Reviewers agree that the Austin Air HealthMate is a powerful machine. It filters larger allergen particles such as dust, pet dander, pollen and mold spores with its HEPA filter, and Austin Air says its carbon filter captures 95 percent of the tinier particles that make up chemicals and odors in the air, down to 0.1 micron -- although the HealthMate doesn't claim to remove particles as minute as the pricey IQAir HealthPro Plus (*Est. $900) can tackle (down to 0.003 microns).
Besides the HEPA and carbon filters, the HealthMate also uses two prefilters -- but unlike most other air purifiers, you don't have to change one filter or another every few months. All of the HealthMate's replacement filters come in one pack (*Est. $195), which you change once every three to five years. Unlike other companies, Austin Air's five-year warranty covers not only the machine, but also the filter. Weighing 45 pounds, the boxy HealthMate is relatively heavy compared with other air purifiers (it includes wheeled casters for easier moving). Austin Air does offer a smaller model, the Austin Air HealthMate Jr. (*Est. $340), which is designed for smaller rooms. Austin Air doesn't make any claims about the size of the rooms these filters can handle, but experts say it's between 200 and 650 square feet for the HealthMate and 110 to 225 square feet for the HealthMate Jr. The only real complaint we found about the HealthMate in expert and user reviews is the noise. The HealthMate registers about 50 decibels (about the same as quiet conversation) on its lowest speed, which some experts consider too loud for bedroom use, although several users say they have no problem sleeping or watching movies with the HealthMate running on low.
Knowledgeable experts at AllergyBuyersClub.com and Air-Purifier-Power.com agree that the Austin Air HealthMate offers great value, an opinion backed by the handful of user reviews at Amazon.com. ConsumerGuide.com doesn't often test the air purifiers it rates, but its Austin Air HealthMate review does mention some testing.
1. Allergy Buyers Club.com
AllergyBuyersClub.com calls the Austin Air HealthMate HM-400 a no frills air purifier that is reliable and economical. It is rated as "very good" by this site, and it features a permanent prefilter and a true medical HEPA filter surrounded by a carbon mixture that absorbs odors, chemicals and gases. One downside is its 45-pound weight; it is equipped with casters for easier moving, however. This site's editors don't appear to have tested performance with a particle counter.
Review: Austin Air Healthmate Air Purifiers for General Air Cleaning, Editors of AllergyBuyersClub.com
In this review, air-purifier expert Ed Sherbenou praises the Austin Air HealthMate, saying you can't get better air filtration without spending about $400 more for an IQAir unit. Sherbenou says he particularly likes the Austin Air's 15 pounds of activated carbon with zeolite mix, which absorbs "over 3,000 different… chemicals and odors." Also, he says this machine's five-year cartridge life makes it relatively economical over the long run. He notes, though, that the Austin's activated-carbon and zeolite core makes it inappropriate for baths, saunas or indoor pools, because a moist environment shortens the life of the filter.
Review: Austin Air Purifier: Heart of Gold, Ed Sherbenou
This review doesn't mention any scientific testing, but the writer estimates that the Austin Air HealthMate "cleared the air in a relatively large bedroom in less than 20 minutes." The unit has just about all of the features the reviewer wants, too -- enough power to work in a 1,500-square-foot room, a HEPA filter, odor and gas filters, the ability to operate quietly and "one of the best air purifier warranties we've seen," making it a ConsumerGuide.com Best Buy.
Review: Expert Review: Austin Air HealthMate HM-400 Air Purifier, Editors of ConsumerGuide.com, May 2, 2008
More than two dozen users have posted reviews here for the Austin Air HealthMate, most giving it 4 out of 5 stars. Various users report that the HealthMate works well, and several say it's quieter than they expected after reading other reviews.
Review: Austin Air HealthMate, Contributors to Amazon.com