Dyson AM09 Hot+Cool review: Dyson's newest air multiplier doesn't feel so new

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The Good The Dyson AM09 Hot+Cool performed very well in our tests, and offers a distinctive, functional, feature-rich design.

The Bad Though very solid, the AM09 doesn't outperform much cheaper competitors by a wide enough margin to justify the price difference. If you misplace the remote, you'll be unable to access common controls like oscillation and the sleep timer.

The Bottom Line Unless you're the most devoted Dyson loyalist, you'll find much better values if you shop around -- including Dyson's own AM05.

7.6 Overall
  • Performance 7
  • Features 9
  • Design 8
  • Usability 7

Dyson dropped a widely refreshed vacuum lineup on us this morning, and managed to squeeze in the debut a new air multiplier, as well. Dubbed the AM09 and sporting the same space-age looks as its predecessors, the new bladeless fan blows both hot and cold, and offers users the choice between a focused stream of air or wider, whole-room coverage.

Like most Dyson products, it's a beautiful, functional appliance. It also costs $450 or AU$769 (oddly for a British product, UK prices aren't available, but the US price converts to £295) -- that's $50 more than the starting price of the original Dyson Hot. That's a fairly exorbitant amount of money to spend on a space heater, even one offering high-end looks and year-round climate management. If the price doesn't freeze you out of buying one outright, it's a perfectly good appliance, but understand that you're paying for name-brand luxury -- not a patently better heater.

Design, design, design

Like the rest of Dyson's air multiplier lineup, the AM09 is a pretty obvious design play. If you're buying it because you think it's hundreds of dollars better at heating and cooling than the competition, you're doing it wrong.

Imagine the same device with the same performance and the same features -- but a boring, ordinary design. Not an ugly design. Just not a Dyson. In fact, go ahead and take the name Dyson off of the thing and replace it with something bland and generic. It's the same heater, all of the same features, blowing just as hot in the winter and just as cool in the summer. But it isn't a Dyson. Would you still spend $450 on it?

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Of course you wouldn't. It's a design play, pure and simple. You're going to buy it because you love the way it looks, and because you love that it's a Dyson product. Mind you, there isn't anything inherently wrong with that. This is a premier brand we're talking about, and for good reason. For years, Dyson's brought striking, innovative designs to typical household appliances, transforming them into functional luxuries. Save for the inevitable knockoffs, there's nothing else quite like them -- and that's why you pay so much more.

Because you're going to pay so much, and because this thing carries the expectation of pristine design, the AM09's build deserves heightened scrutiny. And, like the versions that came before it, it largely passes the test. It's an elegant design, with just about every feature you could realistically want from a space heater. The remote adds an extra layer of convenience, and, thanks to a magnet, nestles neatly onto the top of the fan when not in use.

But I could say all of this about the last generation of Dyson heaters, and I can't say that this new generation is adding much to the conversation. Dyson points to bumps in performance and efficiency, but not drastic ones, and none that stem from any sort of compelling innovation. There's a new feature that lets you select between a focused jet of air and a wider, more evenly distributed stream, but aside from a few fairly specific circumstances, I don't see it being terribly useful.

With the AM09, you can choose between a wide stream of air or a tighter, more focused jet. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

About the only useful new feature is a dedicated button on the remote that'll kick the AM09 into cooling mode with just one button press. On the older models, you needed to dial the temperature all the way down to the minimum of 32 degrees F (0 C) before it would switch over.

That's a welcome addition, but I'd balance it against the fact that the AM09, unlike the AM05 that came before it, features no additional controls on the body of the fan aside from the power button. Misplace the remote (or worse, lose it), and you'll only be able to switch the fan on and off, or hold the power button down to dial the temperature up or down. You won't be able to turn oscillation on, you won't be switch to a more focused stream of air -- you won't even be able to adjust the fan's intensity.

In sum, the AM09 feels like an incremental step forward from the AM05, and not one that necessarily gets everything right. If the design is what's drawing you in, I have a hard time imagining why you'd go with the AM09 over the nearly identical and less expensive AM05.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Performance and usability

I use a space heater in my own apartment, the Lasko 754200. It's a smaller heater than the AM09, but it boasts an equivalent power draw of 1,500 watts, and came highly recommended by the Sweethome in a very detailed space heater rundown from last year, even beating out the AM09's predecessor, the AM05.

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