Honeywell Air Touch U series keeps the air pure, but needs refinement elsewhere - Hindustan Times

Honeywell Air Touch U series keeps the air pure, but needs refinement elsewhere

Mar 26, 2024 12:21 PM IST

After another data revision about the poor quality of air in our cities, a good indoor air purifier in homes, becomes essential

If you still needed some convincing, there’s new data which should. The annual report from Swiss tech company IQAir, which through the last year collected logs from 30,000 air quality monitoring stations across 7,812 locations in 134 countries, pegs India as the third most polluted country in the world, after Bangladesh and Pakistan. That’s the collective ranking of air quality in different Indian cities, some of which including the capital city, figure among the most polluted in the world. Outdoor air has limited scope of correction by individuals (wear a mask, perhaps), air inside your homes can be maintained within a healthier realm. As important as they are in homes now, not all indoor air purifiers are equals.

The Air Touch U1 is now available for around <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>23,999 while the U2 sets you back by around <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>27,999. (Official image)
The Air Touch U1 is now available for around 23,999 while the U2 sets you back by around 27,999. (Official image)

A lot of the actual air cleaning performance is directly related to the quality of filters, while additional features may be subjectively relevant. Air humidification, for instance. Technology company Honeywell’s current home air purifier line-up may best be unified by its diversity. The Honeywell Air Touch U1 and the Air Touch U2 achieve the same result, but have very different specifications and feature set, to get there. There are specifics that add value, the soft of functionality that’s still not commonplace.

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Selecting one out of the two doesn’t hinge on the pricing now, since there is little window between the two price tags.

The Air Touch U1 is now available for around 23,999 while the U2 sets you back by around 27,999. Dimension and form factor differences aside, both purifiers have a 4-stage filtration process at play – a pre-filter, anti-bacterial filter, an activated carbon filter and an H13 HEPA or high-efficiency particulate resistance filter to close the loop. That theoretically takes care of a broad spectrum of airborne particles, measured in microns.

In our testing, it becomes clear that the pre-filters are quite effective in the Air Touch U2 in particular, which translates into longer life of the filters that follow.

In our tests, a bedroom with 255 AQI before the Air Touch U2 got into action, was stabilised at 23 AQI in about 30 minutes, in auto mode. However, you may not want to leave the U2 in this mode for too long, since the fans can get quite loud beyond speed 2 (there are up to 8 levels). For the daytime, manual selection up to speed 2, and night mode for sleep time, are the way to go. There is a very neat colour changing LED ringing the circumference of the purifier’s control panel, but it doesn’t have any illumination level settings and neither does it dim if you turn the room’s lights off.

The biggest advantage of the U2 is the humidifier. The water tank is large (around 2 litres) and for the typical Delhi NCR climate and dryness levels, this needed filling up every 24 hours of use through the day and night. That said, it is perplexing that every time the purifier powers on, anion (or negative ions) and the UV (ultraviolet purification) turn on by default. I have not noticed any mode or setting that keeps these off in the event of a power state recycle. Speaking of which, the Air Touch U2 doesn’t power back on in case of an electricity cut – that’s quite perplexing, a basic capability that’s missing.

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With a fairly different form factor is the Air Touch U1, more of a tower style which demands a 360-degree filter design because of the air intakes on all four sides of the purifier. All purification layers are integrated into the single unit, and that for matters of simplicity when replacing, might be a good idea. Less e-waste too. The U1, much like its sibling, also struggles with high fan noise on levels 3 and fairly noticeable fan noise on level 2. It is understandable since there are three speed levels. In auto mode, this tends to go into a higher speed sooner rather than later, not willing to take any chances with air composition. Some movement close to the purifier, which may make it detect any movement in airborne particles, also gets it into higher speeds soon enough.

In a large hall space, the U1 improved the 221 AQI to about an AQI of 55 in 30 minutes, in auto mode. Keep this at fan speed one, and that gets maintained between 55 and 75 AQI levels for the most part – not bad for an active room. There is no humidifier in the U1, and also no negative ions, but this also has the UV which automatically gets enabled every time the power mode is cycled, or you power this down and switch it on again. The purifier also cannot return to its earlier power state after an electricity cut.

Honeywell, many years ago, were among the first brands to make a concerted effort to make home air purifiers ‘smart’. That mission seemingly continues till today. Both the Air Touch U1 and U2 work with the Honeywell AirTouch app (available for Android and iPhone), and the smartness extends to the fact that when I was pairing the U1 to the app, it detected the U2 as well in the vicinity and paired with the same Wi-Fi. The app is simple enough to use, and the layout doesn’t pose any learning curves. Minimal visual appeal, but gets the job done.

You need an air purifier for home, and in some cities in our country, perhaps even one in each room. Buying one accordingly that’s fit for purpose in specific room sizes is important. Both Honeywell’s Air Touch U1 and U2 are equally adept at actively cleaning the air in large rooms (a living and dining room combination, for instance), as well as smaller bedrooms.

The app on the phone adds to some convenience of use. That said, firmware updates must fix some refinement issues, such as the auto-start of all features, and the present inability to resume after a power cut as well as retain the mode it was in previously. If these cannot be fixed, you’ll have to do slightly more manual intervention, when required.

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    Vishal Mathur is Technology Editor for Hindustan Times. When not making sense of technology, he often searches for an elusive analog space in a digital world.

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