Robot vacuum cleaners have been around for close to two decades already and they are still not a full blown substitution for a normal vacuum. The first robovac was actually intorduced by the Swedish company Electrolux in 2001, but then subsequentially Dyson and iRobot came up with their own versions of it. Dyson has always been playing catch-up in the robot hoover market since they wanted to achieve perfection from the very beggining. The first Dyson robot - the DC04 - was an excelent cleaning machine but it was way too expensive to be offered to the general public and it never reached retail stores.
Best Robot Vacuum
We've tested the ten best robot vacuum cleaners on the market today and we found out a few interesting things. The first one is that even though they are highly advanced they still can't replace ordinary vacuum cleaners just yet.
The Roomba 960, however, outperformed the competition easily, except for its main competitor - the Xiaomi Mi Robot.
It has the the best overall score in terms of cleaning power, navigation and battery life. Yes, it costs a lot of money but it is a iRobot Roomba after all - you get exactly what you pay for. Definitely the best robot vacuum on the market today.
iRobot Roomba 960
Enough history - let's take a look at the current state of the robot vacuums market. For the seventeen years they been on the market they haven't managed to fully replace a normal vacuum cleaner just yet. Yes, they have improved dramatically and they are in a much better state than they were, but they still can not autonomously clean stairs, upholstery and furniture, for example. There are certain limitations to them as well and you have to be aware of them before deciding what's the best robovac to buy in 2018.
The Budget Alternative
While the iRobot Roomba 960 is an excellent choice, nothing stays in the way of the Xiaomi Mi Robot. It has the same technology as the iRobot flagship, but better. Better navigation, better battery, better cleaning. The best, really.
The only downside is the support and ordering process. Now Amazon stocks and ships them locally, but the Xiaomi is still a very Chinese products with all the positives and negatives. The app is all in Chinese, the manual has to be translated in English and the warranty and support are close to non-existant.
Overall, it is the best robot money can buy if you can live with the origin and support.
Xiaomi Mi Robot
Let's take a look how the rest vacuums on this list fare:
How To Choose Your Robot Vacuum Cleaner
Here are some of the most important features to consider when choosing your robot vacuum:
The type of sensor technology each robot possesses defines its navigation performance and capabilities. Some vacuums map the house before the start the actual cleaning while others clean without mapping or they map as they clean. One doesn’t make it necessarily better than another but you have to decide what’s convenient and important to you personally. While the more expensive vacuums can show you a map of where they’ve been and what has been achieved, the more budget oriented ones just clean as they see fit – not providing much info about where they have been and what has been cleaned.
While some robotic hoovers have old-school TV-style remote others are directly controlled by an Android or iOS app. Some even offer smart home integration via Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. You speak your commands to the vacuum cleaner and it will follow every direction.
3. Battery Capacity
Robot vacuums’ battery life might not seem so important to some but in reality, the longer the battery life is the more it can clean before returning to the base station. This is especially important for people with bigger houses and robots that can not resume from the same place when they have to return for a recharge. The low-end robovacs don’t have that function so it is important to pick one with a big battery so it can clean more consistently throughout the house.
4. Cleaning Brush Type
The type of brush your robot has can greatly impact its cleaning performance. Some of the more pricey vacs have tangle-free rollers while others have a roller with plastic bristles which can tangle around long hair easily. Households with pets can benefit from tangle-free rollers significantly but usually bristled rollers clean better hard floors and tile.
5. Cleaning Modes
You have to decide whether spot cleaning, zig-zag or any other specific cleaning modes are important to you. For example, the Xiaomi mentioned above has all the bells and whistles like spot cleaning, turbo mode and more and it can resume cleaning from the same spot it left behind when the battery depleted. Most of the budget ones need to start over and re-map the space on every new clean.
6. Canister Capacity
The canister capacity is the dust collection capacity of the robot and how big the actual bin is. It determines how often you’ll have to empty the bin – the smaller it is the more often you’ll have to empty it between cleaning cycles.
1. iRobot Roomba 960 – The Best Overall
The Roomba 960 is probably one of the best robot vacuums money can buy today. It checks all the boxes and more, but it costs quite a lot of money, especially compared to some of the budget robots on this list. It even has a direct budget competitor from iRobot as well – the Roomba 650. There are quite a few differences between the two, though – the 960 has lots of features absent in the 650 hence the price difference.
