Cleaning shouldn’t be fun. It’s a chore, something you do to avoid the disgust of your peers and early death by disease, when you’d much rather just be slobbing away in front of your Xbox. So why the hell do I look forward to pulling the Dyson V8 Absolute cordless vacuum cleaner out of the cupboard?
It’s not that I’ve “gone wrong”. It’s just that Dyson has got this very, very right. Well, aside from the price, perhaps.
What Is It?
Dyson’s latest cordless vacuum cleaner, complete with a number of design tweaks over earlier models, including a significant power boost over its predecessors and a hefty price tag, too.
Who's It For?
People who want to make doing the vacuuming as effortless as possible, but don’t trust handing over the duties to a robot cleaner. Megabucks clean-freaks who can afford the steep £499.99 asking price. Wannabe Ghostbusters – this thing looks like the business end of a Proton Pack.
If you’ve seen one of Dyson’s cordless vacuum cleaners before, you’ll be in familiar territory with the V8 Absolute. It’s again a transforming, modular design, with the main powered suction unit holding the bin, ready to be augmented by all manner of included augmentations. Though I preferred the V6 line’s purple tube to the in-your-face orange extension pole of the V8 Absolute, it’s still a wonderfully fun looking appliance. The main component’s curves make it look like the engine to a comicbook spaceship, while the clear plastic elements to the bin and attachments give you a look at the inner workings (and a fascinating, satisfying glimpse at all the gunk you’ve pulled out of your carpets).
With its pistol grip, the V8 Absolute essentially doubles up as both a relatively compact handheld vacuum cleaner, and a standard cordless once its extension pole is attached. Both the pole and attachments snap into place with an easily detached clip, which has now been moved to the accessories themselves rather than the pole and main unit compared to older models – handy for swapping them out without having to put the cleaner down first.
You get a generous selection of attachments included here. There’s a direct drive cleaner head for carpets, a soft roller for hard floors, a mini motorised tool for stubborn ground-in dirt, a brush-ended combination tool and a rigid narrow pipe end for getting behind radiators. You’re basically covered, whatever or wherever needs vacuuming.
Whereas the last generation of Dyson’s cordless vacuum cleaners was only good for about 20 minutes of use, the V8 Absolute jumps up to a substantial 40 minutes of usage (or about 25 minutes when using the power-guzzling mini-motorised head) after a three and a half hour charge. That operational time will feel substantially longer too as, thanks to the vacuum cleaner only powering up when you pull its trigger, it’s using up the battery only when you specifically need it to. These readings are taken in the standard power mode – a switch on the top of the main unit ramps up the suction level for MAX POWER mode, which drains the battery in about a quarter of the time. But with standard power mode proving sufficiently sucky for the overwhelming majority of household tasks I tried, I’d wager you’ll rarely need MAX POWER mode (however tempting that switch looks). The V8’s improved motor makes it more powerful than the V6 regardless, with suction rated at 115 air watts compared to 100 air watts.
With the bin capacity bumped up to 0.54 litres compared to the 0.4 litres of earlier Dyson cordless cleaners, you’ll be both charging and emptying the V8 Absolute less often, which can only be a good thing.
Vacuuming is admittedly one of the more instantly satisfying cleaning tasks – vacuum on, dirt be gone! But the weight and tangle of wires of an upright vacuum, or the general lack of power of most cordless ones, can sometimes take the shine off the task.
The V8 Absolute has no such problems. It comprehensively (and effortlessly, on my part) picked up whatever dirt I threw at it, over a menagerie of surfaces, provided I used the correct head. From rice to flour, hardwood to a thick pile rug, the V8 Absolute made short work of whatever I fed it. There were a few occasions where a second pass over a stubborn spot was required, but for the most part, the V8 Absolute took to dust like Keith Richards’ nose to white lines, circa 1972.
It’s the versatility and ergonomics that make the V8 Absolute best in class though. From the trigger-powered suction to the easily-swapped attachments, it’s very intuitively put together. Being able to swap from handheld to a floor-cleaning mode in a few seconds lets you sort out the rugs and dusty bookshelves in a few swift moves. And even though the larger bin and battery adds weight to the handle compared to the V6, it’s distributed in such a way so as to not be too much of an issue. You’ll still be able to twist and lift it to suck the crap out of even the most hard to reach corners, with articulated attachments sweeping underneath sofas and around table legs with little trouble.
Despite its added power, Dyson claims the V8 Absolute is 50 percent quieter than its predecessors. It’s still pretty noisy to my ears, but what Dyson’s engineers have managed is to lower the frequency of the motor’s sound so that it’s far less grating. Vacuuming is always going to be a noisy task (at least until the Large Hadron Collider is miniaturised so that all vacuum cleaners come equipped with their own on-demand black holes). But the V8 Absolute’s tone is dialled down from the high-frequency whine of other vacuum cleaners, which makes the whole experience at least a little more pleasant.
– Changes made to the bin release mechanism over the V6 cordless line are a blessing and a curse. On one hand, placing the catch on the top of the unit away from the pistol grip means there’s no chance you’ll accidentally release dust and dirt all over your floor, and the rubber, anti-static inner lining when the V8 release is used means the inside of the bin is squeegee-scrubbed clean each time. However, it’s a far stiffer catch, requiring two hands to pull open, which may make it difficult when hovering over a bin bag trying to empty the thing.
– The charging socket sits on the handle and is exposed when not connected to the charger. It gave me a little shock when cleaning once that, while not painful, was a little bit disconcerting.
– Having a battery indicator on the V8 main unit is really useful, pointing out what a bizarre omission it was on the V6 line. Even with the longer battery life, it’s handy to have advance warning of when the V8 is going to need recharging.
– A wall-mountable cradle comes included in the box, with room to feed the charging cable through too, meaning you can leave the V8 Absolute hanging up and ready to use as required.
Though it’s heavier than the V6 line-up, the V8 remains one of the most ergonomic and versatile vacuum cleaners on the market. There’s not much fun to be had when doing the cleaning, but you may well even look forward to ticking off this particular chore with the V8 Absolute in hand. There are attachments for pretty much any suction-based cleaning scenario, and the whole design has a sci-fi vibe that makes it look far cooler than a vacuum cleaner has any right to be.
It’s really very, very expensive.
Should You Buy It?
Do you need the very best cordless vacuum cleaner lots of money can buy? Then you’ve found it. The V8 Absolute boasts superior suction, battery life, bin capacity and usability than even the high standard set by Dyson’s own V6 series. The problem is, the V6 line was more than good enough – it was fantastic. And it’s now (depending on the model you opt for) as much as half the price of the V8 Absolute. For most, the older, cheaper models will do the job just fine. But if you settle for nothing but the finest in life, the V8 Absolute is the Rolls Royce of vacuum cleaners.
Dyson V8 Absolute Specs
• Bin Volume: 0.54L
• Suction Power: 115AW
• Dimensions: 240 x 1244 x 224 mm
• Weight: 2.61kg
• Price: £499