Air monitors and purifiers have become increasingly popular, dual devices that both cleanse and keep tabs on the air we breathe indoors. That’s where Aura Air is, a well-designed monitor and purifier that takes a knot from the Google Home design book, with a rounded body wrapped in a gray fabric cover.
We were sent an Aura Air to test, and we used it in a tiny New York apartment with a giant dog.
Aura Air is designed to be installed on the wallGearBrain / Lauren Barack
Aura Air setup is a little different from other air monitors and purifiers we’ve reviewed. It’s designed to sit on the wall rather than the floor, and placing it in that space means using the screw and anchors that came in the box. The instructions make it clear that the device is meant to be considerably away – 20 inches – from any other object, be it the floor or a bookcase.
We want to immediately note that we didn’t install Aura Air on a wall because we couldn’t, instead of leaving it on the floor, but 20 inches from other elements.
Be aware that the device runs on electricity and the cord itself is quite short, about 4 to 5 feet. It’s also a very deep device – it will protrude from the wall by at least several inches. So you’ll want to think about where you might want to install it, as a cord will run down the wall and then need to plug into an outlet. There are four international adapters included in the box, including one for the US that we used.
You can hear the Aura Air running during heavy cleaning mode.
GearBrain / Lauren Barack
By using it
The system works by cleaning the air in a 600 square foot area every 2.5 hours. Aura Air uses two filters, a pre-filter and then what it calls a Ray filter, which is its own, which is the main filter of the device. These work together to create an Overall Air Quality Score, or AQI, which is developed from seven measurements. These include:
• carbon monoxide
- carbon dioxide (what we all breathe out)
- VOCs or chemicals
- PM 10 or standard particles
- PM 2.5 or very fine, small particles
Aura Air does not have a screen. Instead, these data points are in the app. There aren’t many buttons on the device itself. Since it’s supposed to sit on a wall, people aren’t expected to engage with the purifier itself, but with the app.
But I would have liked a stop button to be offered. I found that when Aura Air started to clean intensely it got very noisy. Using a decibel meter, I found the sound to hit 57 db, and the website itself noted it could hit levels of 64 db, right next to a vacuum cleaner. That noise level isn’t horrible, but it also points to an issue with where you can put Aura Air, as it’s not a device – and sound – that you would want to pass in a bedroom. And even in my office, I wish I could have quickly turned that off.
The reset button is extremely small on the Aura Air, but must be pressed if the device is disconnected from Wi-FiGearBrain / Lauren Barack
Instead, I went into the app to see what made Aura Air react, finding that the VOC and PM 2.5 levels had risen above what the device considered normal. In addition to specific levels, the app has a graph with a clear red line – anything above is cause for concern. Colors actually play a big role in the monitor, and the light on the front is basically a cheat sheet to let you know what’s going on with the purifier. Intensive cleaning or intensive mode is marked by a white breathing light, for example.
Within a week, the device disconnected from Wi-Fi – which actually made it one of the main reasons to have Aura Air. The purifier will still work without a Wi-Fi connection, but you cannot collect data points without it being linked to the app. Also, the device itself did not alert us to the Wi-Fi issue. We only found the problem by going into the app and seeing that there was a red dot next to it. ‘a photo of the Aura Air.
Are you reconnecting to Wi-Fi? It wasn’t easy either. There is also no option in the app to reconnect Aura Air. In fact, the instructions tell you to turn off Wi-Fi on your phone – never a good sign, and also one that didn’t work. Finally, we were forced to press the reset button – which we could only find after watching a video – and then reconnect. And we had to take this step three times.
The Aura app is extremely well designed, with easy-to-read data points on seven different air measurements.GearBrain / Lauren Barack
The Aura Air app, when connected online and working, is one of the best-designed apps I’ve tested. Using colors to alert people to what’s going on with their air quality is a solid design step.
By connecting to Wi-Fi, the app also exploits the location of the purifier, providing details not only on the indoor air quality, but also the outdoor quality, or AQI, in that area. Aura Air will not impact the outside air, but it is a great measure to offer people. That said, AQI is something people can find in Apple’s Weather app as well as other weather mobile apps.
But the big result is the metrics on specific data points, from VOCs to humidity. These are graphed over a full week so that users can see any variance on certain days, as well as those specific levels.
The Aura Air comes with four different adapters, allowing it to be used in other countries including the UK and US.GearBrain / Lauren Barack
Aura Air says on its website that it will work with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant – and so we tried to connect the device to both, and we initially couldn’t go through the Google Home app and the Alexa application on our smartphone. The company’s automated assistance robot didn’t help, unable to answer direct questions about these smart home integrations.
Email support helped a bit more. For Alexa, we were told to download the Alexa skill for Amazon’s voice assistant and link that skill to our Aura Air account to connect the two. This allowed us, via the Alexa application, to make simple requests, in particular “Alexa, open Aura Air”. This then calls for a second voice assistant, Heidi d’Aura, who can handle very limited questions, including:
- What is the level of large dust particles inside?
- What are the recommendations for today?
The Google Assistant turned out to be more problematic. We were asked to create a new Aura Air account – which we didn’t need to do. We made a second call to the support team via email, sending us to the Google Play Store to download the Aura app. We have an iPhone and have already installed the app. On our third attempt, support asked us to open the Google Home app, then go to Google Assistant, then scroll down to find Aura Air as a connected option and link them together. Aura Air was nowhere listed as an option. Ultimately, we wouldn’t recommend using the Google Assistant with this device.
You can buy Aura Air for $ 499 from the company’s website. You will at some point have to replace what they call its own Ray filter for $ 79.
We found this price more expensive than other air purifiers we tested, including the Coway Airmega, Coway Airmega 150 – and even a little more than the Dyson Hot + Cool.
The Aura Air is beautifully designed and alerts you to air quality based on the color of the lightGearBrain / Lauren Barack
Should you buy it
Should you buy Aura Air? It is a well-designed device. For some people, the lack of a screen can also be a plus, with data points easy to find in the app.
However, it is a device that must be installed on the wall, and away from other objects, while being close enough to an outlet. It can be noisy when in active use, which means it may not be optimally installed in a bedroom. Also, given that it needs to be installed on a wall, it might not be the best device for renters to consider. Finally, the $ 499 price tag puts Aura Air in the high end of the market – and that probably won’t be something Google Assistant users can count on as well.
We also had issues with the purifier disconnecting from Wi-Fi – and not alerting us until we looked into the app. Reconnecting was not that easy.
We believe that there is a buyer who will prefer to have a device like this on their floor and on the wall. It is a place that many people use for wall heaters and even air conditioners. And its design and detailed metrics are definitely a plus.
But we would like buyers to be on top of Aura Air and monitor its Wi-Fi connection so that we can take full advantage of all of its features.
- Nicely designed
- The app works fine
- Easy to install
- Must be installed on the wall
- The purifier may become noisy when in use.
- Wi-Fi connection only visible in the app