The Dyson AM02 Tower Fan Review

Featured, Home Gadget ReviewsDevin Balentina

Introduction

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Back in March we reviewed Dyson’s AM04 Hot fan heater, a fan and heater combo that we called a genuine replacement for a fan and a heater, a remarkable piece of tech that combines an eye-catching design with functionality. Now imagine creating a much larger unit, dropping the heating function and adding a more powerful fan. The result? The Dyson AM02 Tower fan. Does a larger Dyson air multiplier without a heating function equal a better fan? Are the cheaper and smaller AM04 Hot Fan heater or  AM01 Table Fan a better proposition? Or should you simply skip all of them and get regular fan? Let’s sit back, use the wireless remote controls and fire up both the AM02 and the AM04 and see how the latter stacks up.

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Specifications

Air Multiplier™ technology

·        Generates smooth, uninterrupted airflow

Air Amplification

·        16 Times

Airflow settings

·        Fully variable

Air Drawn per second      

      33 Litres

Weight

   3.39kg

Price

  $449.99 or € 399.99

Oscillation

    90 degree span

Base dimensions

·        250 mm

Dimensions

Height x width x depth

·        1007 x 110 x 190 mm (HxWxD) /
39.65 x 7.48 x 4.33 inches (H x W x D)

Color

·        Silver/Silver or
Iron/Blue or White/Silver

Cord length

·        2 meters/
6.56 ft.

 

What’s in the box?

  • Operations manual
  • Loop amplifier
  • Remote control
  • Base
  • Base plate

The Dyson AM02 tower fan

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Introduced back in 2010, both the AM02 Tower and the AM03 Pedestal are considered Dyson’s Flagship Air Multiplier devices and as a result, they are also their largest, best performing and as expected also their most expensive products, coming in at a whopping $450. Both were created with large spaces in mind, hence the increase in size, better performance and their free-standing design. While you can always put the smaller AM04 Fan Heater and AM01 Table Fan on the floor, both ideally require some raised surface like a side table for a higher and more useable position. The taller and free-standing AM02 and AM03 don’t have this issue. While both of these devices share the same $450 price and both sit at the top of Dyson’s pyramid, there can only be one flagship and in this case it’s the AM03 Pedestal. It not only offers the most airflow of all Dyson Air Multiplier fans (18x amplification), it’s also the tallest (a maximum height of 1.4 meters), the only model that’s height adjustable and it’s also the most adjustable of all models when the tilt function is concerned (20 degrees compared to 10 degrees for the other models.) The subject of this review, the AM02,  was also created with large spaces in mind, but it sacrifices some of this performance to focus more on design and limited space. As a result it’s able to amplify air at about 16x, a little less than the AM03’s 18X, simply due to the fact that this running track shape is less efficient when compared to a loop design. In comparison the smaller AM01 models are able amplify the air at 15x, while the AM04 Hot Fan Heater does this at 6x. This slim and stylish design also comes at the cost of the ability to adjust the angle of the loop itself: it’s so tall and narrow that it makes angle adjustment impossible as the unit would surely topple over and fall. This makes it the only model among Dyson’s Air Multiplier devices that can’t be adjusted when it comes to the aiming angle. On the bright side, the slender shape means it uses very little space for something of this size. Also, it’s unusually long Amplifier  makes angle adjustment almost unnecessary as it’s able to blow a very tall column of air that already covers most direction you could think of. It’s only limitation would be when you specifically want to aim it towards the ceiling, the floor or towards your feet. If you specifically need this, the AM03 is the model to consider.

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What we said about the AM04 Hot Fan Heater also applies for the AM02. It uses Air Multiplier technology to efficiently produce airflow: only 7% of the air generated by Dyson Air Multiplier fans actually passes through the impeller at the bottom, 93% results from the inducement and entrainment of surrounding air in and through the amplifier at the top.  It basically takes surrounding air via the openings in the base and pushes it out at high speed through a slot that runs along the sides of an elliptical loop called the Amplifier. The magic happens once the air streams out where it encounters a curved surface, which naturally creates negative air pressure. This pressure causes the outgoing air to accelerate while drawing even more air from the back. As the air travels down the expanding ellipse, it creates another area of low pressure behind the fan which again naturally pushes even more air through the fan and causing the air in front of it to accelerate even faster. Lastly as the air exits the fan as a large cylinder of air that comes of the edge, more air is added through a process called viscous shearing. Dyson’s approach is simply genius and efficient in the sense that the fan is designed in such a way to naturally create low pressure areas, basically using the laws of physics to accelerate the air, drawing in more air from the back with very little initial effort. The concept is pure brilliance! It does however lack the heating function of the similarly looking AM04, which is why we’re wondering when they’re going to combine the 02 and 04 into one device with the heating function of the AM04 with the size, performance and free-standing nature of the AM02. The larger size of the AM02 means it’s able to produce a lot more air than the AM04, perfect for large rooms.

