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Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy review: Dyson steps closer to maintenance-free vacuuming with its filterless Cinetic

The Dyson Cinetic works without a filter and justifies its claim of no loss of suction.

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Andrew Gebhart
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Andrew Gebhart

Senior Producer

Andrew loves writing about cool, futuristic technology. He's reviewed everything from vacuum cleaners to beer brewing robots in pursuit of the perfect smart home. He wants the smart home to make him feel powerful, and it's getting there.

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8 min read

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.

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7.4

Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy

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.

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.

No filter necessary for Dyson's new vac

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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.

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.

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.

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 100Dyson DC65 Animal 100 100 95Oreck Touch Bagless 100 100 92Electrolux Precision Brushroll Clean 100 100 75Dirt Devil Lift & Go 90 87 100Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy 94 98 54Shark Rotator Pro Lift-Away 100 100 0
  • 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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The power and brushroll button. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

On carpet, the vacuum picked up a much larger percent, but it still tangled plenty and ground hair into the carpet when it couldn't pick it up. You'll need to get out the hose and the attachments to effectively get pet hair without the headache of creating more of a mess or pulling tangles out of the brush. The Dyson Cinetic proved much less fit for this task then numerous other uprights, including the $120 Dirt Devil Lift & Go .

It performed better, but still not impressively, with Cheerios.

Fruity Cheerios, 1 oz. (percentage picked up)

Hoover Linx 100 100 100Oreck Touch 97 95 92Dyson DC65 Animal 100 100 80Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy 87 99 90Electrolux Precision Brushroll Clean 88 90 93Shark Rotator Pro Lift-Away 88 97 73Dirt Devil Lift & Go 87 73 52
  • Mid-pile
  • Low-pile
  • Hardwood
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

The brushroll head flexes to try to maintain a seal on any surface. It does this by letting the plastic bottom pivot separately from the rest of the compartment, so it can move up or down depending on the floor type. I thought this would work against the Cinetic when it came to Cheerios; I didn't think it'd be able to get over top of them. For the most part, it proved me wrong, capturing a large percentage of Cheerios.

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The bottom of the head pivots with the floor to create a seal. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

However, on both carpets, it would occasionally push cheerios in front of it or fling the leftovers to the side, making more of a mess with what it couldn't initially capture and hurting an otherwise fine performance.

On the sand test, the new Cinetic technology specializing in breaking down fine particles and the flexible vacuum head both got a chance to shine.

Sand, 2.5 oz. (percentage picked up)

Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy 84 95 96Oreck Touch 83 91 99Shark Rotator Pro Lift-Away 71 82 99Dyson DC65 Animal 65 79 99Dirt Devil Lift & Go 63 76 85Electrolux Precision Brushroll Clean 59 64 97Hoover Linx 34 48 99
  • Mid-pile
  • Low-pile
  • Hardwood
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy vacuum beat out the excellent Oreck Touch for the top spot in our fine particle test. As far as deep cleaning is concerned, the Cinetic shines. It's only barely better than the Oreck Touch, and the price still seems hard to justify, but credit where credit is due -- the Dyson Cinetic beats the competition in our toughest test.

Filter-free performance

At least, the sand test used to be our toughest test. Since ditching the filter breaks new ground for vacuums, we created a brand new test to examine the long term implications of this approach.

We took the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy, the Oreck Touch, the Electrolux Precision Brushroll Clean, and the Shark Rotator Pro Lift Away through a suction torture test, forcing each to suck up 10 pounds of the fine joint compound that makes up dry wall in half-pound increments. We measured the suction of the vacs at each interval to see how they were holding up.

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Screenshot by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

Dyson's toughest competitor on daily tasks, the Oreck Touch, clogged quickly on three different tests. The Shark Rotator Pro Lift Away held strong for awhile, but once it started to drop off after 3 pounds, it dropped quickly, losing almost all airflow before overheating and shutting down entirely after 6 pounds.

Other than the Dyson, only the Electrolux Precision Brushroll Clean made it to the finish line, successfully getting through all 10 pounds. Electrolux packs an impressively durable filter into their vac, but the suction still dropped off significantly by the end, barely crawling along with under half of its original power by the end of the race.

As the rest of its competitors gasped, wheezed, and eventually dropped, Dyson just kept on going as though this arduous task was routine. It sprinted through all 10 pounds, keeping 100 percent of its suction throughout. It came through it all unscathed.

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After the test, a beat up quartet of vacuums. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Dyson Cinetic eliminates the need for a filter by replacing the cyclone it normally uses to remove dirt from the airflow with lots of little cyclones. Each has a vibrating tip to prevent clogs while using centrifugal force to break down dirt at a microscopic level. The system works.

Because of this test, I feel confident saying the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy will never lose suction, at least not during the normal life of a vacuum. Dyson's taken a significant step forward here. It won't translate to much practical difference, since cleaning the filter can restore a vacuum's suction and isn't typically a long process. However, it's still an extra convenience brought about because Dyson rethought the process of vacuum suction and maintenance.

Conclusion

If you're a Dyson fan or adamant about having the latest and greatest technology for your home, spending the $700 to get the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy vacuum could make sense. It's a good vacuum, and you won't find a filter free model anywhere else. If you're just looking to effectively get your house clean, the new technology doesn't translate to enough practical convenience to make it worth the premium.

Thus, I still recommend the $400 Oreck Touch , the $400 Electrolux Precision Brushroll Clean , or the $200 Shark Rotator Pro over the Dyson Cinetic, despite the cool new feature. They clean as well as Dyson, even better on certain tests. You'll just need to wash your filter every six months or so. Dyson's new accomplishment is unique and something I admire from a design standpoint -- I just wouldn't pay for it.

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7.4

Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Allergy

Score Breakdown

Performance 9Features 8Design 5Usability 6
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