So what does it take to completely redesign the hair dryer, a common house hold device that has remained unchanged for over 50 years?
Well, if Dyson’s new Supersonic hair dryer is anything to go by:
103 engineers, $71 million and four years of development.
We aren’t kidding. Those are the official figures.
With so much invested, has Dyson created the holy grail of hair dryers? Find out in our detailed review of the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer.
Dyson Supersonic Specifications
Unboxing the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer:If you were to tear open the box of your brand new Dyson Supersonic hair dryer, this is what you would find inside:
As seems to be a common trend on high-end consumer products, Dyson has focused a good amount of time refining the unboxing experience. From the moment you open the box the hairdryer simply screams premium.Unboxing the Dyson Supersonic gave us a similar feeling to unboxing a brand new iPhone, the “this is too good to use” feeling. It even had a similar smell.Once the thrill of admiring what is perhaps the most expensive hair dryer you will ever own wears off, you can remove it and the accessories from the box:
Let’s break down what you will get in the box:
- Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
- Smoothing Nozzle
- Styling Concentrator
- Non-Slip Mat
- Storage Hanger
In the case you will also find an instruction manual and registration card.Those of you that paid the extra $50 to purchase the Limited Edition Dyson Supersonic will also find a brown leather storage case included in the boxDyson Supersonic Hair Dryer ModelsThe Dyson Supersonic Hair dryer comes in two different styles. Well, three if you include the only-slightly-different limited edition model. Let’s take a closer look at each.Rather than give each hair dryer a model name Dyson simply refers to them by their color.Dyson Supersonic White/Silver ModelThe same Dyson Supersonic as the model in this review decked out in a white and silver color scheme.
Dyson Supersonic Fuchsia/Iron ModelThe Fuchsia/Iron model is the focus of our detailed review.
Dyson Supersonic Fuchsia/Iron Limited Edition Model
To celebrate the American launch of the Dyson Supersonic a limited edition model is available. The hair dryer is identical to the Fuchsia/Iron model in this review in every way, except it comes in a Limited edition travel case.The Travel case has been designed by James Dyson himself and is hand finished with leather.If you are already stretching your budget to buy this hair dryer then you may cringe at the idea of spending more again. But for those of you who want a specially designed storage solution to match the Dyson Supersonics looks will want to get your hands on this before it runs out.Examining the Dyson Supersonic Hair DryerTrust us when we say the Dyson Supersonic is like no other hairdryer you have ever seen:
From top to bottom it is clear that the team at Dyson have spent as much of their time focused on the over-all design as they have functionality. I don’t know if you could ever truly describe a hair dryer as beautiful, but the Supersonic definitely comes close.We appreciated that Dyson did not destroy the design by printing a giant “look at me” logo on the surface, a feature commonly found on Conair and other brand name hair dryers. Instead, Dyson has printed their logo at the very top of the hair dryer and unless you look at the hair dryer from a very specific angle it is almost hidden from view:
But then I suppose that with a design this unique a prominent logo is hardly necessary, just the shape of this hair dryer will likely forever be associated with Dyson and that is an achievement in itself. Because Dyson has moved the motor of the hair dryer to the handle, the head is a fraction of the size as what would be found on an ordinary hair dryer. Without any attachments it measures just under 4 inches from end to end.
The head performs two main functions:
- Heat the air with the concealed heating elements inside
- Direct the air flow
Let’s take a closer look at the front of the hair dryer head, the side that blows the air out.
There are two features of note on the front of the hair dryer head. The first is the circular steel ring. This is actually a magnet that allows you to quickly connect and remove the nozzles and diffuser by snapping them on and off. I will cover this process as well as the accessories further down this review. The second feature of note is the inner ring that has been divided into six sections. It is out of these sections that the air blows from the dryer.While it looks like there is a large metal circle at the center of the photo above, this is actually just the light playing tricks as it bounces down the steel inner tube. Below you can see the magnet and air vents from a different angle.
Interestingly you can look straight down the middle of the Supersonic, like looking down a cardboard tube. The design instantly reminds us of the hollow design of Dyson’s bladeless range of fans.
