Business Today

Don't Breathe Dirty Air

Air pollution could badly affect your health as Diwali crackers and winter smog make a deadly combination. Here is how to stay safe when you are indoors or travelling in a car
twitter-logo Nidhi Singal   New Delhi     Print Edition: November 17, 2019
Don't Breathe Dirty Air
Illustration by Raj Verma

It is that time of the year again when Diwali crackers, open-air stubble burning and smog make breathing difficult. In fact, the air quality in Delhi-NCR is already fluctuating between poor and very poor. Add to it dust particles, chemical and organic emissions, bad smells and pet dander, and it becomes imperative to invest in a good quality home air purifier. There are a number of such products available in the market to capture particulate matter (PM) and gas pollutants. While home/room air purifiers remain the most popular choice, you will also come across portable personal air purifiers and filters for air conditioners. Plus, there are devices that keep the air inside your car clean.

Before buying one of these products, consider a couple of things. First, check out what types of filters are used in the machine. For instance, HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are most commonly used to remove PM while activated carbon filters remove odours and chemical vapours. You may also come across terms such as UV technology and ioniser (for killing bacteria and other pathogens) or ozone generator. Some machines also have a pre-filter section to capture larger floating particles. Second, buying an air purifier will result in recurring costs as filters must be changed regularly, depending on usage. Therefore, you should check out the cost of filter replacement before buying. Finally, go for smart products which are Wi-Fi-enabled, can be paired with mobile apps for anytime-anywhere control and can provide additional information such as indoor air quality, filter life and more. Now that you know the drill, let us look at what all you need.

Air purifiers for rooms: Most ideal for home set-ups, these are designed to improve indoor air quality by removing air pollutants. The function is simple: It will suck impure air, pass the same through various layers of filters and push out clean air. One of the most popular products in this space is Mi Air Purifier 2S. It comes with a three-layer filtration process and a clean air delivery rate of 310 cubic metres per hour. It has a circular OLED display for real-time information. You can also pair it with the Mi Home app to know about indoor air quality, temperature, modes and filter life. Priced at Rs 7,999, this one is quite affordable and handy. If you are looking at a more high-end product, try Blueair Sense+, priced around Rs 30,000. It claims to capture 99.97 per cent of airborne particles, down to the size of 0.1 micron (the average cross-section of a human hair is 50 microns). In a room size of approximately 194 sq. ft, it can purify the air five times in an hour. It comes with two filters, each comprising a particle filter and an activated carbon filter for removing heavy gaseous pollutants. It can be controlled via a mobile app and has a built-in motion sensor so that you can swipe your palm to change the fan speed.

AC filters: If you do not wish to invest in an additional gadget, try filtering the air churned out by your air conditioner. The electrostatic filter from 3M, priced at Rs 375, is designed to complement existing AC filtering screens. According to 3M, it can remove 83 per cent of PM 2.5 and other micro-particle content from indoor air within an hour. It uses electrostatic technology to trap the pollutants inside and allows clean air to flow through. Several Indian start-ups have also come up with similar AC filters. For example, Nasofilters' Nanoclean AC filters come in a pack of three for Rs 1,099 and claim to clean 90 per cent of a room's air in an hour. The only downside: These additional filters may reduce AC airflow.

Personal purifiers: These small gadgets projects enough clean air to push away pollutants from the breathing zone. Dyson's Pure Cool Me (Rs 27,900) has a radically designed fan that blasts out a stream of clean air directly at you; the high-velocity airflow (230 metres per second) removes the ambient air. There is a stocky circular base with holes which sucks the polluted air and passes it through a sealed filter that combines activated carbon and glass HEPA layers. The clean air is then pushed through the circular dome at the top. Dyson uses Core Flow technology where jets of air meet on a convex surface and converge to create a high-pressure and focussed airflow. Then there is AirTamer A310 (Rs 6,499), a personal and rechargeable air purifier that claims to emit negative ions to force pollutants away from the breathing zone. As per the company, it uses electrostatic purification and projects a three-feet orbit of safe air across all directions, creating a sphere of protection against harmful pollutants.

