Product: Oreck ProShielf Plus Air Purifier
Sweet Los Angeles air – a lovely concoction of pollen, airborne pollutants, and just about anything else that can get a poor allergy sufferer sneezing and wheezing. Our household often whirs with the sound of air purifiers to combat this mixture of airborne irritants, mostly so my girlfriend doesn't suffer indoors like she often does outdoors during the worst pollen-rich months. Oreck, a brand mostly known for their lightweight vacuums (our own mother uses and endorses them), has jumped into the burgeoning realm of air purification with their ProShield line and we had an opportunity to put the ebony-colored machine to test and see if it could relieve an allergy sufferer's woes effectively.
Upon opening the packaging, we immediately had flashbacks of the original Sony PlayStation 2 console. The black-grilled ProShield Plus Air Purifier shares more than a mild similarity to the gaming console, right down to the blue LED light that glow when it's on. Whether you're a gamer or not may influence your opinion about the industrial design of the product, but we were nonplussed overall, except only to mention its tech sibling resemblance. In regards to use/utility, the slim shape makes it easy to place hidden in a corner, under a bed/seating, or on top of a bookshelf, because ultimately you'll likely want to keep this hidden away to do its job quietly and invisibly.
The machine is advertised as "whisper quiet" and we'd agree with this assessment at its lowest speed setting. It's library quiet, but still puts out a noticeable amount of air circulation when a hand is placed in front. Increase it to either of the two higher speed settings and the air purifier definitely makes its presence known (perhaps sharing characteristics to another console, the Xbox 360, which still might have been louder and sans any air purification capabilities). We'd only use the highest setting when away from home, the medium setting borderline except for the most hard of hearing.
The Oreck ProShield Plus filtration system relies upon 3 stages: a pre-filter for the largest of particles; something Oreck calls a Truman cell (Jim Carrey appeared in your mind, didn't he?), which relies upon an electrostatic charge to collect smaller particles; and lastly, the Helios Shield, a UV-A light, VOC eliminating system that purports to reduce viruses and odors (you might remember this same technology inside the Halo Vacuum, which Oreck seems to have acquired and integrated into their product line). We don't know about viruses (we haven't been sick since using it for the last month), but the unit does seem to do a fair job of reducing airborne odors inside, working equally well on a tabletop or on the floor.
Now for a feature that may turn you on or off from purchasing the ProShield Plus Air Purifier: it zaps large particles with a very audible noise not unlike a bug zapper. Whenever a large piece of dust, pet hair, small booger, or whatever happens to make its way inside the ionizing cell filter, the Oreck visibly fries the piece to smithereens. At first, it's quite an amusing process, but not so much later when you're sitting around, relaxing to Bach, reading your issue of National Geographic, only to be startled by some dust particle being executed by electrical shock. The plus side of this feature is it can help indicate when owners need to clean out the filtration system, for if and when the zaps increase in occurrence (or you've just been letting the house go and it's dirtier than before), you know it's time to clean the filter out. We only wish the unit offered a nighttime mode which would kill the zapping.
Note, the ProShield Plus isn't a true HEPA air filtration solution, but was engineered to remove 99% airborne particulates. This often seems to be the case with air purification systems that use rewashable/reusable parts, with the more robust HEPA models, which remove 99.97% of all particulates 0.3 microns in size or larger, requiring tightly woven membranes that need to be replaced regularly.
Maintenance of the ProShield Plus, like any air filtration system, requires periodic disassembly and cleaning. Fortunately the process of getting to each component is fairly easy and Oreck includes a handy brush to remove some of the easy-to-reach dust and dirt that accumulates inside the Truman Cell. A full cleaning requires gently rinsing the cell unit and drying it out. We appreciated the easy-to-access design, but recommend any vacuuming or dusting be done outside so as not to reintroduce what the air filter worked so hard at capturing.
We're not sure whether we can recommend the ProShield Plus for bedroom use due to its propensity to zap-snap-crackle-pop at inopportune moments, but in the living room and kitchen, the Oreck does a reputable job of keeping the air clean, circulated, and odor free. If you're curious enough about the features, Oreck is offering a try-before-you-buy option for 30 days, including shipping.
Pros: Slim form factor works equally well vertically (with stand) or horizontally; remote included; filtration system easy to clean; noticeably removes room odors and captures moderate amount of particles even at lowest setting; 3 year warranty.
Cons: Smaller size means medium setting is required for more sensitive allergy sufferers; can be loud when zapping particles; black form factor is a dust magnet and requires dusting itself.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.