Let’s take a look at what the Roomba 960 has to offer. The first is one of the best battery life amongst robots – it can last up to 75 minutes on a single charge. That means that it can clean well over an hour before it heads back to the charging station.
Navigation is excellent too. In our experience, it might just as well be the best navigating robotic cleaner today. It has the same navi capabilities as the 980 but it is significantly cheaper than the high-end Roomba although missing a feature or two. It figures any single storey layout pretty quickly and establishes boundaries rapidly. It remembers where it has been and cleans with amazing precision. We’ve seen it intentionally finish a room, pass the corridor and go start another room on its own. It is a smart vacuum cleaner.
Cleaning performance is outstanding. Not as powerful as the Dyson 360, who undoubtedly has the strongest suction power, but almost as effective. It cleans well hardwood, stone, tile perfectly. It even picks up where it left off before the battery depleted. Very few vacuums do this, even of late. Both the Dyson and the Depot above don’t remember where they stopped in order to continues diminishing their cleaning capabilities. The Roomba goes back to the same spot and continues cleaning effortlessly.
It finds its home quickly and efficiently too, unlike the LG above. There is no circling around or beating around the bush – it just goes and docks in style. Recharge takes about two hours before it can continue. iRobot recommends to charge the battery overnight when you first get the vacuum in order to extend its life but after that it usually recharges in two hours.
It is a high-end robotic vacuum with the right price tag. Yes, it might seem expensive to some, but the price is well worth in our opinion. It is a very well designed robot with a very few faults, if any. Highly recommended.
2. Dyson 360 Eye – The Most Powerful Cleaner
The Dyson 360 Eye robot vacuum is by far the most powerful cleaner on the market. Without a doubt, it cleans better than any of the other robots on this list. It incorporates the superb Dyson digital V2 motor and cyclone technology to ensure optimal suction power and cleaning performance. The Eye is the only robotic hoover that offers a similar level of performance to a regular vacuum.
There are a few quirks as well. While it cleans amazingly well, the navigation and battery life leave much to be desired. Honestly, as well as it cleans, we can’t neglect the terrible navigation and the poor battery life that this robot delivers for the price.
Let’s start with the navigation. For some reason, Dyson 360 designers decided that the robot doesn’t need to draw a map of your house and the remembers it. Instead, they decided that it is a good idea every cleaning cycle to start from scratch. As you can imagine, this is not ideal as the hoover wastes a lot of time re-discovering the same area over and over again.
There is probably an idea about behind all that – maybe if you move around furniture often then it won’t be a huge issue, but if you don’t – there is really no need to re-discover the same thing over and over. The runtime is pretty poor too – it only gets up to half an hour before it needs a recharge. I
Another annoyance can be the Dyson app – lots of people hate it on the internet. It is hard to operate and it has a mind of its own. For starters, the scheduling system doesn’t really work properly. I’ve tried it my own – if you set the time for a certain hour it might start a cleaning cycle, but just as well it might not. Dyson claims that a recent software update fixed the issue and it now works well, but I wasn’t able to test that – returned the test unit before the update went live.
Overall, the amazing cleaning performance of the Dyson 360 Eye is seriously diminished by the “brains” of the operation. While it offers the typical Dyson cleaning power it is far away from the typical Dyson reliability. The navigation and the app leave much to be desired. It’s a love it or hate it type of product and I can’t really decide which one will it be for you, personally.
3. LG Hom-Bot Square – Best For Hard Floors
The LG Hom-Bot Square is a competent cleaner that does an amazing job with hard floors like wood, stone, and tile. It has a “Turbo” mode for carpet as well, but it can’t really compete with the cleaning power of the Dyson with its cyclones and Digital V2 motor.
It has a bit of an unusual shape as well. Most robots are usually round but the LG decided to break the mold a bit and make a square robot vacuum.
The shape works really well for corner cleaning and hard to reach places. It goes well with square furniture and awkwardly shaped furniture.
