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Friday, January 18, 2019

First Impressions: ResMed Air Mini

A few years ago, the marketing director at ResMed and I got on the phone and I blasted them about the ResMed S10. Not only was the S10 now bigger and heavier with a non-removable humdifier, it required a 24V input, which meant that all my accessories for running it while sailing were no longer compatible. I told him that I wanted a small, lightweight machine for hiking, camping, and traveling in general. He promised that ResMed was working on something.

When Philips announced the Dreamstation Go, I thought about jumping ship, especially since it came complete with an integrated battery solution. But in the end it was still significantly heavier than the HDM Z1, and I've always had an issue with the Respironics algorithm. (ResMed's algorithm works better if you have moderate to severe apnea like mine:

Last year, ResMed announced the AirMini. I was promised one to test, but it never worked out, and I found that my contact at ResMed had left. Since I still had my HDM Z1 for my summer tour, I wasn't in a hurry to replace it. In addition, in their infinite wisdom, ResMed didn't have an official battery solution for the AirMini! The reviews for the AirMini was mixed, with some people complaining about the noise. The HDM Z1, whatever its virtues is a very noisy machine, so I was wary about spending my own money on a machine that wasn't going to be a significant improvement.

Over the holidays, Lofta ran a 15% off promotion. Coupled with a 30 day money back guarantee, I jumped on it. The AirMini required a new mask, and wasn't compatible with the SwiftFX that I'd been using, though there are after-market 3-D printed solutions for that (it looks like a Chinese company has picked up the design and is now officially selling it on Amazon). When everything arrived, I unboxed it and tried on the new mask. It fit, perhaps even better than the ResMed AirMini. I'm in the habit of touring without a humidifier, so I tried it without one. The noise problem isn't a problem at all, and it's as quiet as my (now 7 year old) ResMed S9. I'm told that it's quieter if I put in the humidifier. I did wake up with a dry throat, so I guess for California conditions you need a humidifier. Unlike the HDM Z1's HMEs, the ResMed humdifier is good for 30 days, which means you only need one for a 3 week tour of the alps, but in exchange it costs more, and if you intend to use this as a full time machine, it'll cost more to run than distilled water.

The machine, mask, humidifier, and power adapter together weighs 651g, which is 110g lighter than the travel weight of the HDM Z1, HME, its power adapter, a standard hose, and my Swift FX mask. It's lighter but would by itself wouldn't justify a change, though the lighter weight of the package means that even with a heavier battery (the Pilot-24), the AirMini is still lighter than the HDM Z1 for backcountry camping purposes. .The HDM Z1 comes with a 30W power adapter, while the AirMini comes with a 20W power adapter. Unless you have your pressure settings turned all the way up, your power draw is likely a fraction of what either power adapters can put out, so if you're good at power hacking you might be able to somehow get a lighter weight adapter that puts out less power. The HDM Z1 battery, for instance, is only 45Wh, while a standard Pilot-24 Lite has 90Wh. (HDM Z1 now sells an extended battery with 99Wh capacity). Either machine weighs in significantly less than the advertised weight (844g) of the Dreamstation Go (sans power cord, mask, or humidifier!). (All my measured weights are available in an Excel Spreadsheet)

The app is great, and walks you through setting up the machine, and detecting leaks. I'm mostly impressed by how nice the mask is. My intention was to keep the S9 as a machine for home and sailing use, but I'm now reconsidering since it'll be so nice to keep the weight down even for sailing trips. I've ordered a 3rd party battery for the AirMini, and will review it when I've used it on a camping/sailing trip. My guess is since I'm stuck with tossing out a humidifier after 30 days whether I use it or not, I'll use my AirMini for at least 30 days after every camping trip.

In the mean time, if you're worried about noise for the ResMed AirMini, don't be. It's much better than the HDM Z1, and I'll be selling my HDM Z1 in favor of this.

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