boost it’s a whopping 84.6dB.
For most uses on the lower power modes, you can actually hear other people over the V11’s powerful motor – and it isn’t a distracting noise.
Dyson V11 Absolute – How well does it clean carpets and hard floors?
Starting off on a hard floor, we first tested the V11 on a spillage of some brown rice. On Auto mode with the High Torque head in place, a single sweep made short work of the mess, with a clean sweep through the middle of the spill. A few grains were dragged around on the back sweep.
Switching to the Soft Roller head – which is really designed for this job – and everything was gone on Eco mode, showing the true power of this vacuum cleaner and its well-designed heads.
Turning to carpet, we placed our mixture of carpet freshening powder and flour right up against the skirting board. A single pass in Auto mode with the High Torque brush was enough to pick up everything. Impressively, you can hear the V11 step up a gear as you move over carpet, applying the right level of suction. That’s high-quality cleaning in the easiest way possible.
The heads are both extremely manoeuvrable, letting you sweep the V11 under sofas and navigate with ease. All vacuum cleaners should be this easy to use.
Dyson V11 Absolute – How does it cope with pet hair?
Living in a house with three cats, pet hair can be a problem. Going for the sofas and cushions, on which they typically sleep, I found that the small motorised brush was enough to suck up hair effortlessly on Medium power. For slightly dirtier areas, Boost mode delivered impressive results.
Dyson V11 Absolute – How easy is it to use on stairs?
Remove the extension pole and the V11 Absolute turns into a capable handheld unit. It’s a touch chunkier than some of its competition, but not to the point of being unusable. The motorised brush makes light work of each step, with standard mode our preferred choice of power mode. You can even use the main power heads for a bit more power.
Elsewhere around the house, the long extension pole and range of accessories make cleaning of all sorts simple, whether that’s high-up cobwebs, or simply cleaning up a spill on a counter.
Why buy the Dyson V11 Absolute?
While last year’s V10 was (and is) a great cordless model, the Dyson V11 Absolute ups the ante. Worthy of topping our Best cordless vacuum cleaner and Best vacuum cleaner groups, it has a stunning amount of power that can rival and even surpass corded cleaners.
Cleverly, the V11 is even a great cleaner on the lowest power setting, giving you the longest run-time possible while still delivering the dust removal you need.
It’s the new features that really stand out. With the High Torque head, you get automatic power management, with the V11 picking the best suction mode for the job at hand. That takes the guesswork out of cleaning and could save battery life – and time: rather than cycling through modes when trying to vacuum up some mess, wasting battery in the process, one single clean with the vacuum handling everything automatically will do the job.
I’m a huge fan of the screen on the back, on which you can view live battery life and even maintenance tips. In addition, a nod to the accessory clip, which takes away that minor frustration with previous models of never having the right accessory to hand.
There’s no getting away from the price, but you’re getting a premium vacuum that delivers outstanding cleaning results. At this point, who needs a plug-in vacuum?