With top comedy Peep Show back on our screens, Recombu Digital decided to put two of the best robot vacuum cleaners through their paces in our own tribute: Sweep Show.
These robot dust-munchers are designed to automatically roam around your floors and back to their charging station.
Both Roomba and NaviBot only need your attention to empty their dustbins and enjoy an occasional groom to remove hair from their brushes and wheels.
They’re both about the same size: 355 x 93mm for the NaviBot and 325 x 92mm for iRobot.
So enjoy Mark and Jez’s NaviBot and Roomba’s adventures in their new flat, find out what we thought of them, and read more after the jump.
The NaviBot Silencio’s calling card is that it’s quiet, and while it’s far from silent, it was just below the threshold of annoyance for everyone at Recombu Towers to agree that it could potter around while they worked.
The Roomba is noticeably noisier, but still a lot less noisy than a traditional vacuum cleaner. Of course, it’s likely that you’ll leave a robot vacuum to clean the house automatically when you’re out, so noise might not be an issue.
The Silencio also has a lot more dust capacity – 600cc against Roomba’s 260cc – and it has a vacuum cleaner port (demonstrated by Dobby) so you can suck out dust without detaching and emptying the dustbin.
This port is quite poorly designed, and you could remove a lot more mess if you could fully insert the vacuum cleaner nozzle.
Give me a star to sail by
iRobot (right) boasts a top-secret algorithm that’s supposed to mimic the way a human would vacuum, covering every part of the floor at least once.
In practice it looks random but does a good job, although some of our lightweight dust particles were flung round a bit before they were captured.
NaviBot (below, right) has a more measured approach, using its upward-facing camera to map the ceiling and methodically clean the floor.
Sensors on both units help them to avoid collisions with furniture or at least slow down to make impacts more a kiss than a bump.
Both are good along walls but their size makes it impossible to reach deep into corners – some manual finishing will be required. There are also spot-cleaning modes for both to concentrate on tricky areas.
There’s a Turbo Mode on NaviBot which drives its brush at full speed to pick up stubborn dirt, at the expense of your battery.
It also comes with a mop attachment – not for drying floors (neither of these is water-friendly) but for cleaning hard floors.
Overall, Roomba had the edge, cleaning like a bull in a china shop but leaving less behind. This may be down to its counter-rotating brush and sweeper picking up dirt more efficiently than NaviBot’s single brush.
Like a Panzer through the Ardennes
Homes aren’t built for robots: there are doors and stairs, carpets and hard floors, cables and other random objects. Robots need a little bit of help navigating.
These tidy Terminators both come with infra-red ‘walls’ that can be used to cut off certain areas, and both have the same flaw: they’re not rechargeable and require expensive C or D-type batteries. They switch off automatically to save power, but in this day and age that’s not enough.
NaviBot also gives its Virtual Guard boundaries a very wide berth, leaving an uncleaned zone up to 20cm away that may cause problems, and it’s worse if there are white walls of reflective surfaces catching the beam.
Roomba’s Virtual Wall also has a ‘lighthouse’ mode, which you can place in a doorway to help it find its way home after cleaning – it will usually get lost if it doesn’t have a line of sight to its charger.
Thanks to its mapping system, NaviBot is pretty good at finding its way home unless you’ve moved the furniture or interrupted its run.
Navibot’s base is quite large, but also sturdy, while we sometimes found Roomba dragging its smaller, lighter base away from the wall when it launched, which made it difficult to dock at the end of the session.
By your command
Both come with remote controls to programme their timers and drive them around, if bending down to use the buttons on top of the robots is a chore.
Roomba’s remote has a timer screen built-in and looks the business, but we found its touch-sensitive buttons a little insensitive, while Navibot’s remote is basic but effective. Again, neither is rechargeable and Roomba needs four batteries.
It also seems absurd in 2012 that neither of these robocleaners is networked with an app-based smartphone control – the Roomba has been around for 10 years now, but it’s still not networked. At least it avoids any Skynet-style world domination incidents.
Despite many small differences, the biggest is in price: Navibot Silencio costs £449; Roomba 790 costs £799, though there are cheaper 700-series Roombas from £399.
Both come with spare brushes, pollen filters and cleaning tools, although Roomba 790’s spares come in a handy case to match its premium cost.
In the end, though, that price difference is too strong and the differences too small, so we’ll give our vote to the Samsung NaviBot Silencio.
Samsung Navibot Silencio SR8895 vs iRobot Roomba 790
|Product||Samsung NaviBot Silencio SR8895||iRobot Roomba 790|
|Charging time||2 hours||3 hours|
|Running time||90 mins||(not available)|