First it got rid of the bag, now it’s getting rid of the filters. In its pursuit of domestic household appliance perfection, Dyson’s Cinetic Big Ball Animal vacuum cleaner features the company’s latest filterless dust-trapping technologies. It’s designed to make housework a pushover, and it certainly sucks better than even the sauciest people on the darkest corners of the internet. But it’s design also brings with it a few issues that may not make it to everyone’s liking.
What is It?
An upright vacuum cleaner from UK design guru James Dyson’s stable that never loses suction, and doesn’t have any filters that require cleaning. It’s particularly well-suited for picking up animal hair.
Who's it For?
Clean freaks that want every single spec of dust exhumed from their rugs. Make that “pricey Persian rugs”, as if you’re the sort of person that can afford this particularly costly £460 Dyson, you’ve probably got some posh rags across your marble flooring too.
The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal is about as cool-looking as it’s possible to make a vacuum cleaner (that is, if a vacuum cleaner can ever be considered “cool-looking’). But before talking this literal sucker’s aesthetics, it’s important to get an understanding of the impressive engineering that’s gone into making this thing work as it does.
Dyson has used cyclone technology to trap and funnel dust and dirt into its vacuum cleaners’ bagless debris collection chambers for years. Its engineers soon discovered that the smaller a cyclone that can be created within the vacuum cleaner, the more powerful the centrifugal forces it generates, helping you to more easily suck up even the tiniest ingrained dirt and dust particles from your floors. As a result, Dyson’s most recent vacuum cleaners have opted to use multiple small cyclone chambers, rather than one or a few larger ones.
The smaller they get, however, the more likely those cyclones will begin to get clogged up with dust and debris, reducing suction power. Though even historical Dyson vacuum cleaners have been able to keep sucking even as their bagless dirt-bins begin to reach capacity, they have over time slowly lost full suction power. This is down to the cyclones’ filters -- without regular cleaning, smaller dust particles can build up, preventing debris from passing.
The magic of the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal is that it does away with filters altogether. It instead is equipped with flexible oscillating tips on the cyclone chambers, which vibrate 350 times every second, shaking lose any stubborn stuck dust (even particles as small as 0.5 microns in size) making sure all the muck goes directly into the bin chamber. There’s no need to dismantle this latest Dyson every few months and meticulously clean those filters, further cutting the time needed to finish your pesky chores.
As for looks, the Cinetic Big Ball Animal earns its £460 price tag. A mixture of purple, red, chrome, clear and grey plastics, it looks like a comic book rocket preparing for blast-off. The “Big Ball” part of the name comes from the giant sphere that sits at the base of the vacuum cleaner. Rolling across your floors (and paired with the Animal’s self-adjusting cleaner head) it’s designed for improved manoeuvrability, with the self-adjusting head letting you glide across different surface types seamlessly. At 1100mm x 438mm x 340mm it’s a big old thing (and heavy too), so you’ll need plenty of space to store it in.
There’s no denying it: this thing sucks, in the best possible sense that that phrase could ever mean. When set to its 120AW maximum suction setting, the Cinetic Big Ball Animal would give the Ghostbusters’ spectral containment unit a run for its money. Across hardwood floors, lino, low-set carpets and a thick shaggy rug, it was able to suck up any substance we could put beneath it, from flour to sand to the hairs of a DIY home-snipped fringe.
What was even more remarkable was the amount of dust it was able to capture: my first use of the Cinetic Big Ball Animal came just a few days after having vacuumed around the house with my own cleaner, but the amount of dust the Animal pulled out of my living room rug was astounding, if not worrying. It made me realise the amount of junk that could be stuck around our homes even if we’ve done our best to clean them up.
The problem is, it’s basically an upper-body workout moving this thing around your house. With the Cinetic Big Ball Animal’s 8.7kg weight combined with its superior suction power, you really have to put your back into pushing the vacuum cleaner across your floors. This is certainly not the Dyson for little old ladies; as a healthy 20-something I was literally sweating after a 15-minute spin with it.
The ball at the base should help matters a little and, compared to conventional upright vacuums, it’s certainly easier to carve a corner out with the Big Ball Animal. However, the design necessitates that the Big Ball sits on a two-pronged kickstand in order to rest without falling over. It clicks into an unlocked position, ready for when you want to start doing the housework, and serves the dual function of activating funnelling suction to the ribbed extendable piping for the handheld combination tool whilst the vacuum cleaner is on. But this brings with it an obvious problem in that taking a moment to rest with the hulking Dyson sees the kickstand click into place and send the suction to the wrong part of the cleaner. It’s frustrating having to reset it every time you take a pause from your chores.
There are flashes of convenient brilliance to the design too though. The bin compartment, for instance, pops in and out with ease, emptying with the push of a button, while there’s loads of slots to store the many detachable cleaning heads for the extension tube too. The button for extending the main cleaning head’s brush roll for hardwood floor work is also within easy reach, and knowing I’ll never need to wash out a filter is a relief too. But you’re going to have to work hard in order to get the admittedly-excellent cleaning results, something that seems to defeat the point of dropping more than £450 on the appliance.
-- The power cord is conveniently very long, stretching almost 11 metres in length. It’s a pity that you have to wrap it up and put it away by hand then, which takes a while when the entire length has been used, rather than their being an auto-winding mechanism. Still, wrapping around the vacuum cleaner’s shaft, it packs away tidily.
-- A whole array of cleaning heads come in the box, including a stair tool, combination tool for cleaning hard raised surfaces, and a tangle-free turbine tool. This last one will make mincemeat of cat or dog hairs woven into your carpets and furniture, lifting them in a way so as not to get stuck on the cleaning head or clog the bin.
-- The flexible extension suction tube, when added to the 10.8 metres of power cord, gives the vacuum cleaner a maximum reach of 15.25 metres. It’s a handy option to have when working on stairs, but I found that its spring-back nature made it difficult to use. I’d have to hold the extension tubing quite firmly to keep it from springing back to the base unit, and found myself regularly pulling the whole thing over.
-- The Cinetic Big Ball Animal comes in the most frustrating packaging I’ve had to deal with for a while. I was one the verge of body-slamming the box to set the vacuum cleaner free, which is locked into position by cardboard wedges. Keep those scissors handy.
There’s an insane amount of suction power at your disposal here, ready to decimate any dust mites setting up camp in your carpets. The array of tools included in the package is generous too.
It’s just too heavy and cumbersome. The energy you save having only needed to make a single pass over carpet debris is used up carting the Cinetic Big Ball Animal around. It’s industrial strength seems to have necessitated industrial-worthy weight too.
Should You Buy It?
If all you care about is getting the most amount of junk up off your floors and carpets, then this is the vacuum cleaner for you. It’s immensely powerful, and looks great too. But it is expensive, and it’s mighty heavy too. Unless you consider buying a vacuum cleaner a suitable alternative to coughing up for a gym membership, think long and hard before throwing down the cash, and definitely (if possible) try before you buy.
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Specs
• Maximum Reach: 15.25m
• Cord Length: 10.8m
• Bin Volume: 2.18L
• Suction Power: 120AW
• Dimensions: 1100 x 438 x 340 mm
• Weight: 8.7kg
• Price: £460