Review: The USB Air Purifier & Thermo Alarm Clock from USB Geek - Macenstein

Review: The USB Air Purifier & Thermo Alarm Clock from USB Geek

Posted by Lab Rat

If you are anything like me, you sit next to a big smelly co-worker (sorry you had to find out this way, Helper Monkey). So when I came across USB Geek’s USB Air Purifier & Thermo Alarm Clock, I was pretty excited.

The USB Air Purifier & Thermo Alarm Clock is a cute little white orb-like device which plugs into your computer’s powered USB port to deliver a bunch of features, some of which are actually useful.

First of all, it’s a clock. Its large display shows you the current date, time, and day of the week. It is also an alarm clock, which you can silence via pushing down on the device (similar to hitting SNOOZE on a conventional alarm clock). Pushing down on the device also causes the orange backlight display to come on, allowing for nighttime viewing of the clock display.

At first, I really could not see the need for this device to have a time and date display at all (other than the fact that adding a clock to a device probably costs about 5¢ these days). After all, this thing is sitting about 12 inches from my computer, which also displays the time and date. However, on further reflection, I decided for many users, this could actually be quite beneficial. First, for the dorm room crowd. I personally don’t have my computer sitting 2 feet from my bed, but I remember back at school I did. Having an alarm clock this small would be perfect for cramped dorm living. Secondly, I actually found myself using the clock when playing games like Civilization IV which take over the entire screen, thus blocking out the Mac toolbar’s clock. I also at one point set the alarm to go off to remind me to stop playing the damn game, and go do something productive.

Another feature of the Thermo Clock is a built-in thermometer. The current temperature is displayed just above the time on the face of the device. This feature’s usefulness is much more debatable. The temperature displayed is only the current interior temperature, which, in my house at least, rarely fluctuates more than 5 degrees throughout the year. It is the outside temperature that would be more valuable to know. In theory the makers could have perhaps included some software that asked for a zip code, then searched the web for approximate local temperatures, but again, I have a feeling the temperature feature was kind of thrown in as part of the “clock kit� the manufacturers chose, and might have cost more to get rid of than leave in.

Ok, so it is an alarm clock and thermometer, but what I really wanted to know was how well it worked as an air purifying device. On the right side of the orb is an on/off switch. Turn that on, and the unit (allegedly) starts cleaning the air. To be honest, I did not notice any amazing air cleaning power. I held the orb up right against my ear, and heard a very faint hissing sound, so I think it IS doing something, but the thing is just too small to make a big difference. USB Geek has a video on their site showing how the USB Air Purifier is able to remove smoke from a small Lucite box (about the size of the old G4 Cube) over a period of 5 minutes, and I have no reason to doubt that it can. However, even dorm rooms are bigger than the G4 Cube, so don’t expect it to get rid of that pot smoke before the RA arrives.

Light Show

OK, so the alarm clock works, the thermometer is useless, and the air purification is perhaps more gimmick than a practical solution for someone with allergy needs.

So, is it a piece of junk?

No. The reason is 2-fold. First, when you turn the air-purification button to “on�, you may not be treated to a blast of ionic air freshness, but you ARE treated to a pretty cool light show. The USB Thermo Clock has a series of ever changing colored LED lights on the back which provide a soothing glow, and just plain look cool. I am a fan of all things shiny, and the way the colored lights reflect off my mini Tower from Plasticsmith makes my computer look even cooler. Again, I think this would be a cool addition to a dorm room, somewhat safer than a lava lamp, and less cheesy than a disco ball. The multi-colored LEDs add instant atmosphere to a room.

Above: It may not be the best air purifier out there, but I am a sucker for shiny objects!”

The second reason the Thermo Clock doesn’t suck is, it only costs $32. Personally, I like the changing lights so much, I would pay $32 just for that functionality alone. The alarm clock and purifier are just gravy.


The USB Air Purifier & Thermo Alarm Clock is a somewhat gimmicky device, but in my opinion, it is being marketed for the WRONG gimmick. The focus here should be on the cool LED lights on the back of the unit, not so much the air purifying aspects. The device’s specs claim the air purification’s range is about 9 square meters. I didn’t notice much/any difference in a 3 square inch area, much less 9 square meters. However, that does not mean it is not doing anything. I am not going to construct my own Lucite smoke box and test it. It’s entirely possible it’s removing small amounts of dust and smoke from the air, it just isn’t emitting that “ozone fresh� smell that $350 air purifiers like the Sharper Image’s Ionic Breeze line do. And why should it? Anyone buying something this small and for this price expecting to feel like they are living in the great outdoors is delusional.

The USB Air Purifier & Thermo Alarm Clock is a great space-saving, affordable alarm clock which provides a very cool light show (and may or may not clean the air in the process). I see this being a great gift idea for college-age kids going back-to-school, or for anyone who wants to add a little color to their Mac. For the price, this is one of those quirky computer accessories that delivers clean fun (if not clean air).

The USB Air Purifier & Thermo Alarm Clock from USB Geek

Price: $32
Pros: Cool lights, Alarm clock, USB powered, cute design, cheap
Cons: Billed as an air purifier, yet too small to really deliver

7 Responses to “Review: The USB Air Purifier & Thermo Alarm Clock from USB Geek”
  1. Iskandar says:

    It’s a great gimmick anyway. At least it’d be able to filter some air for those germs and ants that may sit watching those cool colors.

  2. ike says:

    how to get it????

  3. MR. MXYZPTLK says:

    click one of the links in the article.
    or go to USB

  4. Kusuma Gunawan says:

    how to get USB Air Purifier & Thermo Alarm Clock, i live in indonesia at jakarta city. im waiting your reply.


    kusuma gunawan

  5. Matthew says:

    What happens when the computer is turned off? Do you have to reset the clock each time? Just wondering what happens when no power is supplied to the device. Also, is it easy to clean the filters?

    Thanks for the review!

  6. Lab Rat says:

    No, it comes with some little batteries that keep the clock going for over a year.

  7. Bryan says:

    The thermometer may not be useful to you, but that doesn’t mean it is useless. I am looking for a USB thermometer to measure the temperature in my baby’s room during the night (my “server” laptop happens to be in a small closet in that room too), so that I can tell if I have set the temperature guage correctly in the portable heater that we’ve put in there for the cold winter nights. This is exactly the kind of thing I am looking for. I could not care less about the clock, alarm clock, and especially, the blinkenlichten. Just goes to show that everyone has different needs for a device like this. I would love to know what the software included with the device (if any) is like and especially if it has the ability to record the temperature over a time range for later viewing. Unfortunately, your review doesn’t cover that.

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