Soon after moving into my temporary home, a tiny bungalow-style motel room in Malibu, California, I realized a few essential amenities were missing. A bedside lamp was missing a light bulb. There weren’t any buckets to contain the rainwater dripping from the ceiling during the sudden and heavy storm that hit sunny Southern California late last month. And the ceiling fan was apparently man-powered, set into motion only by giving it a good spin with my own hands — and then, only good for circulating air for the several seconds of momentum that would carry it.
Dyson Is the Apple of Vacuuming
Dyson is the company probably best known for its line of vacuums. Using slick engineering and a charismatic spokesman reminiscent of the late Steve Jobs, Dyson has capitalized on unique and innovative design in an industry that had stagnated for generations. Its vacuums have been wildly successful over the past decades since they were first introduced to consumers.
But relatively few consumers know that Dyson also sports a line of fans that have attracted the attention of traditional manufacturers of fans and other cooling appliances. Countless imitators of Dyson’s fan technology are cropping up left and right, introducing cheap knockoffs in attempts to steal market share from the company which, like Apple, has demonstrated its ability to disrupt an industry that has long neglected consumer needs.
The Fan Without a Fan
Dyson introduced its first Air Multiplier fan, the AM01 “bladeless” fan, in 2009. When most people think about the technology that drives a fan (though I doubt most people consider it all that often), we imagine an appliance that pushes air throughout the environment by a simple mechanism: the rapid rotation of several “blades” (fans) using a very rudimentary electrical motor.
This technology has worked well enough for most of us for the greater part of the 20th century, posing only a minor health risk whenever the wire or plastic frame housing the fan found itself removed, exposing the blades to the unfortunate fingers or faces of children and pets (or those of us adults having a propensity for stumbling into things that aren’t meant to be stumbled into).
In a similar manner as Apple, Dyson recognized an opportunity to perform a makeover of a device most consumers purchased as frivolously as they would a flashlight. (All flashlights are not created equal, by the way, but that’s a story for another occasion.) Consumers deserved better than what they were getting — imagine if the portable MP3 player hadn’t been re-engineered by Apple as the iPod — and so Dyson’s engineers and designers went to work to reinvent the fan, just as they had with the vacuum more than a quarter of a century prior.
The result was a fan without a fan — that is, a circular appliance with no external blades. Guests unfamiliar with a Dyson fan do a double-take when the device first catches their eyes, wondering if the wind they are feeling is actually being jetted from the slick hoop resting on the desk.
People are amazed when I slip my arm through the hoop, half expecting there are blades spinning too fast to for them to perceive. I’m nearly inclined to train my eight-pound chihuahua to jump through the hoop in front of baffled guests. Take a seat, here’s some popcorn! Now for my next act… The entertainer in me loves this appliance nearly as much as my home theater. (Well, the home theater I’ll one day build.)
The Quiet and Powerful Dyson Fan
The fan also introduced a technology other fans didn’t have: an airflow amplifier that Dyson trademarked the Air Multiplier. Air Multiplier technology basically works like this: air is pulled into the base of the fan and is directed through the annular (ring-shaped) aperture, multiplying the airflow 15-20 times and resulting in a steady stream of air. The first generation of these fans were sleek and elegant and functioned as described, but the appliance was a bit noisy when kicked into its highest gear.
The latest generation of Dyson’s fans, introduced early this month, dramatically improve upon the initial design. The fans are still as elegant and functional as ever, but now they are considerably less noisy — up to 75% quieter than previous models. They’re so quiet that they’ve received the highly coveted Quiet Mark award, a designation granted by the Noise Abatement Society for devices that have improved sound quality. As Dyson points out in its marketing:
Some fans are quiet but weak. Others are powerful but noisy. The new Dyson Cool fans are quiet and powerful.
This is the second Dyson Air Multiplier fan I’ve tested, and I can state without hesitation that the fan is far quieter than the previous model I used. Dyson’s website describes in precise detail why the current model is so much quieter — something about acoustics invented by a 19th century German physicist named Hermann von Helmholz.
I’m a bit of an audiophile and have been blessed with excellent hearing. I’m one of those people who can actually hear the difference between an MP3 and a CD — you know, one of those sound snobs you can’t stand sitting in the cubicle next to you while you’re streaming Spotify. But it wouldn’t take an audiophile to notice the relative whisper of Dyson’s AM06 in comparison to other manufacturers’ fans.
Anyone who would like to circulate the air in their home or office while still being able to hear a baby monitor will find this fan to meet their needs. I can practically hear my own heartbeat when the fan is on its lowest setting, and I can certainly hear the quiet dialogue of the public radio station I listen to when I have the fan jetting air at full blast.
What Else Makes a Dyson Fan Stand Out?
The AM06 is a work of art, able to match the decor of just about any room. Even the dismal interior of my room at Malibu’s version of Bates Motel hardly flinched at the arrival of the appliance (though I will admit that the fan was by far the finest-looking guest at the party). The fan I received from Dyson is an unobtrusive metallic and charcoal combination; the exterior, including the base, is dark gray in color while the inside of the 10″ aperture has a metallic sheen.
Dyson refers to this color combination as Black/Nickel; two other combinations are available, Iron/Blue and White/Silver. The fan has an LED display that doesn’t seem to disrupt my sleep. The only time the AM06 looks slightly awkward is when its base is tilted a few degrees forward or backward in order to direct its airflow.
The AM06 also comes equipped with a sleep timer and a remote control. Remote controls are fairly standard accessories these days, but Dyson has even taken the remote and made it a pleasure to both use and admire. Matching the exterior color of the fan, the remote is curved and magnetized so that it can be attached to the top of the aperture (ring) to be stored when not being utilized. Just rest it on top of the fan while you’re striding past it and: voila! The remote sticks and won’t easily be lost among the other electronics the family has acquired over the years.
A Fan That Both Cools and Entertains
I’ve truly enjoyed this fan and only wish I could keep it to take with me wherever I’m in need of a good blast of air. My only gripe (if it can be referred to as one) is that pivoting the fan requires handling the fan; it cannot be done using only the remote. Everything else — from the velocity of airflow to the left-to-right oscillation of the fan to the sleep timer — can be controlled via remote. Perhaps a future generation of Dyson fans will add this functionality. But again, it’s hardly a concern, and a mechanically adjusting pivot would likely introduce unwanted motor noise to an appliance that is already the highest its class.
I’m nearly expecting Dyson will introduce a remote-controlled hovercraft fan within the next few years, but that would be hardly necessary and make it more difficult for my chihuahua to perform its circus act.
Then again, a man can dream…
Check out Dyson’s Air Multiplier 06 and let me know about any other features and functionality that you can imagine a desk fan having. Be a fan and blow some wind in the comments section below!