Review: Airmega 400S Air Purifier

Review: Airmega 400S Air Purifier

The Airmega 400S (Amazon) is a luxury air filter, a sci-fi lounge monolith with touch-sensitive controls and a ring of colored light that turns with the air quality. High-end in fit, finish and capacity, it's also very online, with Internet-of-Things features and a stat-tracking app. Do I really need to remote-manage it with a mobile app? Have a username and login for a HEPA filter?

No (see below), but the air quality tracking app did tell me two interesting things. First, it assured me that the air quality in my house is already pretty good, curing a certain degree of paranoia. So it mostly stays in sleep mode, silent, wasting no electricity -- unlike the permanently-whirring Honeywell it replaced. Secondly, it told me that air quality goes to hell when anything is cooked. At last! Confirmation of what we suspected all along about the wisdom of burning wet slabs of carbon in our well-insulated houses.

I'm intrigued, then, by Airmega's air metrics, yet torn on its long-term value. This is an expensive gadget, after all, going for $650 or so on the street.

(UPDATE: A non-IoT version, the Airmega 400 without an S, is available for about $100 less. — Thanks, Tim!)

It's about the size of a desktop mini-fridge, significantly larger than most consumer air filters, with three HEPA filters and the promise of full-house coverage. 1,560 square feet, they claim, which would make it competitive on a price-per-square-foot basis with less expensive models. There's a smaller model, the Airmega 300, that claims to cover 1,256 feet and is about $100 cheaper.

It's dead quiet, too, especially at the lowest settings. There is not the slightest buzz of vibration. Washing and replacing filters is very easy. It messages you when they need a bath.

But still, for all this, it does only one thing: suck air through HEPA filters. And it is $650.

It's been in my house for a couple of months now and spends almost all its time off, in smart mode. I sometimes get a bit angry when I walk past it and it's just sat there asleep having decided it doesn't need to filter my clean-enough air. There's something existential about it all. It's weird to pay so much for a machine that's honest about it being unnecessary.

Except on bacon sandwiches day, that is, when it kicks into high gear and texts me every 2 minutes with panicky warnings, unrelenting until the bacon is gone.

I'm extremely dubious about the utility and wisdom of an IoT air filter. But if you know you need an air filter, and you need one that's attractive, quiet and very high-capacity, where a $300 Honeywell (or HEPA filters duct-taped to a box fan) would just be unacceptably loud, trashy or ugly, the price premium is yours to consider.

AIRMEGA 400S Smart Air Purifier [Amazon]

Airmega homepage []

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