Dreo Pilot Max S : a smart fan at an equally smart price

The Dreo Pilot Max smart fan in an empty room.

Drew Pilot Max S

MSRP $130.00

“The Pilot Max S lets users control their smart fan with their voice, along with up to 12 different speed settings — but that level of granularity just doesn’t seem like enough to warrant the price.”

Pros

  • Easy setup and installation

  • Smooth, responsive control

Cons

  • Lacks functionality beyond the basics

  • Unattractive design

With summer in full swing in many parts of the country (and bringing heat waves with it), you need to stay cool — especially if you have second floors of your home that aren’t quite as optimized. That’s the struggle I face; my upstairs loft is a game room, perfect for whiling away the hours on muggy July days, but it stays easily five degrees warmer than the rest of the house.

The Dreo Smart Fan beside a table.

As long as I use a fan, it’s perfectly comfortable — but the issue comes at night when I’m dragging myself to bed and hear the fan on upstairs. The last thing I want is to climb back up there to shut everything off. That’s where the Dreo Pilot Max S comes in. This is a connected smart fan that can be controlled via my phone, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant, and does a great job of hammering me with cooler air. It’s just a shame it can’t do anything about keeping my palms dry during some of the tougher moments of Tunic.

Setup and installation

There’s not much to installing a smart fan. The most finicky part of the entire process came in the form of attaching the base, and even that took less than 30 seconds. The entire Pilot Max S is assembled out of the box; even the stand only needed to be snapped together and secured at the bottom. The hardest part was finding the included remote, which didn’t have its own packaging and ended up at the bottom of the box among a pile of packing supplies.

Setting up the Dreo Pilot Max S was as simple as pressing the Wi-Fi button atop the fan for three seconds until it became discoverable within the app. After that, I just needed to tap a few buttons to carry through the rest of the process. Straightforward and simple, just as smart home device setup should be.

Day-to-day use

You can control the fan through onboard touch capacitive buttons, through the use of an included remote, through your phone, or with voice controls. That’s more than enough options for the average person; in most cases, I didn’t even bother with my phone. I just sat down at my desk and reached for the remote. Alexa came in handy for turning off the fan at night when I didn’t want to dig through a smartphone app.

The rest of the time? Honestly, once I set the fan speed I liked, I rarely touched the settings. I don’t use oscillation since I sit in one spot, and because the fan is upstairs, the sleep setting wasn’t necessary.

The Dreo Smart Fan on-device controls.

One of the main selling points of the Dreo Pilot Max S is that it’s quiet. According to some of the branding and marketing material, it’s “undetectable.” That’s not quite true. At lower speeds, it’s so quiet you won’t notice it — at all. You won’t even feel the air on your skin. Of the 12 different fan speed options, I found 9 to be the ideal level. At level 12, you’ll definitely notice it. The fan sounds like a jet preparing to taxi down the runway.

App functionality

The app forgoes any aesthetic appeal in favor of function. In most circumstances, I’d agree with that design choice — but when there are so few functions, it might not be a bad idea to make it a little more appealing to look at.

The app displays the name of the fan, the indoor temperature where the fan is located, and then gives you access to four different control settings.

  • Normal is what you expect: a steady, straightforward stream of air.
  • Natural adjusts the fan to seem more like an outdoor breeze, but the effect falls a little flat. When I first used it, I thought the fan was malfunctioning.
  • Sleep quiets the fan down so it doesn’t keep you awake at night.
  • Auto adjusts the speed of the fan based on the temperature of the room. If you want to keep a space within a set range, Auto is the best option for that.
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