Dyson DC40 Origin Review review: This Dyson doesn't sweep the competition

The bin empties easily. You press the red button on the bin's top handle which undoes the latch on the bottom, emptying the debris into the trash without you needing to touch it. In some ways, I prefer the Oreck's bin, which closes by the same means it opens, freeing you from having to touch the dirty part of the bin at all. This is fairly unique, however, and the Electrolux and Shark had bins similar to the Dyson models, all of which required manual closing.

You'll also find that, in addition to being user-friendly, the DC40 is lightweight and pushed easily. Unlike vacuums like the Oreck, which isn't the 8-pound Oreck your Grandma still has, the DC40 moves without much force on your part. While I was able to steer the Oreck more precisely, it was heavier-feeling and more difficult to push and pull. I found I much preferred the action of vacuuming with the DC40 by comparison.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Its brushwell is 12.25 inches wide and it will get close to corners, though for heavy-duty cleaning I recommend using the crevice tool. It will also sweep 5 inches under your couch, as long as the bottom is at least 4 inches high. I wish the DC40 reached farther under a sofa, but these measurements are in the ballpark of other models and show an area where, if you don't move your couch often when you vacuum, a robot vacuum could come in handy. Still, you'll have no trouble maneuvering the DC40 around all of your furniture, even if you can't maneuver the vacuum under it.

Performance

We put each of the vacuums through a series of rigorous tests to assess how they would do with debris types you may encounter in your home. Our tests included Fruity Cheerios, a sand and sawdust mixture (to mimic fine particulate debris), pet hair, and human hair. We performed every test three times each on three different surface types: low-pile carpet, mid-pile carpet, and hardwood/laminate floors. We also conducted a torture test, scattering nearly three ounces of bobby pins, washers, and nuts on the low-pile carpet.

Cheerios, 1 oz. (percentage picked up)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Hardwood
Mid-pile
Low-pile
Dyson DC40
62
90
92
Oreck
92
97
95
Dyson DC41
92
97
93
Shark
73
88
97
Electrolux
93
88
92
Dyson DC50
80
83
Sand/sawdust, 2.5 oz. (percentage picked up)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Hardwood
Mid-pile
Low-pile
Dyson DC40
99
73
63
Electrolux
97
80
91
Dyson DC50
90
68
77
Oreck
97
61
67
Dyson DC41
98
68
60
Shark
92
86
59
Pet hair, 0.2 oz. (percentage picked up)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Hardwood
Mid-pile
Low-pile
Dyson DC40
100
90
Dyson DC41
100
100
100
Oreck
92
100
100
Electrolux
75
100
100
Dyson DC50
100
100
Shark
100
100

The DC40 rarely led the pack, but it kept pace on carpet. On low-pile carpet, it picked up 92% of the Fruity Cheerios, 63% of the sand and sawdust mixture, and 90% of the pet hair.

It performed admirably on mid-pile carpet as well, collecting 90% of the Fruity Cheerios, 73% of the sand and sawdust, and 100% of the pet hair.

What does this tell us about carpet? On carpet, no matter the pile, the DC40 seems to do well with large debris particles like pet hair or cereal. To its credit, though, it collected a majority of fine particulate as well, though other models outperformed the DC40 in this regard.

To some extent, hard floor surfaces proved challenging to all of the vacuums we tested and the DC40 was no exception. Unlike its cousin, the DC50, which has special carbon fiber filament bristles designed to get your hard floor surfaces especially clean, Dyson recommends disabling the rollerbrush on the DC40 when using it on hard floors. Given that the rollerbrush is no small part of a vacuum's success, this is problematic.

On hard floors, the DC40 picked up 62% of the Cheerios, 99% of the sand and sawdust, and a negligible amount of pet hair. The sand and sawdust result is a testament to Dyson's claims about excellent suction in their vacuums - relying on suction alone, the fine particles mostly made it into the bin.

Admittedly, the hard surface test is somewhat unrealistic as far as large debris is concerned. After all, if you spill cereal on your kitchen floor, you're likely to either pick it up by hand or use a broom and dustpan, rather than the vacuum. But as all of our vacuum manufacturers claimed that their machines could vacuum hard surfaces, it was a necessary to repeat the same tests across all flooring types.

Part of the reason for the DC40's failure with large particles on hardwood lies, I believe, is the fact that its bottom plate in front of the brushwell is so low to the ground. This means that the vacuum pushes debris around that doesn't fit under the plate and into the rollerbrush's path. With carpet, the DC40 didn't struggle because there is more give and friction on the floor, causing the Cheerios to stick and giving the vacuum a chance to run over them. Hard floors lack that friction, and the DC40 just pushed the cereal around sinceit was never able to get leverage. Even with its specially designed brush, the DC50 struggled with Cheerios as well.

The DC40 was a royal pain with the synthetic hair on carpet. Hardly any wound up in the bin itself and I spent several minutes after each run untangling the hair from around the roller brush. That said, it was a champion with the synthetic hair on hardwood, with none getting tangled and all ending up in the bin. If you know that you have a lot of hair in your home, this may be either a concern or bonus for you, depending on your flooring.

None of the vacuums passed the torture test, if pass is the right word. All left debris behind and, in some, washers or bobby pins got jammed inside of the brushwells or pipes. This isn't so much a test to see how much a vacuum collects, however, it's a test of ruggedness. If you run over a couple bobby pins or a washer, will it break your vacuum? The DC40 put forth a valiant effort but in the end, collected less than eight percent of the total weight, leaving the heaviest or clumsiest objects on the floor. It's comforting to know that, if you happen to buy or own the DC40 and if you happen to run over your bobby pins or spare change that, while the vacuum will make a horrible racket, it should live to fight another day.

Maintenance and Service

If you empty the bin regularly and take care to clean the filter when necessary, you preserve the life and power of your vacuum. The DC40 comes with a five-year warranty should anything go wrong and comprehensive service page that includes parts if you're more of the DIY type.

Conclusion

The long and short of it's simple: the DC40 is a good vacuum in terms of suction and it performed adequately in nearly all areas of testing. Given it's $399 sticker price, it's the most budget-friendly vacuum in the Dyson bunch. That said, I expected the Dyson to outperform it's equally or lesser-priced companions. In this, I was disappointed.

It did not underperform these models, across the board, but as I said earlier, when models perform similarly, the features and price tags often break the tie. The $309 Electrolux outperformed the DC40 in nearly all tests and feels far more durable. On the other hand, the $199 Shark performed on par with the DC40, costs half the price, and offers twice the features and options. Either of those vacuums seem like the more cost-effective bet.

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