Sound levels are excellent as well – some people claim that it might just be the quietest robot vacuum on the market. That seems the case with the DeepBot above as well, but testing them both head to head the LG was a few decibels lower. You can easily leave it on when watching TV, for example, and it won’t bother you one bit.
The zig-zag cleaning mode is an excellent idea – it cleans carpets remarkably well. Hard floors are great by default – they are the easiest to clean for any vacuum cleaner tall enough to go over larger debris like pet food, cereal bits and stuff like that.
There are a few issues reported too. Some of them we could replicate, others – we couldn’t. The first one is the trouble the Hom-Bot has finding its home base. While we couldn’t replicate the issues lots of people reported it online. Usually, whenever the battery is low the robot just circles around the base but fails to couple and start the recharging process. We tried it a few times but we couldn’t replicate the problem – maybe we got a newer firmware version or some sort of software update. Our unit coupled and recharged automatically four out of four times. No issues whatsoever. Few people suggested that leaving enough space around the docking station solves the problem. Battery life is good too – it goes for about 40 minutes before it needs a recharge.
Another issue is that there is no bin level indicator. The robovac won’t show you the dirt level and it will not warn you when it is full. That means constant checking on the vacuum whether is full or not. That is valid especially for people with pets. Talking about pets, the LG Hom-Bot does well with pet hair and long hair in general.
Dealing with pet hair is decent in general, but the robovac can really struggle with long strings and rug cords. It tends to tangle itself up and it will need to be recovered more often than not.
Overall it is a decent, quiet robotic vacuum that offers good cleaning performance with a few issues. You’ll have to decide whether these issues are a dealbreaker for you personally. If they are, keep reading and I’m sure one of these vacs will fit your needs just fine.
4. iRobot Roomba 690 – The Budget Roomba
You might wonder about what do we mean by “cheaper alternative” and cheaper to what exactly. Obviously, the Roomba 690 is a mid-range unit from iRobot. True, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the 800 and 900 series Roomba vacuums. Let’s take a look at what are the differences between the 960 and the 690 vacuuming robots. There is reason why iRobot products always are present in all those “best robot vacuum cleaners” lists.
Let’s start with filtration. While the 960 has a full HEPA filtration technology working, the 6 series doesn’t – it uses the older AeroVac that while good, it still might produce some dust and allergens when vacuuming.
The Roomba 690 has a very decent navigation already, but it tends to be a bit more bouncy off the walls and more irrational than the 9 series. The latter has the newer and better iAdapt 2.0 incorporated that just works better than the 690. Still nowhere in the performance of the Neato Botvac, but still pretty good for Roomba overall.
The iRobot 690 doesn’t have resume option in its menu. It means that whenever the battery gets low and it returns to base to recharge, it won’t remember the spot it left and return – it will start cleaning from the beginning. If you have a very large house or extended floorpan that can be a huge nuisance of the battery doesn’t last for the whole house cleaning. Some areas might be left unattended. The 960 doesn’t have that problem but it costs about 50% more than the 690.
The good points of the 690 are the Wi-Fi integration and the compatibility with Alexa and Google Home. That means that you can control your vacuum just by speaking the commands to either Amazon Echo or Google Home enabled devices. you can, of course, use the app supplied by iRobot, but Alexa and Google Home works just as good.
The spot cleaning option is very useful when there is a spillage at a certain spot in your house – you can just tell the Roomba to go and clean the spot. It does the job well. The only issue, compared to the 960, is that the 690 uses counter-rotating bristle rollers compared to the 960’s brushless extractors. Hair tends to tangle around the bristles and it might get tiresome to clean them every once in a while.
Overall, with the Roomba 690 you get the proven iRobot reliability without some of the advanced features of the 900 series. It costs less and it cleans just as well if you live in a smaller house or an apartment. Hair tends to tangle around her bristled rollers but its not that hard to clean them from time to time. Alexa and Google are nice additions too if you already have them set up.
5. Xiaomi Mi Robot – The Chinese Robot Gem
The Xiaomi Mi robot might as well be the best robot vacuum overall if there wasn’t for the issues mentioned below. It has all but one issue, really – it is Chinese and it comes with all the ‘Pros’ and ‘Cons’ of it. No, I’m not implying that it is unreliable or a rip-off in any way – quite the opposite. It is, in fact, better than some, if not all, high-end robot vacuums on the market. The main problem is that all the documentation about the Xiaomi is in Chinese. Great if you can read it speak it, not so much if you don’t.
