Dyson's Air Multiplier looks great, feels good, hurts wallet

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For a week I've tried to use Dyson's bladeless Air Multiplier as a giant bubble-blowing machine, to no avail. No combination of soap and speed setting succeeds, no matter how carefully coated the vent halo or the ring itself, or how much time I spend experimenting with detergents. And I'd better stop, before I break what amounts to a $300 desk fan.

Available from the manufacturer's website and "select design stores," the Air Multiplyer hides the blower in the base, forcing the air through a ring of vents which are aerodynamically contrived to "multiply" the strength of its airstream.

In ads and TV apperances, Dyson also claims that the resulting breeze is smoother than the "choppy" air produced by traditional bladed fans.

It has a 5' grounded cord, tilts and oscillates, and can be set on a continuum of speeds with a dial on the front. Dyson sells 10" models in pearly white or blue/gray, and a 12" model in silver.

The "multiplied' air feels good and it can blow as hard as similarly-sized fans, but design is what sets it apart. It looks like a portable Stargate by way of Cupertino (Imaginary Steve: what are all those hieroglyphics for? Remove them!) and even has a practical element--no accretions of greasy black fuzz in difficult-to-clean places. It comes with a microfiber cloth and is easy to assemble (pop the ring on the base, turn it on).

When it comes to noise, the Air Multiplier isn't quieter so much as it is different. Instead of the juddering white noise of a normal model, Dyson's motor (It sounds like a quieter version of the one in his hand-vac) produces a thin whine. But it is annoying enough at higher settings. It's not something that, say, audiophiles might consider using to cool the listening dungeon.

The biggest hurdle is the price: at $300 and up, you should wait until next year's first hot monday and cycle back to see how early adopters are doing. Durability and long-term performance, not sexy design, will determine if it's a sensible choice for the home or office.

Dyson Air Multiplyer [Official Store]

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