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The AM02 is available in three color combinations: Iron/Blue, Silver/Silver and White/Silver. We received the all-Silver version which should work for most interior designs, but with this specific model we do however miss the contrast of a two-color scheme. The Iron/Blue color combo looks extremely beautiful and is probably my favorite color combo, but the not-so neutral Blue might not work for most homes. My second favorite, the White/Silver looks nice and is neutral enough for most homes, similar to the AM04 we’ve reviewed. Just be aware that this color option isn’t available to all markets, including the US.  Dyson should consider offering the AM02 in a full Iron or full Black color options, as the Blue isn’t neutral enough for many homes and I can see quite a demand for especially an all-Iron version. They should also consider making the White/Silver model available to more market like the US.

Design

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The AM02 looks like an AM04 with a slightly larger pedestal, wider base and a thinner and unusually stretched out Amplifier. As a result, just like it’s smaller sibling it is one beautiful and stylish piece of tech, but due to it unusual appearance and larger Amplifier it’s a lot more dramatic. This in part is due to the relatively small pedestal in relation to the oversized and long running-track-shaped Amplifier. It’s minimalistic design combined with the iconic Amplifier make for an instantly recognizable product that’s unmistakably Dyson.  It’s larger proportions give it even more presence, while its all-Silver finish and unusually tall and slender shape look like a study in contemporary art. While the AM04 would stand out as a stylish in-home modern accessory, the larger AM02 literally becomes the center of attention in any home. It draws your eyes towards the unit the moment you step into the room, no matter how impressive your interior design. At the same it doesn’t stand like out like a sore thumb, instead it makes a statement and yet due to it’s uncomplicated outer appearance it manages to harmoniously blend in with a wide array of styles. If it wasn’t for the fan function, it could easily be mistaken for a high-end and stylish piece of modern art and as a result, it doesn’t just blend in with the rest of the décor or adds to the overall interior design like the AM04, it defines it. It’s design can be described as a simplification to the most basic shapes and that’s where it’s beauty lays, exuding simplicity, solidity  and harmony. Many products with great design do just that: a simplification to basic shapes  and the same can be said about the AM02. It’s oversized Amplifier sitting atop the small pedestal is responsible for the units presence, but it also looks like it’s almost doing a gravity-defying feet by staying upright, as if held up by some unseen force. But by cramming the  heaviest components inside the pedestal it has an unusually low center of gravity, making for one sturdy unit that’s also incredibly difficult to topple over. It’s safe to say that if you value design, especially contemporary minimalistic design, the AM02 should be very high on your list, even more so than the similarly priced AM03. It’s simply more dramatic than the AM04 too.

The AM04 got some interesting reactions from visiting friends and family that clearly knew it was some  kind of device, but were unable to determine what it does. The AM02 in turn looks like it part of the décor with visiting friends and family quietly staring at it then commenting on how nice everything looks and how “that” looks great and “completes the look”.  As you might have guessed from the description above, it’s very safe to say that it will easily get the wife approval.

One thing that stands out is the fact that the AM04 which is a newer product, looks slightly more refined, with more curvaceous lines and a slightly better fit and finish. As companies improve manufacturing and use better materials and refine the overall fit and finish you obviously end with an overall better result. The AM02 like all Dyson product exudes quality and are all about the use of high quality plastics, but when placed next to the newer AM04 you’ll definitely notice the slightly tweaked design of the AM04.