The app is all in Chinese and there is no English translation, unfortunately. Well, there is, actually, if you use another phone and use Google translate live few function – it works really well. The Chinese won’t be an issue once you get used to the app and remember what is what but until then you will have to translate more often than not. It uses the MiHome app that is the do-it-all app for all smart home things Xiaomi. It works really well – you can schedule a cleaning cycle, start or stop it, pause it and much more.
Another downside of the Xiaomi is that it is intended for the Chinese market. While there is nothing wrong with that, you’ll have to buy the robovac from a Chinese vendor like AliExpress or GearBest. The problem with that is shipping time and import taxes. It usually takes at least a few weeks to get anything from those shops and if anything goes south then you’re stuck with a pretty expensive paperweight. It rarely anything goes wrong with Xiaomi, but if it does – warranty repairs can be a nightmare. But enough with the disadvantages – let’s take a loot on the bright side.
We really think that the Xiaomi Mi Robot is better than the Roomba 960/980 in every way possible.
Here, we said it – it is a much better robot vacuum than the 9 series Roomba for a fraction of the cost. The Xiaomi can be found for less than $300 – that is more than half cheaper than the Roomba 960. It offers better cleaning, better suction, better navigation and better mapping than any of the iRobot vacuums.
The Battery is better than the Roomba 980. While the latter claim two hours runtime, the Mi tops it with a two and a half hours. It charges about the same, but the Xiaomi charging station can hide the cable and it is a bit more organized. While the Roomba has to get on top of the docking, the Xiaomi just needs to touch it sideways and it is good to go.
Cleaning is better too – it offers about 10% more suction than the iRobot Roomba flagship. While it is not a lot by any means, it is enough to suck up dirt and debris better than the competition. It has a single brush with nylon bristles that does a very good job cleaning any sort of floors – from hard to carpets and rugs. It usually cleans most spills and larger debris in on go.
Navigation and mapping experience are better than the Roomba and more accurate too. Xiaomi relies on laser distance sensors that continuously spin and map the room the hoover is in. It uses the same technology driverless cars are developing – it is very reliable and accurate. Much better than the creepy cameras on the Roombas.
The mapping feature is excellent with the app. It shows you a map of the house that the robot created while cleaning and where it has been to clean. It is very accurate too – it managed to get the exact measurements of my house in just two cycles.
Overall, the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum is a giant killer if you can live with the quirks or if you are fluent in Chinese. Once you get used to the app it is a no issue, but getting there can be quite annoying. We think it could be one of the best robot vacuums ever made if it was all translated into English and offered decent aftercare and warranty service.
6. Eufy RoboVac 11 – Excellent Cleaner On A Budget
Let’s take a look at another budget robotic vacuum offering from Eufy – the Robovac 11. It is quite a popular robovac on Amazon and lots a people seem to like it. In price and performance, it is quite similar to the Ecovacs DeepBot. It costs about the same, depending on current pricing and promotions and it offers a similar level of cleaning with a few exceptions.
Eufy is actually an Anker brand – the same company that makes those high-power chargers, batteries and all that good stuff. It is priced in the level of the Xiaomi above, but it is nowhere the Mi Robot level.
The Eufy Robovac 11 is quite a simple vacuum – there is no complicated app, no Wi-Fi connectivity, no smart features, really. It feels a bit outdated compared to the Deepbot – it is run by a simple remote control that can steer it around the house, start, stop and return it to the base.
While it does seem pretty basic it performs remarkably well in real-world cleaning. There are no mapping options and you can’t monitor the route that the vacuum has taken around the house. However, the Eufy Robovac seems to navigate quite well around it and it doesn’t miss much.
Cleaning performance is excellent – there are sweeping brushes in the front that push dust and larger debris to the center of the robot where they are conveniently picked up. It cleans well hard floors, tile, and stone. It does well with carpet too although we feel the DeepBot did better with carpets and rugs than the Eufy. Not by much, but visibly it picked up more.
