This Dyson vacuum cleaner is a sci-fi tech marvel — and I love it

an photo of the Dyson V12 Detect Slim
(Image credit: Future)

Vacuuming sucks, quite literally. At least for me, it’s a tedious chore that involves moving a generally ugly looking device around and shifting furniture to get at hard-to-reach spots; sure a freshly cleaned rug or carpet is great, but the journey there is dull. That's changed with the Dyson V12 Detect Slim. 

When Dyson first introduced the DC01 in 1993, it arguably revolutionized vacuum cleaners, offering a bagless model that immediately made vacuuming less of a hassle and, to an extent, expense; I’m 36, so I still remember the likes of Hoover vacuums with their awkward brown bags — those of you blessed with youth may not recall such dark days. Added to it was cyclonic technology that promised to not lose suction. 

And in use, such Dyson models really did deliver. My family had one and it worked rather well until it broke and we sort of moved on to other vacuums as the likes of Vax came along with bagless designs. 

With such competition, Dyson in my eyes started to look a bit like an overly-expensive brand that made good products but were undercut by others riffing off its designs. Sounds a bit familiar right? Well that’s because I’d liken the situation to Apple and Android; Dyson being the U.K. equivalent of Cupertino and the myriad of other vacuum brands being like Android rivals. 

an image of the Dyson V12 Detect Slim

(Image credit: Future)

Then last year I got to visit Dyson’s U.K. HQ in the quiet but scenic town of Malmesbury, England. There I got to see the almost obsessive level of engineering finesse and attention to detail Dyson puts into its machines, from prototyping to fine tuning the sound of a vacuum’s motor. I then got to try the Dyson V12 Detect Slim. And, by the gods of suction, I can really see where that smart engineering comes into play in real-world use.

Smarter than your vacuum cleaner

an photo of the Dyson V12 Detect Slim

(Image credit: Future)

The V12 Detect Slim is the latest version of Dyson’s stick vacuum cleaners, and looks part-vacuum cleaner, part retro sci-fi ray gun. The Slim part of its moniker comes from the fact that it’s more compact than the V11. And the Detect part is down to the frickin’ laser light to highlight hidden bits of dust the naked eye might easily miss. 

At first, I thought the whole device was a little gimmicky. My other vacuum cleaner was a perfectly serviceable Vax compact upright model; nothing special but it mostly does the job. Or so I thought. 

Having used the Dyson V12 Detect Slim over the past few months, I started to realize why it commands a hefty price tag of $649 / £529 / AU$1,299 (shop around and you’ll likely be able to find it cheaper). Or take a look at our in-house deals checker below, that’ll serve you up some of the best available deals on the V12. 

Not only is it obviously slimmer and lighter than my Vax, it’s a heck of a lot quieter, yet also — from my experience — a lot better at sucking up dust and debris than the Vax. The ‘Digital Motor’ is a mini marvel, genuinely keeping the V12 from not losing suction as I run it over the patchwork surfaces of my London apartment.

It’s also smart, ramping up suction depending on what it’s detecting. And when I went over a bit of debris that I probably should have picked up, the V12 gobbled it up with ease, whereas my Vax would either reject such stuff like a fussy eater or get clogged up.

a photos of the Dyson V12 Detect Slim body

(Image credit: Future)

Speaking of clogging, the V12 Detect Slim seems almost immune to such vacuum foibles. Sure I’ve not used it for as long as my Vax. But it seems quite happy to suck all things up and neatly deposit them in the clear dust cylinder, which can be emptied without touching any grubby parts — very much appreciated by someone who’s rather fastidious.

Dyson has also done an excellent job of making the main roller vacuum heads really effective at dealing with hair. A new design on some attachments helps prevent hair from twisting around the brush bar and getting stuck.

a photo of the brush head for the Dyson V12 Detect Slim

(Image credit: Future)

While I've mostly stuck to the standard roller head to clean my floors, it seems to fend off the debilitating tangled mess of hair that tends to coil tightly around my Vax’s roller. All too often with the Vax, I’ve had to use a knife to cut the brush bar free of my own blonde locks, the dark stands of my partner and perhaps even the shedded hair of previous dalliances; an unpleasant task that conjures mixed memories and shame at my failure to get regular haircuts.

So less clogging, ease of use, and better performance was already enough to have me start to enjoy vacuuming with the V12 Detect Slim. But it has other aces up its sleeve that really appeals to the techie in me.

Laser-targeted suction

First off, the digital display at the top of the V12’s body is great. It gives a clear indication of how much battery life is left and what setting the suction is on. 

And it also feeds back the size and number of particles the piezo sensor is detecting, giving you a real idea that the V12 is deep cleaning; you do have to peer quite closely at the display though.

an image of the Dyson V12 Detect Slim display

(Image credit: Future)

But my favorite part is the green laser light that illuminates any dust on the floor that I might normally miss when doing a quick round with my basic Vax. 

This has me targeting dusty areas with extreme prejudice. It’s pretty ‘extra’ when it comes to vacuuming, but it does genuinely feel like I’m getting a cleaner apartment as a result.

an image of the Dyson V12 Detect Slim laser light

(Image credit: Future)

And overall the Dyson V12 Detect Slim has thoroughly impressed me, to the extent I actually really enjoy using it. Plus the myriad of easy to use and useful attachments, such as the ability to clean around tight angles, is excellent too.

So I’ve gone from a bit of a Dyson skeptic to a small-time believer. This is exactly what happened when I swapped from Android to iPhone. In many ways Dyson is very much like Apple, and similarly, its products are generally more expensive than the competition. But they really do ‘just work’ and do it wonderfully well.

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Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.