At first sight
Attractive industrial design Built-in Qi charger Automatic operation in Smart mode
Relatively low clean air delivery rates Gets noisy when running at full tilt Model with Wi-Fi connection is $50 more
The Coway Icon Airmega can treat the air in a good-sized room, and its good looks go a long way to offsetting its relatively low clean air delivery rates and above-average price.
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When buying an air purifier to clean up the air inside your home, you’re probably checking a lot of boxes: How many square feet can it clean? What types of air pollutants will it neutralize? What kind of filter are you using? And so on. If there is also a box for how attractive the appliance is, it’s probably at the bottom of the list. It doesn’t have to be if you’re looking at the Coway Airmega icon.
In a universe filled with air purifiers shaped like utilitarian boxes or cylinders with universally ugly plastic intakes and exhaust grilles, the Airmega Icon stands out for Not stand out. Although no one will mistake it for a art object, at least it won’t make your living room or bedroom look like a medical clinic. It also has a bonus feature: a built-in Qi charger above its touch-sensitive control panel.
Note: This review is about the Airmega Icon. The Airmega IconS step-up model comes with a built-in Wi-Fi adapter, allowing remote control from your smartphone using the Airmega app. To learn about these features, you can read our Coway Airmega 250S review.
This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best air purifiers.
Let’s talk a little more about the industrial design of the Airmega Icon 250 before going into detail about its performance, as this is the feature that makes it so different from most of the competition. The 21.4 x 22.3 x 8.8-inch (HxWxD) appliance rests on wooden legs, rather than resting directly on the floor, and its front panel is covered in a beige tweed-like fabric, giving it a furniture-like appearance: almost looks like a cocktail table. Its intake grille is on Backwards of the unit, behind a removable panel that further disguises its function. Clean air is discharged through vents at the top of the unit, which is the only place that has a grille (which can be removed for periodic cleaning).
Coway makes great air purifiers, but we like the Airmega Icon more for its looks than its performance.
The appliance’s controls are built into an 8-by-8-inch panel on the left side of the unit, which also displays a readout for current indoor air quality. This is expressed as a PM 2.5 level (a measure of airborne particulate matter below 2.5 microns). This number remains illuminated while the purifier is running and an LED inside the air outlet changes color to provide a second visual indication of air quality: blue is ‘good’, green is ‘normal’, yellow is “unhealthy” and red is “very unhealthy”. You can turn off the LED if you are sensitive to light pollution.
What modes of operation does the Coway Airmega Icon have?
None of the icon’s controls, including its on/off switch, will show up until you tap the panel. But there’s not much need to touch it once Smart mode is activated (“smart” will show on the panel). This will adjust the air purifier’s three fan speeds based on the readings from its built-in air quality sensor: fan speed level 1 when the reading is ‘good’, level 2 for ‘normal’ and ‘unhealthy’ and level 3 only when the indoor air quality is considered “very unhealthy”. You can deactivate the Smart mode and manually set one of the three fan speeds by repeatedly pressing the buttons (“1”, “2” or “3” will appear on the panel).
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Coway Airmega 250S
Price at time of review: $449.00 Best Prices Today:
The Airmega Icon also has two other operating modes, which are activated by pressing the Mode button: Sleep mode is ideal if you use the device in a bedroom and don’t want to be disturbed. The fan will run at minimum speed until you change it. In Eco mode, the fan will stop running for up to 30 minutes if the air quality sensor detects PM 2.5 levels below level one for more than 10 minutes. Unlike Sleep Mode, however, the purifier Want respond to the deterioration of air quality and will run the fan at the required speed for as long as necessary. Once its sensor resumes detecting that PM 2.5 is below level one for more than 10 minutes, it will turn off the fan for another 30 minutes. The appliance also has a timer function which will automatically switch it off after 2, 4 or 8 hours.
Coway rates the Airmega Icon as suitable for spaces up to 649 square feet, where it will deliver modest clean air delivery rates (CADR) of 73 cubic feet per minute for smoke, 194.1 for dust and 235.3 for pollen. The appliance worked in my living room in near silence during most of my long trial run, but got a little loud when we cooked in the adjacent kitchen. To be fair, the extractor fan in our 130+ year old house just goes back into the room – there are no proper ducts to vent it outside (it’s on my long to-do list). Coway rates its operating noise level between 22dB(A) and 52dB(A) at full speed.
What type of filter does the Coway Airmega Icon use?
The Airmega Icon uses a permanent mesh pre-filter that flows into a channel in the rear of the unit, once the plastic panel covering it is removed. This element removes large particles, pet hair and mold from the air. The pre-filter should be cleaned (flushed and/or vacuumed) every 2-4 weeks, depending on the amount of particulate matter in the air. An LED on the control panel will light up to remind you to clean it. Once you’ve done that, holding your finger on the button next to the LED will reset the counter.
The air is then drawn through a second multi-layer disposable filter consisting of an activated carbon filter which captures odorous gases and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). A HEPA filter bonded to the activated carbon filter promises to remove up to 99.97% of airborne particles, including allergens and particulate matter as small as 0.3 microns. The HEPA filter is rated to last 6 to 12 months; again, depending on the overall air quality in the home. Airmega Icon replacement filters cost around $56 on Amazon or $89 if purchased directly from Coway. As I said before, clean air is expelled from the top of the Airmega Icon, through a plastic grille that can be removed so that the top of the unit can be cleaned.
Should you buy the Coway Icon Airmega?
Coway makes great air purifiers, but we like the Airmega Icon more for its looks than its performance. Its CADRs are low and it can get noisy when it has to run at a very high speed. If you want smart features, app control, and more informative indoor air quality readouts, the Airmega IconS is available for $50 more.
I use the Coway app with the Air mega 250S and I find that I rarely watch it. Instead, I rely on a dedicated air quality monitor, the Airthings View Plus, which tracks a number of air quality factors in addition to PM2.5; i.e. CO2, humidity, temperature, VOCs, barometric pressure, and even radon (which can be a problem where I live). But the Airmega Icon is an undeniably cute fixture in a space where that attribute is in short supply. And since an air purifier isn’t something you can hide away, attractive industrial design matters a lot. If you’re shopping for an air purifier and design is high on your priority list, the Airmega Icon is a good choice.