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Top 11 Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners of 2020

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Updated September 16, 2020

We have tested robot vacuum cleaners and name the Xiaomi Mi Roborock S50 as our Best Choice. It is both great value for money and easy to use. It works well on both hard floors and carpets and did not have any problems dealing with pet hair. It cleans efficiently and picks up where it left off should it need to recharge its battery mid-clean.

How we did the test

We carried out the test ourselves and tested all of the products as they are intended to be used in reality. The test was carried out over a period of several months in two distinct stages.

In the first stage of the test we tested the robot vacuum cleaners from the perspective of a fairly normal user. We used them in a variety of private homes to test how they worked in different types of households. Some had pets (both cats and dogs), some had young children, while some had neither. The homes had different amounts of furniture and types of dirt, so we were able to assess the differences in how clean and tidy the floors were once the robot vacuum cleaner thought it had finished cleaning.

The second stage of the test involved a laboratory test in which we put a controlled amount of dirt in a limited area to compared how much dirt the different vacuum cleaner models removed. Both stages of testing were carried out on a mixture of surfaces; wooden floors, stone floors, thin carpets and thick, denser carpets. The results of the laboratory tests were weighted into the final score, but we placed the greater importance on how well the robot vacuum cleaners perform in normal homes as this is where they will most likely be used. We also retained some of the robot vacuum cleaners that performed best for further longer-term testing, including some models for more than a year. This allows us to continuously add updates to our reviews, but also showed that some models that coped well in the laboratory setting don’t work as well under real conditions.

We assessed the robot vacuum cleaners using the following parameters:

  • Function and dust removal ability: How well does the robot vacuum cleaner deal with different types of hard floors and carpets? Can they clean up hair and sand as well as they clean up crumbs or gravel? What type of room mapping does the robot use? How effective is the motor, the suction nozzle and the brush?

  • Navigation and accessibility: How well does the robot vacuum cleaner cope with orientating itself and cleaning around furniture, under furniture and in several different rooms? How kind is it on furniture? Can it cope with climbing over thresholds, deep carpets or other obstacles? How does its manoeuvring algorithm deal with particularly difficult situations where there is a risk that it could get stuck in tricky obstacles like cable tangles?

  • Use: Is the robot vacuum cleaner easy to handle and program? How do you communicate with it? Which accessories are included with it in order to make cleaning easier? How long does vacuuming take and how noisy is the motor? Is the brush easy to clean?

We assessed each robot vacuum cleaners' value for money by looking at how well the model fulfilled our expectations in the above parameters in relation to its price. We have also looked at the exterior condition of the robotic vacuum cleaners after they has been used for a longer period as well as the availability of spare parts – although this factor rarely had a decisive effect on their final score.

1. Xiaomi Roborock S5 Max - BEST ROBOTIC VACUUM CLEANER 2020

Efficient and functional robotic vacuum cleaner with mop

Working time: 2 h Maximum working space: 200 m2 Dust container: 0.5 L Size: 9.64x35.3 cm Stair sensor Yes Included: Filter (washable), side brush, wetroom cloth, water tank Miscellaneous: Google Assistant, Alexa, App support

Xiaomi Roborock S5 Max

The Xiaomi Roborock S5 Max is a user-friendly robotic vacuum cleaner, offering good performance, with a range of setting options and functions.

For example, you can set the suction power, which of course will also affect the noise level. You can also point to the map the vacuum cleaner has drawn of your home, and give orders for it to go to a specific place and clean there – in other words, you don’t have to carry it around for spot cleaning like some other robotic vacuum cleaners. Another plus is that you can define your own boundaries using the app, to mark where it should clean.

The app also includes other products from Xiaomi, so for example if you use their smart home products, you can have them in the same interface. This makes the app a bit messy, but you quickly get used to it.

Noise levels are normal in terms of price range and competition.

The Xiaomo S5 Max is the sequel to the Xiaomi S50

What distinguishes the S5 Max?

It's a bit daft to talk about prices because these can change quickly, but at the time of writing, Xiaomi has ramped up the price substantially compared to the S5 Max’s test-winning predecessor. This means it’s now on a par with other medium class models, and that makes the competition between rivals much more even and exciting.

The S5 Max isn’t quite as good as Neato's model in the same price range when it comes to suction power. On balanced suction power, it has a problem getting all the dirt on the first go, and it has to do the same area twice for a satisfactory result. On turbo, however, it does an excellent job and hardly misses anything at all.

On the other hand, the vacuum has problems with cleaning at level differences, for example where carpet edges meet the floor – but this is common with robotic vacuum cleaners in all price ranges.

We’d by no means say the S5 Max offers poor performance; in fact it’s very good when you compare performance with price. But the Neato D6 does do better in this respect. Instead, the real strength of the S5 Max lies in its wide range of functions. For example, it’s equipped with a mop.

