If you're looking to ditch your traditional corded vacuum cleaner, then a model from the Dyson V11 range is an ideal substitute. Dirt pickup is better than many of the full-size vacuums that we recommend, and the new LCD screen tells you how much battery life you've got left. However, the price is steep and if you plan to simply use your stick vacuum for in-between cleans, then you might want to go for another model altogether that still does a good job. For full results, see our stick vacuum reviews.
The new Dyson V11 stick vacuum claims to be intelligent enough to detect the surface you're vacuuming and adjust its suction power accordingly, while an on-screen display lets you know how many minutes of battery time you've got left. But how well does it actually perform?
We used our purpose-built vacuum lab to test how the V11 performed against its rivals, and its year-old predecessor, the Dyson V10.
The V11's different models and prices
There are three Dyson V11 models to choose from:
- Dyson V11 Absolute Pro: $1249 (only available from Dyson)
- Dyson V11 Absolute: $1199
- Dyson V11 Torque Drive: $1099
We bought the Dyson V11 Absolute for testing. All models come with what Dyson calls its "high torque cleaner head", which can be used on both hard floor and carpet. The Dyson V11 Absolute and Absolute Pro both come with a soft roller head for hard floors; the Absolute Pro comes with a couple of extra accessories such as a mattress tool and flexible crevice tool but it's currently only for sale on the Dyson website.
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What features does the Dyson V11 have compared with the V10?
Three cleaning modes
The Dyson V11 has three levels of power. Boost for extra power, Auto for out-of-the-box cleaning on hard floor and carpet, and Eco, ideal for non-motorised tools and easy cleans that won't use up as much battery life. These variable power modes are very easy to adjust.
No more anxiety about whether or not your battery will suddenly conk out. There's a display screen at the back of the vacuum, and in Auto mode it counts down how much battery time you've got left. The display also lets you know if your filter needs changing, or if there's a blockage that needs to be cleared (and where the blockage could be).
The Dyson V11 has an LCD screen to let you know about battery life and maintenance tasks.
High torque cleaning head with sensor
The Dyson V11 performs in Auto mode out of the box and when you're using the power head, it understands whether you're vacuuming on floor or carpet, adjusting its suction accordingly. You can hear it "switch gears" as you move on from hard floors to carpet, and vice versa.
The LCD display on the back of the motor shows you how much battery time you've got left depending on the surface you're on, so as you move from carpet to hard floor the battery life goes up (once you get onto hard floors, you get far more battery life as not as much suction power is required for that surface).
The Dyson V11's cleaning head adjusts its suction depending on whether you're on hard floor or carpet.
More suction power than V10
Dyson claims that the V11 has 20% more suction power than the V10. Based on our real world tests, this doesn't actually result in 20% more dirt pick-up in boost mode, but initial impressions show a definite improvement on the V10's already impressive results. We found that Auto mode was perfectly adequate for a decent clean.
Is the Dyson V11 easy to use?
The physical design of the V11 is not far off the V10's, with the motor and wand designed in a straight line, the familiar on/off trigger, and a similar emptying action involving a "skirt" that pushes out the debris.
What's different? The larger battery, the LCD display and the "smart" motor on the cleaning head that detects the surface you're on.
The Dyson V11 Absolute comes with a soft roller head, ideal for picking larger bits of debris off hard floors.
We found it very easy to use overall, but there are a few characteristics common to Dyson stick vacuums that you'll need to know:
Like all Dyson's stick vacuums, the Dyson's integrated battery is not easily swappable, unlike offerings from rivals such as LG and Samsung. This means you can't have a fully-charged spare to swap over when the charge runs out. Dyson claims the new battery life countdown display means you won't be caught unawares.
Dyson's stick vacuums only operate when the trigger is squeezed, so there's no on/off switch. This means the battery doesn't idle away when you're moving it from room to room, maximising its battery life. But some people with weak hands may not like having to hold it down.
The V11 Absolute (and Absolute Pro) comes with an extra soft fluffy roller head for hard floors. This is ideal for picking up large bits of stuff like cornflakes, popcorn or dry pet food, as the roller is in direct contact with the floor. We found that the high torque head still performs well for general hard floor cleaning, so the soft roller head isn't entirely necessary if you aren't keen on the hassle of switching heads.
The V11 allows you to carry two tools on the wand with a clip but this will add to the weight and bulkiness. Unlike many barrel vacuums, there isn't a great amount of "on-board" storage so you may find yourself with a lot of pieces scattered around that you need to keep track of.
The V11 is not that compact or dainty, so if you're attaching the accessories directly onto the body rather than on the wand it might feel a little heavy to manoeuvre with one hand.
How well does the Dyson V11 perform?
We put the V11 through its paces in our specialised lab and have published full performance and ease of use results in our stick vacuum reviews, but here's a snapshot of what we found:
Our stick vacuums are tested on their highest speed settings to give them their best chance, but we also looked at the V11 in Auto mode as we expect many people will use it this way.
We found that even in Auto mode, the V11 Absolute is very good at picking up dirt from both carpet and hard floors. The Boost mode is predictably even better, but this means the battery will only last you 13 minutes with the brush on, far less than the claimed "up to 60 minutes" battery life Dyson claims (the 60 minutes is only when you're using non-motorised tools). Even so, this is more than the eight minutes on Max we measured on the V10, suggesting that the battery life is indeed improved.
If you're toying with saving the $100 and just going for the base model that doesn't come with the soft roller head, you probably won't miss much unless you do want to pick up cornflakes and other large pieces off hard floors with the soft roller head.
As with the V10, the V11 generally performs just as well on carpet as many of the mains-powered vacuums we've seen. Our testing involves 10 passes across carpet is and on first impressions, the cleaning performance is thorough and excellent.
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