The past 18 months have added a new piece to our daily lives: face masks. Whether you are excited about wearing them or annoyed by their existence, the reality is that they are here and likely here to stay for many people. Unfortunately, they are uncomfortable, they can irritate when they touch our faces, and it prevents us from seeing one another's faces, making communication more difficult. Very little innovation has happened in this arena, though - until now. The Razer Zephyr is a unique take on the traditional face mask.
The Razer Zephyr is definitely a product from Razer, in that it is fully RGB. Razer is known for integrating RGB into every product, and the Zephyr is no exception. The device has two sets of lights: one on the inside and one on the outside. Each one can be turned on and off independently, and each can be controlled independently. The app UI allows you to choose a solid color or one of several preset color patterns. The internal lights are described as RGB, but the outer lights are described as Chroma RGB, meaning it should be controllable through the Razer ecosystem.
From a mask perspective, there are a couple of interesting aspects. The first is that the mask is designed to take pressure off of the face. Unlike cloth masks or even the blue medical masks that people often wear, there is no pressure on the front of the nose or mouth. Instead, it sits similar to a KN95 mask, where it sits away from the face. This is accomplished by making it an active breathing mask, meaning it has fans to move air into and out of the mask.
The design is similar to a computer case, in that airflow is purposeful and planned. Air enters through two side vents, pulled in through fans. The air runs through a circular filter, which can be replaced. Razer describes the filters as N95 grade, which suggests that the filters have not actually been certified to be N95 (which is the US standard for a 95% effective mask). The filters also seem to have not been tested by any experts, despite Avram's best efforts to do so.
The lack of certification isn't the only concern, though. We also don't have any information on how physically secure the filters are within the body of the mask. They do not have a deep body and have no way to fully seal them into the cylinder.
Adding to the problems is the fact that the mask isn't terribly comfortable. To wear it all day would likely get irritating, as it is fairly heavy. A short burst might not be a problem, but long wear will be exhausting. Avram's recommendation after wearing it for a while, and seeing it on others, is that it is probably a pass. While a cool concept, the unknown effectiveness and lack of comfort make it difficult to recommend. However, if you're looking for a great rave or steampunk costume mask, this might be worth consideration.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.