Dyson's D31 handheld vacuum contains the world's fastest motor capable of reaching 104,000 RPM. So what happens when you fire two at once? All. Hell. Breaks. Loose. And you suck a lot of cat hair off the couch.
D31 (orange): $220
D31 Animal (purple): $270
The stock D31 and the D31 Animal are essentially the same vacuum. They contain the same motor, the same battery capacity and the same accessories...save for one. The Animal has a motorized hair-scraping attachment (familiar to many Dyson users) that requires a power line be run to the nozzle. Otherwise, they're pretty much identical.
After about 3 days of my cat's lounging, our couch tops get wretched. Our general solution is to take a vacuum hose, then do cleanup with one of those sticky pet hair brushes. It's labor intensive, and I'd be lying if I said we were willing to go through the process more than once a week. So I tried the D31 Animal. Pulling the trigger, it whirs to 0-100 instantly, like a power drill, while a hairdryer-worthy gust of air fires from the back.
Couch before Animal attack.
Couch after Animal attack.
Here's our couch before and after about 5 minutes of vacuuming with the Animal. 80% of the hair came up after two quick passes—really impressive stuff. But that last 20 percent stuck around for a while. And even after several minutes, and even hitting the boost power button, the results weren't perfect (you can see a few stubborn stray hairs). But they were adequate—and maybe even more importantly—as successful as my full-sized standup Animal vacuum (which has worked better than other nice vacuums I've tried). That's pretty remarkable since we're talking about a 2.2lb handheld vac.
Other vacuuming jobs are less exciting, but completely effective. Using the brush and corner attachment, any little particle you can imagine disappears into the machine. I can't imagine a small job it couldn't handle other than carpets. If you want to spot clean your rug, the base D31 doesn't really have an attachment for that (the Animal brush sorta works with a price premium). But dust, loose dirt, little pieces of unidentified food—no problem. And all the junk empties out of the one-button release hatch at the bottom of the collection tank...save for fur, which will make you dig a bit.
I'd like one feature added to the D31/Animal: cruise control. As pitiful as this sounds, it gets tiring holding down the button. I know. Mock me. But while the vacuum is light as can be to your arm, your hand still gets exhausted squeezing the trigger.
You'll also only get 10 minutes of run time (or 6 in high power mode) for 3 1/2 hours of charging. That's actually more than enough time to complete most work (you don't really go nonstop with anything but pet hair), but when you run out of juice (the device goes from 100% to none without warning) you can't just continue vacuuming with a power cord. You'll need to recharge and wait.
Ignoring the price for a moment, I wonder who would actually need this much power in a handvac—other than for the obvious—pet owners. Because the D31 can't (and isn't trying to) replace a full-sized vacuum, meaning it's only going to serve as backup. But then again, if you have the extra cash to pick up one of your own, maybe your chief concern isn't one of pure practicality. And I can't completely fault you for that. [Dyson]
Light and manageable design
Lots and lots of power
The Animal attachment cuts through hair well
Run time is adequate but not very long
Trigger can be tiring to hold
No carpet attachment for spot cleaning
I mean, obviously, we're talking about $220+ dust busters here