It's a long time since I bought my last table-top/desk fan - or, in my case, my sits on top of the stool next to my bed fan - and it has very definitely seen better days. It was bought from Homebase during a heat wave some years ago, and it has given me very good service, especially as I think it cost me all of £7. But to say that taking care of it had become something of a Heath Robinson affair is quite an understatement. The front casing fell off a long time ago, and had been reattached using a number of freezer ties. Its tendency to go walkabout on the stool was curbed by the judicious application of large amounts of Blu-Tack.
I had been thinking for a while about putting this valiant little creature out of its misery, but couldn't decide what to replace it with. And then I read alyson29's excellent review of the Bionaire Tower Fan over on Ciao. This sounded brilliant, although it was larger than I am used to. I loved the idea of having a remote control that I could operate from my bed - and it's when I'm in bed that I use my fan the most. However, by the time I checked it out on Amazon, the price had gone up, and this - combined with the necessity of some self-assembly being required - ruled it out for me. On further investigation, I discovered that Bionaire also made a mini tower version, which came ready for use, and which would fit handily on my bedside stool.
As I had a fair amount of Amazon vouchers burning a hole in my pocket, I decided to splash out on what I thought would be a good investment for our home. And it was very definitely money well spent. The fan arrived within a few days of placing my order, and when it came I was surprised by how light it is. After giving it a quick test-run, I happily installed my new treasure. I had great fun playing with all the electronic controls, testing the speeds, oscillation, sleep/breeze modes and ioniser, and was delighted to see that it remained sturdily in place - with none of the wanderlust of my previous fan.
The Bionaire Mini Tower Fan, Model BMT014D, comes packaged in a sturdy cardboard box, protected at the top and bottom by Styrofoam supports. A photograph of the fan as well as basic instructions in four languages are shown on the sides of the box. You are also informed that there is a 3-year Limited Warranty. Apart from the Styrofoam inserts, which Bionaire are working to phase out, the packaging is recyclable.
This is an elegant fan, 28cm (11") high, and it has a very modern design that is a world away from the traditional circular fan with visible blades. The workings of the fan are encased in a sleek curvy silver/grey and white body, and the electronic controls are displayed on a panel at the top of the fan. There is a little space in the back of the fan which makes it very easy for you to carry it around (although I would definitely advise protecting the base with your other hand), and during the very hot weather a while ago I found this very useful for bringing the fan downstairs to help keep me cool in the sitting-room.
The main advantage of this fan over traditional fans is that it doesn't just circulate the air that is already in the room, but produces a flow of cool air which then sends a wonderfully refreshing breeze in my direction. It's like having a mini air-conditioner sitting next to me. It's a real relief to click on the switch and direct the lovely cool air towards a hot and bothered Graygirl.
Designed to help keep your home cool and comfortable, Bionaire's fans use modern design and advanced technology, and with this sturdy but lightweight and portable mini tower fan, I think they are on to a real winner. While the taller tower fans are designed to cool an entire room, the mini towers are designed for use on a desk or table (or stool).
The fan comes with an Instruction Manual, which contains some important safety guidelines as well as the fan's operating instructions, directions for cleaning and maintenance, how to store the fan, how to install a plug, and your guarantee.
The buttons for electronic control are presented on a sloping flat surface at the top of the fan. The speed settings are at the top of this panel, while those for the Ioniser, the Breeze/Sleep Mode, the Timer and the Oscillator are ranged from left to right at the bottom of the panel. The buttons are not obtrusive, and are very simple and easy to use. I can even use them in the dark now that I've had my fan for a little while. When the buttons are activated, they light up to show you their status.
There is an automatic, shut-off timer - for 1, 2, 4 or 8 hours, and in my opinion this is a wonderful feature. I was feeling poorly during some recent very hot weather when the nights were uncomfortably muggy. After setting the timer for one hour, I put on my eye mask and drifted off to sleep in beautifully cool comfort.
There are three speed settings, ranging from 3 (the highest) to 1 (the lowest). When I'm sitting in bed I find that speed 1 is ideal, but knowing that I can increase the speed for cooler comfort is brilliant. Bionaire describe their fans as having a 'strong, quiet air flow', but I think this fan is a bit noisy. The noise increases with the power of the speed settings, but for the ease and comfort it provides, it is worth putting up with. If I'm using my iPod, or if I'm wearing my Quies wax earplugs, I can't hear it at all.
The Breeze/Sleep Mode takes the flow of air through a changing cycle that varies the settings from high to medium to low while you sleep. This helps conserve energy, but I find the changes too distracting when I'm trying to fall asleep. Once my earplugs are in, though, I am only aware of the change in speed of the air circulation and not a change in noise levels, making it much more acceptable. I find that I am happiest with the fan set on a constant low speed, giving a consistent flow of cool air.
I tend not to use the Oscillator (which has a range of 70 degrees) very much, although this option is brilliant when I'm using the fan in my sitting-room. However, when I'm in bed I and the fan is much closer to me, I turn the oscillator off and keep a steady stream of air aimed directly at me.
There is also a built-in Ioniser, which is designed to purify and clean the air by filtering dust particles and pollen. I have to say that although I have experimented with the Ioniser (especially as I have Asthma and Bronchiectasis), I have not been able to notice any difference in the quality of the air. All I know is that the cool air emitted by this fan is a real comfort, and helps me feel as if I can breathe more easily.
This curvy, modern tower fan weighs just 1.5kg. It is 28cm (11") high, and the width and depth are both 15cm (just under 6"). The power cord is about 165cm (65") long. The fan is guaranteed for three years after purchase, and you will need to keep your receipt for any claims you make. If there is a design or manufacturing flaw, you should return the fan to the place of purchase, along with your till receipt and a copy of the guarantee - in this case, it is within the text of the Instruction Manual.
When I bought this fan at the end of June, I got it from Amazon for £34.99 with free delivery. It is currently available (as of 7th August) from them at the amazingly high price of £79.12 plus £15.04 for UK delivery. I would ignore that - although perhaps keep an eye on the price, which has changed a lot over the last week. Instead, head to either Very, who have it for £35 with free delivery, or Makro Online, who are charging £29.99 plus £6.00 delivery. It is also sold by Argos (£34.99), Tesco (£34.97) and Homebase (£34.99), although you would need to check availability at these stores.
What do I think of the Bionaire Mini Tower Fan? Well, I think you can probably gather that I think it's heavenly - if a little noisy. I am absolutely delighted with my purchase. It may be more expensive than a rull-of-the-mill desk-top fan, but its performance has made it worth its weight in gold, and I am very happy to give this fan five stars.
Update: On 8th August, the fan is showing on Amazon at £34.99 with Free Delivery, but it is temporarily out of stock.
(This review is also on Ciao, under the same user name.)