Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor review: Small and inexpensive, but not very smart

Amazon $69.99 for Smart Air Quality Monitor It is the company’s first foray into the increasingly popular category of indoor air quality monitors (IAQs). And based on my experience with the product, it’s a hopping on the bandwagon. Although relatively inexpensive and useful thanks to voice control, the Smart Monitor does not add anything innovative or particularly useful to the concept of a consumer air quality monitor.

The Indoor Air Quality Monitor aims to tell you all about the bad things you can’t see floating around in your home (file The Environmental Protection Agency says indoor air may be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air). You may have heard of VOC and other airborne pollutants common in modern homes, many of which can aggravate or contribute to respiratory illnesses such as asthma. Common activities in our homes such as cleaning and cookingEspecially with gas), add small particles to the air that can cause harm and also worsen existing health conditions. Of course, outside air can creep in, which if you live near a busy road or in an area affected by bushfire smoke, can make life miserable.

A smart air quality monitor can not only give you an alert when the air quality drops, so you can do something about it (open a window, turn on a fan, turn on the air purifier), but you should also do something about it without having to interfere, Thanks to its connected nature.

For example, when particulates rise, a connected air quality monitor can tell a smart plug to turn on the fan connected to it, instruct a smart thermostat to turn on a HVAC system to move the air, or even turn on a smart air purifier to start cleaning the air.

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Here’s the problem with Amazon’s cute little $70 Smart Air Quality Monitor: It can’t do any of that.

What it can do is send an alert to your phone, announce through the Echo speaker, and signal with an LED light when the air quality inside is poor. It can also turn on the heating or air conditioner depending on the temperature, which may help move some air.

The smart display has a compact and elegant design and is powered by a micro-USB cable.

There is no screen on the device to show you what exactly is wrong (a feature found in almost all competitors); Instead, you need to have an Echo Show nearby to see your readings (or search in the app). The alert it sends only indicates that the air quality is poor – no other information. Other screens I’ve tested will send out specific alerts – such as “CO2 levels are high, air time for this place outside” or “Humidity is a bit high, consider turning on the dehumidifier.” While the Amazon device gives you an early warning, that’s about it. But for people who do not want to spend a small fortune to monitor their air, this is a decent option.

Price is the biggest selling point of the Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor. It’s a much less expensive way to monitor indoor air, with most competing products costing between $100 and $300.

300 dollars Away element And the Offer Airthings Plus They are the leaders here for those who want to be serious about their air. On the less expensive side of things, there’s $99.99 Eve roomwhich is HomeKit only, the file Netatmo Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor for $119.99and $45 Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor (which requires a Axle starting at $30), both also work with Alexa and can connect to HomeKit.

You can see the Air Quality Score dashboard on the Echo Show smart screen, as well as in the Alexa app on the smartphone.

Amazon Smart AQ screen measures 2.5 µm (particles small enough to penetrate the lungs), VOCcarbon monoxide, humidity and temperature. It misses the CO2 monitor, which some competitors offer. This can help identify poor airflow in the room and potentially alert you to the risk of indoor COVID transmission. (High levels of carbon dioxide can indicate increased air in the room It consists of the breath of others — and whatever germs your breath carries.) But the smart display offers more sensors than the similarly priced Acara sensor, which doesn’t measure PM 2.5 or carbon monoxide.

As with most consumer IAQs, the smart display provides an easy-to-read air quality score. The indicator light on the panel also turns green for better, yellow for moderate, and red for poor. The score is shown in the app on a scale of 100, where the score from 0 to 35 is bad and 65 to 100 is good. Likely to be based on The Air Quality Index, developed by the Environmental Protection Agency to help ordinary users understand air quality (I’ve reached out to Amazon to confirm this). In my testing, my score was close to 89, unless I was cooking on my gas stove when it dropped to about 23.

You can see the result in the device dashboard in the Alexa app or in the Echo Show. Here you can also get a breakdown of what contributes to it and what, if any, makes it worse. Each of the five sensors has its own line, highlighted in green, yellow, or red, to indicate its status.

In the dashboard, you can dive into the sensor readings in separate tabs, where you can see historical readings for the hour, day or last week. Managed to review monthly data.

The cable is attached to the bottom.

The reset button is at the back.