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The unit consists of the large elliptical ring, called the Amplifier, the pedestal and the removable base. Overall it’s a simple process in the sense that you just have to connect the three parts together and you’re up and running. But just like the AM04 the same difficulties apply here: it requires twisting the base into place to connect it to the pedestal and then twisting the amplifier into place, which seemed easy, but I found it quiet difficult to properly align the lines and screw the base into place. Dyson did their when it comes it at least trying to make the process incredibly easy with arrows and symbols on stickers indicating exactly what to do. Without those stickers I would have no idea on how to put it together, since it requires exactly aligning the parts at a very specific point and those stickers are a sign that Dyson knew this too. But when it came down to actually attaching the base, it definitely wasn’t as intuitive or easy as it should be. After several minutes I finally got it right, something that should have taken mere seconds. Removing the base here is also quite difficult, especially since you have to deal with a longer amplifier. Again, this is one area that needs improvement and perhaps some kind of mechanism where you have to simply click the parts into place would be ideal.

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For something this tall, you’d expect the base to be very wide but it’s not, keeping in line with the AM02’s goal of taking up limited floor space. In fact, the base isn’t that much bigger than the one found on the much smaller AM04. As mentioned above this can be achieved by having the pedestal with all the heaviest components low to the ground, keeping a low center of gravity, while the Amplifier itself is very light and hollow. For those with delicate floors, the unit does come with rubber pads attached to the base which should prevent scratches.

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Moving up to the pedestal, first things you’ll notice is that it’s divided into two parts. On the AM04 this actually served the purpose of allowing the unit to tilt backwards or forwards, on the AM02 this feature is simply absent. Due to the sheer size of the AM02 this simply isn’t possible or practical(it would require an extremely heavy base) and because of the length of the Amplifier one could argue that it isn’t really necessary either as it covers a wide angle. On the lower half of the pedestal you’ll find the power button, the airflow control button, oscillation button and the IR receiver port. This port sits behind a small clear Purple plastic, that matches the Purple plastic on the remote’s IR transmitter, a small but nice detail. The air flow control buttons doesn’t have a start or end position, allowing it to freely and continuously be turned clockwise or counter clockwise, even when the  fan  reaches its lowest or its maximum performance settings. We love how this button works as it allow for very precise fine-tuning of the air flow. Missing however is an LED indicator like the one found on the AM04 which indicates the exact air flow setting. While it is nice to have precise control over the air speed with the free turning button, its implementation on the AM02 felt half-baked due to the lack of an LED indicator. Let’s say I prefer an airspeed of  58 on a scale from 1 to 100, but without an LED air speed indicator it’s nearly impossible to set it again to that an exact speed. Dyson should consider adding an indicator with a memory function that can remember the last air speed setting. The power button on the base lights up a soft Blue, but strangely the oscillation button doesn’t do the same. In our opinion this button should also light up. Speaking of the oscillation feature, the fan can swing about 90 degrees, however we would have liked of it can do a full 360 turn.

One problem we found with the IR receiver on the AM02 that wasn’t a problem on the AM04 is the fact that it’s placed too close to the ground. The AM02 is a small unit and  as a resulted it’s expected to placed high up on a table. For this reason it’s almost always at a height where you  have a direct line of sight to the receiver. The AM02 on the other hand is a free standing unit with the IR sitting close to the ground where most of the time it’s blocked by the other furniture, requiring you sometimes to aim the remote from different and uncomfortable angles just to get it to get a signal. There’s nothing wrong with the remote or the receiver, but it’s simply showing the limitations of Infrared technology. For this reason, Dyson should really consider moving to RF or even  a second IR receiver on the Amplifier.

The upper part of the pedestal is free of buttons and knobs and is where you’ll find the air inlet openings.

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The main attraction of the AM02 is the Amplifier, basically a long elliptical loop that attaches to the base. For its size, it’s relatively light and compared to the AM04’s Amplifier it’s also much thinner, because it lacks the AM04’s heating elements. The aperture inside the loop amplifier is very small and because it sits behind an area that rises, it’s almost hidden, adding to the optical illusion of air just “magically”  flowing through the loop. The aperture runs along the entire perimeter of the amplifier, including through the curved areas, but air is not pushed through aperture where Amplifier is curved. The raised area in front of the aperture is no accident, but was specifically chosen to create a low pressure area. The front of the Amplifier also slightly widens to help in creating a low pressure to accelerate the air and attract more air towards the fan from the back. The shape of the amplifier seems to have been dictated by function, but strangely at the same time it seems to give equal attention to form and not just function that’s equally aesthetically pleasing as it is functional. We do miss the two-tone look of the White/Grey version on our all-Grey AM02.