If you look down the center of this hole you can see there is little else but the join where the fuchsia colored plate (it appears to be anodized aluminum) meets steel.
On the rear of the hair dryer head is a Fuchsia colored plate. And if you find the bright pink to be just a little too stereotypically feminine then you will be pleased to know that Dyson also offers the Supersonic in a white and silver color scheme. Embedded in the rear plate are two buttons. The button on the left, with the fan icon, allows you to adjust the fan speed from one of three different settings – Gentle, Medium and Fast. The button on the right with the red dot that looks like the record button from your TV remote allows you to choose from four temperature settings.
Before we look at the functionality of these buttons I would like to comment on the tactile experience each provides. Both of these buttons feel different to press. The fan button on the left gives nicely with a satisfying click. But the heat button on the right is much looser and while it still makes a clicking sound when pushed, it is much quieter. In short, the heat button just isn’t very satisfying to press. It makes little sense that these two buttons would feel different to push. This does not appear to be an isolated problem since the second Supersonic hair dryer we ordered to review was the same. Now keep in mind this is a minor complaint but since this may well be the most comprehensive review you will read on the Dyson Supersonic we are not pulling any punches. You won’t notice the indicator lights until you turn the Dyson Supersonic on:
The indicator lights allow you to see the fan and heat settings with a quick glance. You can cycle through the following settings by pressing the button:
Fan Speed Settings – White indicator lights
- One Light – Gentle speed
- Two lights – Medium speed
- Three lights – Fast speed
Temperature Settings – Red indicator lights
- No Lights – Cold/room temperature
- One light – Low/scalp mode temperature (140°F)
- Two Lights – Medium temperature (176°F)
- Three lights – High temperature temperature (212°F)
These same indicator lights can also alert you as to problems with the hair dryer:
- Three flashing white lights – Filter needs to be cleaned
- Three flashing red lights – A more serious problem (contact the call center)
Printed on at the front, on the underside of the hair dryer head, you will find the voltage, wattage as well as the “don’t get me wet” logo.
Since we wanted to get our hands on the Dyson Supersonic first, we tested an international model. This is why you will see the voltage printed as 230-240V. The American model will be 110-120V. Now this immediately creates a problem for those of you who are expecting to use this hair dryer while you travel overseas. To put it clearly, the Dyson Supersonic is unsuitable to be used as a hair dryer when traveling internationally. It will not work. Now this is somewhat of a shortcoming on the Dyson Supersonic’s part since much cheaper hairdryers often come with the dual voltage feature. At the flick of a switch these hair dryers can go from 120-240V. The only way around this is to purchase a second Dyson Supersonic, an international model, just to use when you are travelling. And given the price of the Supersonic, this won’t be a viable option for the majority of you. If you look really closely on the underside of the hair dryer head, towards the rear, you will notice three small raised lines in the otherwise sleek finish that coats the Dyson Supersonic.
These are likely an unavoidable flaw brought on by the way the Dyson Supersonic is manufactured. Unless you shine a light on this area this small imperfection is almost invisible. To be honest I am splitting hairs just bringing this up.
The handle joins the head just off center. A clear gap can be seen marking the end of the hair dryer head and the beginning of the handle. On the rear of the handle you will find two more buttons:
First let’s take a look at the function of each.The top button is the power switch. Slide it up to turn the Dyson Supersonic on. Slide the switch down to turn it off. Simple.The bottom button is what Dyson calls the “Cold Shot”. Pressing and holding this button immediately provides you with a blast of cold air. Release the button and the hair dryer will return to your selected temperature setting. I’ll be straight up. I didn’t particularly like the power switch:
Placing your thumb on top of the switch and sliding up will often result in yout thumb sliding right off the switch. Even with the textured surface of the button there isn’t a whole lot to grip.Instead, to slide the switch on you need to position your thumb on the edge of the switch and push up. Which is actually a little uncomfortable as the edge of the switch digs into your skin in the process.This is the first hair dryer I have ever experienced that has been somewhat difficult to turn on and I do believe Dyson has sacrificed function in for looks in this case.Sure, those big plastic power switches found on a traditional hair dryer may be ugly but they serve their purpose, easily allowing you to turn the hair dryer on.
