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Tired of buying compressed air? Read this!

post #1 of 242
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[side note: this is a copy+paste of an article I wrote for Associated Content at http://www.associatedcontent.com/art...er.html?cat=15), but I think it warrants a topic. I have retained reproduction rights, so all is well in terms of copyright]

The long, boring version:


Dust - The insidious, impossible to eradicate enemy


It's an essential part of owning a computer - opening it up and getting rid of the dust that accumulates rapidly in even the cleanest households. Until recently, this job was not only dirty and messy, it was expensive as well. Dust becomes so entrapped in every nook and cranny that a
regular vacuum cleaner doesn't stand a chance of knocking it loose.

Compressed air - Expensive and inconvenient


The preferred method of removal, as most computer gurus know, is cans of compressed air. Coming in 6 to 10 ounce size, they combine a moistureless inert gas with a powerful propellant that forces the air out of the nozzle with enough force to knock loose all but the most persistent dust particles. But they too have their problems. Compressed air cans don't last very long before their temperature drops and the pressure becomes ineffective due to rapid decompression of the propellant, requiring hand warming or a long delay until they 'recharge' enough to be useful. They cannot be held upside down or even sideways without the propellant spraying out and possibly damaging sensitive electronic parts, necessitating careful bending and alignment of the frequently-lost red nozzle to reach far corners of the case. And most of all, they are expensive. Depending on where you buy them from, they can cost anywhere for $3-$8 for a single can, and a complete cleaning of a dusty computer can easily take 3 or more cans. Needless to say, for a business or even a home with multiple computers which must be cleaned often, the cost adds up very quickly.

Until recently, I considered air cans a necessary evil - I tried to buy in bulk, look for sales, and comparison shop online. But no matter how much shopping I did, the cans were just plain expensive, and I could never clean as completely as I would have liked to. The best alternative I had found up until now was an actual air compressor, but it had its share of problems as well. It was large, heavy, expensive, and loud. And despite my best moisture-trap design, some condensation still formed as a byproduct of the compression.

Could a handheld blower be a suitable replacement?


Enter the DataVac ED500 Electronic Duster, a small hand-held air blower (think reverse vacuum). I first encountered it on Amazon while shopping for cheap compressed air. I was skeptical at first; the product link showed a hand-held sized vacuum and the
product details were full of impressive claims like '500 watts' '.75 HP motor' and 'the last can of compressed air you'll ever need!'. I read the reviews on Amazon - they were almost all glowingly positive, with an average rating of 4.5 stars. I looked around online, trying to find a professional review, to no avail. Finally, I decided to take the plunge and order it.

Impressive power in a small size


It arrived a few days later, well packaged with fast shipping (as is typical from Amazon). My first impression was that it seemed heavy and solidly built - according to the product specs, it's just under 3 pounds. It came with several attachments that will be discussed later. I fitted the standard ¼" nozzle onto it, plugged it in (the 12' cord is a VERY nice bonus; coupled with the solid build construction, it gives the impression of a quality product built to last instead of a cheap plastic-y toy), and hit the switch. It's a good thing I was holding the handle - the device gives a hard jerk as the motor turns on and starts spinning, and it'll knock itself over sitting on a table. It's loud, to say the least - not as loud as an air compressor kicking in, but on a vacuum-cleaner level. It's quite surprising coming from a small, hand-held blower. The airstream itself is incredibly powerful. Compressed air doesn't even compare. The sheer volume of air coming out the front end is incredible; the first word that came to my mind was 'leaf blower'. With the ¼" nozzle, it wasn't a particularly small area, but it was impressively powerful, much more so then a can of compressed air.

It works wonderfully with the abovementioned ¼" nozzle. I cleaned out my very dusty computer case in a matter of minutes. I would strongly recommend doing this outside, and if possible have a fan blowing over the top to keep the dust from settling back into the case (a similar
problem exists with compressed air, even more inconvenient due to compressed air's far lower flow rate). It's quite simple to do a complete cleaning in under 30 seconds with the DataVac. Blowing it into the fan ports in turn, then the case itself raised huge clouds of dust. When the dust cleared away, all that was left was an almost-spotless computer; I had no trouble using the vacuum upside down to clean out the last bits.

Attachments & Nozzles

The only part I was disappointed in was the other attachments. It came with a flexible wand and a few various sized nozzles, but none of them increased the airflow or provided the force of the ¼" one. Taking it off to use the regular 1" metal nozzle resulted in a low-force high-CFM draft that would be perfect for cleaning the most delicate items, and the ¼" covered everything requiring a powerful blast of air. The air intake itself is on the bottom; it's covered with a piece of foam that acts as a filter. It does get slightly clogged when cleaning a very dusty computer from the dust in the air, but the dust rubs off easily when you shut the duster off.

All in all, I'm quite pleased with it. It's backed by a 5 year warranty, but I doubt I'll need it - everything from the sturdy click switch to the solid metal exterior indicates quality, and I don't expect problems from it. It truly has been the last can of compressed air I'll ever need, and I've already recouped the cost several times over.

Final verdict: If you plan on using more then 10 cans of compressed air in your lifetime (the approximate cost of the DataVac), a definite must-buy!


Short version:

The MetroVac is an insanely powerful hand-held vacuum cleaner that delivers far more air (and with more force) then compressed air cans, saving time, money and effort over both cans of compressed air and a small air compressor.

Where to buy: http://www.amazon.com/Metro-Vacuum-E.../dp/B001J4ZOAW currently seems to have the best price ($45 shipped).

Positive feedback or constructive criticism really helps

Picture taken by yours truly, excuse the terrible Photoshopping job):

LL
Edited by joshconsulting - 12/9/09 at 8:49pm
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post #2 of 242
That's pretty sweet, might have to look into that. +Rep
post #3 of 242
I've easily spent over $100 on compressed air in the past couple of years... and I think you've convinced me.

+rep
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post #4 of 242
I use my wifes hair drier on cool air setting. It's never failed me yet.
     
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post #5 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by takealready View Post
I use my wifes hair drier on cool air setting. It's never failed me yet.
That might cause electric static dicscharge due to ion charges building up(I forgot how it works, someone please explain)
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post #6 of 242
I was using one of those air mattress inflater blower boat motor things, worked like a charm and could rip the cpu cooler off your mobo if you werent careful. Then the X took it, along with everything else
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post #7 of 242
Good review, i will most likely purchase one of these soon as i am tired of wasting cash on canned air.
post #8 of 242
nice! will have to look into it.
post #9 of 242
very nice. i think i may grab this.
post #10 of 242
wow..going to get this for myself as soon as christmas is over. I hate spending money on compressed air.

thanks, +rep
    
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