Razer is releasing its Zephyr face mask today, following months of memes after its CES 2021 debut as Project Hazel. But Zephyr is no prototype - it's $99.99 and on sale now.
The facemask uses what Razer refers to as "N95 grade" filters, which it claims can block up to 99% of air particles up to 0.3 microns, and that the filtration occurs both when you inhale and exhale. Razer's other big claim is that these filters last three times as long as disposable masks. The filters include one for each side nozzle and one for the bottom of the unit.
The company also claims that the filters are "FDA-registered," though that doesn't mean very much. "When a facility registers its establishment and lists its devices, the resulting entry in the FDA's registration and listing database does not denote approval, clearance, or authorization of that facility or its medical devices," the FDA website reads. Additionally, Razer claims the Zephyr is "not a medical device, respirator, surgical mask, or personal protective equipment (PPE) and is not meant to be used in medical or clinical settings." This is similar to legalese I've seen on the cloth masks I wear daily. Furthermore, the company states that Zephyr "is not tested specifically against the COVID-19 virus but offers the same functionality and adequate protection due to its 99% BFE rating."
Behind each of the filters are air chambers with intake fans. You can toggle between two fan speeds: 4,200 rotations per minute (low) or 6,200-rpm (high) with a button. You can also turn the fans off, of course. The company recommends the "low" setting and sets the mask to that by default, though claims that "active users" — presumably those exercising with an oversized RGB facemask— should use the high setting.
While Project Hazel was worn on straps behind the ears, Zephyr has a pair of adjustable straps that are worn behind the head. On the front, there's a removable silicone face seal that can be cleaned. Razer claims the combination of the straps and seals will make it fit almost any head size, but we haven't had the chance to put it on our domes just yet.
The front of the mask has a transparent design so that others can see your face. This should allow others to make out your facial responses (smiles, frowns, etc.) and, for people who cannot hear or have difficulty doing so, allow for lip reading. To prevent it from fogging up, you'll need to apply an included anti-fog spray. There are also lights in the chamber for when you're wearing Zephyr at night.
That lighting, as well as the lights on the ventilation, are controlled by Razer's Chroma RGB, with up to 16.8 million colors. These don't connect to Razer Synapse on a PC, but rather an app on your smartphone.
Despite being able to see your face, another feature to help conversation has been cut from the original concept: voice amplification. Razer states that ditching the amp allowed for more comfort and breathability, as well as a larger battery.
To power the lighting and the fans, Razer has included a battery in the mask. The Zephyr charges over USB Type-C (The charging case that doubled as a sanitizing station from the Project Hazel concept didn't make the final cut.) Razer suggests the battery lasts "up to 8 hours" with a low fan speed and Chroma lighting turned off.
For $99.99, you'll get the Razer Zephyr and 3 sets of filters, which by the company's own recommendation is nine days of usage. You can buy a new filter pack directly from Razer for $29.99 for 10 sets (or 30 days of use). That effectively turns the Zephyr into a monthly subscription filter service after those first days.
For $150, you can get the Zephyr Starter Pack, which gives you 33 sets of filters for 99 days of use. This is definitely a better deal, especially if you won't be wearing the mask as a daily driver and want to stretch out your filter supply.