The Dyson DC40 Origin is the least expensive model in the Dyson line of upright vacuums. It's a sleek-looking vacuum with all of the attributes you expect from a Dyson product such as the ball technology and bright coloring, a yellow-orange in the case of the DC40. The DC40 performed well enough, but we have some concerns about its overall durability, concerns you shouldn't have with a $399 vacuum.
Given that we have tested the $499 Dyson DC50 and the $649 DC41 Animal Complete, the DC40 had big shoes to fill in terms of performance. In addition, it faced stiff competition in the form of the identically-priced Oreck Touch Bagless and the $309 (formerly $399) Electrolux Precision Brushroll Clean, both of which met the DC40 admirably in the field.
We found that the DC40 performed acceptably, but not as well models from other vendors such as the $309 Electrolux, or the $199 Shark Rotator Pro Lift-Away. The Electrolux was a top performer and the Shark performed on par with the DC40 for half the price. Still, if you like the Dyson brand but don't have the budget or desire to spend $600-plus, you could do worse than the DC40. You could also do better, however, and spend less.
The DC40 weighs 14.6 pounds and features a removable 0.42-gallon dust bin, an extension hose for hard-to-reach surfaces, an adjustable brushroll, and a 24.6-foot long power cord. Dyson’s patented ball technology, perhaps the DC40’s most unique-looking attribute, serves as the drive mechanism. This ball gives Dyson vacuums a wide range of pivoting motion, and make the DC40 exceedingly maneuverable.
I have concerns about the durability of this vacuum, however, and the ball is central to a few of them. The roller ball won't hold the vacuum up on its own, and it requires two small additional wheels to keep it upright. The wheels are plastic, like nearly everything on this machine, and don’t feel terribly sturdy. If you use your vacuum like my family does, you constantly cart it up and down the stairs, accidentally bump it into things, and subject it to other, normal household wear-and-tear. I’m not confident that axles on the rear wheels would survive my household’s daily vacuuming without suffering damage.
Another design element that bothered me concerned the handle locking mechanism. In order to lock the handle, you have to push it forward with some force until it clicks into place. There’s a trick to it. The DC40 also makes a clicking sound when the small rear wheels go down, which is misleading. If I let go of the vacuum at that point, which I did many times, mistakenly thinking it was locked upright, the handle fell. Rather, I had to push the handle forward until I heard a second click, much fainter than the first. The same issue applies in the reverse, when you go to unlock the handle.
Neither of these handle release quirks are overly difficult to overcome, but I don’t appreciate them in a $399 product. Call me old fashioned, but I felt much more secure with the locking mechanism and sturdiness of the Oreck, which required a more traditional step-and-press motion to unlock the vacuum.
I don’t have a bias against plastic hardware. That’s the way of manufacturing now and besides, there are some amazing, amazing products made of plastic. If plastic hardware is used in a vacuum, however, it needs to be sturdy. In my review of the DC50 Animal, I mentioned that the pin which depresses the button to open and empty the dust bin felt flimsy. I still have some concerns about the DC40’s construction, but this bin feels much sturdier than the DC50's.
As you would expect, the DC40 comes with an extendable vacuum hose and attachments, which include a combination crevice/brush tool and a stair tool, both of which reside on the vacuum itself. The DC40’s hose doesn't extend as far as other models, but when fully it's extended, you’ll be able to vacuum your drapes or curtains and any baseboards or crevices with ease. Stairs may prove more difficult and require you to move the vacuum as you get closer to the top or bottom, depending on where you start.
I like the DC40’s extension hose in concept more that I do in application. It nests against/inside the vacuum’s handle. This is incredibly convenient and keeps the hose out of the way, preventing it from becoming a tripping hazard. The wand and hose are, however, a bit clumsy to access, mostly because to get at them you must press a button on the wand that isn't always responsive. In addition, you must completely unwrap the power cord to access the wand as the top wrapping prong is located on the wand itself. This isn't unique to Dyson, though I still find it somewhat inconvenient. Nevertheless, the extension hose and attachments work well. Despite their utility and good performance, the DC40’s attachments seem less comprehensive when compared to the variety and versatile nature of the Shark’s attachments and accessories.
The DC40 features a clear plastic dust bin, which you can access and empty easily. Deep cleaning the bin is easier than on the DC50, likely because of subtle differences in the hardware.
We can’t discuss the DC40’s features, or those of any Dyson on the market, without noting the ball technology. It seems to be both a blessing and a curse for this vacuum, a potential Achilles heel, if you'll. The ball is an excellent feature, enabling Dyson vacuums to turn on a dime and maneuver easily and without much effort on your part. It's exceptionally maneuverable and I was able to vacuum in a serpentine pattern (not that this is realistic, but still cool) without any trouble at all.
Like all Dyson vacuums, you’ll find the DC40's controls incredibly easy to use. It has only two real function buttons, housed directly above the bin release button. The first button powers the vacuum on and off and the second turns the brushroll on or off. As with the other Dyson models, the roller brush button depresses automatically when you turn on the vacuum, engaging the brush. If, however, you want to vacuum a hard flooring surface, Dyson recommends disabling the DC40’s rollerbrush as the bristles could scratch your floor.
The bin empties easily. You press the red button on the bin’s top handle which undoes the latch on the bottom, emptying the debris into the trash without you needing to touch it. In some ways, I prefer the Oreck’s bin, which closes by the same means it opens, freeing you from having to touch the dirty part of the bin at all. This is fairly unique, however, and the Electrolux and Shark had bins similar to the Dyson models, all of which required manual closing.
You'll also find that, in addition to being user-friendly, the DC40 is lightweight and pushed easily. Unlike vacuums like the Oreck, which isn't the 8-pound Oreck your Grandma still has, the DC40 moves without much force on your part. While I was able to steer the Oreck more precisely, it was heavier-feeling and more difficult to push and pull. I found I much preferred the action of vacuuming with the DC40 by comparison.