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Computerized Investing > August 31, 2013
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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

$29.99

USB-powered humidifier connects to most water bottles.

Many travelers complain of dry skin and chapped lips that are often caused by the recycled air in an airplane. Satechi has recently introduced a portable humidifier that you can screw onto the top of a water bottle or set on top of a glass and plug into a powered USB port to add moisture to the air. I admit I was a bit skeptical when I first read about it, but thought I would give it a try.

Out of the Box

The humidifier looks like a bottle stop measuring 2.85 inches by 2.4 inches; to set it up, you insert the end of the filter into the underside of the humidifier. It’s designed to screw onto most water bottles that you might find at your local convenience store or grocery. The package comes with two foam wicks that pull moisture upward so it is dispersed into the air. The wick measures 4.75 inches, which means you can also set it in a glass of water, but you want to make sure the wick is attached securely so the humidifier doesn’t fall into the glass. You then plug the humidifier into a USB (2.0 or 3.0) port with the provided USB cable on a computer or use a USB charger. Personally, I would avoid running this near my computer so as not to get it wet, so I think a USB wall adapter is the way to go. Unfortunately, a wall adapter doesn’t come with the humidifier.

Performance

For its size, the Satechi Portable Humidifier does an admirable job misting a localized area. I’ve used it in my office and I can tell the difference when it is running. According to Satechi, the humidifier affects an area of 16.4 square feet. Its performance has me planning on taking it with me on an upcoming trip to Colorado and New Mexico, where the altitude and desert air always do a number on my skin and sinuses. Its small size means it’s easy to take on trips or even put in a purse or laptop bag.

The humidifier automatically shuts off after eight hours, so it will last you through the typical work day or you can plug it in before going to bed.

Another use for the humidifier, suggested by Satechi, is as an aroma diffuser if you add liquid fragrances or essential oils to the water.

The humidifier also has a dim blue light that is visible at night. Satechi says it’s to create “a calm environment,” but I like it because it lets me know where the bottle of water is so I don’t knock it over in the middle of the night.

Satechi suggests that every two weeks you clean the nozzle of the humidifier with a cotton swab and vinegar. You will also need to replace the filter/wick on a regular basis to avoid mold and mildew. According to Satechi, if you use only clean water, the filter should last about three months. Also, if you do not use the filter regularly, it is a good idea to dry it out between uses, again to avoid mold and mildew. A two-pack of replacement filters costs $4.99 from the Satechi website.

The biggest issue I have with this product is that you are tethered to a power source, whether that be the USB port on a PC, which I would never use for this, or a USB wall charger. Ideally the humidifier would have a battery pack that would allow you to position it wherever you wanted, without the need for a USB port.

Overall

The Satechi Portable Humidifier is one of those products I would never have thought of until I read about it. It is a useful gadget for confined areas where you want to boost the air’s moisture content, especially in offices and hotel rooms. While testing it in the office, I noticed that it does make a difference. Satechi suggests you can also use it as an aroma diffuser, but there are many less intensive ways to do that.

However, the Satechi Portable Humidifier is also one of those products that I only use because I got it for free to review. Unless you are someone who is very sensitive to dry air and are looking for a way to add some humidity to your surroundings, I’m not sure the product is worth the effort or price, even at $30.

Pros:

  • Diffuse moisture into the air over a 16-square foot area

Cons:

  • Requires a powered USB port or USB adapter to run
  • Order replacement filters online

Satechi USB Portable Humidifier

$29.99 (Available for $29.99 from Amazon.com)

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneTAAII.


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