Why you can trust ZDNET
:ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
Pet cats or dogs roaming around have their own particular aroma, the scent of dirty socks left around by kids can make your eyes water, food cooked with a heap of spices can hang around far longer than the meal, and smokers' houses, while blocking many other odors, can be less than pleasant to walk into.
As a smoker (yes, I know), I keep cigarettes or vape use to my living room.
Despite having this habit, however, I dislike the stale tang of smoke that tends to stick to everything from the air to walls. And even with constant airing out -- as the weather gets colder and the last thing I want to do is have every door and window open -- I'm still always apologetic when I have visitors.
To add to the issue, I have two cats, among other pets, and a log burner well overdue for a flue clean out, which sometimes means lighting the fire can be a smoky business.
I tested out the Toshiba Air Purifier (CAF-Z85USW) to see if the device would be able to clean up the air in this part of my house. At first glance, it is portable due to its wheels, extremely quiet, and easy to get going.
Once you've purchased the air purifier, it is simply a matter of removing stability straps and wrapping. You will need to ping open three panels on each side to take away a protective plastic wrap on each of the purifier's two HEPA filters.
Be careful, though, the filters can be quite fiddly at first to remove (especially as your air purifier is on wheels). If you're clumsy like me, you'll stab it with your nail and cause a tear.
You can plug the air purifier in and go, or you can use an accompanying mobile app. The Toshiba Air Purifier's control panel includes an automatic mode and an optional one, two, four, or eight-hour timer. There are also different fan speeds, a smoke mode, a 'turbo' setting for a powerful and rapid air cleaning, and a button for sending your device to sleep.
Furthermore, Toshiba has included a child lock to stop young, sticky fingers from changing your settings.
You should also make sure you keep an eye on the second layer of the display, which will tell you the status and health of your filters and advise you when replacements are needed.
The "VOC" alert is, perhaps, one of the most important readings to understand. Split into "clean," "fair," and "poor," volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be removed through this air purifier, as it uses activated carbon filters -- although as some customer reviews have noted, this feature is very sensitive and not every VOC noted should be a worry.
In addition, the "PM" score indicates particle matter in the air. Mine is often pretty high, especially first thing in the morning, but I found that leaving my device on auto over several days gradually cleared up my score to a better level -- and maintained it.
While I haven't used it much, the air purifier can be controlled via Amazon's Alexa or Google voice assistants, as well as an accompanying mobile app, TSmartLife, over your home Wi-Fi network.
I'm used to my robot vacuum making a racket every morning during its scheduled cleaning, so I was extremely impressed with how quiet the air purifier is. In fact, I thought it was defective at first, as I couldn't tell if the fans were working properly.
Here's the question, though: Did the Toshiba Air Purifier remove some of the smoke from the air? I tested the purifier by leaving it on auto for a week and visitors said there was a "noticeable" difference in the air. The tinge of smoke hadn't completely vanished, but there was a marked improvement. Furthermore, despite my living room and kitchen being next to each other with a door always open between them, there were no traces of smoke in the area.
Overall, I think the inclusion of a voice assistant for an air purifier is overkill, as leaving it on auto and forgetting about the device is more than adequate. While I can't speak for allergen reduction, the air purifier has improved the quality of the air in my home.