Never buy another can of compressed air again. That’s Metro Vacuum’s pitch for the DataVac ED500 Electric Duster. And at just over $40 at Amazon.com, I was more than willing to say good-bye to compressed or “canned” air.
Design and Construction
There are two words that describe DataVac’s design: nothing fancy. Exposed screws, off-the-self componentry, visible seams and welds… The DataVac won’t win any points for style, but that’s part of its industrial charm. What you see is what you get, and there’s something satisfying about the little blower’s tough, uncomplicated looks.
What it lacks in finesse, it more than makes up with its tough, all-steel construction. It gives you confidence in knowing that it can take more than a few good knocks and survive bouncing around in an IT repair technician’s tool box. A comfortable handle makes operating the surprisingly hefty little unit a breeze (it weighs over three pounds) and provides a solid handhold. Rounding out the package is a generous 12 feet of power cord and an assortment of plastic attachments that help channel the rush of outgoing air. It’s worth mentioning that Amazon reviewers have reported that some attachments have a tendency to fly off the unit, but I have yet to experience it.
If there’s one complaint to be levied against the DataVac is the placement of its power button. If you’re a lefty, one-handed operation is out of the question, unless you have some dexterous or super long thumbs. And you’ll have to keep an eye on the little air filter in its base. Fortunately, this little foam puck is super easy to remove and clean.
The canned-air replacement
Can you realistically replace canned air with the DataVac? Yes!
Since you have to plug in the DataVac, it’s not as portable as disposable dusters. But when was the last time you needed to blow the crud out of your keyboard without a power plug nearby? The same goes when you’re servicing a rack server or desktop at your workbench. Only if you’re on-location with your gear — say shooting and editing video outdoors or at an event — will the DataVac fall short.
And yes, it’s loud. But in return you get a strong, sustained blast of air. Though you risk overheating the unit if you leave the power button depressed for too long, it can pump air far longer than the few seconds it takes compressed air cans to get ice cold. No more flirting with frostbite!
The most compelling argument for the DataVac is cost. A one-time purchase price of roughly $40, plus some coin to power the unit, is leaps and bounds cheaper than constantly stocking up on Dust-Off. A 2-pack of the stuff sells for $19 at Staples (as of this writing). If properly cared-for, the DataVac will outlast hundreds of those cans; you do the math.
And it’s just plain less wasteful. No more canned air disposal worries (recycling bin or landfill?) and fewer emissions from trucking around pallets of the stuff or rushing to the office supply store for more.
To date, I’ve thoroughly cleaned three PCs, two laptops, a ton of peripherals including keyboards and printers. Around the house, I’ve banished dust from an A/V receiver, game consoles, appliance grills… In short, DataVac has more than already paid for itself.