Handy, thoughtful design points like trigger-powered suction and easy-to-change attachments make the Dyson DC59 Animal a strong contender in the field of lightweight vacuums. On the other hand, the $499 price tag may scare off all but the most serious vacuum buyers.
The DC59, an update to the DC44 is an excellent cordless vacuum and, if you're looking for a luxury unit it's hard to argue against it. That it turns from stick vac to handheld unit easily is a particular highlight. It's not the only stick vacuum that impressed us, though. If you love the in-hand design of the DC59 and don't mind a cord, the $179 Shark Rocket will give you all of the attachments and options with comparable performance. If, on the other hand, you're not wedded to the DC59's design style but want to ditch the cord, the $179 Hoover Platinum Collection LiNX is an upright that performs with similar gusto.
Design and Features
The Dyson DC59 Animal is an ultra-lightweight, cordless, cyclonic vacuum. The in-hand component, which includes the motor, cyclones, and dustbin, weighs only 4.6 pounds by itself. Granted, you have to add weight for each attachment you might use, but even with the extension wand and floor cleaning nozzle, I still found it to be incredibly light and portable. These attachments lock into place with ease and you can switch between them with the touch of a button.
Like the Shark Rocket, its closest competitor in terms of body style, the DC59 comes with a wide variety of attachments. How often you would use such attachments with a full-sized upright is debatable and depends entirely upon your individual cleaning habits. Your options include a mini motorized cleaning head great for upholstery or car detailing, a combination tool, a crevice tool, a removable wand, and a battery charger, all of which work as you'd expect. I found the combination tool especially effective with large debris, making the DC59 an excellent choice for those wanting a vacuum to multitask as both a floor vacuum and effective handheld vacuum. For even greater convenience, the DC59 comes with a wall dock so that you can hang and charge the vacuum wherever you have a power outlet.
The floor cleaning nozzle is 10 inches wide and 3 inches tall. Its lower profile means that the DC59 can sweep further under lower furniture than models like the Gtech AirRam. It doesn't clean along a very wide path compared to a standard upright, but it's similar to other lightweight models on the market, like the Electrolux Ergorapido Power, which boasts a 10.25-inch wide cleaning base.
The DC59's appearance is pretty revolutionary because you hold all of the mechanics and the bin in your hand, rather than in the body of the vacuum. I found that design gave the DC59 strong ergonomics. The Shark Rocket has a similar design, though it also has a cord. The Dyson dust bin's capacity is relatively small, though not much smaller than similar models. A button across from the trigger releases the bin's latch. I know we've complained about emptying Dyson dustbins in other reviews, but I found the bin on the DC59 incredibly user-friendly. In addition, the release mechanism didn’t inspire any durability concerns like its larger companions.
In order to preserve battery life and reduce wasted energy, Dyson uses a trigger in lieu of an on/off switch. With a trigger, you only use the vacuum when you're approaching debris, rather than it running continuously while you move furniture or go to a different location, thereby preserving battery life. I found the trigger to be very responsive, sometimes too responsive in that I accidentally depressed it a few times while carrying the Dyson from place to place. The battery life isn't bad, but the Gtech AirRam, Electrolux UltraPower Studio and Electrolux Ergorapido Power vacuumed longer without needing a charge.
The DC59's blue indicator light will flash when the battery is low. Unfortunately, due to its size and placement I never noticed it while vacuuming and the vacuum died on me a few times as a result. I wish there was a more obvious indicator like the four-stage light bar on the AirRam, which always visually presented when the battery was running low in a clear, easily-observed manner. Still, if you're using your DC59 as a light cleaning or touch-up vacuum and store it on the charging dock, you shouldn't have to worry about running out of battery in the middle of a run.
While I love the convenience afforded by this cordless design, what's most impressive about the DC59 is that it boasts better performance than some of the full-size upright vacuums we tested. This is likely attributable to the new digital motor and nickel manganese cobalt Lithium-ion battery. The DC59's digital motor spins up to 110,000 times a minute, which Dyson says translates to 28 air watts (an airflow measurement for vacuums) when used in standard mode or 100 air watts in boosted mode. Generally speaking, the higher the wattage, the greater the suction. The DC59's standard mode air watts are the same as the previous model, the DC44 Animal. The DC59's boosted mode is, however, a significant improvement upon the DC44's boosted 65 air watts. For comparison, the Dyson DC50 claims 128 air watts.
Granted, this is significantly more than the DC59 can boast in its standard mode but the DC50 is meant to be the primary vacuuming appliance in the home, suitable for both deep and spot cleaning alike. The DC59, on the other hand, is not meant to be the vacuum used to deep clean carpet. As such, these numbers aren't troubling. Rather, it's impressive that the DC59 can produce 100 air watts when necessary, albeit for a shorter period of time. We discuss specific suction test results in the performance section.
In my testing of the DC59, I found it to be incredibly maneuverable. This is due in part to its light weight, but also because of a pivoting ball on the cleaner head reminiscent of the full-size Dyson ball technology. As the bulk of the weight rests in your hand, the DC59 is easy to push forward when using the extension wand but you’ll have no trouble using it with the other attachments either. While the distribution of the appliance’s weight has something to do with this, the triggered power certainly doesn’t hurt. Its responsiveness makes you feel completely in control, enabling you to vacuum where you need to without draining the battery more than necessary.
As with all appliances we review, we put the DC59 through a series of rigorous tests to assess both performance and usability. Our tests are intended to mimic the characteristics of common household debris, including Fruity Cheerios, a sand and sawdust blend to simulate fine particulate debris, pet hair, and human hair, which we took from a set of hair extensions. We performed each test three times on three different surfaces, which included low-pile carpet, mid-pile carpet, and hardwood/laminate floors. We also conducted a torture test that involved bobby pins and nuts.
In addition to these performance tests, we tested each vacuum's suction power at the floor, via a sealed homemade box with a 1-by-6-inch slot on top and a 2-inch diameter PVC pipe connected to the side. Placing the vacuum's cleaning head over the slot on the lid, we used an anemometer at the PVC opening to record suction power in CFM or cubic feet per minute.