The first thing you notice about this little Dyson is the power, it's incredible! I've had a few handheld vacuums over the years and the two main problems they have is the low power/poor suction followed by total loss of suction a minute or two after starting to use them. This Dyson has neither of those issues.
Several reviews have pointed out the battery life, 10 minutes on low power and 6 minutes on high power (although on mine it's about 3 and a half on high in practice). Admittedly, this isn't very long but for a handheld cleaner how long do you need? Dyson clearly had a choice of longer use or more power, and I for one am glad they went with more power! I've been using this every day for the past month now and as long as I remember to recharge it, the 10 minute life has been more than sufficient for every task, as has the lower power setting!.
I'm also wondering how I ever managed without it!
The battery is a new digital design allowing it to be recharged in half the time of a standard version. At 3 and a half hours, I know batteries that will charge just as fast, but none of them are as powerful, so it seems a reasonable trade off. It doesn't come with any kind of docking station, but the battery can be removed and a replacement slotted straight on without any waiting.
There are a couple of negatives, there's no hose, and the unit is a little bulky, so trying to dust behind TV's etc. is difficult. A tool kit can be purchased direct from Dyson with a hose, dusting brush, wide upholstery tool and a stubborn dirt brush, which work well with the machine, but for the price, the hose at least should really be included with the handheld. Personally I'd like to have seen a spare battery included for good measure too, but they too are available for purchase from the Dyson site.
In all, the machine is excellent and worth the high price tag, I would have liked to see a couple more things included, but if you're after a useful and powerful handheld with good suction and easy emptying, then don't be put off by the high price, it is worth the money!
I would recommend getting the additional tools from Dyson if you want to get the full benefits of the DC31, and if you're a really heavy user, you'll probably want to invest in a spare battery too.