Dyson AM06 review: Dyson's desk fan is very cool but very costly

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The Good With a quieter, more efficient design that sacrifices none of the original's unique appeal, the Dyson AM06 is about as luxurious as desk fans get.

The Bad At $299, it's as expensive as desk fans get, too --- by quite a bit. Also, with basically no controls on the unit aside from the on/off button, you'd better hope you don't lose the remote.

The Bottom Line The AM06 is an impressive spectacle to behold -- but it's still just a desk fan. For such an expensive device, we wish that it doubled as a space heater, like Dyson's AM05, or featured a more noticeable bump in performance. It doesn't, and that makes it difficult to recommend.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 7
  • Usability 9
  • Performance 7

EDITOR'S NOTE: This review originally stated that without the remote, you'll only be able to turn the AM06 on and off. We've since learned that you can actually adjust the airflow intensity with a long-press of the power button, though you'll still need the remote in order to use the sleep timer or to turn oscillation on and off.

After a particularly nasty winter, no one would blame you for looking ahead to warmer days, but when those days finally arrive, you're going to need a good way to cool back down. Fortunately, Dyson thinks it has just the thing with the AM06, its new update on the original, eyebrow-raising Air Multiplier.

Though the bladeless, futuristic design and the focus on a steadier airstream remain largely the same, the Dyson AM06 claims some pretty significant improvements over the original AM01. For starters, the AM06 is up to 75 percent quieter -- so quiet that the Noise Abatement Society awarded it with the Quiet Mark, an award for noise-conscious product design. On top of that, the AM06 claims to be the more efficient appliance, consuming 30 percent less energy than its predecessor. There's also a new remote control, as well as a stylish, vanishing LED display on the front of the unit.

However, one thing that hasn't changed about Dyson's desk fan is the price, and that's a disappointment for anyone who was hoping that the new generation would be more affordable than the last. At an MSRP of $299.99, the AM06 is just as expensive as the AM01 was when it first hit shelves nearly five years ago. Still, considering the AM06's improvements over the AM01, I appreciate that Dyson is at least keeping the price point steady -- even if that price point is rather astronomical.

So, can a desk fan -- even one as forward-thinking as the AM06 -- really be worth $300? For consumers who just want something simple to help keep them cool this summer, I think that it almost certainly isn't. Remember that this is still a desk fan we're talking about. It still just blows cool air around the room, the same as fans that sell for one-tenth the price -- or less. Those fans probably don't have remotes, they're probably noticeably louder than what Dyson is offering, and they probably don't look nearly as cool, but ask yourself: does that justify a 1,000 percent price increase? Unless you can honestly tell yourself that it does, this fan, as cool as it is, isn't for you.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Design and features
Design is Dyson's calling card, and the AM06 has it in spades. No matter which of the three colors you go with, it's a bold, borderline audacious-looking device -- but there's more at work here than just attention-grabbing aesthetics. From the durable, ABS plastic construction to the silent, perfectly smooth oscillation to the touch-to-tilt design of the base, it's easy to see that Dyson's engineers put a great deal of thought into this desk fan, and got almost all of the little things right.

That doesn't mean that they got everything right. My biggest gripe is the fact that, unlike the AM01, there aren't any controls on the base other than an on/off button. In fact, Dyson didn't put any other controls anywhere on the fan. If you want to turn oscillation on and off or set the sleep timer, you're forced to use the remote, because those controls just don't exist anywhere else. You can change the intensity of the airflow with a long-press of the power button, but still, you won't have anything near the full, quick controls offered by the remote.

I get that Dyson wanted to make room on the base for the vanishing LED display, and I can appreciate that they opted for a clean, simple design, but moving the majority of the controls onto a remote is putting a lot of eggs into one basket. Lose it, and you'll be out of luck.

The remote nests on top of the fan, but it does so with the buttons facing down. Colin West McDonald/CNET

For convenience, the remote nestles neatly on top of the fan, secured in place thanks to a cleverly concealed magnet. This is a nice feature, and one that might help keep you keep track of the thing, though it didn't stop me from accidentally walking off with the remote in my pocket on more than one occasion during testing.

My only qualm about this is that the remote is designed to nest face down only. This means that you'll have to pick it up in order to use it -- you can't just leave the remote on top of the fan and use it as if it were a permanent part of the main body.

Aside from the remote and the LED display, the AM06's other new feature is a sleep timer. Using the remote, you'll be able to set it for anywhere from 15 minutes to 9 hours. When the time runs out, the fan will automatically shut off, a nice feature for those prone to leaving their appliances on for too long.

The Dyson AM06 is a very good desk fan -- but is it 10 times better than a conventional desk fan, which costs one-tenth the price? Colin West McDonald/CNET

Performance and usability

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