Air purifiers for cars: You may think that the air inside your vehicle is comparatively clean as the windows are rolled up, but it isn't. When doors and windows are opened now and then, the outside air gets in and gets trapped inside. Moreover, unlike our homes which are mopped and cleaned every day, our cars are deep cleaned occasionally. Hence, buying specially designed filters for cars may help. These are relatively compact devices which should be plugged into the car charger - a 12V power socket, popularly known as the cigarette lighter socket. Honeywell's Move Pure car air purifier (costs less than Rs 5,000) features a high-grade HEPA filter that removes dust, PM 2.5 and external particulate pollutants. Plus, it has an advanced double-layer activated carbon filter for removing formaldehyde, cigarette smoke, bacteria, virus, toxic gases and odour. The filter life is close to 360 hours and costs Rs 1,100. Philips GoPure Compact 100 Airmax (Rs 5,299) is another car air purifier worth considering.

@nidhisingal

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Audio Delight

By Nidhi Singal

Building on its expertise, Bose has come up with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones which look good and boast excellent audio quality (more on that later). The lightweight steel headband is covered with soft foam and connected to angled ear cups, making it very comfortable to wear for long duration. Plus, a combination of buttons and gestures makes it intuitive to use. The left ear cup houses a noise-cancellation button while the buttons in the right are for turning it on/off and activating voice assistants. You can activate Siri when the headphones are paired with an iPhone, but they are also optimised for Google Assistant and Alexa. I was able to choose them from the Bose Music app. A gesture area has been added to the front of the right ear cup and works for both music and calls. Double-tapping the front of the right ear cup plays/pauses audio, swiping up and down increases and decreases the volume, and swiping forward and backwards takes you to the next and the previous track, respectively. Long-pressing the same area gives you battery status via voice.

However, it is the sound output which is bound to wow you. I tested it by playing my regular list of international and Bollywood tracks, including Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay, Afreen Afreen by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and more. The vocals were well pronounced and the sound was well balanced. It had deep bass, and everything from highs and lows was clear even at high volume.

The noise cancellation (NC) technology is excellent, but there are times when you should not turn it on, especially when you are driving or walking or at a railway station/airport. Bose has beautifully addressed this issue as users can control the level of NC. At zero, one can hear almost all ambient sounds; at 10, the NCH cuts off nearly everything. Using the app, I was able to choose the desired level. Taking calls was also convenient as double-pressing the front of the right ear cup answered or ended the call. Again, tap and hold for a second to decline a call. I could also mute the call by pressing and releasing the dedicated voice assistant button. It also features the company's augmented reality platform called Bose AR.

Unlike previous editions, this one has graduated to the Type-C port - it is on the right ear cup. A 15-minute quick charge juiced it enough to last three hours while a full charge spanning three hours lasted me close to 18 hours. The headphones come in a hard case with a hidden compartment that stores the charging cord and the ear cups lie flat when placed in the case.

@nidhisingal

Mi Smart Band 4

One Band, Many Benefits

By Nidhi Singal

Xiaomi has done an excellent job this time in terms of utility, precision and affordability. This fitness band is lightweight, much like the previous editions, has a simple design but has loads of features and a power-packed battery. At the centre of the capsule-shaped body is a 0.95-inch OLED screen with good touch response and excellent sunlight legibility. Just below the display is a circular capacitive touch button for going back to the previous screen. The silicon straps are comfortable, and you can sport a new band face now and then, choosing from a long list of options.

To get started, I paired the device with the Mi Fit app. The home screen displays time, date and day along with battery status and step count. I could access a host of features such as status, heart rate, workout, weather, music control and notification by swiping up and down the screen. Status shows the number of steps, distance in km, calories burnt and 'idle time' alert (after an hour of inactivity), all pretty much accurate thanks to the gyroscope sensor. It also allows your phone's GPS to track outdoor runs, cycling or walking. This fitness band is 5ATM water-resistant, which means you can wear it during swimming. The built-in heart rate sensor is quite impressive, and when I tallied the data with the reading, I had from an Apple Watch (Series 5), they came very close. It can also track sleep cycles and even woke me up with a subtle vibrating alarm. Mi Band 4 further enables users to receive call notifications, reminders, app alerts and more. I was able to turn on these settings from the app.

The band comes with a proprietary charger and its battery life is awesome. I used it for more than a week without worrying about charging, although the heart rate sensor, sleep tracker and call and app notifications were running all the time.

@nidhisingala

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