The mop can’t deal with tough stains on your floor, but it does get up all the micro-dust that remains after cleaning with the vacuum – and that’s a really useful feature. The mop function is something that none of its competitors offer, at least not at the time of writing and in this price range, though you can get the function by paying a good bit more. If you consistently use the mop function, the overall cleaning result will be first class.

Another plus is how efficiently – but at the same time carefully – it cleans surfaces through its movement pattern. It also has very good accessibility and cleans efficiently in terms of time. The working time of two hours specified by the manufacturer is pretty much spot on.

Nor are thresholds a problem for the S5 Max. For example, it handled a level difference of 2 cm in one of our most complex test environments. The low height also makes it excellent for getting under sofas, coffee tables and so on.

The Xiaomi Roborock S5 Max is ideal for anyone with normal cleaning needs who’s looking for a robotic vacuum cleaner that offers a lot of functions.

  • The combination of mop, high performance and smart movement pattern gives a fantastic cleaning result in almost every corner of your home
  • The wide range of functions and setting options makes it easy to adapt the vacuum cleaner to your home and your needs
Lots of functions & setting optionsVery good cleaning results overallMops up micro dustEfficient cleaning
Corners & level changes result in uneven cleaning

2. Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum – BEST CHEAP ROBOTIC VACUUM CLEANER

A fantastic high-quality robotic vacuum cleaner for the money

Running time: 150 minutes Side spinning brush: 1 pc Stair sensor: Yes Remote control: No (app support) Accessories included: Washable filter, brush height adjustment, vacuum cleaner location via a map, zone cleaning, spot cleaning, go-to function, support for voice assistants, four power modes

Xiaomi Mi Robot

The Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum is a cheap robotic vacuum cleaner that combines the best aspects from several of the other top manufacturers.

In the robotic vacuum cleaner world, it's often the case that robotic vacuum cleaners with a triangular shape are better at accessing all the different nooks of your home. But this one still does a very good job. Using intelligent algorithms, it gets both in and out of chair legs as long as the width between them is the same or more than the vacuum cleaner's diameter. The relatively low height also means that it's good at vacuuming under low stairs, sofas and TV stands.

It can cope with hard and soft level differences, and for example can climb up onto 1 cm thick mats. It can even cope with thresholds up to 1 cm without problems. If the thresholds are higher than this, accessibility isn't always 100%. But that's what we'd expect from a premium or intermediate class model. Several models in the intermediate class find it a lot more difficult to cope with thick mats than this machine does. So overall, we're pretty impressed.

Lots of successful functions

One disadvantage with the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum is that its dust container is relatively small. When it gets full, the vacuum cleaner will alert you several times while it performs, making you aware that you need to empty the container or change the filter. This can be rather irritating.

From a safety viewpoint, it would have been better if the vacuum cleaner had stopped vacuuming and gone home, given a single sound alert and then sent a notification to your mobile phone. It's not good for the motor to continue running when the dust container is full.

And because the container is quite small, you have to empty it almost every hour if you have pets. And about every other day if you don't. This sounds a lot but it's standard for the majority of robotic vacuum cleaners – other than those made by Neato, which really stand out when it comes to this aspect.

Despite its low cost, the Mi Robot Vacuum has both app support and support for voice control via a digital assistant. We connected it to Google Home and could then ask it to start with voice commands through a smart speaker. It works well.

The app is a bit of a mess because it includes other smarthome products from Xiaomi. But it does include zone cleaning, for example, where you can draw out a particular area to be vacuumed, by creating rectangles on a map that the robotic vacuum cleaner creates of your home as it explores.

Another great function is that you can point to a place on the map and the robotic vacuum cleaner will go there. And once there, you can start requesting spot cleaning.

Great results from the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum

The cleaning result is better than we expected. The robotic vacuum cleaner is careful to run with the side spinning brush towards the furniture to remove dirt there, and can be set on four different power modes. It has difficulty picking up dirt on mats if you don't run it with maximum power.

But it does a good job of collecting dirt around level differences – something that many other robotic vacuum cleaners are poor at. It doesn't just run over the threshold, but vacuums both on and alongside it.

It would have scored top marks if it wasn't for the fact that the robotic vacuum cleaner had problems finding its way home a few times. Other than this, the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum is a really good robotic vacuum cleaner that can do pretty much everything despite its low price.

If you move up a step in price and choose its big brother instead, you even get a mop function, but if you don't need that the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum is a sufficient and cheap robotic vacuum cleaner. A real bargain!

