Tested by Patricia Maunder
Some get by without hairdryers, others are content with a cheapie. For those wanting to blow-dry their hair frequently, however, or style with something like professional results, an adaptable, durable model is worth considering.
Hand-held hairdryers have been available to consumers since the 1920s. While they have become increasingly safer, lighter and more powerful, their design changed little until Dyson launched the Supersonic. It's radically different because the motor is in the handle. When it's free of attachments, you can look right through the body, which is like an empty, bottomless little barrel. More importantly, this design contributes to quieter operation, and puts the weight in the handle, so it's more ergonomic.
VS Sassoon's Digital Sensor follows the traditional design, but is a big step up from those cheapies. It's actually more powerful than the Dyson, with a 2100 watt heating element and a motor capable of blowing up to 208km/h (compared to 1600 watts and 169km/h). Both have digital temperature control, but while the Dyson has settings of 100C, 80C, 60C and a cool 28C, the VS Sassoon delivers a constant 70C, plus cool air. They have conveniently long power cords (2.5 metres plus) and three attachments: two concentrator nozzles and a diffuser.
The Dyson is significantly quieter, the attachments go on, off and around like a breeze, and having most of the weight in the handle is an advantage for extended use. The VS Sassoon shares many of its high-end bells and whistles, such as digital temperature control, but is half the price.
Relying on blowing power rather than heat means it can dry hair quickly without risk of overheating your locks. The downside is that on the highest of two speed settings it's quite loud. The only other controls are on/off and cool blast, so it's easy to operate, including because of their convenient placement at one's fingertips. Unlike the filter, attachments are slightly difficult to get on and off, but they rotate easily.
At 639 grams, it's more than 200 grams heavier than the VS Sassoon, but with most of the weight in the handle it's easier to wield. The body is about half the size. I found the controls (three speed and heat settings with tiny LED indicators, on/off and cool blast) awkwardly located. Attachments adhere to the body magnetically, so they go on, off and turn 360 degrees with remarkable ease.
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At January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Kohler launched the Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror, which has Amazon Alexa embedded. Listen to music or traffic updates while brushing your hair, and tell Alexa to put toothpaste on the shopping list. Its LED lights can be dimmed or brightened (up to 1000 lux) by voice command, and night lighting is motion-activated.