This is a powerful air purifier that cleans the air quickly. It’s effective against all types of pollutants likely to be in your air at home – and it’s easy to use. However, it’s it’s not an appliance that will blend into your home decor.
While some air purifiers try to disguise their purpose within an unobtrusive shell (most of them), an iconic design (Dyson) or even a hybrid form (LG’s table/ air purifier), Toshiba’s air purifier leans into it, with a design that draws attention to its functionality.
Design and appearance
Measures 26.8in x 12.2in x 12.2in
The purifier is white and column-shaped, 26.8 inches high and 12.2 inches deep and wide. It’s on wheels, so it’s easy to roll around but as it’s reasonably heavy (25.2lbs), you won’t want to be moving it up and down the stairs too often.
The clean air vents from the top and there are two big (10×17 inches) intake grills, one on either side of the appliance that pull in large amounts of air from different directions.
But while its body is simply designed, its top is not. There’s a recessed, round air outlet vent at the top that’s inset into a clear plastic surround. Around the vent is a bright light ring that indicates air quality (although you can switch it off in sleep mode).
Emma Rowley / Foundry
This design choice makes it pretty conspicuous. Altogether, it looks like it would be more at home in a lab or a medical centre than a domestic setting. But while it may not be beautiful, it is incredibly easy to use. And, thanks to the light ring, you can read the air quality at a glance – even from across the room.
There’s a five-button control panel on the rim at the front, with corresponding indicator lights (except for Auto mode – you’ll know this is on when all the other indicator lights are off).
The first is for Auto mode. In this mode, the purifier will react to its sensors: when the air quality drops, it’ll switch on. When air quality is good, it’ll go into standby mode. In practice, I found that the purifier remained on at a very low level, even when air quality was good. However, spray an aerosol near it and it’ll power up, the blue light ring changing to angry red and the VOC indicator rocketing.
This mode’s responsiveness would seem to make it a good general, day-to-night setting. There’s even a light level indicator that will switch the purifier’s display on and off. However, if you have concerns about your power bill, it won’t be an economical.
The next button gives you a timer option. Set it to have the machine run for one, two four or eight hours to clear a smoky room or purify the air while you sleep.
The third button lets you toggle between three fan speeds. Press this and the mode button together and a child lock will come in, saving your settings from little fingers. (Or indeed giant ones, should your child have those.)
The mode button gives you three options: Smoke, Sleep and Turbo. Smoke seems confusingly named, as it’s not as powerful as Turbo, but if your room was full of smoke, the Turbo setting should be your go-to. The manual does not clarify these terms.
Last, there’s an On/Off button.
Underneath is a light-up display that gives you air quality and maintenance information. It shows you how much life is left in the HEPA filter and when you need to remove the pre-filter for a clean. You can also see if the child lock is on and the Wi-Fi is connected.
Finally, it gives information on PM2.5 particle volume and VOC levels. All are easy to understand as soon as you’ve checked the guide in the manual.
Filter type and CADR
HEPA 13 filter
Activated charcoal layer
CADR of 312
This purifier is effective against all the pollutants likely to be in the air in your home. It has a three-stage filter, with a pre-filter effective against pet dander, hair and dust; a HEPA 13 filter for airborne particles down to 0.3 microns, including viruses, pollen, dust mites and mould spores; and an activated charcoal layer to help clean up smoke, VOCs and unpleasant odours.
VOC stands for volatile organic compounds and this category comprises all the harmful gases produced by paint, aerosols, cleaning products and new furniture. If you’re decorating or renovating, the VOC content in your air is likely to be high and an activated charcoal filter is a good investment.
This purifier is ideal for large rooms, with a CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) of 312. That means it can clean 312 cubic feet of air per minute. According to Toshiba, it can clean the air in rooms up to 483ft² five times per hour.
We can’t test these claims in lab-style conditions but what we can – and did – do is use it around the house and see how well it works in day-to-day conditions.
The air purifier is quick to set up. All you need to do is open the air inlet grill, take out the HEPA filter, remove its plastic cover, and slot it back into place. Then repeat on the other side.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
Almost immediately, I was able to put it to use after some overly laissez-faire dinner preparation resulted in a smoke cloud. I wheeled the Toshiba in and its light ring lit up in red to alert me to the poor air quality (unnecessary, as I could see the smoke in the air, but thanks). I closed the door and let it get to work.
Just minutes later, the air in my (admittedly cupboard-like) kitchen was completely smoke-free. All evidence of my partner’s culinary crimes was gone.
During the testing period, I found numerous uses for the Toshiba. It banishes lingering egg and fish cooking smells. It erases cat litter odour. It freshens up a room after sleeping or when the door and windows have been shut for a long time.
It’s very quiet as well. Even in Turbo mode, there’s just the sound of rushing air. And in Sleep mode, the volume can be as low as 30dB – literally whisper quiet.
If you download the free to use TSmartLife app (which is available for Apple and Android), you can control your air purifier via the app and even use voice commands via your Alexa. The purifier supports dual-band Wi-Fi, so should be easy to connect.
Within the app, you can also see particulate matter and VOC levels and track them over time.
Unfortunately, as I’m based in the UK, I couldn’t test the smart features. The app is available but the air purifier was not among the recognised devices for this region.
Price and availability
The Toshiba CAF-Z85US(W) air purifier is available from Amazon in the US for $299.99. It is not currently available in the UK.
The bad news is that there are two filters that will need replacing – although this may mean you get twice as long from them? – and that’s going to be pricey. A pair of replacement filters costs $49.99 from Amazon.
Toshiba does not state how long filters will last but generally these things have a lifespan of 3-6 months, depending on your intensity of use. They can’t be cleaned as the charcoal layer will eventually just get saturated and it won’t be able to capture any more gases.
On the plus side, the air inlet grills and pre-filter can be vacuumed and washed by hand, so these won’t need to be replaced.
This is a really powerful and effective air purifier. I found it easy to use and the displays easy to read. The compromise with this appliance is its appearance: it’s a pretty ugly thing to have in your home – and in quite an attention-grabbing way.
For more air purifier options and to see our recommendations, have a look at our round-up of the best air purifiers we’ve tested.