Around five years ago, just as air purifiers became popular as air pollution reached visibly alarming levels, the first brands to try to enter this space were not tech companies but old-school names in domestic home appliances. Consider Philips, Havells, and Eureka Forbes. This notion of brand familiarity, however, changes when the price tag exceeds $50,000. This is the time to look for a product with a ‘premium’ appeal and even brands that amplify this appeal. Consider what Bang & Olufsen is to audio and Hasselblad is to cameras. The Havells Meditate air purifier, at 49,999, is more expensive than all but one of Dyson’s air purifiers, pretty much always the benchmark in the appliances market for highly priced but definitely premium products.
This made sense as well. Home appliance brands have been trusted in India for years, also with air pollution being taken seriously (for the first time in human history), it’s easy to see why more consumers would put their trust and money in a brand that they’ve at least heard of for decades. All of this is true as long as you’re looking at entry-level air purifiers and even those priced around 20,000.
Competing with Dyson
Dyson has successfully established a standard that is visible to all buyers looking for premium air purifiers that fit seamlessly into suave living rooms. Aside from providing 360-degree air distribution, the revolving bladeless fans have a fluid and seamless aesthetic. In addition, the Dyson purifiers have an LED display, an easy-to-use app, and a small remote control. A good aesthetic, as well as a functional display and remote control, are fairly basic requirements for a premium air purifier. The Havells Meditate fails in almost all of these areas.
One too many problems
To begin, the Havells Meditate tries to add premium appeal by using faux veneer on the top panel and the rounded base. Consider this an attempt to coax customers into paying for higher variants, similar to what the affordable segment cars tried to do a decade ago. Customers paying a premium for an appliance they can get for less than half the price will want more than just a “wooden finish” to consider a product to be truly premium. The air purifier’s drum-shaped body also feels decidedly plasticky, and no amount of faux wood helps to alleviate these concerns.
The biggest stumbling block, however, is the remote
This large bowl-shaped device appears to be an appliance in its own right, but it is actually a completely separate component of the purifier. It has a small display on top that shows the Air Quality Index (AQI) score as well as segment-specific views of PM2.5 (particulate matter), PM10, and so on. The display quality is reminiscent of the basic colour displays found in railway stations today, hardly deserving of a ‘premium’ home appliance.
Havells Meditate’s remote controller somewhat defeats the entire purpose of a remote controller. Instead of being a small controller that can be normally located on bedside tables to switch modes in the middle of the night, the controller takes up a significant portion of your table and for no apparent reason.
It also keeps switching off every few minutes, as well as the capacitive switches provide no haptic feedback if used in the dark. At night, the only way to turn on this remote’ is to tap it randomly and hope to find the capacitive power button somewhere. To put it mildly, the remote control is bizarre.
Havells Sync mobile app
There’s also the Havells Sync mobile app, which is powered by an AI chat-based assistant designed to make your life easier. Instead, it asks for the same information as any other login page, but in what appears to be a slow as well as painstakingly tedious stretch of animations.
Even after signing up, multiple attempts to sync the purifier with the app failed. Before you can set up the app, you must perform a series of button presses on both the purifier and the remote controller. Neither worked, and the app simply did not progress past the screen that asks you to select the product for which you want to register.
This, combined with the purifier’s cheap plastic feel, makes it a far cry from the kind of premium home appliance you’d expect to pay 50,000 for. Take, for example, the purifier’s filter casing. A release button on a Dyson purifier is used to eject the panels. Even though the latter aren’t completely seamless, they work well enough when it’s time to change the air filter. The Havells Meditate, on the other hand, has no visible markings to open the outer casing to access the filter, forcing you to tug at the vents comically. You’re half-hoping you didn’t damage the expensive new purifier, and half-hoping you didn’t miss a page in the user manual booklet.
What will you get?
If you still want to buy it you’d end up with an air purifier that performs similarly to any other purifier on the market in terms of air purification. During peak pollution season, running the Havells Meditate in a closed bedroom with the ceiling fan set to its lowest setting reduced the AQI from 580 to 45 in about three hours. Within an hour, the AQI was close to 150, and it gradually decreased over the next few hours. The fan’s top-speed ‘turbo’ mode is expectedly loud, but at lower speeds, the Havells Meditate makes little noise in your sanctuary.
To be sure, the Havells Meditate does a satisfactory job of purifying the air in your room. The disadvantage is that so do purifiers that cost about a seventh of the price.
At $4,999, there are no compelling reasons to choose the Meditate over a comparable Dyson. The purifier’s body is extremely plasticky, the overall finish does not exude premium-ness or luxury, and the remote controller is far from a seamless, compact unit that aids in device control. With an app that is still barely functional, the Havells Meditate is an air purifier you should avoid.