The Eufy RoboVac 11 is smaller in design than the Ecovacs model too. The diameter is about an inch smaller and it is a bit shorter too, meaning it can get under lower sofas than the DeepBot N79.
The navigation is a bit strange, though. It doesn’t always go in a straight line and it might seem erratic more often than not. It usually covers most of the room when cleaning but it struggles with corners. IT cleans well around kitchen appliances and it might even pick up dirt under the edge, for example, unless it is in the dead corner – it might get ignored then.
Runtime on a single charge is good and it can last up to an hour and a half of continuous cleaning before it heads back to charge but there is an issue – the battery is not replaceable, at least not in an easy, user-friendly way.
Overall, it is a very decent robot vacuum cleaner for a very lucrative price. It doesn’t feature any maps or advanced mapping and navigation but it seems to clean well. The separate remote seems a bit old school but it works well until it gets lost, of course. Battery is overall good and cleaning is above average. Not in the case of the Dyson, but it cleans well for the price. Definitely recommended for the less tech-inclined people.
7. Neato Botvac Connected – The Best Navigator
There is a reason why there are so many comparison reviews on the internet between the Neato Botvac connected and the high-end Roomba models. It is just better than most of them in almost every way.
Let’s start with navigation – while the Roombas seem to bounce around the room when cleaning like a ping pong ball, the Neato BotVac Connected feels more like a lawnmower. When you start the cleaning cycle, the Botvac first maps the whole room by going by all the walls and corners. Once it “feels” the room and knows its boundaries, it just goes and vacuums the whole room in a lawn-mower type of movement – back and forth in a straight line. It doesn’t miss anything, unlike the Roomba which struggles with corners.
Suction power is stronger too, at least stronger than the 880 that we had with use when reviewing the Neato. In our tests, the Neato was able to suck up even some ground-in particles in a low pile carpet, unlike the Roomba. Here is a video that we found that represents the cleaning power:
As you can see from the video above, the Neato Botvac Connected is a bit louder than most Roombas too. While that means higher suction power, some people might not like the noise – it is quite similar to a proper vacuum cleaner. While it does sound it, it is not in the category of a proper vacuum.
Navigating and mapping is amazing – it get’s really close to the Xiaomi model listed above. It uses the same technology – distance mapping lasers – to navigate around the room. It goes well with carpets and rugs and it rarely gets tangled in forgotten cables laying around the house. It finds its base quite easily when the battery gets depleted.
The only downside, if it can be considered such, is the bin. It is a bit awkward to clean and there is a good chance of spilling all the contents when emptying it. Not a big deal once you get used to it.
Overall, it is a solid choice for a high-end robotic vacuum cleaner – it cleans well, it navigates well and the app is a pleasure to use. It is a highly recommended robot if you can stomach the high price of the Neato Botvac.
9. Samsung POWERbot R7070 – The Best Alexa Integration
The Samsung POWERbot R7070 has quite a few things going for it. It is a very good choice and it comes pretty close to being the best robot vacuum if it weren’t for a few issues. Let’s take a closer look at the Samsung offering.
For starters, it is more powerful vacuum than any of the robots listed here except for the champion – the Dyson 360. It cleans just as well as a upright or a stick vacuum and carpets, hard floors or rugs does not bother it one bit.
We tested in on carpet and tile and it did an excellent job – picked up all the saw dust, cat food and hair that we spilled in one go. What’s more, it has a very interesting system to untangle long hair from its rollers – it just continuously pushes them aside and cuts them to help vacuum them. It rarely needs cleaning or roller replacements.
There are no sweeping brushes like some of the cheaper models here. It has a proper vacuum cleaner head with a rotating roller. It has a unique corner cleaning capability where it pulls dirt away from the corners to hoover it easier. It does better than the oval Roombas in terms of corner and edge cleaning – the rectangular ends does a better job.
It offers a very convenient Amazon Alexa integration. It is also compatible with Google Home but we feel that the Alexa integration is just better executed. The issue is that you’l have to create a Samsung smart home account and register the robot vacuum in it and then add it to the app. It takes a bit of time for it all to become active so some people might get annoyed by the wait time.
