Take a deep breath: The Mi Air Purifier ensures that the air you breathe is clean

24th Sep 2016
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I walk into my room to be met with a whiff of freshness I am unaccustomed to. You can't really see clean air and can only take the word of whatever gadget claims to measure the particles in it, but now and then, you can just tell when you’re breathing in splendid, pure oxygen. I left the new Mi Air Purifier 2 from Xiaomi (yes, the people who make phones) turned on while I took off for a movie.

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When I walked back in, the purifier seemed to have been doing its job well. Given that my room isn't very large, the effect was even more evident. Looking into the Mi Home app, the dashboard for all Xiaomi's IoT devices, I saw that the PM2 count was 009, which is super-clean. That's what you would typically get in a closed bedroom with the purifier on turbo mode. The entirely quiet sleep mode will show a higher count, but will work all night to make sure you can take in relatively safe air. Testing it in other parts of the house like the kitchen, I found that it was able to clear away the very stubborn smell of burnt toast in about 15 minutes.

The first of Mi Home products

But what is Xiaomi, the company India knows for its Mi and Redmi phones, doing with an air purifier? Xiaomi in fact has a whole host of products to offer apart from phones that haven’t made it into the Indian market yet; two such products are a washing machine and a rice cooker, each awaiting certification, the right timing and conducive market circumstances.

The Mi Purifier is the first of their connected home products to have come in, and Hugo Barra, Vice President of International for Xiaomi, thinks it's not a moment too soon. "On some days, even before winter has arrived, the air in Delhi is so bad that anywhere else, people would be wearing masks," he says. And indeed, Indians quickly turn a blind eye to the quality of the air around them believing there's little that they can do about it anyway.

Indians should be worried

Not yet sold on air purifiers, Indians find them too expensive and aren't convinced of their efficacy. "I can't take an air purifier everywhere with me," says Vandana, an asthmatic Delhi citizen, "So what's the point of spending Rs 30,000 on a good one?" So Xiaomi can only guess at what the uptake of their purifier will be, but by pricing the product as low as they have (Rs 9,999), the company certainly has made a good start.

Checking air quality

The Mi Air Purifier is easy to set up. It's about two feet high, and a foot wide. It’s neat and doesn’t look out of place or awkward in your home in the least. . This light white tower has to be plugged into the wall socket (from where it draws very little power) and then switched on using the power and control button on top. The purifier is already working at this point, but one must head to the Mi Home app to complete the process – for which you need a Mi account.

The app will prompt a connection to your home network. I had a spot of trouble with this, and then found that holding the power and control button on the machine reset it and allowed me to connect. It's from here that you can see details like the air quality index, room temperature, and humidity level and control the device. The purifier takes in air from all directions and funnels it out forcefully, when in turbo mode, from the top, making it spread over the room. For a room larger than 400 sq ft, a single Mi Air Purifier would do the job. A larger space, however, would need more than one machine.

A barrel of filters

The filters on this purifier are housed in a little barrel that fits in a compartment on the back. There's a little tab to pull the component out easily. A user will need to replace it approximately every six months, at a cost of Rs 2,499. Filters will be available from the Mi website. The Mi Home app counts down the days until you need a change of filter, measuring it not just in terms of time but also the volume of air handled.

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The filters are actually something Xiaomi is particularly proud of as being unique. There are three layers of them, a PET filter for big particles, an EPA filter to catch PM 2.5 and PM 0.3 air borne particulates, and an inner activated carbon filter for infinitesimally small particles and odours. These are in a barrel rather than being flat. And no, vacuum cleaning them at home is not recommended.

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The Mi Home Purifier 2 is to be available on the Mi Store on September 26th and on Flipkart from October 2nd.

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