Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An Utterly Worthless Handheld Vacuum, The Dirt Devil KWIK Is Not Worth Its Price.

The Good: Stylish, Intuitive to use
The Bad: VERY low capacity, Almost no sucking power, Poor balance in charger, Pointless attachment.
The Basics: With its stylish look, the Dirt Devil KWIK almost bamboozles this reviewer into ignoring the fact that it has low functional abilities and no capacity to speak of.

For the last two years, my mother, brother and I have been collecting caps from various bottles of Coca-Cola products that have codes on them. These codes give us points which we can use to purchase products and the idea is cool. We get things for free that might otherwise be expensive from Coca-Cola's trendy catalogue of electronics, music and the like. So, when I saw the Dirt Devil KWIK handheld vacuum in the Coca-Cola database I was pretty psyched. My Honda Civic Hybrid was getting a bit dirty inside and I figured a little handheld vacuum like this would be ideal for cleaning it out. Sadly, upon receiving this device, I realized that I had fallen for an almost P.T. Barnumesque product and that my car was going to remain pretty dirty after my cross-country trip.

The Dirt Devil KWIK is a handheld vacuum, what in the 1980s we called a dustbuster (Dustbuster is actually a trademarked name for a specific brand's handheld vacuum) and I was actually surprised companies were still making handheld vacuums. When I worked at a department store in the late 1990s, the products had pretty much disappeared from the marketplace. The Dirt Devil KWIK is a stylish attempt to reinvigorate the sagging handheld vacuum market and if it is any indication, these devices are as dead as big sideburns, polyester and synthesizer music. The Dirt Devil KWIK looks good, but it is an utterly ineffectual device designed for those who want the appearance of being on the cutting edge without any regard for the practicality of the devices they have around the car or house.

The Dirt Devil KWIK comes in two pieces; the unit and the charger. The charger is a round base that sits on countertop or tabletop and there is no way to wall mount it. The charger is a 2 1/2" tall silver-gray plastic station that receives the handheld unit. The charger has four rubber pads that prevent it from slipping on whatever surface it is set upon. From the charger extends a cord that stretches just under five feet ending in a USB male end. Yes, you read that correctly; the Dirt Devil KWIK charges through a USB port, as in from your computer! There is no option to charge this outside a USB port and it cannot be plugged into a wall socket. This is intended to make it convenient for plugging into car USB ports (which many new models of automobiles have). Again, this is designed to be cutting edge and trendy as opposed to practical in anything more than a single medium.

On its base, the Dirt Devil KWIK most closely resembles a faucet that rises out of the surface it is on and then descends back into it. Designed by Karim Rashid (I've no idea who that is, but the base proudly lets the consumer know that is who designed it, I may only assume the name means "Looks good, but utterly impractical), the Dirt Devil KWIK is all curves. The faucet analogy is not a bad one; the unit itself curves up out of its charger like a faucet and has similar lines and curves. As well, the entire handheld vacuum is silver-gray. To its credit, on my household desk surface, the Dirt Devil KWIK's charger base does not move.

The Dirt Devil KWIK, the actual handheld unit is a nine inch long curved handheld vacuum that is round in the hand and has a simple button underside that controls it. The device is intuitive to use and the best possible analogy to anything else ever seen confirms what my readers already know about my status as an Alpha Geek. The Dirt Devil KWIK most closely resembles a Type II phaser from "Star Trek: The Next Generation." From its curved handle to the tight entrance through which matter is sucked, this handheld vacuum looks most like the weapons from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" more than anything else.

The design is somewhat impractical for setting into its charger as the curved handle must rest flat in order for the pins on the unit to connect to the pins on the charger and recharge the handheld vacuum. This necessitates bringing it into the base at an angle and removing it from the base often knocks the charger over, especially when it is in a car.

If it seems like I have spent an inordinate amount of time on the look and style of this device, there is a reason for that. The Dirt Devil KWIK is all about style, not substance. Using the handheld vacuum is ridiculously simple. When one wraps their hands around the unit, there is a button on the underside that activates the vacuum with a single touch. Releasing the button leaves it on and tapping or squeezing it a second time turns the vacuum off. When it is on, it emits a low buzzing sound and it sucks up dust and a limited amount of dirt.

My assertion that this is all about style and not substance is reinforced through the device itself. First, the Dirt Devil KWIK has atrociously little sucking power. I used it on the seat and floormat of my car to test it out. Yesterday, my wife and I went to the beach and she tracked some sand into the car. There was a little sand on the seat and a lot more on the floormat. The seat had the sand right on the surface and a single swipe of the unit did not remove any visible dirt. A second pass sucked up a few grains of sand, but by that time I noticed the unit sounded different. The opening to the Dirt Devil KWIK is only 3/4" wide by 1/4" tall, so this is not designed for picking up a lot of matter at all. Still, I would have thought it could handle some dirt and dust. I passed the Dirt Devil KWIK over a single swatch of the seat a foot long twice before I noticed it sounded different.

So, I turned it off and looked at the device. To its credit, the device it thoroughly intuitive. The head of the vacuum has a pair of icons which show locked and unlocked positions. So, I twisted the head to the unlocked position and popped the nozzle for the vacuum off. It was that easy! That revealed the filter for the Dirt Devil KWIK. The one inch long by one inch wide filter bag was already filled! The cloth bag was coated with dirt and dust. So, I shrugged, tapped it clean - away from the car - and it became white and clean with a firm breath or two. The bag was easily reinstalled and the nozzle twisted right back on and I went back to vacuuming. Two swipes later, the bag was full again!

This vacuum has no capacity to speak of and because the filter is above the motor, the moment it becomes full, it loses what little sucking capacity that it has. I made four passes of the car seat before all of the SURFACE sand from our beach trip was removed! My mother came out with a stiff handbroom and dustpan and we attacked opposite floormats. Within a minute, my mother's low-tech solution had cleaned a floormat, my new Dirt Devil KWIK had been filled and emptied twice with no noticeable impact on the cleanliness of my car! In other words, this vacuum does not work to clean anything but surface dust with any adeptness. Anything as small as a pebble will not be lifted by the unit.

The battery capacity on the Dirt Devil KWIK appears to be good. With over fifteen minutes of constant use ("constant use" here defined as about thirty seconds of use, thirty seconds of cleaning the filter, repeated for fifteen minutes) the battery showed no signs of lessening the sucking lack of power of this handheld vacuum. Given how worthless the use of this machine is, one suspects that the battery will always be one of the last things to go. Recharging the unit seems to happen quickly and no matter how long I've used the Dirt Devil KWIK it always seems to come out of the charger with the same capacity for not sucking up dirt and dust.

The Dirt Devil KWIK comes with a single attachment. Tucked into the base is an attachment with a brush that easily clips into the nozzle. It does not significantly reduce or actually affect the sucking power of the unit to shove it into the nozzle. It also does not seem to do much in the way of brushing dirt out of surfaces - like floormats - to make available to the sucking power of the vacuum (the bristles are too soft). It is easily removed from the base, though and it clips right back in easily as well.

Because there are positive design attributes to the Dirt Devil KWIK, I was tempted to knock this up a little, but I kept coming back to the idea that no matter how easy the device is to use, it still doesn't DO what it's supposed to. There's no reason for anyone else to be made miserable by this fine looking, poor working product.

For other vacuum cleaners, please check out my review of the Eureka Maxima 4700 series vacuum by clicking here!


For other appliance reviews, please check out my index page!

© 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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