Cleans very wellLots of welcome functionsFour power modesCan be voice controlledVery good accessibility
Must be emptied oftenHad problems finding its way home a few times

3. Neato Botvac D6 Connected

Careful cleaning and great navigation

Running time: 120 minutes Dust container: 250m2 Side spinning brush: 1 pc Remote control: No (app support) Stair sensor: Yes (and boundary setting in the app) Accessories included: Filter, magnetic strip Miscellaneous: App controlled, maps your home, laser controlled (can clean in the dark), supports voice assistants, supports spot cleaning

Neato Botvac D6 Connected

The Neato Botvac D6 Connected is an intelligent robotic vacuum cleaner that's a neat size too. It easily copes with complicated areas and works carefully – although at a relatively moderate speed. As long as it's allowed to just get on with its job, it's a fantastic robotic vacuum cleaner.

It's only when you interfere that it gets a bit upset. For example, you can't pick it up and move it from one place to another and then start it again, as this makes the coverage map wrong and can cause problems if you want to send it to a particular room.

We'd also have liked the Botvac D6 to switch itself off after a while when it does get stuck. For example, it could have sent an alert, marked its place on the cleaning map and then gone into standby mode. Instead it sits there using power until you come home and rescue the cleaner from obstacles.

But on the other hand, it rarely ever does get stuck. Once it's learned your home, it navigates accurately through narrow corridors, over high thresholds and thick mats and in and out of chair legs.

Easy to maintain

One advantage of the Botvac D6 is it packs the dirt into the container well. This means that you don't have to empty it as often as with many other robotic vacuum cleaners. Despite the fact that we primarily used it in a home with three long-haired pets, it doesn't need to be emptied more than once or twice a week. Other robotic vacuum cleaners tested in this home have needed to be emptied every day.

At the same time, there's no support for zone cleaning, which is a bit of a shame because it's something pet owners in particular benefit from hugely. Given the price, we think this should have been included.

We'd have also liked to see physical buttons on the actual vacuum cleaner for spot cleaning and to send it home. As it is, you have to find your mobile phone if the vacuum cleaner gets stuck or if you just want to quickly bring it out for spot cleaning.

Maintenance is straightforward. You simply remove the container and press in a tab to release the lid. This simultaneously releases the filter, which you can clean at the same time.

Something else positive about the D6 Connected is how it deals with thresholds and furniture. It most often runs with its side spinning brush towards these things, which means that it picks up more dirt than many other robotic vacuum cleaners. The powerful motor also means that it continues to pick up dirt even if, for example, part of the machine body is on top of the threshold, leveraging it a bit further from the ground.

It's worth noting that the robotic vacuum cleaner is quite noisy when it's working. And that it only communicates via the app – for example, it has no simplified voice instructions, and in terms of the buttons on the outside of the machine, they are limited to start/stop.

The Neato Botvac D6 Connected is a very good buy because of how good it is at cleaning and because it's highly reliable. Despite this, however, there's quite a lot that the manufacturer could improve to make it more user-friendly. But the cleaning results are so good that it gets a top score anyway.

High reliabilitystrong motorvery good cleaning result
Struggles with being moved manuallyquite noisyfew physical buttons

4. Irobot Roomba 960

Excellent for households without animals

Running time: 75 minutes Dust container: 0.5 L Height: 9.1 cm Width: 35 cm Weight: 3.9 kg Side spinning brush: 1 pc Remote control: No Stair sensor: Yes Accessories included: Washable filter, side brush Miscellaneous: App controlled, Google Assistant support, Alexa support

iRobot Roomba 960

The Irobot Roomba 960 gives a high quality impression the instant we unpack it from the box. The build quality is very good, and the level of user friendliness striking. Starting it up and connecting to the network is fast. The robotic vacuum cleaner communicates via voice instructions so that you understand what it expects from you and what you can do with it.

These voice instructions are also very useful if the Roomba 960 runs into problems while it's cleaning. For example, it clearly announces when something gets stuck in the rollers or the dust collector needs to be emptied.

And the dust collector is also the machine’s biggest downside. You have to empty it pretty much after every session because it says it’s full even when it isn’t particularly, as it doesn’t pack the material in. This is despite the fact that we’ve set “continue to vacuum even if it’s full” mode on the dust collector. So you don’t need much dirt for it to stop and alert you – particularly if you have pets. Over time this gets irritating.

Clever, but should exploit the side brush better

The Roomba 960 is relatively powerful. It vacuums up hair, dust and small bits of gravel. It can climb up onto thicker mats, runs smoothly over them and picks up a reasonable amount of hair – the results are good, but not quite perfect.

But it does struggle with dirt along edging strips and thresholds. It only has to lift up a little from the floor on one side to lose a lot of its suction. In these situations, the artificial intelligence also affects the result. It doesn’t always travel with the side brush side against the obstacle (the threshold or wall, for example), which means that sometimes it has to pass over a particular area several times before it does it the right way round – and finally picks up the more inaccessible dirt. If it had always turned the side brush to the obstacle, the results would have been better from the start.

In terms of intelligence, it does a relatively good job otherwise, particularly when it comes to vacuuming large areas and navigating them efficiently. It can cope with thresholds of up to 1.5 cm without problems.

