Dyson DC41 Animal Review
Time to test the talk of the town: the Dyson DC41 Animal.
The Dyson DC41 Animal debuted in 2011 as a high-end full-size vacuum, the company’s first to feature an improved cyclonic suction principle. Pivoting on a ball instead of wheels, it’s easily maneuverable, although it’s somewhat difficult to maintain ideal leverage on high-pile carpets.
With an MSRP of $599 and discounts nonexistent, that flaw may be one too many.
Design & Usability
Lighter than other full-size Dyson uprights
Instead of wheels that only turn easily in one direction, the 15.48-lb. Dyson DC41 Animal rolls and pivots on one large ball. That makes it a lot handier for getting around obstacles, but it also takes up a lot more space than a traditional cleaner head. There’s on-board storage for an upholstery brush and combination crevice tool/brush, while an external mini-turbine has to be left in a closet or drawer somewhere.
There are only two controls on the Dyson DC41 Animal: a power switch and a separate control for turning the brushroll on or off. When the vacuum is turned on and moved from the stored position, the brushroll always turns on regardless of how you last used it. Those with hardwood floors should keep this in mind, as a powered brushroll may damage delicate finishes.
Like all Dyson uprights, the hose detaches from the base of the vacuum handle and telescopes into an extension wand. The 35-foot power cord is long enough that the user won’t have to unplug the unit when moving from room to room. Our only complaint is that the cord doesn’t automatically retract.
Dyson slightly redesigned its signature dirt holder on the DC41 Animal, curving its base to make it even easier for debris to slide out. It’s incredibly simple to use: Press a button to remove the dirt holder, press the same button to release the dirt. The vacuum also has two washable filters: A pre-filter inside the ball, and an exhaust filter in the dirt holder, both of which are easy to remove. Dyson recommends they be washed every three months.
Features & Performance
Clearly a powerful vacuum, but with a design flaw that makes deep pile carpet cleaning less than ideal
Whether it’s spilled food, fine dust, or tracked-in dirt, the DC41 Animal does a good job lifting it off a carpet or wood floor—as long as the brush head remains in contact with the surface it’s cleaning. Pushing the DC41 Animal forward on tall carpet caused the vacuum to pivot on its ball, lifting the cleaner head up like the bow of a speeding boat. Instead of agitating dirt out of the carpet, the brushroll merely glided above it, failing to disturb what was hidden at the base of the fibers.
For a different angle that kept the DC41 Animal from pivoting, we tried vacuuming while standing on a chair and found that the cleaner head never lifted off the carpet. Accordingly, dirt pickup more than doubled over our previous tests, proving just how capable this Dyson would be at lifting dust and debris if only its cleaner head stayed in contact with the floor.
We contacted Dyson, whose spokesperson let us know this had been a problem with pre-production models and sent us a replacement. Out of the box, the replacement model seemed to pivot much better than the original that we tested. However, the replacement unit’s cleaning head again began to lift once we got it back onto the carpet. Cleaning performance proved to be identical to the original we tested.
Upon a closer examination, it seems that some dirt on the carpet adheres to the ball and to the joint about which the cleaner head pivots, adding friction that keeps the cleaner head from staying level. Of course, nobody vacuums while standing on a chair or takes apart their vacuum to clean it, and we don’t test vacuums in a vacuum. That’s why our original results stand, regardless of unfulfilled potential.
A high price doesn't mean it's perfect.
While the Dyson DC41 Animal is a very powerful, maneuverable, and user-friendly vacuum, it’s not flawless. At an MSRP of $599, anything short of perfection probably won’t satisfy most buyers.
Though the Dyson DC41 Animal’s pivoting ball makes it somewhat harder to fit into small spaces, it also adds a great deal of maneuverability. Characteristic Dyson design means there’s a place for everything, and everything easily snaps back into its place. Unfortunately, a cleaner head that tends to "prow" rather than "plow" over thick carpet means you might not get to enjoy this vacuum's full cleaning potential.
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