Cushions, sofas, curtains, countertops, light shades, windowsills and – of course – the corners on good old hard flooring, our prolonged homebound existence has made one acutely aware of the number of places where dust takes up permanent residence, while continuing to elude not only everyday sweeping and swabbing but also the army of robotic vacuums people have brought into homes in hordes over the past couple of years. Dyson’s V12 Detect Slim handheld vacuum cleaner arrives to show us just how grimy our clean-looking homes are and how cool lasers can be. As with all things Dyson, the V12 delivers its own brand of sticker shock, but you really do get what you pay for.
Unpacking the V12 Detect Slim and getting it up and running is easy enough, but you do have to wade through a whole load of packaging in the box as you unpack the individual components and accessories. If you’ve tried out any of the Dyson handhelds from the past, what is instantly noticeable is the overall nip-and-tuck job that’s been applied to the Detect Slim (ergo, the Slim in the name).
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The design aesthetic still has the very-Dyson futuristic space blaster vibe going for it but it’s considerably lighter (2.2kg including the signature Fluffy cleaning head) and slimmer than previous generation V-series vacuums. The size reductions have been made possible due to a smaller 0.35liter bin and slightly slimmer (and fewer) radial cyclones. The latter leads to slightly lower suction than say the previous generation V11, but there’s still plenty of power on hand (more on that later).
Everyday use is directly benefited, with reduced hand fatigue during prolonged use. A key change helps things further – the power trigger has been replaced by a large red power button atop the barrel of the unit, so you no longer have to keep the trigger constantly pressed when using the appliance. As with recent Dyson vacuums, this version also features a removable battery to extend runtime beyond the 60 minutes in the lowest ‘Eco’ mode, though a spare battery is a separate purchase. The rest of the design is familiar territory, with a round LCD panel on the rear showing the power mode, remaining runtime and graphical representation on the dirt particles collected.
A quick word on the accessories – the V12 Detect Slim comes with seven cleaner heads in the box along with a ‘wand’ extension tool for added reach, and it’s worth spending time understanding which tool is purpose-built for different cleaning scenarios. The two new tools this time around are the ‘Fluffy cleaner head’ and the ‘Hair Screw’ tool – the former comes with the marquee laser dust detection system that shines a green laser a few inches ahead of the cleaner head to illuminate the dust and dirt as it gets scooped up.
It’s obviously more effective in the dark or in dimly lit areas, but other than showing you whether the area you’re vacuuming has been cleaned or not, the utility is limited, particularly if you’re vacuuming on bright days. The Hair Screw tool is designed to vacuum loose hair – either a pet’s or yours, it doesn’t judge – without getting tangled in the rollers, but it does have the propensity to swallow smaller charging cables as well, so it’s best used on human or pet beds.
Pick the cleaner head you need and flip the switch, and the V12 Detect Slim’s motor purrs to life. Even the lowest Eco setting is good enough for general cleaning. Bear in mind, the higher power settings will eat into the battery life, as will using any of the motorized cleaning heads. Having used the Dyson Omni-glide previously, I did miss the omni-directional roller head for its added maneuverability, but other than this nitpick, the V12 Detect Slim stood up and delivered, particularly in cleaning all the spots and crannies than robotic vacuums would mark as inaccessible.
During our testing, the Eco mode was plenty good for hard flooring and even for carpets, and I ran through the battery cleaning roughly 1500 square foot of floor area, though your mileage may vary based on power settings, surfaces and the like. Particularly nasty jobs may need the once or twice over, or bumping up the power to the ‘Boost Mode’ setting. Recharging will need you to set aside about four hours.
Along the way, Dyson has gamified the cleaning experience by adding a piezo sensor that measures and counts dust particles, so you can see how much dust of what size you’ve trapped within the bin in your cleaning session. It measures particles that the machine is sucking in 15,000 times a second, divvying up the muck into four size categories - 10-60 microns, 60-180 microns, 180-500 microns, and anything larger 500 microns. One can’t truly say how accurate this measure was, but it sure made for interesting stats as you went from day to day, cleaning session to cleaning session.
The Rs. 55,900-question then is, do you really need this much flexibility and power from your vacuum cleaner? Dyson vacuums are unmatched when it comes to longevity, build quality and overall ease of use, and while it could be argued that you could live without some of the marquee features of this appliance and still get equally good cleaning from an older Dyson vacuum, cleanliness-obsessed nerds will love it. Lasers and a piezo sensor in a vacuum cleaner? If that isn’t an adulting indulgence, I don’t know what is.
Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator, and tweets @2shar
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