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Last year at CES, Razer unveiled its Project Hazel concept: a totally ridiculous face mask that blended high-grade particle protection with the flashy RGB lighting that the company is known for. The mask earned our CES 2021 innovation award by trying to solve a very real problem, and eventually came to market as the $99 Razer Zephyr. And now, as Covid-19 continues to spread, Razer is back with the $149 Razer Zephyr Pro, a refined model built to make it easier to hold a conversation when you’re masked up.

While no one really needs a $150 face mask, the Zephyr Pro is certainly one of the most striking gadgets to come out of CES 2022, and could provide some very real health and social benefits for folks willing to splurge on it. The mask is set to launch later this year, and while preorders aren’t open yet, you can sign up to be notified once it’s available. But before you drop a ton of cash to look extra cool while you’re out buying groceries, let’s take a deeper look.

Same futuristic mask, now with voice amplification

The Razer Zephyr Pro looks similar to the original Zephyr, with a large, glowing design that makes you look like you just stepped into an alternate sci-fi universe. The mask sports a pair of what Razer is calling “N95 Grade” filters on either side, which the company says provides 99% bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE). Medical experts recommend sticking with a traditional N95 or KN95 mask for the best possible protection these days, though Razer’s website purports that the Zephyr Pro will better protect you than a cloth mask would.

The Zephyr Pro has internal fans to keep your face cool, and, because it’s a Razer product, the company’s signature Chroma RGB lighting allows it to glow virtually any color in the rainbow.

Another key feature is the fact that the Zephyr is transparent up front, which allows people to actually read your lips when you’re talking. And now the Zephyr Pro aims to take that idea even further with new voice amplification tech that’s built to make it easier for people to hear you while you’re chatting. The new mask has an internal microphone and external speakers to make your voice louder, and the feature can be switched on and off when you want to save battery (or just would rather keep your muffled comments to yourself).

Voice amplification is a nice idea — after all, we’ve all struggled to get through a conversation with someone else who’s masked up. However, we’ll have to see this feature in action before we get too excited. We certainly wouldn’t want a mask that makes us sound robotic or conspicuously loud in public, so here’s hoping the Zephyr Pro has some quality speakers for keeping conversations natural.

Let’s recap

We haven’t tested the original Razer Zephyr for ourselves, and it’s important to note that this mask does not claim to be the same kind of surgical face covering that most experts recommend you wear right now. But while the mask has gotten mixed reviews online, some have praised its build quality and the sheer boldness of its design. If you’re in the very specific niche of someone willing to pay a lot for a face mask that’s built to last and that helps you stand out in a crowd, the Zephyr seems like it accomplishes that goal.

And if you like the idea of a mask that checks all of the above boxes while making it easier to safely hold a conversation, the $149 Zephyr Pro is worth keeping an eye on. After all, it doesn’t look like the era of wearing face masks is ending anytime soon.

The Zephyr Pro is slated to launch sometime this year, starting at $149, and there will also be a $199 starter pack that gets you 33 sets of replaceable filters in the box. It’s currently a candidate for our Best of CES 2022 innovation award, and we look forward to reviewing it later this year — even if it gets us some strange looks in the process. We’ll be sharing our full finalists later this week, ahead of the top picks in each category.