Support for voice assistants makes this robotic vacuum cleaner a good addition to the smart home. The range of commands is extensive. With a smart speaker in your home – or via the voice assistant on your phone – you can name your robotic vacuum cleaner and then tell it to go out and vacuum using voice commands. For example, “Clean the kitchen, Kryten”.

Another advantage of the Roomba 960 is that it's relatively quiet in action. It's no problem sitting and working in the next room while it’s working.

The iRobot Roomba 960 is a very useful buy for anyone seeking a competent robotic vacuum cleaner, provided they don’t have pets – as this entails emptying the dust collector annoyingly often. The reliability of the machine is striking and the cleaning result is generally good.

Good at navigating in the homedealing with obstaclesvery user-friendly
Must be emptied oftenpoor at thresholds and edging strips

5. Neato Botvac D7 Connected

A model of careful cleaning

Running time: 120 minutes Dust container: 0.7 L Height: 9.9 cm Width: 32 cm Weight: 3.4 kg Max. area: 250m2 Side spinning brush: 1 pc Remote control: No (app support) Stair sensor: Yes (and boundary setting in the app) Accessories included: 3 filters, water tank, magnetic strip Miscellaneous: App controlled, maps your home, laser controlled (can clean in the dark), supports zone cleaning, supports voice assistants, supports point cleaning

Neato Botvac D7 Connected

The Neato Botvac D7 Connected is the flagship model in the popular robotic vacuum cleaner manufacturer Neato’s range. It comes with a magnetic strip that you use to block rooms you don’t want it to go in, two extra filters – and a charging station, user manual and the robotic machine itself.

Installation is super easy. The app gives you text guidance, but there’s also video support if you feel unsure about what the text means.

The Botvac D7 communicates via sound. So it’s clear when it’s off, on and when it’s accepting commands. However, you have to check the mobile phone notifications to understand what the vacuum wants. Many other robotic vacuum cleaners have recorded voice messages instead, but this system of checking your phone works too.

The app is user-friendly. You can update the software, see where the vacuum has cleaned, schedule cleaning and send it off to clean a particular room. In addition, you can block it off from rooms and areas you don’t want it to clean. You can even control it remotely with your phone, a little like a radio-controlled toy car. All of this works exceptionally well.

Unfortunately, you can’t see how full the container is, and you have to check this manually if you aren’t sure whether it’ll be able to vacuum your entire home while you’re out at work. Otherwise it may just stop and not vacuum at all. You can set an automatic warning for this, so that it reminds you, for example after 90 minutes’ operation, that you have to empty the container.

If you’re looking for a reliable robotic vacuum cleaner for when you aren’t at home, the Neato D7 has two hours’ operating time. In an hour it can clean approximately 40 m2. After the first cleaning session, you can see on a map where it has vacuumed and where it hasn’t. This map is created as it learns to navigate your home.

The D7 sometimes stops for 1-2 minutes and just rotates backwards and forwards without vacuuming. Then it starts off again. It isn’t clear what it's doing during this time. Don’t forget this is a beast of an electric vacuum cleaner, so maybe it’s just getting some crunches in while on the job?

The cleaning results are excellent. The side spinning brush carries dirt with it, and because the vacuum moves with the brush in towards furniture and so on, it doesn’t matter that it's lacking a brush on the other side.

The robotic vacuum cleaner has no problem with thresholds up to 1.5 cm high. After this it starts to have problems, but if it hits the right angle it can sometimes manage higher ones. But loose rugs are a problem. For example, rag rugs are only OK on occasion. You have to put something underneath the rug so the robotic vacuum cleaner doesn’t just push it into a heap as it moves forward. Thick, long pile rugs are fine.

The vacuum cleaner has no problem finding its docking station as long as you haven’t picked it up and moved it from where it was. If it gets stuck it has to start again from the same area, because otherwise it gets lost. This is a clear disadvantage.

But the D7’s biggest disadvantage is that it’s so noisy. It makes several noises at once, from the motor, the rotating brushes and from the wheel motor when it’s moving around. So there’s no point trying to get the kids to sleep while it’s running. We think this is a shame given the price.

Where this robotic vacuum cleaner really shines is how powerful and efficient it is, and yet how carefully it cleans your floors. It may be noisy and lack frills, but it does the important stuff really well. If you’re going to have a robotic vacuum cleaner that above all does the vacuuming when you aren’t at home, and which is reliable and communicative, the Neato D7 is a good buy. Particularly if you have a big house.

