The week is off to a bad start for Razer. Over the weekend, Naomi Wu, a mega-popular Chinese tech YouTuber, took direct aim at Razer and drew attention to the fact that they’re using the N95 term in their marketing of their Zephyr and Zephyr Pro masks despite the fact that the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) hadn’t officially approved the mask (a requirement to use the N95 label) and doesn’t feature it on their list of official N95 products.
Technically, Razer hadn’t been promoting their Zephyr masks as being N95 masks but phrases such as “Stay safe with its replaceable N95 Grade filters for daily protection” in the marketing was clearly causing confusion among consumers and the media who assumed this safety level applied to the whole product.
Basically, Razer conducted several internal tests on the small filters used in the Zephyr masks and concluded that they offered as much filtration as N95 masks but the entirety of the Zephyr masks, which are plastic and don’t create a perfect seal on all users’ faces, suffer from air leaks which essentially render the high quality filters useless.
🧵@Razer has contacted me and told me they plan to remove N95 marketing from the Zephyr website.
Sorry but no- it's past that.
Media outlets have labeled it an N95 mask, immune-compromised individuals and healthcare workers all over social media are calling it an N95 mask.
— Naomi Wu 机械妖姬 (@RealSexyCyborg) January 10, 2022
“We've taken feedback and guidance from regulatory agencies to establish our testing protocols for the Razer Zephyr and Razer Zephyr Pro,” the official Razer Twitter account soon tweeted. “Review the test results and learn more about how we've designed the wearable air purifier.” A brief summary of the tests can be viewed here.
Some version of the following warning is now present on all web pages relating to the Zephyr masks on the Razer website:
Please observe your local safety regulations and mask guidelines or consult your local public health authorities for potential usability of these products under applicable law. The Razer Zephyr and Zephyr Pro are not certified N95 masks, medical devices, respirators, surgical masks, or personal protective equipment (PPE) and are not meant to be used in medical or clinical settings.
Videos relating to the Zephyr masks have also been removed from Razer’s official YouTube channel though the Razer Support channel does still have a few which show how to wear the masks and change their settings.
Engadget gave the recently announced Razer Zephyr Pro mask their Best Wearable of CES 2022 award. Despite the reneged N95 branding, Engadget has stayed firm with their award decision stating that the Zephyr Pro’s main appeal was its new voice amplification feature and that they never assumed it was better than a basic cloth mask which, to be honest, is a fair call.
“When deciding our awards, we viewed the Zephyr Pro as having more in common with an everyday cloth mask, rather than a medical-grade one,” Engadget states. “Ultimately, too, our main reason for awarding the Zephyr Pro was its voice amplification technology, a new feature for Razer's Pro mask that we have not seen in many products.”
It’s unclear yet how much of an impact this will have on sales of the Zephyr and Razer’s plans to produce future versions of the product. I can say though that I was personally going to purchase a Razer Zephyr Pro but probably won’t until the product is improved to offer full N95 protection.
Those who have ordered a Zephyr mask and wish to request a refund or exchange are encouraged to contact the official Zephyr support.
Health experts in numerous regions are now recommending people toss their fabric and cheap medical masks in favor of those with authentic N95 or KN95 branding which offers significantly more protection against Covid-19 and other viruses.
We need to upgrade our masks to N95/P2 respirators given the high amount of community transmission of #COVID19
But how do you wear one so that it best protects you & others? Quick video showing you how here 👇 pic.twitter.com/zEhFcaTwlU
— Kate Cole (@kate_cole_) January 7, 2022
Given the recent explosion of Omicron cases around the globe, N95 and KN95 masks are selling out fairly quickly both online and offline though it is possible to track some down after doing a bit of shopping around.