Navigation of the Powerbot R7070 is overall good, but there are a few issues with the Samsung bot. It has a little bit too much power and it can push stuff out of the way sometimes. I have a small rug in the kitchen and it sometimes just pushes it and drags it all over the floor until it tangles itself in it. It’s not idea and I think the software should be able to recognise issues like that and avoid it.
The price is quite high too. For a mid-range Samsung bot vac it is very expensive and you can pretty much buy two Xiaomi for the price of this one. And by midrange I mean that there are two models higher in the hierarchy and two more models lower, putting the R7070 right in the middle.
Overall, it is a capable robotic vacuum cleaner that suffers from a few flaws. The navigation could be executed better – sometime it misses small patches of floor during cleaning. While it offers excellent suction power, it tends to tangle itself up on rugs with long threads. It is an excellent vacuum but a so-so robot.
10. ECOVACS DEEPBOT N79 – Best Value For Money
There must be a reason why the Ecovacs robot vacuum is one of the best selling cleaners on Amazon for the last year or so. It offers an excellent cleaning performance, quiet operation, and a lucrative price tag to name a few of the reasons why it is selling so well.
It works fantastically well for keeping your floors clean even when there are animals around. Although the suction power is nowhere at the level of the Dyson 360 Eye, it keeps floors clean at a reasonable level. You can’t really expect a top performing robot for the price but it does better than most, honestly.
The Ecovacs Deepbot N79 is an excellent value for money. It goes for around $200 depending on store and promotions. You can probably find it cheaper from time to time around sales and whatnot. Let’s take a look at the most notable features that it got going for it:
- Wi-Fi Connectivity
- Double-V brush
- Twin Side Brushes
- 2600 mAh battery
- 1 Year Warranty
There are a few issues with it, but nothing too major. The first one is that it sometimes has trouble connecting to wireless routers.
Usually, the solution is to keep the vacuum as close as possible to the router, like within a few feet, and it should work perfectly. Once paired there are no issues with the Wi-Fi range.
Another problem that people report is that the app sometimes doesn’t work with 5GHz routers. The solution would be to connect to the 2.4GHz band and use the app on it. Pretty easy solution.
The DeepBot cleans well hardwood, stone and tile floors. It does well with low-pile carpet as well. Unfortunately, the N79 is not best suited for high-pile and it can really struggle with it. Overall, not recommended for high-pile since it can tangle around the brushes and block the vacuum.
Navigation is excellent for the price it is selling for. It rarely gets stuck compared to other vacuums, like the Roomba models, for example. It offers excellent navigation and it virtually never gets stuck. It does so well that there is a chance of it going outside if you forget the door open and your threshold is on the lower side. It happens more often than not – it likes to roam and explore new territories.
Noise levels are generally low and I didn’t have any issues watching TV or a movie while the robotic vacuum was cleaning the living room. Battery life is adequate but it has to return to the base station mid-way through cleaning – it doesn’t have enough power to clean a whole room in one charge.
Overall it is a highly recommended robotic vacuum for a tight budget. If you want more options, better navigation or better battery life, check out the rest of the robotics on this list before.
We think that it is pretty clear which of the products above qualify as the best robot vacuum of 2018. While ignoring the competition from Asia in the face of Xiaomi, the Roomba 960 clearly outperforms the competition in terms of cleaning performance, navigation, features and software integration. It works well with both Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. We haven’t tested if it works with Apple’s new Siri platform but we can’t see any reason why it won’t work.
We really hope that we helped you make an informed decision. It is a very personal purchase and what’s important to one might not be at all important to others. We really think the Xiomi Mi vacuum is by far the best of the bunch when we factor the price, performance, and features that it has. That’s, of course, if you can live with the fact that you need to order it from China and say “goodbye” to all support and after-sale service.
Otherwise, both Roomba offers are solid choices when it comes to cleaning performance, navigation, and features. They can’t really compete with Dyson’s Eye 360 monstrous suction power and solid cleaning performance, but the latter has some serious shortcoming that can’t be ignored.
After all, the choice is yours and we really hope that you will make an informed decision when buying your robot cleaner. In case you have any questions about the models that we tested or if you feel that we missed an important model, please do let us know in the comments below! Looking forward hearing from you!