James Dyson's team of engineers and designers have been beavering away at their Wiltshire HQ reinventing the vacuum cleaner once again.

Their new model, the DC49, is a cylinder-style vacuum that combines the cyclone technology of their previous cleaners with the digital motor system pioneered in Dyson's Airblade hand dryer.

The result is a tiny, lightweight but surprisingly powerful cleaner. Originally designed for urban Japan where space is at a premium, the party trick of the DC49 is that it can fit neatly on a single sheet of A4 paper. That footprint notably excludes the flexible hose that connects the cylinder to the cleaning head. The hose is no bigger or thicker than that found on competitor models, but on the diminutive DC49 the hose looks and feels a little unwieldy, compromising the vacuum's otherwise tiny volume.

With that said, Dyson engineers have gone a long way to make the DC49 feel light and nimble in use. A ball pivot on the cleaning head makes manoeuvring round furniture a breeze, while freely rotating joints at both ends of the hose allow the large-wheeled cylinder to follow like an obedient puppy without ever feeling like it's being dragged.

A rotary dial on the cleaning head allows the brush bar to be turned off for cleaning hard floors. And despite the small and slippery appearance of that dial, it's surprisingly easy to switch modes by foot without bending down. The biggest compromise with the DC49 is its dust capacity. At just 0.5 litres it has just a quarter of the space of the monster DC41 reviewed here in April. The result is more frequent trips to the bin for emptying; though realistically you can still expect to get a complete clean of the house on a single fill.

In terms of suction power, the DC49 punches well above its weight. Despite being around half the weight of some of the bigger Dyson vacs, this cylinder still packs in three quarters of the suction power of their flagship model.

There's a lot to like about the DC49. Compact, lightweight and powerful, this could be the perfect vacuum for smaller houses and for anyone who can't face lugging a full-size vacuum around their home.