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Sunday, January 08, 2012
[Gadget Review] Hand-Held Air Condition
[ZOMBiE CyGiG] ranted at 12:28 AM --- Post#1339300138918569674


“WTF IS IT IN PINK?” I know, that is the first reaction of most people who saw me with this pink gadget walking around. I will explain later.

I remembered I was searching “portable air con” sometime last year on eBay Singapore and was amazed that this gadget turned up. It costed around S$20 then and I was unwilling to foot that money for something that looks dubious. A few months later, the pricing dropped and I got it from DinoDirect here when they were having promotion. I got it for S$11.20, while eBay was selling it for around S$15.00. Here is the catch: Only Pink units were left then, and I fail to notice it when I confirmed my order.


The whole package comes with the fan, the back cover, the sponge, a bottle, USB cable, USB power adaptor and a US-to-UK adaptor. To be honest, the build quality is anything but amazing. When I first got the fan, I rotated the head and it got derailed from the body. The head is held by studs that moves along a circular track on the body, and the studs came out of the track. It took me some forcing to get it back in and it is now working fine. There are lots of scratches on the unit. Long deeper ones near the battery compartment and fine ones on the head, they are quite unsightly if viewed up close.

Accessories that came along.

A long line across the battery cover.

Lots of fine scratches, if you see carefully.

This Hand-Held Air Condition works by passing air through cold water (colder than room air temperature) and thereby cooling the air that comes out. Evaporation of water is a cooling process as well that aids in dropping temperature. The water is held in a sponge at the back of the unit. That is why in the instruction manual, there is a chart that plots ambient temperature against humidity and how much temperature drop you will get. Typical relative humidity in Singapore ranges from 70% to 90% and higher on rainy days. According to the chart, at 30°C, 80% humidity, this product cools off by only 2°C. Honestly, that sounds sucky.

The sponge and the back cover.

The given chart in the manual.

The unit is powered by four AA batteries, has an off-to-max variable switch and a USB DC in port. Other than the rotatable head, the outlet has flaps that can be adjusted as well. The faux leather hand guard is too small for my fat palms so I don’t use them.

Rotatable head.

Battery compartment.

So here comes the geeky question: Does it work?! I set up to measure the temperature of the air from the outlet in various situations and configurations.

How a typical set up looks like.

These are the four set ups:
1. No cooling sponge at all
2. Damp sponge inserted
3. Wet sponge inserted with 30ml room temperature water
4. Wet sponge inserted with 30ml almost freezing water
5. Wet sponge inserted with 30ml room temperature water, in an air con room

In each of these set up, a thermometer sensor is placed around 5cm away from the wind outlet. The drop in temperature is then recorded. After each test, I waited till the temperature reading is nominal before continuing.

The first four set ups are done in my living room late at night (or rather 2am in the morning). I try to simulate a normal Singapore indoor situation by tuning on the ceiling fan, switching on the lights and opening one window. They were conducted at room temperature. For the fourth one, I put the sponge with 30ml of water into the freezer compartment for 10 minutes, when I took it out, the sponge was crispy and some of the water had frozen.

The last one was done in my air-conditioned bedroom. The reason for the last setup was to see if the device performed better in a place with lower humidity (air-con room usually has lower humidity than outside in Singapore)

“Damp sponge” refers to rinsing the sponge under running tap water and then squeezes it out dry as best as I could. Note that if the sponge turns completely dry, it will shrink and harden.

The instructions told me to “fill water bottle included… then pour 30ml EVENLY and SLOWLY throughout the surface… Do not soak under running tap water. It is difficult soak accurately 30ML of water. Always use the water bottle.” Problem: The bottle included is of 75ml capacity, how am I supposed to use the bottle to pour 30ml of water accurately? I resorted to using “agaration” that I learnt in NS by filling the bottle a little less than half.

And here are the findings:


Not putting any sponge in it does not cool the air at all, thus a straight line at 0°C. Putting a damp and wet sponge does not seems to make too much difference, and it seems like putting a damp sponge works better than one with 30ml of water in it. Acting cool and putting near freezing water in the sponge does not work as one would imagine since the temperature climbed up again shortly after it dipped. And clearly, using this gadget in a less humid area (air con room) yields a much better result.

With the results looking lukewarm, is this device useless? It doesn’t seem to cool even more than 1°C on a normal Singapore day as opposed to the claimed 2°C (but since I did not measure the humidity level, I would give and take for this).

Since it works well in area of lower humidity, it could be used in air-conditioned places. But why would you still want to use it when the place is already air-conditioned? There are some old malls, offices or eateries in Singapore that has air-con that works worse than a fan. Those stuffy, dirty, clogged and poorly ventilated air-con units are what I am talking about, I hate it when the air con is “bua sio leng” (half hot cold), stuffy like hell and not much cooler than outside, but you feel it’s less humid since your sweat dries up easily. Another viable place is shopping mall’s toilet, nice to have this while slowly taking a dump. This unit can be hooked up to a USB port and go battery less, so you might considered dripping some fragrance on the sponge and use it as an aroma diffuser, though it’s on the noisy side. Or, you could save it for use in some other countries when you travel.

Basically, if you are someone who uses a portable fan (which I honestly don’t think anyone does these days), this would probably work better than the regular one, though it’s much better in size. Either that or use it as a gift to con bimbos who failed physics in secondary school.

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