Relatively intelligentcopes with obstacles welluser-friendly appquite reliablevery good cleaning resultlots of useful functions
Very noisygets lost if you move it manually

6. iRobot Roomba S9+

Great machine that even empties itself

Running time: 75 minutes Dust container: Automatic emptying (base holds approximately 30 loads) Height: 9 cm high Width: 31 cm Side brush: 1 pc Remote control: No Stair sensor: Yes Accessories included: Washable filter, side brush, 2 vacuum cleaner bags for the base unit Miscellaneous: App controlled, Google Assistant support, Alexa support

iRobot Roomba S9+

The iRobot Roomba S9+ is a top of the range robotic vacuum cleaner that automatically empties itself in a container when necessary. And this works far beyond our expectations. If the robotic vacuum cleaner’s container fills up during a task, it goes home, empties itself and then continues vacuuming.

Another really good function – even if it may seem simple – is “Find Roomba”. When you press a button, the robotic vacuum cleaner gives off a signal until you've found it. This is really handy because it means you don’t have to crawl around on the floor looking for your S9+ under furniture when it gets stuck, which you have to do with a lot of its competitors – and even with some of this machine's sibling models.

So how often does it get stuck? Not very often, actually. If you've left a sock or something on the floor, it’ll get stuck and the robotic vacuum cleaner will just stay there, but that’s true of all models. In general, it's pretty good at getting itself out of tricky situations such as narrow spaces.

“Clean the kitchen, Kryten”

Roomba is very proud of the fact that you can send it to different rooms. Either it learns your home over time after you’ve switched on the function, or you can send it out on training runs. We’d advise against the training runs because each one takes an extremely long time and it has to do several before it's gone through all rooms of the house – a process taking several days during which it doesn’t actually do any vacuuming. A better alternative is to let it vacuum its way to a floor layout. Once you've got this established and the rooms correspond to your floor plan (we had to repeat it the first time), this function is worth its weight in gold.

The function isn’t switched on from the outset. We think it should be on as standard so you realise it’s there from the outset.

We love the fact that the S9+ supports voice assistants. This means that you can say to your smart speaker: “Start Roomba” – or whatever wacky name you've called your robot vacuum cleaner. And then Roomba comes out and vacuums without you having to lift a finger.

One minor disadvantage with the S9+ is that it sometimes thinks the hatch on the top isn’t closed. This often happens after it's got stuck and you’re restarting it. You may need to press the hatch again so the sensor registers that it’s closed, and then press start several times despite the fact that the hatch hasn’t been opened.

Copes with thresholds and rugs

The Roomba S9 Plus does a good job of moving around the home. It neatly climbs sideways up slightly higher thresholds, and generally finds its way both out and back to its home, even if you pick it up and move it manually.

The cleaning result is good, but we would have expected it to use its side brush more intelligently. If you have an overhang on your kitchen units and so on, it doesn’t always travel with the brush towards them, and because it only has a brush on one side, it only cleans these more complicated spaces sometimes.

Unfortunately, the price is rather extreme given that the S9 Plus isn’t 100% in terms of its AI when it comes to cleaning complicated spaces. If the software had been a little more sophisticated, we would have scored this machine a couple of points more. But the price means that this type of shortcoming just shouldn’t occur.

The Roomba S9+ is suitable for anyone who wants to avoid having to run around emptying their robotic vacuum cleaner too often. This is a great feature that you quickly get used to, and which it’s then very difficult to be without.

Easy to operatesupport for voice assistantsempties itselfalways finds its way home
Cleaning result not perfectThe AI leaves something to be desired

7. Neato Botvac D4 Connected

Compact robotic vacuum cleaner with good suction ability

Running time: 75 minutes Dust container: 0.7 L Height: 9.9 cm Width: 32 cm Weight: 3.4 kg Max. area: 250m2 Side spinning brush: 1 pc Remote control: No (app support) Stair sensor: Yes (and boundary setting in the app) Accessories included: Filter Miscellaneous: App controlled, maps your home, laser controlled (can clean in the dark) supports voice assistants

Neato Botvac D4 Connected

The Neato Botvac D4 Connected is very much like the D6 model from the same manufacturer, but is perhaps a more suitable choice for anyone who doesn't have a two-storey home or who has lower cleaning expectations. This is partly because it lacks multi-storey mapping and can therefore only remember one layout. And partly because it lacks a side spinning brush.

The fact that it lacks a side spinning brush makes quite a big difference to the cleaning result because Neato's robotic vacuum cleaners are generally good at using their brush to maximise results, which means that this one doesn't do so well although still better than many competitors. But it feels like a poor choice for a robotic vacuum cleaner by a manufacturer whose main selling point is exactly how well it cleans. Particularly given that even the majority of budget models today have a side spinning brush.

The vacuum cleaner can cope with thresholds of up to 1.5 cm. But it's still not 100% suitable for homes with lots of thresholds. Not because it can't get over them, but because it tends to leave a lot of dirt there.

Finds its way throughout the home

Both installation and maintenance are straightforward. You empty the container with a simple press of a button, and the brushes are easy to clean.

One major advantage with the D4 – and the other robotic vacuum cleaners in Neato's range – is how well they pack dirt into the container. You have to empty it significantly less often than you would with the competitors' containers.

