When I reviewed Dyson’s V10 last year, I finally understood why people were willing to pay such a premium for the company’s vacuums. But testing Tineco’s Pure One S12 the past couple of weeks has been a reminder that there are versatile alternatives that give you more for your money.
The S12 comes in four packages, ranging from $449 at the entry level to $699 for the most goodies thrown in; I tested the $599 configuration. My first thought was that it looked a lot like a Dyson with a white coat of paint, so I worried it was little more than a knockoff.
Indeed, there are blatant similarities. Like the new Dyson V11, the S12’s headline feature is the ability to automatically adjust suction power for the surface being cleaned. The way they go about it is different though: the S12 adjusts suction power based on the amount of dust flowing past a sensor – allowing it to work with any attachment – while V11 adjust suction power based on the surface type and only works with the large motorized brush head.
This allows you to conserve battery life instead of cranking up the power and depleting your charge before you get to those last pesky dust bunnies. Also like the V11, the higher-end models come with an LED display that let you keep precise track of battery life and suction power.
But the S12 is not just a copycat; there are many practical additions that genuinely improve the cleaning experience. Among these are:
- A light ring circling the display on the higher end models shifts from red to blue as the surface gets cleaner. It’s a handy reminder to slow down and clean more thoroughly.
- LED lights illuminate the floor in dark areas.
- The automatic suction detection works with all tools, not just the motorized floor cleaner.
- A long, flexible crevice tool for reaching under appliances and the like.
- The docking station can hold three accessories instead of just two.
- An app allows you to view cleaning reports, maintenance reminders, and support documents.
- A filter cleaning tool that works in minutes, unlike Dyson’s 24-hour wash-and-dry method.
- An included hair cleaning tool to remove stuck hair and other debris from accessories.
- You can lock the trigger button so you don’t have to hold it down the entire time you’re cleaning.
- You have more precise control over suction power with a touch-sensitive slider.
- App connectivity for support, cleaning reports, and maintenance reminders on the three higher-end models.
- A Wi-Fi camera and Bluetooth speaker is included in the $499 model only, for some reason.
- The S12’s construction feels slightly superior.
The most practical difference is that every S12 includes a second battery which you can charge simultaneously using the included dock. The cheaper variants come with two batteries worth 80 minutes total, while the more expensive models can run for 100 minutes. The V10 has a longer runtime per battery, but there’s only one and it’s not swappable. If you run out of battery on the Dyson, you’re left waiting hours for the battery to top up. Not so with the Tineco, as you’ll have another battery at the ready.
Though the $699 S12 Plus is as expensive as the top Dyson V11 configuration, you only need the $599 kit to outdo Dyson on accessories and features. And if you don’t care for the display and don’t mind a slightly smaller battery, the $449 model still provides automatic suction control and a boatload of accessories.
Of course, there have always been cheaper Dyson alternatives; people buy Dysons for the combination of cleaning performance and design. It’s worth noting I have not yet tried the V11, and I have not the tools nor expertise to say whether the S12 outperforms the V10 I’ve long used. I didn’t notice a major difference in cleaning performance in my apartment, but if I had to choose, I’d give Dyson the slight edge. Dyson also has a reputation for long-term performance, and the V10 has also survived a year with nary a hindrance, while I have no prior experience with Tineco’s products (although Amazon reviews for its cheaper vacuums are reassuringly positive).
But if all I cared were cleaning performance, I could get a wired upright or canister vacuum. Where the S12 shines is with its extensive accessory package and thoughtful additions. It’s not perfect, of course; it’s a little heavier than the Dyson, doesn’t prop up against a wall as easily, and doesn’t come with Dyson’s reputation or 90-day money-back guarantee. And again, I haven’t tried the V11, so this isn’t entirely a fair comparison. Still, the S12 is so versatile at its price point that I can’t help but feel it’s the smarter buy.
The Tineco Pure One S12 is available starting today from Amazon.com, ranging from $449 to 699.
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Published May 10, 2019 — 20:32 UTC