Sad truth: we can neither breathe the air, nor drink the water, today, the way it is delivered to us. Civic bodies have given up any pretence that the water they deliver is potable, straight off the tap. Results of a survey by the Bureau of Indian Standards released last week shows that with the exception of Mumbai in Maharashtra, water supplies to citizens in cities across 20 states is unfit to drink. The dangers from dissolved salts, bacteria, mud, heavy metals, even the chemicals that are used to "purify" the water, render simple boiling, no longer safe. We have to invest in complex water purifiers whose innards (some models come in transparent housings) bear a striking resemblance to Quantum computers that are in the news these days. Apparently, it takes a combination of old fashioned charcoal filters, with multiple one-way membranes performing what is called Reverse Osmosis or RO, plus a good dowsing with ultraviolet (UV) rays, before all the water-borne baddies are eliminated.
Xiaomi, better known for mobile phones, is a surprise entrant into the water purifier business. They have the late comer's advantage: surveying the field, understanding the pain points and working on them. The Mi Smart Water Purifier is an exercise in stark simplicity -- inside and outside. It is smaller than many of the competing products: the size of an A3 sized sheet of paper, weighs 6.7 kg and holds 7 litres of water. This is a combo of RO + UV, with activated charcoal filters, reduced to three cartridges. The real beauty of the Mi machine is the ease with which the cartridges can be clicked in place or removed.... an exemplar of industrial design. You don't need a technician to do it. Each cartridge alerts you via a mobile app when it is time to change and the replacement cost is upfront on the Mi site, before ordering: from Rs 899 to Rs 1799.
I also liked that the app lets you check the purity of the water, at any time, measured in TDS or Total Dissolved Solids (less than 300 is excellent; 300-600 is good). Technicians usually carry a meter to measure TDS. Now you have the figure any time you like to check. The Mi Smart Water Purifier is aggressively priced at Rs 11,999 and available only at the company's site.