Besides the two switches, the remainder of the handle is devoid of features.That is until you get to the air inlet, at the very base of the handle.
It is here that the Dyson hair dryer sucks in the air before it is propelled out the nozzle at the top.The air filter is covered by a removable plastic cage. Simply twist the cage to the left to remove it.
With the filter cage removed it is free to slide down the power cord and out of the way.Fortunately the plug is thick enough that the filter cage cannot slide past it.With the filter cage removed you can now see the air filter:
It is here that dust and dirt will collect, to prevent it from being blown into your hair.With continued use the dust and dirt will build up to the point where it obstructs the airflow. Fortunately a quick wipe down is all it takes to get your Supersonic blowing as good as new.Just below the air filter you will find a feature that is a must have on all modern appliances that regularly get moved around:
A rubber cord saver. The cord saver bends and flexes, preventing the cable from straining and breaking at the joint. While it may seem like a basic feature, it goes a long way in ensuring products last the distance.
The power cord itself stretches to 9 foot in length and should be more than long enough to reach from your bathroom electrical outlet to your countertop.Dyson Supersonic AccessoriesUnless you purchase the special edition Supersonic, that also comes with a leather case, your hair dryer will come with 5 different accessories; 3 nozzles, a nonslip mat and a storage hanger.Dyson Supersonic Nozzles
Three drying nozzles are included in the box of the Dyson Supersonic. Each nozzle directs the air flow in a different way allowing the hair dryer to blow exactly how you need it to.Each nozzle has a metal ring that allows it to quickly attach to the magnet found on the head of the hair dryer.
The magnetic connection system is unique in that it allows you to spin the nozzle while it is attached to the hair dryer, allowing you to focus the air flow exactly how you want:
Dyson has designed the nozzles in such a way that they remain cool even when hot air is blasting through them. This leaves you free to swap the nozzles out without burning your fingers. Now let’s take a closer look at those nozzles.1. Dyson Smoothing Nozzle
The Smoothing Nozzle is used when you a natural look without the brush. Instead of blasting the air in a single location the nozzle diffusers the air flow, resulting in less flyaway hairs and a smoother finish.
How to use the Smoothing NozzleHold the hair dryer above your head blowing down the hair shaft while combing at your hair with your fingers.2. Dyson Styling Concentrator Nozzle
The Styling Concentrator nozzle focus air so that you can concentrate on a single location without disturbing the surrounding hair. Because air is focused in a single location it feels harder and hotter, helping to set the hair when using a brush.
How to use the Styling Concentrator NozzleUse the airflow to wrap the hair around your stylish brush and slowly wind up. Then focus the air stream on the hair wrapped around the brush on it as you pull the down your hair, removing knots.To set a curl, roll your hair back up as you dry it with the hair dryer, keeping the nozzle close to the hair. Hold the curl for your desired length of time while blowing it before unfurling it while moving it to the side. Repeat on the next section for more curls.3. Dyson Supersonic Diffuser Nozzle
The best attachment for curly hair. The diffuser attachment can either be used for naturally drying or amplifying your curls for a frizz free finish.
How to use the Diffuser NozzleUse the lowest heat and lowest fan setting to blow on your hair while scrunching, lifting your hair up slightly to dry allow air to dry the roots without disturbing the curl. For looser curls tip your hair upside down and lightly finger your hair while applying aiming with the hair dryer. Finally tilt your head back and finish drying so that the roots of your hair sets backwards, keeping air out of your eyes. Non-slip Mat
While it may seem like a basic accessory, you will be singing it’s praises if it saves your expensive new hairdryer from smashing all over your hard bathroom floor.Simply set the mat up and when you need to place your hair dryer down on the bench, make sure it rests on this mat. The underside of the mat is ribbed to allow it to better grip your bathroom counter.