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The remote control can magnetically attach at the top of the Amplifier which is an elegant solution that should help in preventing you from losing something as small as the remote. What we said about AM04 also applies here: We strongly dislike disposable batteries due to the fact that it at this point in technology we simply consider them technologically and environmentally unacceptable. Dyson should consider taking the magnetic remote to the next step by adding inductive recharging while magnetically attached to the AM02. The remote looks like a larger and longer third generation iPod shuffle, just like the one included with the AM04, although this one has a slightly different button placement. It also appears to be made out of Aluminum, but one closer look reveals that it’s actually plastic. The quality, fit and finish on the remote is high enough to fool you into thinking it’s metal, but it  never gets cold, clearly indicating that it’s not Aluminum. The exact same controls on the pedestal are mirrored on the remote. The buttons sit completely flush with the body with no raised area to actually tell you’re pressing a button. The problems comes when sitting in the dark where it becomes difficult to operate. I’d love it if Dyson would put backlit buttons on future versions of this remote. That would make operation in the dark a whole lot easier. The use of a light sensor would also aid with conserving power. On the remote you’ll find a power, fan speed control and oscillation buttons and uses a single  CR2032 3V battery.

Daily Use & Performance

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If you’ve ever used the Dyson Hot, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this fan. By removing the heating function, the AM02 is tad simpler to use and closer in operation to a traditional fan. Both share the same third generation iPod shuffle-esque remote, but the AM02 drops the additional temperature controls for a much simpler remote. Like we said above, the remote does lack backlit buttons or any raised areas, making operation in the dark a bit difficult. I was constantly hunting for the buttons or tilting the remote towards any light source in dimly lit conditions,  in an attempt to see the buttons. Dyson should really should consider adding backlit keys to the overall well-built and stylish remote. While we prefer rechargeable batteries, we liked the fact that there wasn’t the need to replace the single CR2032 3V battery, even after several months of testing. We also absolutely loved the fact that you can magnetically attach the remote to the top of the Amplifier. It not only looks great, creating an unusual, almost gravity-defying visual effect, but it’s also handy. This means one remote less to worry about or loose and by attaching it to the Amplifier you always know where to find it.

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Another aspect that isn’t mentioned as often is the fact that this fan is easy to clean. Many times you have these stylish, but complex fan designs with glossy surfaces that are extremely difficult to clean, maintain and are easily scratched. The design of the AM02 goes back to the use of very basic and simple shapes, with smooth uncluttered surfaces, lacking a protective grille or blades making it extremely easy to clean with a damp cloth or a vacuum cleaner and also, making the entire cleaning process pretty straightforward. I did have some concerns when it comes to the impeller sitting in the pedestal. There’s absolutely no way for the end-user to open the pedestal and clean the moving parts. We do suspect that over time dust will collect inside the base and pose a potential problem for those that are allergic to dust.  Dyson should consider adding user washable and replaceable filters to help keep things dust free. I’m allergic to dust and dust mites and so far I didn’t have any problems with the AM02. But for a product of this caliber and price, one would at least expect the use of dust filters. Strangely this features is missing. Even stranger is the fact that this isn’t an area unknown to Dyson. A few months back we did a  review of one of their DC-26 vacuum cleaner and one of the key features we loved was the replaceable, washable HEPA filters.

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One area where the AM02 simply shines is the surprising amount air it generates and it’s remarkable ability of producing a very consistent and smooth column of air.  While similarly-sized traditional fans produce more air, they simply fall short when it comes down to actually keeping things cool and providing a smooth air flow. On extremely hot days, these traditional fans simply feel like they’re just blowing that very same warm air. I’ve also noticed that they tend to have a drying effect on the skin and eyes and they also produce lots of turbulence that reaches you in a very inconsistent manner. The AM02 on the other hand produces a large and ultra-smooth column of air that’s similar to a strong and constant breeze. When I say constant, I really mean it: there’s no turbulence or “breaks” in the air. It’s just one smooth wall of air that’s also surprisingly effective when it comes down to cooling you down on those extremely hot days. What’s even more surprising that it’s able to do this even at its lowest performance setting. It’s so smooth that I find myself falling asleep each time I use the AM02, while friends and family have repeatedly commented on how different the air being produced by the unit feels and how effective it is at creating that cooling, almost sea breeze like effect with very little effort and at near silent operation. Despite the striking design of the unit, visiting friends and family  are even more impressed when it comes to the actual performance of the fan, commenting on the unusually smooth continuous flow of air. Even more impressive is the fact that it can do this when placed  several feet away, making it ideal for larger rooms.

