Sunday, August 12, 2018

Personal AC Review

This post is mirrored on DreamClassier Reviews
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Welcome to my latest Kickstarted product review, and while I have backed many products and campaigns, few have received reviews from me. I hope that will change.

This time we're going to be looking at blö, which is like a miniature, wearable cooling fan with an oil diffuser built in.

Control
The blö uses one button for everything, on/off and speed control.

Firstly, it does have a tendency to turn on while in your pocket. I think they could just have easily used a toggle-able switch for on/off and a separate button to control.

Secondly, the button is not terribly responsive (I know, that almost seems contradictory to my first point); sometimes you can press the button and nothing happens, which can be especially annoying if you're trying to turn the damn thing off, and even worse if you had it running on a low setting, so you have to fight with it through all the higher speed setting before you cycle back around to the off setting. I've found my best results come from pressing and holding for a second or two before releasing, but even this does not have the best success rate.

Charging & Battery
The listed battery life for the device is four to eight hours (depending on speed) which isn't bad.

What makes it worse is the location of the charging-port. While I'm grateful it uses the nearly-universal microUSB port for charging, the port itself is placed right next to the air outflow, which makes using the device while it is charging inconvenient at best.

Mounting
The device comes with two built in clips at opposite orientations, which shows a surprising amount of forethought (in my experience with crowd-funded products).

They say the device is intended to be mounted at the base of the neck, but this doesn't really work unless you have short hair, or your long hair is tied up into a high-ball.

They show many pictures of the device being worn on the front of the collar, but this never seems to work for me. The center of balance of the device causes it to be top heavy in this orientation, and the device flips forward over your collar until it's either hanging upside down on the outside of your shirt (mounting clip still holding on) or merely into a horizontal orientation, such that the outflow is pressed against your chest.

The only placement I've found any satisfaction with is at the top of my pants, with the bottom hem of my shirt clipped into the reversed- orientation clip. Unfortunately, this results in the loose fabric of my shirt "pooling" on top of the device, and the fan is neither strong enough to force air through this pile of fabric, nor to dislodge it. So instead of feeling a dispersal of cool air flowing up my back, it gets focused in a single spot right above the device.

Actual Cooling
I expected much of the cooling effect derived from this device to be placebo effect, the four degrees from two minutes" notwithstanding, because four degrees really isn't that much, especially when you're, like me, finding yourself in a walk-in compacting dumpster than can easily break one hundred in direct sunlight in the summer.

Yes, I'm a skeptic; deal with it.

To my surprise, I did actually feel a difference in temperature sufficient to reduce the volume of sweat my body produced. Not altogether significant of a reduction, but enough that the reduction in discomfort was noticeable. Yeah, I still sweated, which is actually reassuring, because sweat is a good thing; if this device managed to sufficiently cool a small but sensitive part of my core and trick it into thinking I wasn't as hot as I actually was, the lack of sweat could actually cause other parts of my body to unhealthily overheat.

Oil Diffuser & Scent Circulation
I've noticed no actual benefit, either in overall scent of myself or additional cooling power from the oil diffuser, even if it has been freshly anointed with peppermint oil. However, I have noticed that if you're in an environment that does not smell pleasant (like a corporate bathroom or a walk-in compacting dumpster) that that smell does permeate the blö and get diffused on ones clothes and body, more than it would without the device.

I think this part of the device needs a lot of work, and I have two ideas:

One: a larger surface area for the diffusing brush. At present, it is a cylinder a couple of millimeters long and the same distance across. It barely holds the volume of a single drop of oil.

Two: an oil reservoir. This could either be time or gravity fed, or purely manual. Whichever, make it in some way attached to the device so you can top off the brush when it get low/dry without having to carry around a bottle of oil and worrying about it spilling or breaking.

Summary
I think this is a very handy little device. I would recommend it to anyone who works in a warehouse (I spend about 20% of my work in a warehouse), and it's reasonably priced.

A few things could use a little work, and I wouldn't mind a larger device with a more powerful fan, but given that this is a first generation device, it does remarkably well.