Dyson AM09 Hot+Cool review: Dyson's newest air multiplier doesn't feel so new
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?
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.
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.
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.
Comparing the two seemed like a good place to start, so I brought the AM09 home to my chilly apartment for an evening. It did a fine job of heating my living room up, and seemed to raise the temperature a bit faster than my Lasko heater.
We tried to replicate the comparison the next day in one of the climate control chambers on our test floor. Cooling the room down to about 63 degrees Fahrenheit for each run, we set the heaters to max one at a time and monitored how quickly they raised the temperature.
The results lined up with what I'd experienced the night before. The AM09 raised the temperature to 70 degrees in about 10 minutes -- the Lasko heater needed 30 minutes. The AM09 hit 75 degrees after 45 minutes, while the Lasko heater needed an extra hour.
This isn't meant as a criticism of the Lasko heater, which costs just $25 on Amazon, but it does speak to the AM09's performance claims. For pure heating purposes, it's a very good space heater, and a more feature-rich option than something like the Lasko 754200. I also appreciated that, unlike my Lasko heater, it'll automatically shut off if it gets knocked over.
It's also strong when it comes to consistency. In heating mode, you can adjust the strength of the fan on a 10-point scale, and also the desired temperature. Just like your thermostat, the AM09 will only kick on when the temperature falls below that desired level. Testing it out in my apartment, the temperature readings lined up perfectly with what my thermostat was telling me -- though that might also speak to the small size of my living room. Your mileage may vary in a bigger space.
Also worth noting: you don't get thermostat-style control over the AM09's cooling capabilites. In cooling mode, you'll only be able to adjust the strength of the fan on that 10-point scale. You can't set the fan to come on when the temperature rises to a certain level.
A potential workaround would be to automate the AM09 with something like a WeMo Switch and IFTTT, but you won't be able to do that either. An automated switch could turn the AM09 off, but it wouldn't be able to turn it back on since there's no physical dial on the thing, and it doesn't turn on automatically as soon as you plug it in.
One last point -- the AM09 makes a fair amount of noise. It's not unreasonably loud for a space heater, and runs downright quiet at low settings. Crank it up to 10, though, and you'll hear it whirring, even more so than the Lasko heater on max settings. That came as a bit of a surprise, as the AM09 received the "Quiet Mark" distinction from the ear-conscious Noise Abatement Society.
Dyson's air multipliers aren't quite as captivating as they were when they first debuted, and for that reason, I'm a bit surprised that Dyson didn't do more to help the AM09 stand out against what came before. Still, it's an undeniably cool appliance. The mechanics, although precise and fine-tuned, are actually incredibly simple -- a fan in the base blows air up through the hollowed ring and out over airfoil-esque ridges that direct the heat accordingly.
If that's the sort of elegant engineering you're willing to spend big for, then the Dyson AM09 might be for you. At very least, though, I would encourage you to consider seeking out a marked down AM05 instead, as the two are more or less indistinguishable from one another. Beyond that, there are lots and lots of perfectly good space heaters out there that cost far, far less than Dyson's $450 asking price. If you don't need your heater to be a conversation piece, then you probably don't need me to tell you to stick with those.