I was genuinely impressed with just how well the mat gripped the hair dryer. There was so much friction that it was near impossible to drag the Dyson Supersonic across the mat. Now the mat does have a tendency to attract small bits of dust and fluff but this was easy to remove just by running the non-slip mat under running water. Storage hanger:
If you use your hair dryer daily but find yourself short of storage space in your bathroom then perhaps you can make use of the included storage hanger.The storage hanger simply loops around the rubber cord shield at the base of the handle and can be used to hang the Supersonic from a towel hook.
Truth be told the storage hanger feels like a bit of an afterthought. The edges leather loop from which the hair dryer will hang is frayed and unsightly. This is in contrast with the rest of the included accessories thatWhile we were unable to remove the hanging loop by tugging at it, I felt fear at the thought of hanging such an expensive hair dryer, leaving it to gravity’s mercy. One bump is all it would take to send it tumbling to the floor. Testing the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
For the purpose of providing a comprehensive test we brought in 10 volunteers to go hands on with this hairdryer. With a good mix of thin, thick and curly hair we set forth to take the Dyson Supersonic for a test-drive. The following contains summaries of our experience. For the purpose of this test, we did not tell users the price of the hairdryer until after they gave their verdict. We did not want the price to sway users opinions.The first thing that the testers noticed was that the instruction manual was light on information. For instance, no mention is made of how you should best store your hair dryer. And unless you purchase the limited edition model, a storage box isn’t included. While you could store the hairdryer in the box it came in this is somewhat impractical. One of the testers commented:
This hairdryer is such an investment that you are going to want to use it right, you know, to keep it working for as long as possible. It would be easier if Dyson gave concrete steps to doing this in the manual..
Now those of you who just want to pick up your new product and use it won’t even worry about this point, and the Dyson Supersonic is so simple that you could. But it seems odd that Dyson chose not to serve those that would want just a little more information.
Since the handle of the Dyson Supersonic is straight, rather than curved, it gives you a lot of freedom to hold the handle as you see fit. However, not all testers appreciated this. If you look at your conventional hair dryer you will notice that the handle curves, making it much simpler to grip. The Supersonic does not grant the same luxury instead choosing a rather straight handle that was not instantly easy to grip. With continued use, testers were able to figure out how to hold the handle for maximum comfort and effectiveness but it did come with a learning curve. Then there is the air intake located at the base of the handle. Testers with larger hands hand a tendency to grip the handle lower. Often this low grip would partially cover the air intake, which would then result in reduced airflow blowing out the nozzle. Again, with continued use, the large-handed testers were able to learn how to grip the handle but it did not appear to be entirely intuitive. But it was not all bad news for the fan in the handle. Testers commented just how nicely weighted the hair dryer felt. By moving the motor to the handle Dyson has done a great job at making a hair dryer that feels balanced. And whatever Dyson has coated the handle with is nothing short of amazing. The non-slip finish makes it near impossible for the handle to slip through your fingers.
As discussed earlier in the review, testers did not enjoy the tactile experience provided by the power switch. However, it served it’s purpose – turning the Supersonic on and off. With the power on the first thing that will hit you is the noise. While the hairdryer itself is quiet it does emit a high pitched sound. The interesting thing here is that some testers appeared to hear it more than others. While I could hardly hear the Supersonic when it was turned on, others complained that it was comparatively noisy. This might be because the noise given off by the digital motor found inside the hair dryer is much higher pitched than a traditional hair dryer and only noticeable to those with sensitive hearing. Measuring the decibels, the unit of how loud a sound is, we were able to get 79 Decibels at a distance of 6 inches. By comparison, other hair dryers we tested ranged from 81-89 decibels, so the Dyson is definitely on the lower end of noise. Does that mean you can have a normal conversation over this hair dryer in the real world? Yes, but not practically. A lot of the noise actually comes from the steam of air rushing past your ears. If you have the hair dryer pointed near your ears then you will are unlikely to hear over the top of it. If you point the hair dryer away from you then you can talk over the top, albeit with a slightly raised voice, but at this stage, you might as well turn the hair dryer off.
