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Dyson’s new $700 vacuum uses a screen to fight range anxiety

Yep, an LCD on a vacuum is pretty useful

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Some people are always going to mock the idea of buying a Dyson cordless vacuum. When I told a friend of mine I’ve been testing out the company’s latest, top-tier V11 Torque Drive — and revealed its $700 price — she couldn’t contain her laughter and quickly said, “I’ll stick with my $80 Bissell.” The Verge isn’t in the habit of reviewing vacuums, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. But if you’re in the market for a Dyson and opt to buy the most expensive V11, there’s something unique about it compared to all past models: it has an LCD screen. Maybe that’s why the company thought it made sense to send us one. I’m not going to be the one to sell you on a Dyson, but I do use plenty of screens. Does a vacuum cleaner really need one?

The circular display on the V11 Torque Drive has three purposes: it shows which mode you’re in when vacuuming, how much time you’ve got left before the battery runs out, and instructions for what to do if the device detects a blockage or that the filter needs replacing. And that’s basically it. It’s not a touchscreen; you switch between modes by pressing the button below the LCD.

But something about the screen made the V11 feel at least slightly more gadget-y than a typical corded stand-up vacuum. You’d hope something would feel a little special about this $700 suction machine — aside from Dyson’s famous ability to gloriously over-engineer anything. I think most of all, I really came to appreciate the real-time estimate of remaining battery life. You won’t find yourself hurriedly vacuuming to make sure you finish before it turns off. Dyson says the vacuum monitors battery capacity four times every second, which seems like overkill, but is also a very Dyson thing to do.

The V11 can switch between three modes when you’re using it around the house:

  • Auto: This is one of the new tricks of Dyson’s latest vacuum. It can detect when you’re on different surfaces and automatically adjust the intensity of suction power as you move between them. The power will ramp up on carpets and ease back down on hardwood floors. Auto mode allows for a really nice balance of battery life, reaching up to 30 minutes or so on a charge in my experience. It only works with the main “high torque” cleaner head, as the other bundled extensions lack the Dynamic Load Sensor system required for the V11 to know what type of floor it’s on. That brush head measures resistance (“Am I on a carpet or flat ground?”) up to 360 times per second. When other attachments are used, this mode changes to medium suction.
  • Boost: Here’s where the V11 Torque Drive shows its, well, torque. If you’ve got a challenging rug or something else that’s going to need a serious amount of suction, this is the mode for you. When in Boost, the motor can rev up to 125,000 rpm and the brush bar spins 60 times each second. You really feel this thing grabbing onto the floor to a surprising, very powerful degree. But Boost should really only be used for those heavy-duty situations, as you’ll get barely over 10 minutes of battery (even after a full charge) when you run this vacuum nonstop at full throttle.
  • Eco: If you’re just doing an in-between clean or have a house or apartment that’s pretty easy on vacuums, Eco mode will ensure you get the most from the V11’s battery. You should be able to reach upward of an hour before it dies, which is considerably longer than older Dyson cordless vacuums.

There’s no on or off switch on a Dyson, in case you’re unfamiliar with them. Instead, you’ve got to hold down the trigger on the handle to run the vacuum motor. One of my absolute favorite things about the V11 is the sound that it makes when you release that trigger: it’s like something out of a Marvel movie, or what I’d imagine a ray gun powering down to sound like. I had The Verge’s resident audio wiz Andrew Marino record it:

Yes, Dyson vacuums pick up a surprising and often disgusting amount of dust, dirt, dog hair, and other household grime. I live in an apartment with two pugs — one of them nearly 15 and shedding without abandon — and this cordless stick vacuum can suck all of it up. When it comes time to empty the V11, you just press down on the red lever and it fires all of the muck right into your trash bin. The filter, which Dyson says “traps 99.97 percent of particles as small as 0.3 microns,” should be cleaned monthly, which only requires washing it with water and leaving it to dry for 24 hours.

GIF: Dyson

At 6.68 pounds, the V11 is pretty comfortable to use in most cleaning scenarios, but your arm might get a little tired if you’re cleaning blinds or something overhead. Its maneuverability is excellent, allowing for tight turns, and you can hit those tough-to-reach spots using its collection of included attachments. The long aluminum cylinder can always be detached if it’s preventing you from getting somewhere, but it’s also an asset when reaching under beds since the V11 can basically lie flat.

I should mention that the cheaper $599 V11 Animal has all of the exact same functionality and cleaning power — including auto mode — as the pricier Torque Drive model. The only difference is that LCD screen. With the Animal, you get a less precise three-bar battery meter. You also lose out on one of the smaller cleaning brushes, but there are already plenty in the box as is.

So is the LCD worth an extra $100? It really depends on how much you care about a by-the-minute look at remaining battery runtime. It certainly helps alleviate the range anxiety that can happen with other Dyson vacuums, where you never really know when they are going to die on you. The videos for filter cleaning reminders or clearing out a blockage are also fairly convenient, as you’ll never have to worry about an instruction manual for your fancy vacuum. If you’re already committed to going in on a Dyson, maybe the extra cash won’t matter much to you.

But the V11’s introduction means that Dyson’s older cordless models are only going to get cheaper, and they’re plenty capable at sucking your floors clean — only without the screen.

Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge

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