Mr Ingenuity does it again, but not everyone is that impressed

  • @robhastings

He commands attention with the release of a new product thanks to his ability to "reinvent the wheel", starting with the ball of his Ballbarrow, which appeared decades later in one of his revolutionary vacuum cleaners.

Today, with his first new contraption for two years, Sir James Dyson has re-invented... the fanheater. The Dyson Hot is a warmed-up development of the inventor's last gadget, a bladeless fan he unveiled in 2009. The heater sucks in air from its surroundings and then "amplifies" and warms it as it passes across hot ceramic stones to create a "blade" of hot air.

Asked what inspires his designs, Dyson replies: "It's easy – it's what makes you angry, what upsets you when you use it." And his lifelong experience of fan heaters, it turns out, has indeed enraged him. Apparently dissatisfied with the bog-standard heaters he used as a poor student, Sir James claims his new design provides better distribution of warmth.

But not everyone is convinced of the merits of the heater. "Dyson has a higher estimate of his own ingenuity than I have," said design critic Stephen Bayley. "He's made at least as great a contribution to the history of public relations as he has to the history of design." He added: "As a consumer I haven't been much impressed by Dyson's products – the only two I've bought I've thrown away long before they reached the end of their useful life and one of them was actually in flames.

"As someone who's interested in consumer psychology and the aesthetics of design, I don't much care for Dyson's products.

"I think they're much too strenuously busy and 'look at me,'... I don't want an assertive vacuum cleaner, I want it to be an invisible servant. But I dare say there's a market for it."

Sir James, whose wealth is estimated at £1.5bn, launched his new take on the wheelbarrow in the Seventies and became a household name with his cyclonic vacuum cleaners, before turning his attention to hand dryers and fans.

"Problem solving technology does not always have to be revolutionary," he said in his defence. "We have [used] existing technology to develop a heater which heats a room evenly faster than any other."

And Mr Dyson is confident that there is a market for his latest design, when asked who it's aimed at.

"Everyone," he pauses, "who wants an efficient fan heater that does what they want it to do."

The price of warmth? £269.