September 15, 2020
The Awair is a smart home device that regularly monitors the temperature, humidity, CO2, chemicals, and particulates inside the air of your home. The system can be tied in with other smart devices to run some different home automation tasks, for example, running a Roomba when it detects the dust levels in your living room is running high.
I was initially interested in the Awair when the first version was released a few years back. I had a few friends that owned them, but all they all had one thing in common-the sensors on the unit seemed to be just a touch inaccurate compared to other units on the market.
For the release of the Awair 2.0, they’ve gutted the system and released a more accurate, reliable product (though the design happily remains the same).
It’s paired with a simple iOS & Android app that allows you to set up the device, as well as the primary point to monitor the various levels. The app acts as the central control for the device, allowing you to tweak settings, view the sensor readings, as well as set up the device itself. It also includes a tips section to address some of the issues it’s finding, but I’ve found that it quickly becomes redundant over time so there might not be too much useful insight into that section in the long run unless you’re changing the environment the Awair is in. For example, the main issue in my home is the low humidity level. Partly it is due to it being an older building, but mostly because the city I live in is at 3500ft, so it’s naturally dry all the time. Unfortunately, every time I open the app and check out the tips section, I see the same tips every time.
While I knew our place was going to be naturally dry, I’ll admit it was nice to get an exact humidity percentage. Once I started running a humidifier in my office, it quickly jumped up to 50%. I was surprised to find that it would soon drop back down to 10% if I didn’t leave a humidifier on overnight. Such is life in a dry climate.
The design of the product is what drew me to it in the first place. It’s very minimalistic, with a white faceplate and walnut sides. When the device is on, there are white LED level indicators showing a summary of the 5 things it’s tracking, as well as an overall score of your air quality, which is nice to see at a glance. There is also a colored LED indicator at the top right summarizing that score in either red (weak) yellow (decent) and green (excellent).
One thing that I discovered after setting it up is that you can change the display on the front by simply tapping the device on the top.
First, it changes to the time, then it cycles through the other 5 items. Initially, I thought it would be nice to have bedside to both measure the air quality and act as a clock but soon found out the white LEDs are painfully bright in a dark room when it’s close to your head. Thankfully, after digging around in the app, I found a brightness setting that will automatically turn off the LED display after it detects the lights in the room have been dimmed to a low level. Right now it’s directly beside my Casper glow light, and I’m happy to say the display turns off pretty accurately when it gets dark.
I would love to see some further customization in the app for more night time options, including changing the LED color to a more typical red, as well as some simple dimming features. The clock feature would be nice to have on at night, but with the existing brightness of the white LEDs, it’s not quite possible without being distracting.
Just like with the 11+ Bottle Humidifier, I love how status indicators are invisible until only they are needed. They did a great job of keeping this simple, so it even looks great on a bookshelf when it’s not powered on.
I also like what they’ve done with the area around the sensor itself. The white surface seems to fall into a dark abyss, giving it almost the appearance of a black hole. The team at Awair improved the sensor considerably since the last version, allowing for more accurate readings, as well as the ability to read PM2.5 (particulate matter) down to a diameter of 2.5 micrometers, allowing it to get more data on fine dust.
As usual, I give out bonus points for lack of prominent branding, and you can see they’ve kept things simple from the top as well.
The device is powered by a single white USB cable, which is an excellent addition to the second version of the Awair from the original bulky power cable it had initially.
There are also up and down controls on the back that manually allow you to display the sensor readings for each property. This makes the Awair strike a delicate balance on being useful as a stand-alone unit while providing more comprehensive information in the app if desired.
While I can’t talk about the Android app since I don’t have one, the iOS app is really well designed, and they’ve paid attention to standards in iOS design. In landscape mode, you can see all of the data necessary, but when you rotate the device to landscape mode, the graphs become much more readable.
Another thing I recently discovered (although somewhat hidden in the settings section in the app) is the ability to change your interests for the Awair readings, whether it’s to focus on allergies, sleep, productivity, or the best air quality in the babies room.
You can also change the default face of the device, depending on what type of data you’re interested in at a glance. I tend to switch between the Awair score and the clock for the most part.
At first, it seemed a bit unnecessary to have weather information built inside the app, but I discovered its usefulness when the Awair told me the air quality was low in my office, but since the air quality was nice outside, it was recommended to open up a window. Nice touch.
Smart devices really make this thing shine. Using IFTT allows you to link it with other smart devices in your home, so you would automatically be able to turn on a fan if the temperature was high, or fire up the good ol’ Roomba if the dust levels were increasing. Sadly, I don’t have anything of the sort, so the Awair is strictly a beautiful air quality monitor for my home, and I’m perfectly ok with that for the time being.