Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy review:

Dyson steps closer to maintenance-free vacuuming with its filterless Cinetic

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars 1 user review

The Good The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy vacuum ditches the filter and never loses suction because of it. It's extremely good with fine particles and bested the competition at deep cleaning.

The Bad Despite the innovation, it still costs too much as its performance gains over much cheaper competition are minimal. It still suffers from tedious usability.

The Bottom Line Dyson reinvents the wheel with the Cinetic series, and though the filterless approach works, it doesn't add enough practical convenience to justify the price jump over similarly capable competition.

7.4 Overall
  • Performance 9.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Design 5.0
  • Usability 6.0

The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy vacuum never loses suction. Dyson, along with just about every other major vacuuming manufacturer, has made this claim repeatedly in the past. And in the past, it's meant that the vacuum's filter was designed to last through a sucking up a cannister or two of dust without getting clogged enough to slow down performance.

Now, since the Cinetic series has done away with the filter entirely, the "never" part of the claim actually holds water. We obviously couldn't test the eternal aspect of "never," but we ran the Dyson Cinetic through a rigorous enough trial to be sure it'll last for years and years of realistic usage without a drop in suction, and when we put the best filtered vacuums to the same test, they couldn't keep up. The filterless approach works.

However, this particular model, though at the cutting edge of vacuum technology, struggles to justify the premium you'll pay for it over the top tier competition from Oreck , Electrolux , and Shark . Yes, not having a filter is cool, but it only saves about 5 minutes of hassle every 6 months. In terms of day-to-day functionality, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy keeps up, but doesn't outshine the competition enough to justify the extra $300 you'll need to pay to get it.

Design and features

The advantages of Dyson's innovation with the Cinetic series don't show up for awhile. Out of the box, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy bears more than a striking resemblance to the DC65 Animal Upright .

The body of the vacuum rests on Dyson's well known ball for increased maneuverability. The dust bin clicks into place on top of that ball, and can be removed for quick emptying with a push of its big red button. The handle on the bin allows you to carry the whole vacuum easily when the bin sits in place.

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A new Dyson in a familiar frame. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

When you're ready to vacuum, you can recline the back without any buttons to press. Just pull it down and the little plastic wheels that act as a kickstand fold up and out of the way. The power button sits next to a button to flip the brushroll off for hardwood floors, and you can roll away with ease on that ball base. Lift the handle back into its upright position when you're done, and the kickstand wheels should lower automatically to lock it in place.

The attachment lineup included with the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy impressed me. Nine different tools allow you to clean crevices, upholstery, pet hair, and round out the machine allowing you to use it to clean just about anything.

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Dyson includes plenty of attachments. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

If you're familiar with Dyson, this new vac won't hold any surprises in its design. Yes, it includes a generous amount of attachments, but otherwise, you might think you'd accidentally grabbed an old model. The differences are there and meaningful, but the Cinetic fits them into a traditional Dyson frame.

The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy is available now, along with the rest of Dyson's filterless Cinetic series. The Big Ball Animal Allergy sells for $700, the Big Ball Animal for $600, and the Animal for $550. Currently, the Cinetic Series is available exclusively from QVC, though you'll be able to purchase any of the models from Dyson's website and other major retailers starting March 1.

In the UK only the Big Ball Animal has been priced, at £460, with no price available for Australia.

Usability

Because the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy uses largely the same frame as the DC65, the issues we had with the usability of that vacuum show up again. The plastic pieces feel flimsy and loose, and the back doesn't reliably click in place, causing the vacuum to fall over easily.

The pivoting wheels that act as a kickstand don't function as smoothly as I would like. Quite often, after a test, I'd lift the handle to its resting position, I'd hear it click and see the wheels descend, so I'd let go -- only to have the back of the vacuum tumble to the ground because it wasn't fully locked upright. The preemptive click is so convincing that, even knowing the problem was there, it fooled me a couple of times.

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The two kickstand wheels don't kick into place reliably. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It's a strange quirk, and there's little extra evidence for when it does lock into place. The click should be that indicator, but it consistently wasn't, and I was left having to push it up with some force, I'd then slowly remove my hand because I was never quite sure if the back of the vacuum was going to come tumbling down.

These same shortcomings made it tough to recommend either the Dyson DC65 or the Dyson DC41 Animal Complete in our reviews. Dyson expects its customers to pay a lofty premium for its machines, yet they ignore issues that put their models a step below the more reasonably priced competition in terms of day-to-day functionality.

Day-to-day performance

As I began to test the Dyson, I found my expectations again undercut, at least at first. To test our vacuums, we run them across low- and mid-pile carpets, as well as hardwood floors. On each surface, we see how well the vacuum picks up small particles for fine cleaning using sand. In addition, we try out the vacuums ability to handle large messes with fruity cheerios, and how well it can clean up after your furry family member with pet hair.

On pet hair in particular, the Dyson struggled.

Pet hair, 0.2 oz. (percentage picked up)

Hoover Linx
100
100
100
Dyson DC65 Animal
100
100
95
Oreck Touch Bagless
100
100
92
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy
94
98
54

Legend:

Mid-pile
Low-pile
Hardwood

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

The Dyson Big Ball Animal Allergy offers attachments to help with this task, but I still expected more from the main machine and vacuum head. The brush roll frequently tangled longer hair, and even shorter clumps would occasionally get stuck in the bristles or in the corner of the vacuum head. On hardwood in particular, the vacuum pushed hair away and to the side as it worked, spreading the mess instead of picking it up, even with the brushroll turned off.

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