If you’ve flirted with the concept of shopping for a robotic vacuum you might also have stepped again from the brink in unfolding horror on the alphabetic soup of branded discs popping into view. Consumer alternative appears like an awesome concept till you’ve tried to get a deal with on the handle-less vacuum house.
Amazon gives an A to Z linklist of “top brands” that’s solely a handful of letters wanting a full alphabetic set. The horror.
What awaits the unseasoned robotic vacuum purchaser as they resign themselves to hours of on-line analysis to attempt to inform — or, effectively, type — a purchase order choice is a seeming countless permutation of robotic vac evaluations and round-ups.
Unfortunately there are simply so many manufacturers in play that every one these evaluations are likely to act as gasoline, feeding a rising black gap of indecision that sucks away at your treasured spare time, demanding you spend increasingly more of it studying about robots that suck (when you may, let’s be frank, be getting on with the vacuuming activity your self) — solely to return up for air every time even much less satisfied that purchasing a robotic dirtbag is in any respect a good suggestion.
Reader, I do know, as a result of I fell into this gap. And it was hellish. So within the spirit of making an attempt to stop anybody else falling prey to convenience-based indecision I’m — apologies upfront — including to the pile of present literature about robotic vacuums with a brief comparative account that (hopefully) helps reduce by a number of the chaff to the dirt-pulling chase.
Here’s the underside line: Budget robotic vacuums that lack navigational smarts are merely not value your cash, or certainly your time.
Yes, that’s regardless of the very fact they’re nonetheless really costly vacuum cleaners.
Basically these fashions entail overpaying for a vacuum cleaner that’s so poor you’ll nonetheless must do a lot of the job your self (i.e. with a non-robotic vacuum cleaner).
It’s the very worst sort of badly utilized robotics.
Abandon hope of getting something value your cash on the backside finish of the heap. I do know this as a result of, alas, I attempted — opting, lastly and foolishly (however, in my defence, at a degree of close to desperation after sifting a lot digital chaff the entire enterprise appeared to have gained lottery odds of success and I frankly simply needed my spare time again), for a mannequin bought by a widely known native retailer.
It was a finances possibility however I assumed — or, effectively, hoped — the retailer had achieved its homework and picked a better-than-average alternative. Or at the least one thing that, y’know, may suck mud.
The model in query (Rowenta) sat alongside the higher identified (and a bit dearer) iRobot on the store shelf. Surely that should depend for one thing? I imagined wildly. Reader, that logic is a entice.
I can’t touch upon the comparative efficiency of iRobot’s bots, which I’ve not personally examined, however I don’t hesitate to match a €180 (~$200) Rowenta-branded robotic vacuum to a really costly cat toy.
This robotic vacuum was spectacularly profitable at entertaining the cat — presumably on account of its dumb disposition, bouncing stupidly off of furnishings owing to a complete lack of navigational smarts. (Headbutting is a reasonably large clue to how silly a robotic it’s, because it’s by no means a stand-in for intelligence even when encountered in human type.)
Even extra tantalizingly, from the cat’s perspective, the bot featured two white and whisker-like facet brushes that protrude and spin at paw-tempting distance. In quick: Pure robotic catnip.
The cat didn’t cease attacking the bot’s whiskers the entire time it was in operation. That definitely added to the obstacles getting in its method. But the extra existential downside was it wasn’t sucking very a lot in any respect.
At the tip of its first concluded ‘clean’, after it one way or the other managed to lurch its method again to first bump and eventually hump its charging hub, I extracted the bin and needed to snicker on the modest sized furball inside. I’ve discovered bigger clumps of mud gathering themselves in corners. So: Full marks for cat-based leisure however as a vacuum cleaner it was horrible.
At this level I did what each wise buyer does when confronted with an abject lemon: Returned it for a full refund. And that, reader, might need been that for me and the cat and robotic vacs. Who may be bothered to waste a lot time and money for what appeared laughably incremental comfort? Even with a gradual provide of cat fur to take care of.
But as luck would have it a Roborock consultant emailed to ask if I wish to assessment their newest top-of-the-range mannequin — which, at €549, does clock in on the reverse finish of the worth scale; ~3x the pitiful Rowenta. So after all I jumped on the probability to offer the class a second spin — to see if a wiser gadget may impress me and never simply tickle the cat’s fancy.
Clearly the worth distinction right here, on the high vs the underside of the vary, is substantial. And but, in case you purchased a automotive that was 3x occasions cheaper than a Ferrari you’d nonetheless count on not simply that the wheels keep on however that it might really get you someplace, in good time and achieve this with out making you horribly automotive sick.
Turns out consumers of robotic vacuums have to tread way more rigorously.
Here comes the bookending top-line conclusion: Robot vacuums are wonderful. A contemporary comfort marvel. But — and it’s an enormous one — provided that you’re prepared to shell out severe money to get a tool that truly does the job meant.
Roborock S6: It’s a beast at gobbling your furry good friend’s dander
Comparing the Roborock S6 and the Rowenta Smart Force Essential Aqua RR6971WH (to offer it its full and equally horrible identify) is like evaluating a high-end electrical automotive with a wind-up child’s toy.
Where the latter product was so penny-pinching the corporate hadn’t even paid to incorporate within the field a person guide that contained precise phrases — opting, we should assume, to avoid wasting on translation prices by producing a comic book full of inscrutable graphics and bizarro don’t do diagrams which solely served to cement the fast-cooling purchaser’s conviction they’d been bought a complete lemon — the Roborock’s field comprises a effectively written paper guide that comprises phrases and clearly labeled diagrams. What a luxurious!
