Redefining what you can expect from a lightweight cordless cleaner, the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute takes all of the most important features from the V15 and sticks them in a smaller body. Automatic power adjustment, live battery runtime and that laser-powered head that highlights dirt make the V12 a great all-round vacuum cleaner and ideal as a secondary cleaner or for those with smaller homes.
- Clever automatic mode
- Decent selection of tools
- Laser lights up dirt
- Power button could be more conveniently placed
- TypeThis is a cordless stick vacuum cleaner.
- Battery lifeBattery life is quoted at up to 60-minutes, but expect closer to 25-minutes with a floor head and automatic mode.
The Dyson V15 Detect’s proved revolutionary, with its laser-powered floor head highlighting dirt and the piezo sensor counting how much dust there was, adjusting the power on the fly. Now with the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute we have the same technologies packed into a smaller body.
As a secondary vacuum cleaner, for smaller homes or for those that struggle with a trigger (there’s an on/off button on this model), this is an incredible cordless stick vacuum cleaner.
Design and features
- Uses an on/off button rather than a trigger
- Automatic power adjustment
- Excellent range of accessories
The Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute looks much like any other Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner, with its traditional stick design and hand grip, but there is a difference. While previous models have used a trigger, the V12 has an on/off button on top instead.
There are benefits to both types of design. A trigger switch is good, as you only engage the vacuum cleaner while cleaning, maximising battery life; a physical on/off button is more useful for people that find it uncomfortable or difficult to hold a trigger in constantly. I’d actually prefer both options: a trigger and a method to permanently keep the power on.
I also found the button is in a slightly strange place, as it needs a second hand to push it. A smaller button on the back of the handle, within thumb reach, would feel a bit neater.
Once on, the LCD screen at the back lights up, with the button underneath used to change power mode. There are Eco, Med and Boost levels, although the Med option also doubles up as an automatic mode when either of the floor heads is attached, using readings from the piezo sensor to adjust motor power on the fly.
As with the V15, the V12 shows a particle count by size, so you can see how much dust it’s actually picking up. This was impressive on the V15, and I still find it impressive today. No other vacuum cleaner, outside of Dyson’s range, provides so much information.
Underneath the dust count, the V12 shows battery life remaining in minutes. I find this far better than a simple percentage, as I can see exactly how much power is remaining. And, the screen also shows you what to do if your Dyson gets blocked.
When the vacuum is ready to charge, it can be dropped into its wall-mounting charging dock or the power adaptor can be plugged straight into the battery. The battery is removable, which means getting a replacement, should your original fail, is easy.
I found charging using the wall mount to be the neater option, as it also provides a couple of accessory storage slots.
There’s also a wand mount that will take an additional two tools: I tend to put the crevice tool and combination tool here, as I use these ones the most.
Weighing just 2.4kg, the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute is one of the lightest cordless vacuum cleaners you can get, unless you get into the ultra-small category, such as the Dyson Omni-glide.
I found the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute extremely easy to lift and carry around, reaching up high to get right around the ceiling, and it was also comfortable to hold when vacuuming the floors.
Dyson has provided a great range of accessories in the box. In addition to the aforementioned crevice tool and two-in-one brush, there’s also a motorised mini Hair Screw Tool. This doesn’t get tangled with hair and is great for cleaning sofas and stairs, particularly if you have pets, as I do.
In the box is the Low Reach Adaptor, a hinged joint that makes it easy to clean under furniture without having to bend down. This can be left permanently attached before the wand, which is what I tend to do.
Dyson provides two floor heads with this mode. First, for hard floors, there’s the Illuminated cleaner head, which has a laser that highlights dirt, and a fluffy roller for picking up dust. It’s an anti-tangle design, too, working well in my house with four cats.
The laser is as brilliant today, as when I first saw it on the V15, particularly if you use it in the dark. I find that it highlights loads of areas thick with dust and hair, areas that look clean to the naked eye. This helps with cleaning efficiency, as I can focus on the areas that need cleaning.
Next, there’s the Motorbar cleaning head for carpets. Again, it’s anti-tangle and stops hair from getting wrapped around it, but this head is designed for carpets.
