gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Dyson Air Multiplier Review

If you live in Britain, then you’ll recognise summer and the hot weather that goes with it as an elusive beast that creeps up on you when you least expect it, delivering its fickle burst of heat for a handful of days before giving way to storms. When this happens we all dive for our desk fans, unashamedly ugly beasts which flap air in your face like a cage of agitated pigeons and vibrate your desk constantly.

Not all fans have to be ugly, though, and the Dyson Air Multiplier is far from it. It’s design, though far from truly blade-less, tucks all the moving business away into the base, instead funnelling the air through its signature ring in an attempt to leverage the nuances of fluid dynamics and bring more of the surrounding air with it.

This brings many benefits, not least of all the eye-catching and easy to clean design which begs to have heads, hands, balloons, bubbles and other objects stuck through its inviting center in an effort to see what appendages might be severed or objects launched across the room.

Unfortunately, the Dyson Air Multiplier is somewhat disappointing in this respect. It’s unique design and Dyson pedigree instill grandiose and absurd expectations of its air-moving capacity. Sadly, it can’t launch paper balls, or any other object across the office like some sort of compact particle accelerator and is, despite outward appearance, just a regular desk fan.

Well, actually, it’s not just a regular desk fan. To say so would belittle the design considerations that have gone into this beauty and would gloss over its ability to move air in a smooth, refreshing and consistent way which isn’t at all annoying and is certainly nothing like having a pigeon flapping in your face.

Indeed, the Dyson’s main selling point is not some elaborate and magical ability to bore holes in the far wall with ridiculous volumes of air but its consistent and uninterrupted flow of air. An ordinary fan, with its spinning blades, more or less chops the air passing through it up into annoying little gusts, a feeling we’re all familiar with having used these on hot days. The Dyson, however, uses a turbine like arrangement to suck air into vents around its base, before forcing it through the circular aperture at the top. The result is a buffered and thus smooth flow of air which is a far better simulation of the gentle breeze you might get from an open window.

This smooth air flow isn’t its only benefit, however. Unlike many desktop fans, which have a simple 1-2-3 trio of speed settings and an ungainly knob which *thunks* between them, the Dyson has what I dub a “volume control” knob ( yes, it’s a geeky joke about the knob controlling the volume of air sucked through the fan ) which can be turned up and down until you find the air-flow you desire.

I generally find that a low to medium flow of air is more than sufficient for all but the most fierce of hot days. Any higher, in fact, and the Dyson Air Multiplier starts to show it’s weaknesses in the form of quite a significant amount of noise. It’s not too bad a sound, however, compared to many fans but it’s still a fair volume level that will likely irritate any colleagues who haven’t retreated into “the zone” with their headphones.

The bottom-heavy design of the Dyson Air Multiplier benefits all of its form factors, from desktop fan, to pedestal fan and tower fan. Having the weight at floor level for standing fans means they’re much less likely to tip over, and the same applies to the desktop variety. The desktop fans also pivot around their center of gravity, sliding in an ark across their base and offering enough range of tilt to suit various applications.

By far my favourite place for the Air Multiplier around the home is on the window-sill in front of an open window. It’s great for drawing cool air from outside and pushing it to the top of the room and it doesn’t need to be on full blast to be effective. It also works great on the desk, when turned down low it’s silent, and the lack of rotating blades make it very difficult to determine that it’s even turned on. We’ve left one, or both of the Air Multipliers running over night- they don’t really get noticed above general office noise levels.

So, it’s great looking and provides a smooth, consistent and fully adjustable air flow… but does it really multiply air?

Yes, is the simple answer. Although we had a hard time proving it to ourselves. Attempting to launch objects through the Air Multiplier, as you can imagine, resulted in failure as a slightly more sane individual than myself might readily have expected. It’s no jet engine. Eventually, however, we found that blowing bubbles behind the Air Multiplier and watching them get drawn through the loop proved beyond reasonable doubt that Dyson’s lofty fluid dynamics claims of “inducement” and “entrainment” of surrounding air were true/

You see, the Air Multiplier does not directly draw air through the top by any mechanical means. Air is drawn in the vents around the bottom where a pretty run of the mill turbine-like fan blasts it up through the top of the device. This air is forced through a narrow aperture around the loop/ring and provides the primary air flow. What happens to air behind the Dyson Air Multiplier, however, is a combination of clever engineering and regular ol’ science. Air is sucked in by the primary air flow, swept up in the current by the resulting pressure differential if you will, and blown out of the front along with it. In practise this doesn’t seem to produce much additional air flow toward the center of the Dyson, which is remarkably still, but all that drawn-in air must go somewhere, as proven by bubbles being sucked in and blown out of the other side.

The 15x air volume claim is very difficult to validate, the Air Multiplier certainly moves a lot of air but it’s difficult to tell what volume of that is directly from the fan itself, and what volume is caught up in the flow.

Ultimately, the Air Multiplier is something you’re only going to be interested in if you love the look of it and have money to burn. But what you’ll end up with is a pretty decent fan that’s difficult to put down. It could certainly be quieter, but you shouldn’t really need to run it at full blast anyway. If you’re going to go for any Air Multiplier, I strongly recommend the Iron/Blue colour combo. It looks absolutely stunning; if you like blue that is. It is far more visually appealing than the Iron/Silver combo, which looks a little bit too much like an appliance and not enough like… well… a design icon.

Dyson’s own video shows balloons being sucked through the Air Multiplier, it’s not all one consistent take, mind, but all of the footage of balloons being sucked through is genuine… even though they didn’t consistently produce these results.

And a quick demonstration of how it’s supposed to work:

Friday, August 5th, 2011, News.