Like Apple with laptops, Dyson makes vacuums so superior to the competition that they indicate where the rest of the industry is going. But the company also dabbles in fans, lights, blow dryers — at one point, it even sold a washing machine. All this to say Dyson’s newest product, the Pure Cool, is a particularly confounding product to unpack.

Ostensibly, it’s an air-purifying fan (with serious Westworld aesthetics) that promises to eliminate nearly 100 percent of pollen, pet dander and pretty much every airborne pollutant you can think of. According to Dyson, it took almost 75 engineers and 3,000 prototypes to get the machine where they wanted it. But the lofty promise of reducing allergy impact, the tech built into it, and its price tag — $450 and up — are all factors that command thought before purchase. I tested the Pure Cool for almost two months to see if it justifies the price tag, and if it has a chance at reaching the same levels of prestige bestowed upon James Dyson’s famous vacuums.

The Good: The Pure Cool passes all performance tests and evaluations one could conjure for a home air filter-fan combo — it’s certified Asthma & Allergy Friendly (AAFA), it is easily controlled by phone or remote, it oscillates 350 degrees around the room and it feeds live air quality info to the LCD display on the machine and to your phone (and records all data for long-term observation). It’s surprisingly quick to assemble out of the box, looks a bit better than its more block-like competition and is pretty quiet for a machine on the larger side. Also worth mentioning are the general pluses to owning a Dyson — excellent warranty, great customer service and the degree of in-built trust gained from buying from one of the world’s most innovative and design-forward companies.

Who It’s For: Given its ability to identify and remove allergens emitted from family pets, the outdoors (yes, pollen), any bacteria or mold, various fumes from cooking or cleaning, nitrogen dioxide and more, it’s absolutely ideal for those afflicted with allergy issues. You’ll get a steady flow of what sorts of air pollutants make their way into your home, and it automatically works to remove them.

Watch Out For: You likely balked at the price, and I can’t blame you. The smaller variant is $450 new, the larger $100 more. There’s no getting around that (until manufacturer refurbs begin releasing, which is when Dyson reaches peak value). Per Consumer Reports, it’s also going to cost around $150 to $200 a year to operate, taking filter replacement and electricity into account (a representative from Dyson informed me the average user will need to replace the filter once a year ($70).

I also found the larger model a bit too easy to knock over, so dog owners beware. Lastly, and this may not be entirely fair to the product, there’s something to be said about the more-difficult-to-notice nature of its primary function. Your apartment or house isn’t going to be an Eden of beautiful future-air, it’s just not going to lose the crummy pollutants that irritate you and your family. This isn’t the fault of the product, but expectations are certainly to be considered before buying.

Alternatives: If you’re getting into the air purifying game purely to remove all the junk that shouldn’t be in the air from the air, you can find more affordable options. Coway’s Mighty model received high praise from Wirecutter and Home Air Guides for its blend of relative affordability and high performance. What you gain in a couple hundred dollars saved with the Coway model you lose in user-friendliness and multi-functionality. The Dyson model allows you to see what’s in the air in your house, when it’s spiking and, potentially, discern why.

There are various other models on the market that receive consistently high ratings — Winnix’s 5300 is often listed as a solid budget pick, and Levoit’s compact model for the barest of bones HEPA filtration. But neither of these products or any product I discovered above or below the Pure Cool in price provides as much information and feedback in as simple a format.

Review: For being as complicated-looking a device as it is, the Pure Cool took about five minutes to get out of the box and begin circulating. Clip two layers of filters on, snap the exterior filter area over them and plug it in.

It’s important to understand where a home air purifier separates itself from its competition: it’s about filtration systems, noise output and real estate in your room.

High-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filters are status quo. If a purifier isn’t using HEPA filters at some level, move on– it’s very likely not worth your time and won’t be filtering much at all. Per the AAFA, “[Dyson Pure Cool] captures ultrafine particles from the air including pollen, bacteria and pet dander. Rubber seals form a vacuum, sealing the filter within the machine. A layer of activated carbon granules captures odors and harmful toxins like paint fumes. All of this is contained in a perforated ABS shroud that protects the filter while also channeling airflow.” In other words, it is an effective filtration system.

The system itself uses three sensors simultaneously to identify and filter air in a room: the first detects and measures particles like pollen and pet dander; the second measures volatile organic compounds like cleaning supply fumes and scented candles and nitrogen dioxide; and the third measures the temperature and humidity of the room.

At one point during the test period, I was searing a pork chop in a cast-iron pan and my apartment filled with more smoke than is healthy, but I got to see the Pure Cool revert itself into full-on suction mode and do its damnedest to save me from setting off the building’s fire alarm. The Dyson Link app then told me, in numbers, that I should probably not do that again. The app stores all reports — real-time and historical — for your viewing needs. Frankly, it’s one of the biggest selling points for the Pure Cool. Apart from showing you all the stuff it’s pulling from the air, you can adjust which direction it’s facing, how much of the room you want it to cover with air flow, how high the fan is blowing and when you need to change your filter. I found it incredibly simple to use for how much information is on there, and apart from googling a few air quality terms, there wasn’t a learning curve.

I also didn’t find the size all that prohibitive after doing a bit of browsing online. Purifiers come in all shapes and sizes, but typically the smaller the filter, the higher you’ll have to turn it up to do its job in a larger room, resulting in more noise pollution. Thus, if you’ve got the floor space (both sizes are nine inches wide), the larger size of the Pure Cool models do more harm than good. The taller model is about 40 inches tall, where the shorter is 27 inches. As mentioned previously, the only complaint about the size or height was the uncomfortable chance of my dog throwing a stray hip check into my $550 air purifier.

Finally, the ability to turn the fan on backward flow is nice, this basically allows it to still function as a filter without blowing cool air everywhere is a plus for the warmer months.

Verdict: There are plenty of competitors that make great filters, but few who combine quality air filtration with user-friendliness, surprisingly helpful data and in a package that doesn’t look like a big plastic box. It’s expensive, but if you or your housemates have serious allergy and air quality issues in your living space, it’s worth a once-over. Being frank, you’re not going to find many air filters that are powerful enough to cover moderately-sized rooms with this little noise pollution and the aforementioned control functions for cheap, and this is all without considering Dyson’s legendary customer service and support team.

What Others Are Saying:

• “…if Dyson has a reputation for making a premium product, that’s because the company has earned it. When I asked Dyson’s Le Dinh for tips on how to use the fan, she said that customers should simply put it in a corner of the room, rely on the fan’s intelligence, and forget about it. That’s pretty much what we’ve done. It’s been a few weeks since my husband or I have wanted to itch our own faces off, and that’s all you can ask for from an air purifier, really.” — Adrienne So, Wired

• “It’s powerful, well-designed, and packed full of cool new technology. Best of all, Dyson says it will continue to receive over-the-air updates. So you don’t have to worry that your new air purifier will be obsolete a few months after you buy it.” — Jacob Kleinman, Tech Radar

Key Specs

Weight: 10.98 pounds
HEPA filter: Glass HEPA Media
Base Diameter: 8.8 inches
Cord length: 6.05 feet

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