Razer’s popular $100 Zephyr mask isn’t a replacement for PPE (because it isn’t PPE), but its announcement of the Zephyr Pro last week spurred a surge of claims that the company had overstated the masks’ protection. Razer responded by scrubbing every instance of “N95-grade” from the mask’s product page late last week (via PCMag).
Previously, Razer used N95 in multiple places to describe the filtration and efficacy of its replaceable filters, which were referred to as “N95-grade” because of their 99 percent bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE). Razer now refers to them as “air purification filters.” While Razer claims that testing showed its filters meet a 95 percent particulate filtration efficiency (PFE), the entire mask (not just the filters) would have to block 95 percent of small particles and be cleared by regulators to call itself an N95.
Razer declined to provide an on-the-record statement in response to questions from The Verge. But in a tweet thread on Saturday, the company tweeted that “The Razer Zephyr and Zephyr Pro are not medical devices, respirators, surgical masks, or personal protective equipment (PPE) and are not meant to be used in medical or clinical settings.”
This isn’t the first bit of controversial info that Razer has changed on the Zephyr’s page. On December 10th, 2021 (via Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine), it published a new version of the page that removed its claim in the FAQ section that likened the Zephyr to a medical device, respirator, surgical mask, and PPE, which initially said the Zephyr “offers the same functionality and adequate protection due to its 99% BFE rating.” It now says “Razer Zephyr is not a medical device, respirator, surgical mask or personal protective equipment (PPE) and is not meant to be used on medical or clinical settings.”
On Saturday, January 8th, Razer published a blog to its site called “The Science Behind Razer Zephyr” that provides the results of every test that the company put the Zephyr through (relevant or not to the topic of filtration) before coming to market. It issued an update (without any mention of what changed) to this post today, January 10th, that incorporated bits from the statement above, including explicitly stating that the Zephyr and Zephyr Pro are “not certified N95 masks,” along with removing every mention of “N95” that was found in the original blog post published Saturday.
The takeaway from the test results that the blog discloses is that, while Razer did put the Zephyr through several internal tests, it still needs external review from expert agencies before people can feel confident that it’s gone through a rigorous evaluation. That extends to the Zephyr Pro, a version of the mask that adds voice amplification that’s set to come out sometime in 2022, as well.
When the Zephyr was initially announced at CES 2021 as Project Hazel, we noted that it lacked “any of the necessary approvals and certifications from the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”
When Razer launched Zephyr in late October 2021, it still hadn’t gotten sufficient testing to be considered PPE, and we noticed that the company referred to it as an “air purifier” in its marketing (while still touting N95-grade filters). Shortly afterward, my colleague Nicole Wetsman and I interviewed Razer’s Jeff Sandoval at our On The Verge event, and Nicole pressed him on the Zephyr’s lack of clearances from agencies like the FDA and NIOSH (at the 9:04 mark).