Editors' Note, February 12, 2015: Dyson renamed the DC59 Animal and changed the price. It's now called the Dyson v6, and sits at the low end of the rebranded v6 line of stick vacs. The price dropped from $500 to $300, increasing the value significantly while only losing a couple of included attachments. We've updated the review accordingly.
A newcomer to reasonably priced machines, Dyson makes its old Animal look pretty good now that it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Formerly called the Dyson DC59 Animal, the newly dubbed Dyson v6 got a fresh coat of paint and lost a couple of attachments in the changeover, but also dropped in price from $500 to $300. That's a great trade, and since you no longer have to pay twice as much as any other stick vacuum to get it, the solid performance of the Dyson v6 shines even brighter than before.
That said, it's still not a clear cut winner in the category. The $180 Hoover Linx outdoes it with pet hair and Cheerios, and those are the most important benchmarks for the typical spot cleaning tasks assigned to a stick vac. However, the Dyson v6 wasn't far behind on either, and it far outclasses the Linx when it comes to deep cleaning. It falls short of being an upright replacement, but comes closer than the Linx. For that reason, especially at its $300 price point, it's well worth your consideration.
Design and Features
The Dyson v6 is an ultra-lightweight, cordless, cyclonic vacuum. The in-hand component, which includes the motor, cyclones, and dustbin, weighs only 4.6 pounds by itself. Granted, you have to add weight for each attachment you might use, but even with the extension wand and floor cleaning nozzle, I still found it to be incredibly light and portable. These attachments lock into place with ease and you can switch between them with the touch of a button.
The number of attachments you get with the v6 has dropped quite a bit since it was called the DC59 Animal. To go along with the price cut, you'll now only get a combi tool and a docking station to hang your vac on the wall while it charges. The rest of the v6 line offers more attachments, topping off with the $600 Dyson v6 Absolute, which includes a crevice tool, a combi tool, a mini motorized tool, and a dusting brush.
The floor cleaning nozzle is 10 inches wide and 3 inches tall. Its lower profile means that the v6 can sweep further under lower furniture than models like the Gtech AirRam. It doesn't clean along a very wide path compared to a standard upright, but it's similar to other lightweight models on the market, like the Electrolux Ergorapido Power, which boasts a 10.25-inch wide cleaning base.
The appearance of the v6 was revolutionary when it first came out, because you hold all of the mechanics and the bin in your hand, rather than in the body of the vacuum. I found that design gave the v6 strong ergonomics. The $180 Shark Rocket has a similar design, though it also has a cord. The Dyson dust bin's capacity is relatively small, though not much smaller than similar models. A button across from the trigger releases the bin's latch. I know we've complained about emptying Dyson dustbins in other reviews, but I found the bin on the v6 incredibly user-friendly. In addition, the release mechanism didn't inspire any durability concerns like its larger companions.
In order to preserve battery life and reduce wasted energy, Dyson uses a trigger in lieu of an on/off switch. With a trigger, you only use the vacuum when you're approaching debris, rather than it running continuously while you move furniture or go to a different location, thereby preserving battery life. I found the trigger to be very responsive, sometimes too responsive in that I accidentally depressed it a few times while carrying the Dyson from place to place. The battery life isn't bad, but the
The blue indicator light on the base of the v6 will flash when the battery is low. Unfortunately, due to its size and placement, I never noticed it while vacuuming and the vacuum died on me a few times as a result. I wish there was a more obvious indicator like the four-stage light bar on the AirRam, which always visually presented when the battery was running low in a clear, easily-observed manner. Still, if you're using your v6 as a light cleaning or touch-up vacuum and store it on the charging dock, you shouldn't have to worry about running out of battery in the middle of a run.
While I love the convenience afforded by this cordless design, what's most impressive about the v6 is that it boasts better performance than some of the full-size upright vacuums we tested. This is likely attributable to the digital motor and nickel manganese cobalt Lithium-ion battery. The motor spins up to 110,000 times a minute, which Dyson says translates to 28 air watts (an airflow measurement for vacuums) when used in standard mode, or 100 air watts in boosted mode.
Generally speaking, the higher the wattage, the greater the suction. The v6's standard mode air watts are the same as the previous model, the DC44 Animal. The DC59's boosted mode is, however, a significant improvement upon the DC44's boosted 65 air watts. For comparison, the Dyson Ball Compact Animal claims 128 air watts.
Granted, this is significantly more than the v6 can boast in its standard mode but the Ball Compact Animal is meant to be the primary vacuuming appliance in the home, suitable for both deep and spot cleaning alike. The v6, on the other hand, is not meant to be the vacuum used to deep-clean carpet. As such, these numbers aren't troubling. Rather, it's impressive that the v6 can produce 100 air watts when necessary, albeit for a shorter period of time.
In my testing of the v6, I found it to be incredibly manoeuvrable. This is due in part to its light weight, but also because of a pivoting ball on the cleaner head reminiscent of the full-size Dyson ball technology. As the bulk of the weight rests in your hand, the v6 is easy to push forward when using the extension wand but you'll have no trouble using it with attachments either. While the distribution of the appliance's weight has something to do with this, the triggered power certainly doesn't hurt. Its responsiveness makes you feel completely in control, enabling you to vacuum where you need to without draining the battery more than necessary.
As with all appliances we review, we put the v6 through a series of rigorous tests to assess both performance and usability. Our tests are intended to mimic the characteristics of common household debris, including Fruity Cheerios, a sand and sawdust blend to simulate fine particulate debris, pet hair, and human hair, which we took from a set of hair extensions. We performed each test three times on three different surfaces, which included low-pile carpet, mid-pile carpet, and hardwood/laminate floors. We also conducted a torture test that involved bobby pins and nuts.