The Dyson Origin Animal vacuum is pricey, but it has amazing power and some nifty features. There are some issues with the set-up, but I've never found a vacuum yet that didn't have something about it I didn't like. It's a difficult task to make a machine powerful yet light and compact, and sometimes cramming features in makes that task harder.
The best thing about the Dyson is exactly what the commercials talk about--the powerful suction. We have a dog, and I suspected my old vacuum wasn't doing the trick with clean-up. We bought the Dyson Animal, made specifically for pet owners. The first time I vacuumed, I filled the container with just one room's vacuuming. Once you see what your regular vacuum has been missing, you won't ever want the cheaper models again.
Another great feature of the Dyson is that the canister is so easy to empty. Just grasp the handle and disengage it easily from the vacuum with the push of a button. Then hold over the trash and pull the trigger to dump the contents. The bottom opens on a hinge and the contents fall into the trash. I empty the vacuum every time we put a new bag in the trash bin--this way I can hold the canister farther into the trash. When it dumps out, any dust spray happens inside the trash bin.
It's important to empty the canister regularly, to avoid having to clean it. If it's overfull, some of the debris can get stuck around the top. If emptied regularly, all you have to do is occasionally wipe out the inside with a damp paper towel. I've found the Dyson to be very easy maintenance-wise. So far nothing's gotten stuck in it, or the wheels, and you don't hear stuff rattling around inside. How many times have you had to turn over your vacuum and pull stuff out? Not so with the Dyson.
The vacuum has a built-in auto-leveler so you don't have to change the dial every time you vacuum a different carpet. What I've found is that it takes a bit to adjust, so if you go from a high carpet to a low one, vacuum slowly over the same spot a few times to get it set right.
The hose attachment took some getting used to. In order to make use of the long, built-in handle attachment, it's necessary to pull it out of the hose and then reattach the hose to the other end. It's somewhat annoying to have to go through a big process every time you want to use the attachment, but once I got the hang of it, it wasn't so bad.
What makes it worth the hassle is the ability to do stairs without having to drag the vacuum up with you the whole way. The accordion hose extends to 17 feet, while the vacuum remains stable and upright. You leave the vacuum on the main floor and then just work with the hose all the way up the stairs. It makes stairs so much simpler!
It also comes with an attachment for vacuuming underneath low furniture that the full vacuum can't reach. It does an okay job, but it's not as powerful as the vacuum itself, so it's best to move the furniture once in awhile for a deeper cleaning.
Overall I've been very pleased with the performance of the Dyson, even if some of the attachments require a bit of effort. Just seeing how much it pulls up after each vacuum is enough to convince me it's doing a good job of keeping my house clean.
More info is available at the Dyson website.