How much can Mr. Fancy really do to reinvent the table fan?
Love him or hate him, you probably have a strong opinion of James Dyson, he of the haughty British accent and high-tech vacuum cleaners. When Dyson hawks his inventions on TV—explaining what was so hideously wrong with older technology, and how his gear solves everything, and for this you dare not look at him directly in the eyes—we sort of want to yell at him. “Your pie hole: Shut it! You invented a new type of vacuum cleaner, dude, not cold fusion!”
But the fact remains that Dyson vacuum cleaners do kick ass, and their bagless design is an innovation we happily pay for.
So what, then, can we make of the Dyson Air Multiplier, a new type of air-blowing machine (our grandparents called them “fans”) that features a bladeless design? We tested the 10-inch tabletop model, and found it’s a pretty good fan with some winning features, but a tough swallow at $299.99.
As you’ll notice, the Air Multiplier lacks visible blades. That’s because the fan’s main air driver, a motor-driven impeller similar to a car’s turbocharger unit, sits hidden in the Air Multiplier’s base. The impeller draws air upward, and over an airfoil intrinsic to the blue hoop. The hoop not only projects air outward, but also draws air from behind and around the device, using what Dyson calls inducement and entrainment. According to Dyson, all this aerodynamicism multiplies the impeller’s original air push by a factor of 15. Even better, says Dyson, the system provides “an uninterrupted stream of smooth air” with no buffeting or chopping, which are the twin indignities you suffer with a traditional air-blowing device.
Have we spent our entire lifetimes waiting for the day when nasty chopped air—oh, and all that buffering, that dirty, damned buffering—would be but a forgotten nightmare? No, we have not. Sure, the Air Multiplier’s airflow is smoother than that of a regular fan, and that’s nice. But what really makes this gadget interesting is the bladeless design itself. Stick your finger into the hoop, and nothing happens. Try that with a choppy-chop fan, and the outcome will teach you the meaning of pain. Likewise, the airfoil hoop is not a threat to pets with tails. Even better, the hoop is immeasurably easier to clean than the blade assembly of a traditional fan. You don’t have to dust off wire cages, or remove said cages to clean the blades.
Negatives? We have two, and they’re significant. First, the Air Multiplier is actually quite noisy compared to other fans in our office. We didn’t map decibels to cubic-feet-per-minute of air pushed, but we definitely noticed the Dyson is louder than other fans. Second, this sucker is expensive—like three times more expensive than some of the comparatively sized blade blasters you’ll find online. We love the Air Multiplier’s aesthetic, and dig how you can precisely attenuate impeller power, like turning a dimmer switch. But $299.99? For that price, we’d expect Dyson to chauffeur our Bentleys.