While we are on the topic of sound here is an interesting thing note for you dog owners: One of our tester’s dogs, a beagle, appeared to be startled by the high pitched noise the Dyson Supersonic gave off. Interestingly this same dog is also afraid of vacuum cleaners. However, another tester who owns a golden retriever said that her dog failed to react. All testers found operating the Dyson Supersonic a very simple task. After spending half a minute toying with the buttons testers were easily able to control it like a pro. Props to Dyson for making such a simple interface. Now for the 399 dollar question:
Can the Dyson Supersonic dry your hair better than an ordinary hair dryer?
The answer was a resounding yes. Keep in mind at this stage we had not revealed the price of the hair dryer to our testers. The only thing they were judging was performance.
All testers agreed that the Dyson moves air like a beast. Without any attachments, the hair dryer blows an absolute gale. In fact, many testers commented that the Supersonic allowed them to dry their hair faster than ever before. While you may be able to get away with using the hair dryer like this for a rough dry, it worked best when used with the nozzle attachments. Testers loved how easy it was to twist the nozzles precise control of the dryer. With a simple twist, the nozzle went from a wide flow of air to a narrow one. Even on the hottest setting, the nozzles remained cool enough to touch. One of the many things that the Dyson Supersonic excels at is temperature. One tester commented:
My everyday hair dryer is either too hot or too cold and nothing in between. This hair dryer seems to keep a steady temperature.
The magic all happens inside the head. A Glass bead thermistor measures the temperature of the air 20 times per second and sends that information back to a microprocessor which then controls the heating element. If all that sounds like techno-babble then let me put it simply – A small computer inside the Dyson hair dryer controls the temperature, ensuring it stays perfectly even. One of our testers who had a problem with frizzy hair noticed that the even temperature helped prevent hair drying out and that she actually noticed a reduction in frizz after using the hairdryer.A word of warning on the magnetic metal ring that connects the attachments to the hair dryer head. It get’s hot. Very hot. Even after just a minute of use.But does it get hot enough to burn? We couldn’t exactly ask our volunteers to test it. So we went to one of our other reviewers, Greg, who is generally up for anything and tried to convince him that testing the temperature with his skin was a good idea. One good round of peer pressure and a scream of pain later and this is the result:
As you can see, the magnetic ring certainly can get hot enough to burn. I know we could have just used a thermometer to test the temperature but this way was much more fun, and we got a good photo out of it. A special thanks to Greg for being such a good sport, hopefully, it doesn’t scar.While the instruction manual does come with the following warning in a font that is far too small…
The air exit and metal ring may be hot during use. Allow cooling before using.
… We can’t help but feel like placing hot metal that has the potential to heat up on the outside of a product to be a bad idea. Unless it’s a hair straightener that is.Still, given that none of our testers managed to burn themselves during testing and I had to go out of my way to press it into a colleague’s arm to get a burn, it may be I am splitting hairs. Also, you won’t be able to burn yourself if you keep the nozzles attached while the hair dryer cools.
So now, the last question; How would out testers responded when met with the price? So far our testers universally loved the Dyson Supersonic. Would that change I informed them that it cost 10 times the price of the average hair dryer?Yes. It certainly did. It completely divided our testers. The price came as a huge shock to some. One Tester commented:
“I would expect ten times the performance for ten times the price. Count me out”
And another was put off by her financial position.
“I have a baby on the way and I have to knuckle down and be frugal. While I would love to own it I cannot justify spending that much on myself right now.”
But not everyone was put off by the high price:
“I spent more than that on my vacuum cleaner and I only use that once a week. I use my hairdryer every day and considered it one of my most treasured possessions. This is definitely worth it.”
And another two testers had a different reason:
“The price is far outside what I would ordinarily pay for a hair dryer but given that this is the most frizz-free I have been without using hair products, I’m going to start saving.”
It was interesting to note that the testers who had easy to manage hair all said that they could not justify spending such a large amount on a hairdryer while those with curly and problematic hair were more partial to it.
If you can justify the price then this is by far the best hair dryer that is currently available. It is as simple as that. It honestly is a league of its own. The biggest fault with the Dyson Supersonic is its price. But considering this is a brand new and revolutionary product this is to be expected and currently, the only way to experience it is to hand over your hard-earned cash.
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