You give commands to the vacuum cleaner through an easy-to-use app, or for example through Google Assistant. However, the latter means you must have it set on English as it doesn't support any other languages - yet.

It would have been nice for the vacuum cleaner to be able to speak so it could say what was wrong with it when it got stuck, instead of having to use your phone to check the app.

The D4 Connected is otherwise good at navigating around the home and maintains high levels of reliability. It can easily get out of narrow spaces and always finds its way back home.

In terms of price, the D4 Connected falls into the intermediate class – just like its big brother, the D6 – and that price range means we have high demands for the smallest member of the Neato family. And even though it's a really good robotic vacuum cleaner, we don't think it quite lives up to its price tag.

The Botvac D4 Connected is most suitable for anyone with a smaller one-level house or apartment. And ideally without thresholds so dirt doesn't accumulate at these spots.

Very good suction abilitysupport for voice commandsuser-friendly app
Lacks side spinning brushleaves dirt at thresholds

8. iRobot Roomba i7 7158

Easy to use but demands attention

Working time: 75 minutes Dust container: 0.4 L Size: 9.2x33.9 cm Stair sensor: Yes Included: Filter, side spinning brush Miscellaneous: WiFi, app support, Alexa, Google Assistant

iRobot Roomba i7 i7158

The iRobot Roomba I7 7158 is a robotic vacuum cleaner that demands a fair bit of attention, but if you offer it the attention it needs you get a relatively quiet and reliable cleaner.

It’s easy to get the Roomba i7 going after you've unpacked it. It only takes a couple of minutes to pair it with your smartphone so you can control it via its accompanying app. And it's here you start to notice that it needs more attention than many other vacuum cleaners. To create maps of your home in the app and be able to choose the zones to be cleaned, the vacuum cleaner needs to do several tours before it's finished mapping the house. During this time, it acts like it's had too many beers, bouncing into pretty much everything in its path.

But after the drunken phase, it gets considerably more careful with your furniture, and in our tests the robot mapped the space very well and divided it up logically. At this point you can simply choose in the app - or via a voice assistant - which rooms need cleaning. Sadly you can't instruct it to clean specific areas, such as under your child's highchair, for example.

Double cleaning does the trick

Once it's up and running, it certainly makes itself known through its motor noise, but at the same time, it's a relatively pleasant frequency, which means it‘s not as annoying or disturbing.

With the original settings, it sometimes feels like it’s cheating with the cleaning and leaving a good bit behind on the floor. But in the app there’s a function allowing you to vacuum the same area twice. This makes the hoovering process longer, but the result – even along edges – is much better.

However, if you clean a whole apartment or storey with this setting, you have to help out quite a bit. Partly because the robot has to go home and charge during the process (it goes back out and carries on once it's finished charging). And partly because the vacuum cleaner is really bad at packing in the dirt it's collected means you need to empty the container two or three times during a normal vacuuming session. Therefore, you can't schedule it to work while you’re away from home because you need to be nearby while it's working.

At the same time, the Roomba i7 is excellent at moving around and isn’t too fussy if you've left things lying on the floor. It has no problems with thresholds and thicker mats, and it's pretty good at not getting stuck in any electric cables. Of course it does get stuck, but not as often as most robotic vacuum cleaners often do.

A bit forgetful

Another problem that arises after a few months of use is that it forgets the map. So “clean the kitchen” can mean that it does the kitchen, half of the hall and underneath the living room table before it thinks it's finished. Clearing the map and repeating the learning period remedies the problem for around one month before you have to repeat the process again.

If you see a robotic vacuum cleaner as a kind of helpful family pet that you still have to look after, the Roomba i7 is a really friendly one that can get around your home without being too fussy, and which cleans well. But the amount of attention it requires to do its job is more than we'd like from a robotic vacuum cleaner, particularly considering its price class.

Very quietcleans well when set correctlystraightforward app
Needs to be emptied oftenforgets the room layoutsimple mode doesn’t clean very well

9. Dyson 360

A compact format robot vacuum cleaner with a futuristic design and a strong motor

Run time: approx. 45-75 minutes Charging time: 120 minutes Dust container: 0.4 L Height: 11.2 cm high, 12.1 cm at dome Width: 23 cm Weight: 2.5 kg Side spinning brush: No Brush width, underneath: 20.7 cm Remote control: No App support: Yes Stair sensor: Yes Accessories included: None

Dyson 360 Eye

The Dyson 360 is a breath of fresh air in the fast growing robot vacuum cleaner market. It has an eye-catching design with characteristic caterpillar tracks and a high-gloss finish. Even its docking station is attractive. The idea behind this model's compact size is that it should be able to navigate between table legs and through narrow passages unhindered. On the other hand, the Dyson 360 is taller than many similar robotic vacuum cleaners and so doesn't easily fit under low furniture. It can just about squeeze underneath the lowest stair of a normal staircase. On the top of the Dyson 360’s chassis is a small plastic dome with a camera that gives the robot a panoramic 360° view. The robot vacuum cleaner divides the room into several smaller zones and systematically navigates itself around the room in a concentric pattern, in roughly the same way that you use a floor mop. It turns at a 90° angle, meaning that it turns quite often. In fact it actually turns so often that this turning ends up using up a lot of its cleaning time. This has a direct impact on its battery life and means that the robot needs to go and recharge itself relatively often.