There’s a 0.35-litre bin on this vacuum cleaner, which is considerably smaller than on the V15. However, I find that the bin is generally big enough for a full clean until the battery is depleted.
As with other Dyson cleaners, the bin remains attached to the vacuum cleaner, and there’s a slide that pushes dirt forwards and out into the bin. I find it easy to get a clean ejection, with the dust going in the bin, but after vacuuming lots of hair, I sometimes have to do a few slides backwards and forwards to get everything out.
At the back of the cleaner is the screw-off filter that can be rinsed under a tap and left to dry for 24 hours. If you don’t want downtime without your vacuum cleaner, then buying a second filter can make a lot of sense.
- Excellent cleaning power
- Long battery life
- Doesn’t get tangled
To test the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute, I put it through my standard set of tests. I began by measuring the raw power at the head in AirWatts (a combination of suction power and airflow). On low power, I measured the cleaner at a sedate 21AW, which is enough power for some gentle cleaning, such as sucking dust off a desk.
On Med power, the cleaner measured 43AW, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but there are two factors to consider. First, the floor tools are designed to agitate dirt, so not as much power is needed; secondly, power adjusts automatically with the floor heads, using more power when there’s more dirt.
On Boost, the vacuum cleaner managed a massive 209AW, putting it cleanly in the top ten cordless cleaners for the most amount of power. That’s even more power than the Shark IZ320UK can put out on its maximum setting.
I find that Med (automatic) power is best for general cleaning jobs, with Boost only useful when using handheld tools to pick up a lot of mess.
To see how raw figures translate into performance, I put the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute through my real-world tests. I started with the carpet test by sprinkling a teaspoon of flour onto the carpet and then giving the cleaner a forwards and backwards pass on Auto mode. Everything was removed.
It was the same for the tough edge test, with flour sprinkled right up to the skirting board. It was a perfect result from the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute, removing everything.
Pet hair was no problem, either. The carpet brush managed to remove all traces of hair with absolute ease.
Finally, I sprinkled a teaspoon of rice onto the hard floor and switching to the hard floor head. Again, the Dyson V12 Detect Slim Absolute made short work of the mess, collecting every grain without any dropping back out.
Battery life is a hard thing to measure with this vacuum cleaner, particularly in auto mode, as the level of dirt, floor head and type of surface all make a difference. Even so, after extensively testing the vacuum cleaner, and pushing it around on a regular carpet to clean, I found that it lasted for 24m 57s on the automatic mode.
With the carpet head attached, low power was 41m 23s, although without the motorised tool, closer to an hour is more likely.
On Boost, there were 9m 8s of power with the carpet head attached. This really is only a mode for shorter bursts of cleaning and, as my tests show, it’s not a power mode that has to be used very often.
With around 25-minutes of battery life, the quality of the cleaning here meant that I could get a surprising way. Tackling the home appliance lab, I could clean it all on a single charge.
I measured the vacuum cleaner at around 70.7dB when on auto mode; that does vary a little, depending on the motor speed and what the floor head is doing. It’s not an annoying noise, though: low-pitched and constant, the V12 certainly doesn’t grate to use.
Should you buy it?
If you want a lightweight vacuum cleaner that can adjust power automatically, and highlight dirt on the floor, this is for you.
It is quite expensive, and you can get larger cordless cleaners with more power and battery life for less.
Packing all of the technology that made the V15 Detect so good into a more compact and cheaper cleaner is impressive. For smaller homes or for those that want a cordless stick cleaner to complement a larger one, then this is a fantastic choice. If you want a different style of cleaner altogether, check out my guide to the best cordless vacuum cleaners.
How we test
We test every vacuum cleaner we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Used as our main vacuum cleaner for the review period
Tested for at least a week
Tested using tools to measure actual suction performance
Tested with real-world dirt in real-world situations for fair comparisons with other vacuum cleaners
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Both have similar core technology, but the V15 is a little more powerful, heavier and has a larger bin.
There’s the vacuum cleaner, wand, wand clip, wall mount, charger, Illuminated cleaner head, Motorbar cleaner head, hair screw tool, low reach adaptor, combination tool and crevice tool.
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