Dyson's newest invention, a window fan with no blades, is the most opulent, most eye-catching and most ludicrously overpriced gadget the company has released yet. And I sort of love it.
The Air Multiplier runs $299 for the 10-inch version and $329 for the 12-inch version. I tested the 10.
How a Blade-Less Fan Works
So how does a fan without blades, a hula hoop on a stick, essentially, work? The bottom grills are for the air intake, powered by what I'm assuming is an internal fan. (Oh, this fan has a fan, you just don't see it.)
Still, you just barely feel the Multiplier breathing in. As this air is transported up through the device, it makes its way through the "loop amplifier" (that big loopy part), accelerating the air 15-fold as it's squeezed through a 1.3mm aperture around the ring. Sticking your hand through the loop, you'll feel air only in front of the ring because that's where you'll find the aperture. It's a mind-bending sensation to say the least.
I'll admit it though, even knowing how the fan works now, all I could think was that it looked like a giant magnifying glass when I first opened the box.
I tentatively plugged the all-plastic device in, hit a button I could only assume was for power, and the device roared to life like a very wussy hairdryer. My face was greeted with the same quality of air: a relentless, even stream that felt a tad more industrial than residential.
The focused breeze was surprising but not quite hurricane-worthy. (Later I found the air output to measure 119 gallons per second. That output is about on par with at least one 10-inch commercial-grade fan shy of the $200 mark, and a $30, 8-inch duct fan produced about half that. Most consumer-grade fans don't disclose air power.)
And, exploring the device more, I realized that while it didn't look like any fan I'd used before, it worked almost exactly like every fan I'd used before.
For instance, one button toggled oscillation. Another twisted to rev the air speed (a smoother gradient of the traditional low, medium and high controls). And the base could be pushed forward or back, tilting the entire device in a manner more elegant but not entirely different from my $10 job in the next room.
Indeed, the Air Multiplier was the most beautiful fan I'd ever used, but it was still, at its plebeian heart, a window fan.
Truthfully, I'm almost embarrassed for liking the Air Multiplier. There's no doubt that any Dyson vacuum demands a price premium for its fashion-forward design. But ultimately, this premium is relatively small. All good vacuums cost a few hundred bucks, so the Dyson upsell is somewhat reasonable—tempting even.
$300 for a fan is far, far from an upsell when I can get 95% of the experience for $10 at Walmart. Even as a good fan...even as a beautiful fan...even as a clever fan that blocks less window light...even as a safe fan that your toddler or pet can examine without injury...I'm downright humiliated for liking it, especially in this economy.
But like it, I do. [Dyson]
Completely unique design
Safe (no external moving parts)
No doubt, it's great at fanning
Probably easier to knock-off than a vacuum
Not loud, but far from silent
Costs about a bajillion times more than any fan I've ever bought