Dyson Ball DC39 Vacuum Cleaner: First Look

What do vacuum cleaners and mobile phones have in common? Both have game changing industry leaders who never gave up on their dream of building a better product and were willing to eschew the “let’s make it cheaper, so we can sell more” mindset that some manufacturers fall into.

Apple and Dyson have focused on product design and well-thought out functionality that may demand a premium compared to other models in the market, but in a twist of fate, have ended up with both companies at the top of their respective industries. Who would have thought that the impending release of a product that, well, sucks up dirt and dust, would attract so much attention? But just as the latest iPhone was released under the limelight of hype and expectation, so the new Dyson range comes with its own anticipating niche of followers and dedicated users ready to judge.

Having a ball while you're cleaning... the new Dyson DC39.

Dyson Australia were kind enough to leave me with one of their new Dyson DC39 models prior to its release later this month, and compared to the previous Dyson models, it has marked differences. Compared to other models in the market, the Dyson Ball is almost alien in its design.

Leading by design... Dyson have once again reset the benchmark for household cleaning products.

In our household, we currently own a DC23 “Stowaway”, and have always used a barrel vacuum cleaner. The DC23 has been a great machine around our house, not only because of its performance but also because it’s so easy to store with the wrap-around hose system and on-board additional tools.

Side by side... the current DC23 next to the upcoming DC39.

The DC39 has been redesigned literally from the ground up. The first thing you notice is the ball, which is a pretty amazing piece of engineering. The Dyson Ball, as it is called, contains the motor, HEPA filter, the entire power cable when it’s retracted, and two wheels carved out of the spherical design.

Less surface area for the wheels means less grip and less friction - great for carpets and hard floors.

This makes for a very smooth transport motion across our wooden floorboards, and a turning circle that even the DC23 cannot compare to. However, it’s not just the turning circle that impresses; it’s the follow through while pulling the vacuum along that raises the eyebrows. There’s a reason that the DC39 seems to follow the walking line of the user so much more willingly than other vacuums might, and the secret is in the articulating undercarriage.

Detail of the wheels and chassis, with the Cyclone and bin removed. Also notice the reinforcing bracket preventing any squashing of the hose into the main body.

When a user moves left or right while the vacuum is traveling, instead of following its current path until pulled straight, the two smaller front wheels actually turn in response and shift the direction of the vacuum immediately. It doesn’t seem like much of a deal, but I’m always consciously straightening my cleaner just before it rolls into a wall or furniture. Here, there was no secondary movement required… as soon as you deviated left or right, the DC39 followed.

Barrel vacuums have always been fairly obstinate in their travels, but I was very taken by the control I had of the DC39 barrel despite the distance between myself and the main unit. The chassis is spring-loaded to bring the barrel body back into a straight position once it has changed its course.

The undercarriage of the DC39. Note the wheel turn movement in line with the pivot point.

I’m guessing that the overhaul in design meant that certain features of the DC23 had to fall away, as the stick now sits upright and is stored similar to the way an upright would be. There is no space for on-board tools either, so you would need to keep them stored separately.

However, the Triggerhead that comes with the Allergy and Animal versions of the DC39 probably negates the need for constant switching between different heads. The Triggerhead has a powered brush that can be turned off from the top of the wand where it’s held, so it’s pretty effortless to go from carpet to hard floors or tiles; it’s just the push of a button with your thumb in its natural holding position.

The distinct red brushes of the DC39's Triggerhead can be activated and deactivated easily from the top of the handle.

Another difference between the DC23 and DC39 is the motor noise. Where the DC23 is a fairly full-bodied sound, the DC39 appears to be a little more high pitched. As to whether this better or worse is hard to say, but they are at similar volumes.

Filter cleaning has been improved as well. I’m guilty as anyone of neglecting the removable filter, which does require some dismantling of the cyclone enclosure. However, there would be no more excuses for me as the filter now pops out of the top of the cyclone when it needs emptying, and is fixed in place by the barrel handle that fixes onto the cyclone.

Easiest filter cleaning yet - rinse, wring, dry and pop back in place.

The “soul” of the Dyson is in its cyclone technology, which led to the concept of the bagless vacuum. Dyson have further refined this centerpiece to capture even smaller particles, with amazing G-forces of close to 300,000G’s (!) being quoted to extract this dirt into the bin. That would result in a substantial headache for anything other than dust particles.

20 years and the Cyclone lives on, improved and more powerful than ever.

Is the DC39 so much of an improvement that I’d upgrade from last year’s purchase? The DC23 is has been and continues to serve as a cleaning workhorse, and I’ve committed to dragging that filter out to clean it, so it should serve me well for a long time to come. The small storage space it occupies and the on-board tools are still a big practical plus for this model.

However, if you are looking to upgrade an older Dyson or another bag barrel, the DC39 has so much engineering and design development poured into it, that it’s hard to believe that it’s all in aid of keeping your floors clean. But that’s what Dyson is all about, and one can only admire a company who has put so much energy and investment into a singular purpose.

What vacuum cleaner do you currently use, and are you waiting for the new Dyson to arrive?


  1. Sushil says:

    I’ve been using the model dc23 since its release in March 2009. Like you said it serves its purpose as a machine, in terms of cleaning the dust and dog hair is completely removed! Though washing the filter may sometimes be a hassle so is the maintenance of these Dyson machines. From your speculation of the new DC39, i personally feel intrigues to purchase this new machine. Though likewise my DC23 still performs well therefore i will use this baby until the performance of the machine degrades. Thanks

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    • Ritchie says:

      Thanks for the positive comments, we’re working hard here to bring the best in information and reviews in our industry!