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When comparing the AM02 to the Hot AM04, it’s pretty clear that the 02 has the upper hand here, but judging by the difference in size, this is expected. The AM02 is much larger and as a result it is expected to produce a lot more air. The Hot is great due to its dual personality and shines as a heater, but it’s first and foremost a heater and as a result the AM02 will easily beat when we’re talking about the fan functionality. The AM04 will simply require to be run at higher (and louder) levels to reach the same level of performance as the AM02. To summarize: if you’re just looking for a fan, you should skip the Hot and go directly to the AM02 and while it’s admittedly on the expensive side, it’s level of performance and the smoothness of the air being produced is at a level that’s way beyond any traditional fans and as a result I consider well worth the price.

But how does it sound? It has a very distinct “whooshing” sound, when running at the higher performance settings, where it’s definitely louder than a conventional fan. The beauty of this device however is its ability to produce the same cooling effect at lower and much quieter settings. At these levels it’s near silent and as effective as a fan blowing at full blast.

The placement of the IR isn’t the best, sitting at the bottom of the unit, sometimes requiring you to get up and point the remote at the fan to get a good signal. For some this can quickly become annoying. Dyson should add another IR port at the top of the unit or even use RF.

Conclusion

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Both the AM02 Tower and the AM03 Pedestal are considered Dyson’s Flagship Air Multiplier devices and as a result, they are also their largest, best performing and as expected also their most expensive products, coming in at a whopping $450. Just like the AM04 we reviewed before it, the AM02 is a modern marvel with a beautiful iconic design with lots of attention to detail like an equally stylish remote and the ability to magnetically attach the remote to the Amplifier. The AM02 is however just a fan and not a heater/fan combo like the AM04 and will easily beat it when it comes to fan part, providing unrivaled performance even when it comes to cooling large rooms. Due to its larger size and free standing nature you don’t have the problem of needing a table to put it on and can literally be placed anywhere. It’s most impressive feature has to be its ability of producing a surprising amount air and  a very consistent and smooth column of air. It’s so smooth that traditional fans can’t even come close. At higher running levels it is however much louder than traditional fans with a very distinct “whooshing sound.” Luckily, 95% of time it requires running at lower levels where it’s nearly silent, all thanks to its efficient ability of providing lots of cooling at lower running levels. The AM02 is not without its fault however, still using a disposable battery for the remote control. It also lack backlit buttons or any raised areas, making operation in the dark a bit difficult. We would love to see backlit keys on future versions of the overall well-built remote. Since we aren’t fans of disposable batteries, we would also like to see a rechargeable system that uses inductive charging. Luckily, the single disposable battery should last really long.

Another point worth mentioning is the placement of the receiver at the bottom of the fan. This isn’t the best placement as  it will often be blocked by other furniture and unable to receive a signal. Adding second receiver to the top or using RF should solve this problem. Just like the AM04 the base is still difficult to remove and attach, but it makes the fan very difficult to topple over.

The AM02 is incredibly easy to clean, but we’re surprised there’s no way of cleaning inside the pedestal and even more surprised there’s no user-replaceable and washable HEPA filters, something Dyson has been using on their vacuum cleaners. In the end we consider the AM02 still a very expensive product with a price that will keep it out of reach for many. Even so, it is leaps and bounds ahead of all conventional fan when it comes to its performance. The Hot’s is primarily an impressive heater with the fan function as a bonus. Because of this the AM02 will easily beat it when we’re only comparing them as a fan. The only fan better than the AM02, is Dyson’s own AM03, but opting for that fan you’ll lose the more stylish and slender look of the AM02. It gets a cool 9.8 out of 10.

Pros

Beautiful iconic design

Remote attaches to the top of the AM02

Design is wife and décor friendly

Good build quality, fit and finish

Small footprint requires little space

Difficult to topple over

Ultra smooth column of air, lacking any buffeting

Effective at cooling

Produces lots of air

Very easy to clean

Near silent when running at its lower settings

Suggestions

Full 360 degree swing

Cons

No user replaceable and cleanable HEPA filters.

No LED indicator to show exact air speed

Placement of IR receiver: a second receiver at the Amplifier or use of RF technology should solve this.

Oscillation button doesn’t light up.

Remote is not rechargeable and  lacks backlit buttons

Base if difficult to remove and attach

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