Air Multiplier: Dyson attacks the table fan, kills the blades

Putting it kindly, the Dyson brand has made a name for itself by taking tired product categories and reinventing them, making things like vacuums and hand dryers more effective, high-tech and sexier. Putting it unkindly, it's a company based on trying to find the most expensive ways to move air.

Whatever Dyson really does, it's now doing it to the table fan. The Dyson Air Multiplier is the company's take on this all-too-common product. The AM's main upgrade: It does away with fan blades, instead using "unique technology" to blow air away from a large plastic ring, attached to a motorized base.

Dyson sent us over an Air Multiplier so we could personally check out. Our hands-on impressions after the Continue jump, along with price and availability information.

The Dyson Air Multiplier is a very simple product. We unpacked it, hooked it up and got it working in less than a minute without even touching the instructions. As it should be: This is a table fan, after all. When you turn it on for the first time and feel the breeze, you're left staring at the sparse ring in front of you, wondering where the air's coming from.

It doesn't take you long to notice to small (1.3 millimeter) seam on the inside of the ring. Air is taken in from the base, then pushed out from the ring (called a "loop amplifier"), which pulls air from behind the fan into the airflow. Air in the front and the sides is pulled into the stream as well. In the end, the air is said to be amplified 15 times.

Does it work? Sure, absolutely — about as well as a regular table fan. For all of Dyson's promise that the Air Multiplier provides smoother, less choppy air than a regular fan, I couldn't really tell that the breeze produced was any different from you average Honeywell.

The sleek design has a lot going for it, however. The "silver & iron" design on the 12-inch model (I seriously doubt it contains either of those elements) will look perfect next to plasma TVs and other modern electronics, and there's a smaller (10-inch) one that comes in either blue & iron or silver & white. Touch a single button and the fan turns back and forth in a 90° arc, and the base can tilt a few degrees, too. An intensity knob lets you adjust from quiet breeze all the way to floor at a jet-engine factory.

But by far the best thing about the design is the lack of blades. Not only does their absence make the Air Multiplier inherently safer than other fans, but it's easy to clean, too. After all, there's no grille, and theoretically no place for dust to build up. We'll let you know in a few months, though.

Are those advantages enough to justify the $330 cost ($300 for the 10-inch model). In this case, I'd say no — the effectiveness here isn't really on par with the upgrades that Dyson found with, say, its DC-22 vacuum or AirBlade dryer.

Then again, I've never had an accident with a fan blade. Any blade-victim survivors out there excited by the Air Multiplier? To the tune of 300 bucks?