You can start, stop and reprogram the robot via an intuitive smartphone app. A detailed map of the route covered is shown once the robotic vacuum has finished cleaning. This works well at letting you see what it has done, but we'd rather the app told us if the robot had gotten stuck anywhere. The noise level of the vacuum is also relatively high as its motor is without doubt one of the strongest we tested. Even the filter is impressive and doesn't need to be cleaned as often. However, a lot of hair gets stuck in the brushes and its dust container is small which means that it quite regularly needs to be emptied. The cleaning results are very good on hard floors, but on coarser carpets the vacuum’s brushes didn’t pick up most of the crumbs that other robot vacuum cleaners in the test easily coped with. Missed areas are particularly common around table and chair legs as the robot doesn't run very close to them, instead passing in a half circle around them. There are also sometimes narrow gaps on the floor which the vacuum missed cleaning as its overlapping navigation isn't always 100% accurate.

The caterpillar tracks on its wheels are undoubtedly powerful and effective at helping the vacuum cleaner up onto long pile carpets. However, we found that it couldn’t cope with normal bevelled thresholds. The hardware in the Dyson 360 has great potential, but its current high price isn't really justified in relation to its performance. With an updated, more intelligent cleaning algorithm and better brushes, the Dyson 360 could possibly be able to wipe the floor of its competitors – but that's simply not the case yet.

Strong motorCompact formatLiving room-friendly designGood filter
High chassisMediocre brush on carpetsShort battery life

10. Miele Scout RX 1

A light and easy-to-carry vacuum cleaner with an attractive and scratch resistant finish

Max. area: 150 m2 Run time: 120 min Charging time: 120 minutes Dust container: 0.6 L Height: 8.9 cm Width: 35.5 c Weight: 2.99 kg Side spinning brush: Two Brush width, underneath: 18.1 cm Remote control: Yes Accessories included: Remote control, cleaning brush, room divider, extra brushes and extra filter.

Miele Scout RX1

Miele's Scout RX1 is one of the most popular robot vacuum cleaners on the market and in aesthetic terms it’s one of the few models that could easily double as a piece of interior decor. Its top has a shiny and attractive finish with a rubberised edge that allows the Scout RX1 to avoid scratching furniture and skirting boards in your home while also keeping its own finish fresh. The robot vacuum cleaner orientates itself in the room via a ceiling camera, seven infrared side sensors and three additional sensors. It zigzags over long stretches and then turns around once it runs into a bigger obstacle. After a minor collision with chair or table legs it will run a half circle around them before continuing on the other side. This strategy works quite well most of the time but sometimes means that the vacuum cleaner can get stuck between things laid out in a pattern. For example, it can sometimes bounce between a chair leg and a floor lamp and effectively get stuck. Its unusually low profile does mean that the Miele Scout RX1 can fit under the majority of sofas though and it was also one of the better models in the test at climbing over high thresholds. The cleaning process itself is carried out by two side spinning brushes combined with a broad brush on its underside, which unfortunately requires regular maintenance as hair easily gets stuck in it.

The Scout RX1 has a robust construction whilst also being one of the lightest vacuum cleaners in our test. It weighs barely 3 kg which will be advantageous for those who will be carrying it between the floors of their homes. However, there is sadly no carrying handle for if you have to do this. Some of the Scout RX1's technical functions are also slightly troublesome. For example, you need the manual if you want to interpret the error codes that it displays when something goes wrong. You’ll also need the remote control to program it or to wake it up if it’s displaying an error code. We would have preferred to see a clearer and more intuitive display, or for the robot to be controllable via smartphone as you won't always have the remote control to hand. Another major problem is that the battery will completely discharge fairly rapidly if you don't turn off the vacuum manually if it can’t get back to the charger.

While the Scout RX1 vacuums well on hard floors like parquet, laminate and tiles, on dense Persian rugs and long-pile carpets it struggles and the results are variable. The main advantage of the Miele Scout RX1 is that it’s low in height and is fairly light, making it easy to handle while allowing it to easily go under sofas and other low furniture. This, together with perhaps having the most attractive design of the robot vacuum cleaner models in our test, are perhaps its strongest features.

