The new Dyson Supersonic, which is available online via Dyson's and Sephora's websites, is a fancy hair dryer that actually contains a microprocessor to monitor air temperatures. This way, you can get way hotter air without damaging your tresses as much. I brought one home last night to see if it lived up to its claims, and the short answer is: yes, mostly.
First of all, the Supersonic's futuristic looks make it a hair dryer worthy of my techie rep. It's basically a cylinder on a stick, and, unlike with conventional dryers, you can see through both ends of the Supersonic's head. Two buttons on this ring let you control heat and air flow, with little LED indicator lamps showing how high on the three-stop spectrum you are. It's altogether gorgeous, especially in the black-and-purple color option.
In the cylinder lies an air multiplier (basically, a bladeless fan) that Dyson made and uses in its other products, including its air purifier and heater. Without those blades, I no longer had to worry about getting caught in the device; the Supersonic won't eat your hair. I was impressed and seriously relieved when not a single strand of my hair got stuck after I recklessly dangled some strands of hair near and into the dryer's head.
Because the air multiplier draws in so much air, Dyson could use a motor that is six times smaller, three times lighter and three times more powerful than those in traditional dryers, said the company's head of product development, Tom Crawford. This is the same V9 motor the company uses in its vacuums. I can't tell the exact differential between the streams from the Supersonic and my regular hair dryer, but Dyson's device certainly felt much stronger and had a hotter, more concentrated jet of air. The downside is you'll need to clean out the handle and its filter once in awhile, and the flow lights on the head will flash to let you know when it's time.
Dyson also weighted the Supersonic so that it's not top heavy like some of its rivals, making it easier to maneuver. This was true in my experience, but I found the device's massive 9-foot-long cord incredibly unwieldy in my teeny-tiny bathroom. It also added to the weight of the overall system when coiled up. However, Dyson said it did that because "one of the biggest complaints about hair dryers is that the cords aren't long enough," which I guess is a fair point if you're using these appliances outside a bathroom.
But let's get to the Supersonic's biggest selling point. Because of the improved air flow with the air multiplier and the onboard microprocessor that monitors the temperature of exiting air, Dyson was able to better control the heat it was producing. This prevents the wind from getting too hot, which could really damage your mane. Plus, the company also integrated an ionizer to neutralize static and reduce flyaways. After my one at-home blowout, I did notice that my hair appeared slightly smoother and less bushy than it normally would. And thanks to the stronger jet of air, I did shave a few minutes (five to 10) off my drying time. That's not the giant timesaver I was hoping for, but I also stupidly kept the air flow on level one for most of my session. I'd probably get a quicker result if I had started out on the highest level (three, if you must know).
I initially balked at the $400 price tag (I'm a cheapo who's used to buying off-the-pharmacy-shelf hair dryers for $40), but I paused after Crawford asked me, "How long do you expect your hair dryer to last?" And admittedly, none of my affordable alternatives have lasted longer than a year, whereas Crawford said the Supersonic was designed to last for 10 years. Also, each Supersonic comes with three easy-to-snap-on magnetic attachments, including a diffuser for drying curly hair, which makes the exorbitant cost just slightly more palatable.
If you're like me and blow dry your hair almost every day and, unlike me, have a few hundred bucks to drop, the Dyson Supersonic could very well be a blessing to your daily routine. Otherwise, a $40 option is probably good enough.