Housework isn't my favorite task but I love technology, gadgets, and mobile phones. So I was super excited to review the new Samsung POWERbot Wi-Fi from Best Buy. It is the 6th generation robotic vacuum from Samsung and it departs from it's competitors (and predecessors) by introducing a design that looks just like a standard upright but without the stick. Additionally, like you would expect from any Samsung product it also packs in tons of features to make it that much more useful.
Out of the box, the most radical difference is that unlike other robot vacuums that are round disks, the Samsung POWERbot looks just like a normal vacuum - except that there's no stick to push it around. What you don't immediately see is all the sensors packed in that not only navigate the floor and what's directly in front of the unit, but also scans the ceiling looking for navigational cues as to where the room might end. Additionally, as the name suggests, this is connected by Wi-Fi so that it can alert you when there's a problem or simply to let you know that it's done. This connectivity also allows you to start and stop the POWERbot remotely.
As someone who travels (a LOT!), having the satisfaction of knowing that I can monitor it remotely is a great thing. I live in a very dusty area, so even without people bringing dust into the house, the breeze will blow stuff in and frankly it's nice to have something that is constantly attacking the situation without Heather and I having to vacuum constantly.
My loft is probably the most challenging environment that you could possibly imagine for the POWERbot, so was curious how it would perform vs a traditional house with carpets instead of rugs. What I found is that it was able to navigate better than expected, including remembering where it's base station was for recharging. The biggest challenge it had was getting tangled in some floor rugs I have where there are frayed edges. In this area it unfortunately got a bit tangled. However, performed admirably in navigating tight areas that were packed with furniture and finding the right path between couch and coffee table for instance.
Niki wasn't so sure though and I think she was wondering if we got a robot puppy for her to play with. One afternoon I found her following it around and then pawed at it while it sat in the dock charging ... likely saying, "come on! Let's explore the house together!" The Samsung POWERbot is also specifically designed with dog and cat owners in mind and it's capable of picking up hair and dander without getting clogged.
This vacuum sucks - in a good way! The first thing I noticed was that compared to competitors I've experienced, it sounds like a real vacuum. It employs "CycloneForce Separation System" to help deliver a constant suction force without clogging, and it features a 12" wide brush and large rollers that are able to overcome small obstacles such as climbing over a door jamb to pass from one room to the next.
The battery is designed for 60 min of cleaning per charge (100 minutes in Silent Mode) and if the job hasn't been completed it will head back out and complete it after 160 minutes of charging.
Like any new technology for the home, I suppose it should be understood that you may need to modify things to get the most out of POWERbot. For instance, as you see in the image above, you will want to install the base station against a hard surface and hide the wire so that POWERbot doesn't get tangled. Likewise, you'll want to be nice to the robot and push chairs in. While it CAN navigate very well - I found it trapped one morning because it had the space to enter the area below my table but then got stuck trying to get out.
Other times during this review of the Samsung POWERbot, it was almost entertaining watching it spin trying to determine the best pathway and I felt compelled to talk to it like I would my dog or a small child... "you can do it! Good girl!!! ... Yay!". It is interesting how something made of plastic can quickly become part of the family and I think this shows how we are finally at the stage where robots aren't just for geeks but truly are ready to be integrated into our homes to make our lives easier.
The POWERbot Essential Wi-Fi can be purchased at Best Buy for $799.