Low weightKeeps itself free of scratchesHas an attractive finish
Loses suction on dense carpets, a few irritating technical aspectsLoses suction on dense carpetsHas a few irritating technical aspects

11. iRobot Roomba E5

A high-quality vacuum with a higher price tag

Running time: 90 minutes Dust container: 0.5 L Height: 9.1 cm Width: 33.7 cm Weight: 3.3 kg Side spinning brush: 1 pc Remote control: No (app controlled) Stair sensor: Yes Accessories included: Washable filter, side spinning brush Miscellaneous: Support for Google Assistant and Alexa

iRobot Roomba e5 e5152

The iRobot Roomba E5 looks like the slightly more expensive 960 model from the same manufacturer, but there are still a number of significant differences. For example, the E5 navigates in an irregular way while it's vacuuming. You get a good result if you allow it to work on schedule over a longer period, but to begin with the result is less careful with this solution.

The sound quality on the voice instructions also comes across as low budget. But the fact that it even has voice instructions is a notable victory - and you can clearly hear what's being said. For example, if it gets stuck it alerts you to come and release it. And the same applies if the dust collector gets full as it works away. You don't need to check with the app first to see what's gone wrong.

The dust collector is rather small and the Roomba has problems in that it doesn't pack in the dirt particularly well. So you have to empty the E5 pretty much every day. But this does depend on whether or not you have pets and children, and how large your home is.

Cleaning the filter is simple. We love the fact that you can undo the front wheels without tools and that you can rinse off the underside. But it's a bit of a shame you need to use a screwdriver to clean the side spinning brush.

Keeps track of where it lives

The Roomba E5 is fantastic at finding its way back to its charging station and docking correctly. Even when we deliberately make its route home more difficult by moving the docking station or setting it up on an angle, it manages to find its way in. And if we happen to knock the robot so it's in the wrong place, it simply backs out and re-docks. We think this is a great feature!

Something else we liked is the Find Roomba function where you can click on this function in the app and the robot makes a noise to tell you where it is. Because it also has a physical button to make it go home, even if it gets stuck you can just release it and send it home without having to find your mobile phone.

One slight negative is its dimensions and the way it navigates, ultimately resulting in getting stuck between chair legs and other furniture. Nor can it cope with thick mat edges – instead it thinks these are walls and navigates around them.

The same price class contains the Neato D4 and Xiaomi S50 – so the competition is fierce. And this is still the intermediate class. Given that it can't cope with thick mat edges, narrow spaces and that you have to run it relatively often for the room to be kept clean, it doesn't feel particularly good value for money.

That's not to say the Roomba E5 is a bad robotic vacuum cleaner – far from it. It's perfectly OK and copes with simpler spaces without problems when you schedule it to clean a little every day, or every other day.

Accurate dockingeasy to identify problemsgood range of buttons
Can't cope with thick matsmust be emptied oftenproblems with narrow spacesrather inefficient navigation systemeasily scratched

Everything about Robot vacuum

We tested some of the most popular robotic vacuum cleaners on the market, including models from Roomba, Neato, Miele, Dyson and LG. Different manufacturers use different types of technology to enable their vacuums to systematically map rooms and their different layouts and sizes. For example, some models scan the ceiling with a camera while others use lasers or infrared technology to do so. The robots' artificial intelligence will then plan the cleaning process together with readings from a number of different sensors including gyroscopes, stair sensors and impact detectors. Some models work according to a structured and predetermined pattern by dividing the room into a number of cleaning zones. Others work on an algorithm involving random movements combined with this zone division. The vacuum cleaner's orientation ability affects how long the cleaning will take and also how well the machine will find its way back to its base station once it has cleaned the room or if its battery is running out of charge. We studied how long it took for the robotic vacuum cleaners to clean a certain area and how long they could clean before their battery needed to be recharged. User-friendliness was another comparable factor that proved interesting. Some models communicated problems or difficulties very clearly, while others are more difficult to interpret and understand. We also investigated how easy it was to clean the robotic vacuum cleaners’ brushes of dust and hair. A few models are almost maintenance free, while others require you regularly remove gathered hair with scissors, which can be slightly irritating. All of the robotic vacuum cleaners in the test have a docking station powered by a mains adapter and all of the models are bagless and wireless.

Regardless of which model of robotic vacuum cleaner you choose it's important that it filters its exhaust air, particularly for people with allergies. Some of the robot vacuum cleaners in this test have HEPA filters, such as the Roomba and LG models. HEPA is a certification based on air quality standard and the certification is voluntary for manufacturers. Others such as Neato don’t have HEPA certified filters but still capture particles as small as 0.3 micrometres, including mould spores or allergenic particles on pet hairs. In other words they are the same level as those with a HEPA certified filter. For the best long-term cleaning results we recommend that you run a robot vacuum cleaner three or four days a week. It’s also good to sometimes supplement this with regular vacuum cleaning and cleaning with a microfibre cloth in the corners of the room and on skirting boards. But thanks to robotic vacuum cleaners the process of keeping your floor clean has never been easier.

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