The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to become more painfully aware of the environments they live and work in. Many, in particular, have become more conscious of the air they breathe, especially considering it is how the dreaded coronavirus is primarily transmitted. In other words, appliances and gadgets that advertise cleaner air and sanitized surfaces are unsurprisingly on the rise and, in perfect timing, Proscenic just launched the new A9 Air Purifier which we take for a spin, almost literally, to see if it is as good as it sounds.
Smart speakers are trendy these days so the Proscenic A9, which looks like a gigantic speaker, doesn’t look particularly out of place in a modern home. Of course, it doesn’t emit audio, unless you consider the sounds its fans make, and the holes that fill the lower two-thirds of its front and back are for incoming air to pass through. Filtered and clean air, on the other hand, is ejected from the top where the vents are.
Aside from its large size, which requires it to be placed only on floors, the overall design of the Proscenic A9 is pretty nondescript and normal as far as air purifiers and even some air coolers go. The front has a rather simple LCD screen that shows the PM2.5 (Particulate Matter) index of the air inside the room in real-time.
It will also display a small icon to indicate that it’s time to replace the filter inside. Aside from the default blue filter that comes in the box, Proscenic is also selling four other filters, their different colors indicating their special functions, like black for toxic gas and green for pet allergy.
The top has capacitive buttons that control almost all operations of the Proscenic A9, from fan speed to timer to child lock. Everything you will need for most circumstances is here but if you want to get access to some smart functions, you’ll have to set it up with the mobile app.
The filters are replaceable and you will have to replace them eventually. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do that. The back panel is simply held by magnets, making its removal easy. The cylindrical filter itself is also easy to remove but you have to keep in mind that the end with the large hole is the filter’s top, something that Proscenic’s packaging doesn’t exactly indicate.
There are two related aspects to the Air Purifier’s overall performance. The first is its detection of PM2.5 levels, indicating the quality of the air in a given area. The Proscenic A9’s sensor is able to measure this in real-time and, depending on your settings, automatically adjust the fan speed to clean the air as needed. The higher the index, the dirtier and more dangerous the air is, the faster and harder the fans work to clear the air. Naturally, it also means the noisier it gets, too.
The second aspect of the Proscenic A9 is, of course, the air purification itself. It works on a four-stage process, starting with filter hair and fur to using nano-silver ions to remove bacteria to the medical-grade H13 HEPA filter for microbes before ending with the activated carbon filter for odors and some gases. Air passes through all four, regardless of air quality or fan setting, so the only difference really is fast it can take in and spit out air as well as the noise that those speeds make.
The A9 Air Purifier offers four levels of fan speeds, with the lowest at 25db which the company labels as its Sleep Mode for bedtime. Even at its highest setting, however, the Proscenic A9 doesn’t get uncomfortably loud. It definitely has an audible presence but not deafening. Fortunately, the air purifier is smart enough to dial it down once it reaches a lower PM2.5 air index, presuming you left it at Auto Mode.
The Proscenic A9 also offers a small number of “smart” features on top of the basic controls but you’ll have to set it up with the mobile app which we’ll get to later. At the top of that list is support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing for voice or smartphone control. Unsurprisingly, Apple Home and Siri are absent.
To be honest, the Proscenic mobile app offers very little functionality that you can’t manually do on the A9 Air Purifier itself. Of course, the ability to control the device from a distance may already be a huge boon for some owners. The app also allows users to set schedules, which the app amusingly calls “reservations”, indicating what time the air purifier will switch to what fan speed.
Unfortunately, those benefits don’t justify the rather disappointing process of connecting the app and the A9 via your Wi-Fi network. The process itself is pretty normal but the app comes with one major requirement. In a nutshell, it only works with 2.4GHz band routers. If you have a dual-band router, you will have to set separate SSIDs for the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands otherwise you will never be able to connect the unit to your router.
Not supporting the 5GHz band, which is already common these days, maybe understandable but requiring users to bend over backward and change the way their routers work, potentially breaking other existing connections, is asking too much. Fortunately, the A9 is completely functional even without the mobile app. Proscenic even advertises that the air purifier supports a Bluetooth connection for wireless control, though that also comes with its own limitations and drawbacks.
The Proscenic A9 Air Purifier does what it is meant to do, cleaning the air in your house for healthier living. It is simple and direct, easy to operate with no hidden traps for the uninitiated. The setup process for the mobile app definitely takes the joy out of having a smart air purifier but, fortunately, it isn’t critical to its functions.
That said, Proscenic will have a harder time standing out from the growing number of air purifiers vying for users’ attention and money. Hopefully, this is something that Proscenic can address in a future product or, better yet, a simple app update.