An air purifier can dramatically improve the air quality in your home, reducing allergens and dust—assuming it is the right size for your space and you change the filters often enough. And smart air purifiers should have two big benefits over traditional dumb purifiers: They can tell you precisely when to change the filters, and they can tell you precisely what’s being pulled out of the air. The Dreo Air Purifier Tower Fan ($269.98), like the Dyson Hot+Cool I reviewed last year, tries to do everything an air purifier should do while also being a fan. And while all the features on the Dreo work well enough, I’m reluctant to recommend it based on two factors: size and value.

The Dreo is large, but the app is easy to use

The Dreo stands at nearly four feet tall, with a silver fin and a spinning tower. It’s not unattractive, it’s just imposing. Air purifiers work best, as fans do, in the middle of the room, but you won’t want to plop this down in the middle of your living room—and it’s not just large, it’s also heavy, weighing in at nearly 18 pounds. (More on that later.) It required no assembly, though; it was ready to go once I pulled the plastic off. At that point, I simply plugged it in and paired it with the Dreo app—and the pairing process was flawless. Additionally, you can add Dreo devices to your Alexa or Google Home hub. While a lot of newer products use Matter to bridge products to HomeKit, Dreo is not HomeKit-compatible at this time. (I did find some suggestions online for workarounds to get Dreo working with HomeKit, but I haven’t tested them out.)

The interface of Dreo’s app uses a lot of white space, and it doesn’t attempt to do too much: It simply tells you the air quality, the temperature, and how much filter life you have left. You can view the data over the last twenty four hours or thirty days. The app lets you set up schedules and turn the tower on and off by activating the fan, the purifier, or both.

With products like this, it sometimes feels silly or unnecessary to have the additional smart functions, but the ability to turn a purifier on and off remotely from another room, or even away from the house does have some benefits. Yes, you could use them in an automation to respond when the air quality goes over a certain threshold, but being able to turn them on and off remotely means you don’t have to go into the space where the purifier is working—and it means you don’t have to keep track of all those tiny remote controls. This is a real advantage over the (non-smart) Dyson Hot+Cool, because there are a few features that can only be activated by the remote, rather than the buttons on the face.

The second reason a smart app proves its worth is that it reports back on when to replace the filter. Generally, the rule on purifiers is to replace them every six months, but that is just an estimate. If it’s been particularly smokey or dusty, the filters see more use; if it has been clear, you might be replacing them too early. I was a little horrified to see my filters at 75% after only a month of use, which means I’d be replacing them far too infrequently. (The filters for the Dreo, by the way, run about $39.99.)

Where the app falls short

Here’s where the app fails this purifier: Dreo only offers a very basic ug/m3 measurement, which is a common way to express how polluted the air is. As I write this, the Dreo is reporting 10 ug/m3, which it considers “excellent.” This means there is ten micrograms of pollutant per cubic meter of air in the room. What it doesn’t do is tell you what makes up that pollutant. In comparison, the Dyson Hot+Cool isn’t smart, by which I mean you can’t do much with the app—you control it via the buttons on the face or a small remote you will probably lose (at least I did). But the Dyson reports on the face of the machine what actually makes up the pollutants it filters, such as gases, particulates, and VOCs. I didn’t consider this an important feature on the Dyson until the Dreo was missing it.

One evening, for example, the Dreo app reported “poor” air quality in the room when the up/m3 spiked to 270. I’d like to dig into why it did so, but without that additional information about what the Dreo was pulling out of the air, I can only speculate it was related to the dinner I was cooking in the room next door. However, you can glean some additional information from the PM rating it delivers, which refers to particulate size (particulate material, specifically). I placed the purifier in my office because I was doing drywall work in there, and I was able to watch the purifier bring the PM down significantly from the time I turned it on to a few hours later, and I could even observe how much cleaner the air was after.

It has a quiet fan that feels like a real breeze

I’ve been playing with a few new Dreo products, and one of the aspects I really enjoy is the quality of the breeze the fan produces; it feels less like a fan and more like a genuine breeze. This is likely due to the dual motors powering the Dreo fan, which is also very quiet, even at max fan and purifier settings. Dreo reports that the tower maxes out at 38 Db, and I was never able to measure it going higher, but in sleep mode, it goes down to 25Db.

One thing in particular I liked about the Dreo fan interface is that you can adjust the strength from 1 to 10 with a slider, and it doesn’t jump in power, but softly rolls to the next setting. There’s a sleep feature in case you won’t be intimidated by this behemoth in the bedroom, or you can set it to auto to cycle on and off on its own. The tower can oscillate up to 120 degrees. 

Is the size of Dreo justified?

I found myself staring at the Dreo often over the last few weeks, trying to figure out where it would fit in. A dentist’s office, maybe, or a classroom—large spaces where large appliances wouldn’t be conspicuous and the design might feel industrial and cool. But this is where the main issue I have with Dreo became evident: When dealing with purifiers, you want one that is meant for the size of the room you’re using it in. This is important because a purifier basically exchanges the air in the room, and you want that to happen often enough that it’s meaningful for the people who move in the space. A small purifier would eventually clean the air in a whole house, but it would take a lot longer than it does to clear the air in a single room. If there’s a wildfire nearby and smoke is a big problem, you want the right size purifier for the space you have to turn the air over every thirty minutes or less.

The Dreo didn’t advertise a suggested room size for this purifier, so I asked them directly, and their response was “150-300 square feet.” I sought clarification because there’s a big difference between 150 and 300 square feet, and in either case, that is an incredibly small amount of square footage for a purifier of this size. I have five purifiers in my home from companies like Medify, and they are effective for larger spaces in a vastly compacted size; but those are just purifiers (not fans), so perhaps it’s an unfair comparison. The Dyson is made for a space at the top end of that equation (290 square feet), but it does so at a third the footprint, all while having a heater on board, too. Both the Dreo and Dyson filter down to .03 microns, which is an average size for purifiers, although some like Medify filter down to .01 micron, which is important for virus control.

The Dreo is fine, but you can do better

The Dreo works just fine. The fan is breezy, the air purifier clearly pulls particulates out of the air, and the price isn’t bad at $269.98. But you simply can’t overlook the size of the unit; it is a major obstacle for being functional in a home. It feels like an appliance meant for a more industrial space, but it’s not built to handle that type of square footage. While the Dyson Pure line is generally more expensive, for less than $100 more, you can grab a Dyson Pure Cool Gen 1 ($365), which is just the fan and purifier. If you’ve got the money to spare, though, for $749 you can get a Dyson Hot+Cool, which I get a lot of use of year-round, since it functions as a room heater, fan, and purifier all in one.