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Out of the Closet 

Before beginning this profile on the Kone, Dirt Devil's new cordless handheld vacuum, I should offer one caveat, dear emptor. (And this goes for any cleaning device or product.) If you are planning to give said domestic tool as a gift, especially to your significant other, proceed with caution. Unless she specifically asked for it, a woman may take offense at the assumptions of domesticity represented by such a gift. Give a man the same gift, and he will probably be not so much offended as utterly confused. I speak from experience.

I recently presented my boyfriend with an early Christmas gift, a shiny, white Kone. The color I selected very thoughtfully, I thought, to match his sleek, newly renovated kitchen. Apparently nonplussed, he asked with a serious face, "Is this for the maid?"

Whether it was real or feigned, I pushed his incredulousness aside and rushed past him to plug the thing in, knowing I would have to wait for it to charge before I could give it a go. I did get some instant gratification when, to my surprise and delight, the Kone was suddenly aglow as it began to charge. I later learned that the white Kone is the only one that can be illuminated with a soft-glow light in the charging cradle that can be turned on and off. If nothing else, I thought, it makes a cool night light for the hallway.

The Kone's aesthetic appeal is certainly what sets it apart — its sleek form created by accomplished designer Karim Rashid — as not every home has an easily accessible closet (with an electrical outlet) in which to charge and store a hand vac.

The first time I used the Kone — to clean up cookie debris — it took a little getting used to. For starters, there is no handle. You simply grip it near the top. After a few tries, I got the hang of it. In terms of function, I have decided that it might be better to think of the Kone as a vacuum cleaner attachment, the round hose part used for cleaning tight spaces. Because unlike most hand vacs, which have a wide, narrow head, the end of the Kone is rounded. That feature actually came in handy the next time I used it — to clean coffee grounds out of a drawer. But in terms of suction, with a 7.2-volt motor, I think it is comparable to other hand vacs I've used. And the bagless dirt cup is easy to empty.

Though I do like — I mean, my boyfriend likes — our shiny new Kone, I have yet to throw out my trusty Dustbuster (first introduced by Black and Decker in 1979), which has served me well for more than five years. But it's the Kone that stays on display, and when visitors inquire about the curious conical form in the corner, I take great pleasure in giving a free demonstration.

The Dirt Devil Kone retails for around $50 and has a three-year warranty. It comes in six colors: white illuminated, champagne, charcoal, blue steel, light pink and plum.

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click to enlarge prodprof-14665.jpeg
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