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3.7 out of 5 stars6
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I'm not sure exactly what devilish trickery this thing uses to work, but work it does and very well at that. Looking and feeling for all the world like a flask you might have used in chemistry class, the Air Switch 1 is a frosted glass lamp a little under 30cm high that contains a screw fitting candle bulb (supplied) linked to an infra-red sensor inside. After placing the lamp in its desired location and plugging it in, it will go through a couple of minutes of calibration time, during which it will adjust itself to the conditions in its new home. After calibration is complete, passing your hand over the top of the lamp switches it on and off, holding your hand over the top and raising or lowering it brightens or dims it - all very clever.

The light given off is dependant on the bulb you use, which can be up to 40W, but the real point of this isn't so much to illuminate your home as it is to amuse yourself and to amaze guests. Waving your hand around like a loon to activate and adjust the light takes a bit of getting used to, and you do have to be precise with your movements for it to work, but once you get the hang of it you'll want to commission Mathmos to fit air switches to all your lights. All in all, well worth the money for the fun factor alone.

Update: My Air Switch packed up on me after less than 2 months' infrequent use, it seems due to a fault in either the infra-red sensor or the switching circuitry. Mathmos were very apologetic and sent me a replacement switch unit within a few days, although I got the impression that maybe mine wasn't the only replacement they had to send out. Of course I may be wrong and mine might have been an isolated incident, but it seems that the Air Switch could have a few issues that need sorting out before it becomes a truly care-free product. Even with this unfortunate breakage, my initial review score stands, at least partly due to how quickly and painlessly Mathmos replaced the broken unit.
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on 15 October 2011
I've had mine for about 2 years now I think. Because I hadn't seen anything like it I didn't expect it to last for more than a few months, but it's been so useful I would happily buy one every 3-6 months. Well maybe not happily, but now I have it I wouldn't want to go without. I play online poker for a living and when I lose my lighter etc in the dark I can flick the light on and off extremely fast and without really having to locate it fully or lose focus on my tables. I just wave my hand around a bit :D

The dimmer takes a little getting used to, but it just needs to be done slowly. You can make tiny adjustments simply by going from a cupped hand to flat and vice versa. To turn on and off move your hand cleanly over the top, making sure your hand doesn't start its journey within the range of its sensors.

Edit: They are a bit temperamental after being moved or getting a new bulb, so to the people who say they have died, make sure it's really dead before you throw it away. mine has "died" at least twice.

Sometimes it's on a very dim setting and you have to move you habd in sideways just above it, and then lift it up, and move it back out to the side again, repeating a few times. You will always have to leave it alone for 5-10mins after moving, and it should have at least a meter space above it, probably more. Wiping the dust off the sensors doesn't hurt either.
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on 8 September 2015
We've had this lamp for about 10 years and it still works very well. I'm so disappointed they have stopped selling them as wanted to buy another!
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on 26 November 2008
Seems like a cool idea right? Well, it switches on and off ok, but that's about it. The dim/brighten feature is rubbish.. you'll spend 5 minutes waving your hands around like a numpty before you'll get it to the required brightness. The sensors are really low tech and not sensitive enough to make it function as it should; it's forever switching on and off when you want to adjust the brightness.

Basically it won't do what it says it does, it's frustrating and unfit for purpose. Shame they didn't bother to make it work correctly. I can imagine a meeting in which putting decent sensors in it was ruled out as not being cost effective. Disappointing.

Don't buy one.
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on 19 March 2016
Just broke mine and so gutted I can't buy another :(
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on 3 January 2010
I've bought three of these - within 6 months two of them blew; seems to be the sensor but the unit is sealed so there's nothing to repair.
The other that I had for only 3 days had the bulb pressed against the inside of glass so it started to burn.
I should have learnt my lesson the first time. The idea, design and feel is beautiful - just a shame that they are made so poorly.
I rang Mathmos to ask them and they said "Oh yeah we've heard of them stopping after a year but 6m is quite quick" - they suggested some gibberish about plugging it into a socket with no current for 8h. No offer of refund.
So buy it, love it for 6m then mourn your loss.
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