… Especially if you’re looking for small-but-useful products, like these
With college starting up — and space at a premium as we all downsize a bit in the tightening economy — students and those who just live in smaller accommodations are all about finding compact gadgetry that can also be practical.
We found a few small items that really get the job done for anyone looking to minimize.
Clean sweep: Dyson DC22 Motorhead
If ever there was evidence for big things coming in small packages, it’s Dyson’s snazzy DC22 Motorhead. If the name sounds like a KISS cover band, it’s actually something a lot less noisy: a mini canister vacuum cleaner.
"Mini" may not be the best term for it. Barely larger than a bowling ball bag — albeit one with a telescoping suction wand attached — the Dyson has all the power of my full-sized Hoover upright, though it’s light enough (under 20 lbs.) that you can sweep with one hand and carry the entire canister in the other without straining. (The lightweight feature is especially helpful when vacuuming stairs or out-of-the-way places, like the tops of armoires.)
Its superior suction means that it effortlessly removes pet hair (my bane) off tight-piled carpets, even microfibre furniture upholstery; the free-flowing wand makes it easy to get under and behind sofas and beds. It’s even kinda funky to look at (the splashy magenta-topped cyclonic dirt receptacle adds a lot of flamboyant flair), meaning it may be the first vacuum you don’t feel obligated to shove in the back of the closet.
But as with all new products, there is some give and take. Because it’s so small, the canister needs to be cleaned out more often than a full-size model (although emptying it is as simple as pressing the lever on a trap door, minimizing spillage). The retractable cord is convenient but not especially long, meaning I needed to re-plug more often than will my old vacuum. And while the wand neatly extends and folds up, it’s still a bulky thing. There’s only a small flange on the body of the vacuum to hold it in place when not in use, so it can get unwieldy.
Still, the technology is nothing short of phenomenal. Because the motor employs a digital process, the DC22 may be the first smart vacuum cleaner: It shuts off promptly if the brushes get stalled, has varying speeds and works like a devil. At $800, the price may be the only thing about it that’s not impressively small, but hey, you can have a space-saver or a money-saver. You need a vacuum anyway, so splurge.
Available online and locally at AAA Vacuum Cleaner Co.
Can you ear me now: Acoustibuds
You don’t get much smaller — or more useful, especially for gay gym rats — than Acoustibuds. These handy little bits of rubber may not look like much, but they really make some noise.
The noise in question is the sound spewing from your iPod. Apple makes a great product, but their standard earbuds fit about as well as Ann Coulter at a Stonewall rally. Acoustibuds improve on a great product.
Designed to fit snugly over the standard headset, they extend the reach of the buds deeper into your ear canal with soft gills that grip without ever becoming uncomfortable. Especially during workouts, they resist falling out while not diminishing sound quality in the slightest — in fact, they might improve it, by filtering out ambient noise.
A packet of several pairs, available in white or black and a variety of sizes to fit any ear, costs around 20 bucks.
Currently available online; available soon in Best Buy.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 21, 2009.