Proscenic A9 air purifier review: Powerful air flow, questionable odor

An immature app isn’t the least appealing part of this smart air purifier




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  • Proscenic A9 air purifier

Proscenic’s A9 air purifier attempts to pack higher-end features into a more compact package, but I ultimately wasn’t a big fan of the smart-home device.

On paper things seem solid. At 11 pounds the 10 x 10 x 20-inch device is right in line with other small purifiers, such as the Coway Airmega 150 and Amrobt MAX HEPA11. Its CADR rating of 271 cubic feet per minute compares favorably to those devices, and is even higher than the Mila purifier, though Proscenic does not provide separate ratings for dust, pollen, and smoke. Proscenic says some proprietary technology allow it to clean a 968 square foot room in 20 minutes, though it formally specifies its supported room size at just 592 square feet.

proscenic a9 air purifier 2 Christopher Null / IDG

A large LED display provides a visual indication of your PM2.5 level.

Proscenic’s default filter is designed as a single, cylindrical unit which contains a pre-filter, a HEPA H13 filter, a carbon filter, and a silver ion filter. The company markets additional types of filters you can sub in, including a green one for pet allergies, a purple one with antibacterial filters, and an ominous black filter for “toxic gas,” all of which are priced between $59 and $69. Proscenic says filters should last for 3,000 hours of usage, and the unit includes an indicator that glows red when it’s time to replace it.

proscenic a9 air purifier app 3 Christopher Null / IDG

App-based control would be more elegant if more attention had been paid to the translation.

Controls aren’t totally intuitive but they’re fairly basic, including tiny buttons that manage fan speed (or engage the automatic setting), a countdown timer, and a child lock. On the front of the device, a large LED indicates a three-digit number that measures the current PM2.5 rating of the air, along with a color-coded indicator (ranging from green for good to red for unhealthy).

While PM2.5 is one of the key standards used to measure air pollution (it’s a measurement of airborne particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns), it’s definitely not the only one, with PM10 being notably absent here. A sleep mode is also available that keeps the volume at a minimum and turns off all the LEDs.

The Proscenic sucks air in through the front and back of the device and emits it through the top. In operation it can really push a lot of air out at its higher speeds, but this naturally comes at the expense of a significant amount of noise. (The company says its maximum volume is less than 55dB, which is high.)

I found a bigger issue to be a strange and significant odor that I detected whenever the unit was running—something of a cross between a barnyard aroma and paint thinner. This might be one of those plasticky, new electronics smells that goes away over time, but after several days of testing I’m still smelling it. For a device that’s supposed to clean the air, this is really a deal breaker.

Proscenic offers an app that gives you smartphone control over the A9, but it’s quite primitive. For starters, I was unable to get the extremely archaic Wi-Fi setup to work at all, though a secondary setup mode that uses Bluetooth Low Energy completed successfully and allowed me to connect the device to my Wi-Fi network (only 2.4GHz networks are supported). Once in the app, you’ll find a duplicate of the manual controls and that PM2.5 rating, as well as a numerical measurement of how much clean air it has output (in cubic meters) that day.

proscenic a9 exploded diagram Proscenic

The Proscenic A9 air purifier users a four-stage filter: Primary, silver-ion sterilization, HEPA, and activated carbon.

A basic scheduling system is the only additional feature in the app that isn’t available on the hardware itself. While I’ve seen a lot of badly translated applications in recent years, Proscenic’s is particularly awful, calling fan speed “gears” and the scheduling system “reservation.” The unit isn’t ever turned off, it’s “closed.” The unit also supports Alexa and Google Home—but only for turning the unit on and off (or, rather, closed).

The $219 price tag puts the A9 a bit above the level of competing units in its class, and while it has powerful throughput, the unpleasant odor it emits is a major turn-off, as is the relative immaturity of its wireless ecosystem. Better options are available on the market.

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  • Proscenic A9 air purifier

    Air purifiers should make the air smell better, not worse, so the Proscenic A9’s offputting odor is a big issue.

    Pros

    • Reasonably portable
    • Moves a considerable amount of air quickly

    Cons

    • Persistent unpleasant chemical smell during usage
    • Basic app with minimal additional features
    • Difficult wireless setup process

Christopher Null is a veteran technology and business journalist. He contributes regularly to TechHive, PCWorld, and Wired, and operates the websites Drinkhacker and Film Racket.

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