At the identical time there’s probably not that a lot it’s good to grok to get your head round working the Roborock. After a primary move to familiarize your self with its varied features it’s delightfully simple to make use of. It will even produce periodic vocal updates — akin to telling you it’s achieved cleansing and goes again to base. (Presumably in case you begin to fear it’s gone astray beneath the mattress. Or that quiet business is a entrance for brewing robotic revolt in opposition to indentured human servitude.)
One button begins a full clear — and this does imply full because of on-board laser navigation that permits the bot to map the rooms in real-time. This means you get methodical passes, minimal headbutting and solely occasional spots missed. (Another button will do a spot clear if the S6 does miss one thing or there’s a contemporary spill that wants tidying — you simply elevate the bot to the place you need it and hit the suitable spot.)
There is an app too, if you wish to entry further options like with the ability to inform it to go clear a particular room, schedule cleans or set no-go zones. But, equally delightfully, there’s no absolute have to hook the bot to your wi-fi simply to get it to do its main job. All core options work with out the faff of getting to attach it to the Internet — nor certainly the concern of who would possibly get entry to your room-mapping information. From a privateness perspective this wi-fi-less app-free operation is a serious plus.
In a small house with arduous flooring the one obligatory prep is a fast test to clear stuff like charging cables and stray socks off the ground. You can after all park eating chairs on the desk to supply the bot a cleaner sweep. Though I discovered the navigation fairly adept at circling chair legs. Sadly the unit is slightly too tall to make it beneath the couch.
The S6 contains an built-in mopping perform, which works extremely effectively on lino-style arduous flooring (however gained’t be any use in case you solely have carpets). To mop you fill the water tank attachment; velcro-fix a dampened mop fabric to the underside; and slide-clip the entire unit beneath the bot’s rear. Then you hit the go button and it’ll vacuum and mop in the identical move.
In my small house the S6 had no hassle doing a full flooring clear in beneath an hour, while not having to return to base to recharge within the center. (Roborock says the S6 will drive for as much as three hours on a single cost.)
It additionally didn’t appear to get confused by comparatively darkish flooring in my house — which some evaluations had prompt could cause complications for robotic vacuums by complicated their cliff sensors.
After that first clear I popped the lid to test on the contents of the S6’s clear lint bin — discovering a formidable amount of dusty fuzz neatly wadded therein. This was actually simply robotic vacuum porn, although; the gleaming flooring spoke for themselves on the standard of the clear.

The degree of mud devoured by the S6 vs the Rowenta underlines the standard distinction between the underside and high finish of the robotic vacuum class.
So the place the latter’s plastic carapace instantly grew to become a magnet for all of the room mud it had kicked up however spectacularly didn’t suck, the S6’s gleaming white shell has stayed remarkably lint-free, buying solely a minimal smattering of cat hairs over a number of days of operation — whereas the flooring it’s labored have been left visibly dust- and fur-free. (At least till the cat started working dirtying them once more.)
Higher suction energy, higher brushes and a better high quality built-in filter seem to make all of the distinction. The S6 additionally does a significantly better cleansing job much more quietly. Roborock claims it’s 50% quieter than the prior mannequin (the S5) and touts it as its quietest robotic vacuum but.
It’s not tremendous silent however is quiet sufficient when cleansing arduous flooring to not trigger a serious disturbance in case you’re working or watching one thing in the identical room. Though the novelty can definitely be distracting.
Even the look of the S6 exudes robotic smarts — with its raised laser-housing bump resembling a glowing orange cylonic eye-slot.
Although I used to be stunned, at first look, by the one, relatively feeble wanting facet brush vs the agency pair the Rowenta had mounted to its undercarriage. But once more the S6’s instrument is well utilized — stepping up and down velocity relying on what the bot’s tackling. I discovered it may miss the odd little bit of lint or particles akin to cat litter however when it did these specs stood out because the exception on an in any other case clear flooring.
It’s additionally true that the cat did stick its paw in once more to attempt attacking the S6’s single spinning brush. But these assaults had been fewer and loads much less fervent than vs the Rowenta, as if the bot’s extra deliberate navigation commanded higher respect and/or a extra thought of ambush. So it seems that even to a feline eye the premium S6 seems to be loads much less like a dumb toy.
Cat plots one other ambush whereas the S6 works the ground
On a sensible entrance, the S6’s lint bin has a capability of 480ml. Roborock suggests cleansing it out weekly (assuming you’re utilizing the bot each week), in addition to washing the built-in mud filter (it provides a spare within the field so you may swap one out to wash it and have sufficient time for it to completely dry earlier than rotating it again into use).
If you employ the mopping perform the provided reusable mop cloths do want washing afterwards too (Roborock additionally features a few disposable options within the field however that appears a reasonably wasteful possibility when it’s simple sufficient to stay a reusable fabric in with a load of laundry or give it a fast wash your self). So in case you’re chasing a completely automated, robot-powered, end-to-cleaning-chores dream be warned there’s nonetheless slightly human elbow grease required to maintain the whole lot operating easily.
Still, there’s little question a top-of-the-range robotic vacuum just like the S6 will prevent time cleansing.
If you may justify the not inconsiderable value concerned in shopping for this further time by shelling out for a premium robotic vacuum that’s sensible sufficient to wash successfully all that’s left to determine is how one can spend your time windfall correctly — resisting the temptation to simply put your toes up and watch the intelligent little robotic at work.

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