Green for less: The Dyson Airblade

I've never really enjoyed bathroom hand dryers. Apart from the rumor that they are havens of bacteria, there's the fact that they take forever to use, tend to push water up my sleeves, and leave my hands more chapped than Angelina Jolie in the Gobi desert. Worst of all, they don't really do their job all that well, and I often find myself wiping my cracked, prematurely aged hands on my pants.

Consequently, when I used the bathroom at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, I wasn't all that excited about the hand drying options. After all, the best that I could hope for was a scratchy paper towel and the worst...well, the worst was a pair of chapped, damp hands.

And then I saw the Dyson "Airblade" hand dryer.

James Dyson is, essentially, a mad scientist. While the rest of us (by which I mean me) spend our time worrying about that poor Amy Winehouse and wondering where the meat in a McRib comes from, Dyson is figuring out ways to make ordinary items amazingly efficient and bizarrely futuristic. This, after all, is the guy who transformed the ordinary upright vacuum cleaner into a bowling ball-sucking miniature copy of a Stalin-era Soviet booster rocket. Never mind that nobody needs to be able to vacuum a bowling ball or that the Dyson's level of suction could rip a rug right off the floor. It's nice to know that, if one needed to hoover up a roomful of bowling balls, there is a vacuum cleaner that makes it possible.

At any rate, the Airblade is a thing of beauty. Unlike normal dryers, which draw air from the bathroom floor, heat it, and blow it onto the user's hands, the Airblade runs air through a HEPA filter that removes 99.9% of bacteria. It then propels the air at 400mph through an aperture that is 9 inches wide and .3 millimeters thick, creating an intense air squeegee that literally pushes water off the user's hands. The airblade takes about half the time of a normal dryer, and only runs when the user's hands are brought into it.

Beyond that, the Airblade incredibly cool. The powerful airflow made the loose skin on my hands flap like a Basset hound in a convertible, and the sleek design was a thing of beauty. As if that wasn't enough, the Airblade uses up to 80% less energy than traditional hand dryers and offers operating cost savings of 98% over paper towels. Of course, it is probably quite a bit more expensive at the beginning, but as the price of electricity continues to rise, I imagine that it will seem like a better and better deal.

Some naysayers have claimed that the Airblade is actually a copy of Mitsubishi's Jet Towel hand dryer. While I must admit that I like the Airblade's sleek design a bit more, I'm actually going to stay above the fray on this one. Whether the ultimate hand dryer comes from Dyson or Mitsubishi seems to be of questionable importance. The main thing is, both models are amazingly cool, far more energy efficient than old-fashioned dryers, and much more effective than anything out there!
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