The smart watch is a nice looking device. It features a rectangular disc-like design, with rounded corners, matte white plastic, and a small air-through grille. It’s also much smaller than most competitors and won’t look out of place in your living room or kitchen. It must be connected via a micro-USB cable and a wall socket (included); There is no spare battery.

It’s easy to set up the screen – just plug it in, open the Alexa app, and if you’re not prompted to pair the screen, tap Add Device. You need to give access to your device’s Bluetooth and camera (to scan the setup code), agree to the Alexa and Alexa devices’ terms of use, and then scan the QR code on the back of the device. Alexa will then find the device and connect it to your Alexa account. Next, add it to a room or group.

The screen takes seven minutes to calibrate before the IAQ result comes out, and Amazon says it can take about two days to adjust to the air. Due to the calibration time, it’s not really suitable for moving around your house, as you have to unplug it, which resets the calibration. Interestingly, all competitors have the option to use only battery power, which helps with portability, but most also need time to adjust to read the air properly.

I tested the Smart Monitor in the kitchen next to a gas stove. The LED light gives a visual indication when the air quality is changing.

I set up the test unit in my kitchen, and a peek at the red light was a helpful reminder to turn on the range hood when I was cooking on my gas stove. But it would be better if the smart display could turn on the fan automatically if I had a connected range.

The device performed similarly to other IAQ smart displays during testing, with only slight differences in the readings. The main feature offered by others is not the sound alerts through a compatible speaker. Although it’s not turned on by default, you can go into the Smart Monitor settings in the app and enable push notifications and/or echo ads when air quality drops. However, it is limited, only telling you when you are poor. I wanted to keep telling me when everything was back to normal.

You can also ask Alexa for an on-air update by saying, “Alexa, what’s your indoor air quality?” Responses include poor, fair and good air quality scores. (Note: If you say “Alexa, what is air quality” you will receive a report from AirNow.gov subordinate Abroad Your location’s Air Quality Index score, no screen required.) You can also ask for indoor temperature or humidity, but you can’t get CO2, PM, or VOC readings by voice.

Amazon tells me that you can also order readings in a specific room if you add the device to a group in the app. This will come in handy if you have a couple of them in different rooms around your house. But during testing I kept getting the response “This is not supported yet.”

While I’m not a supporter of multiple apps, this one deserves a standalone app. It takes four clicks through multiple menus and with a lot of scrolling just to get to the screen dashboard, and it’s not a user-friendly experience.

The Alexa app shows an air quality dashboard as well as containing settings for using Alexa voice features.

As I mentioned earlier, my other complaint is the lack of home automation. This is a smart air quality monitor but it’s not very smart. It works with files Alexa routine (automated shortcuts that help your connected devices work together), but the only trigger it offers is temperature — there are five sensors here, but only one can tell other devices in your home to turn on or off. (This also applies to all other air quality monitors that can connect to Alexa, which indicates that Amazon has some basic work to do to enable it.)

If a smart display can also run on moisture, VOCs, carbon dioxide and particulate matter, it would be much easier to recommend. Amazon said it is working on adding this functionality, but until it arrives, this device is limited as a smart air quality monitor.

I set up a routine that activates the HVAC fan if the temperature in the kitchen rises above 75 degrees between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., when I normally cook. I had to wait 20 minutes and then turn the fan back on to auto, which worked.

The smart display comes with a long cable and power adapter.

Another use case for a temperature trigger is as a room sensor for an Alexa-enabled smart thermostat, such as Amazon smart thermostat. But compared to other room sensors of smart thermostats (such as icobe And the Live), limited functionality. You can’t adjust conditions outside of time, such as only running a routine if motion is detected in the room or lights are on, which means you could end up heating or cooling an empty room.

The Smart Monitor is primarily a companion device to your Alexa/Echo home rather than a standalone air quality monitor. Amazon designed this to be used primarily with audio and visual indicators rather than an app. This approach is fine if you have an Echo Show but is less useful if you don’t. (Amazon offers value bundles that include the Smart Monitor and the Echo Dot or Echo Show 5).

If you have an Amazon Smart Thermostat or similar, an Echo Show, and are concerned about how high the particles are, you might get some benefit from the Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor. Otherwise, there’s no compelling reason to pick this up because it doesn’t do much – yet.

Jennifer Bateson Tohey/The Verge pictures

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