Vacuuming sucks. Literally. Who wouldn't want a robot vacuum to take over the brunt of this odious chore? These little droids, which initially cost close to $1,000, are now coming down in price to where there are dozens in the $100 to $300 range. So it’s no surprise that they’re increasing in popularity; sales are expected to increase by 17 percent to 8.2 million in 2018, up from 7 million in 2017, according to IHS Markit. But with dozens of robot vacs to choose from, it’s getting harder to know which is the best.
Based on more than 300 hours of testing -- both in our labs and in our reviewer’s home -- our favorite robot vacuum is the Samsung Powerbot R7070 ($599). Not only does it have a HEPA filter (great for taking care of allergens) and is great at cleaning, but it works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, not to mention Samsung's SmartThings connected home system.
If you’re on a budget, we recommend the Eufy RoboVac 11 ($219). While it lacks smart-home connectivity, and may require some baby-sitting if it gets stuck, it also has a HEPA-style filter, and was the most effective vacuum of the budget models we tested.
How We Tested
We called in a number of robot vacuums based on their popularity on Amazon, as well as their price and reputation from other review sites and reader comments.
The first phase of our analysis started with lab tests in our Ogden, Utah, facility. There, we tested each robot vac to see how effective it was at picking up kitty litter, sawdust, Cheerios and pet hair on three different surfaces: vinyl, wood and a medium-pile carpet. We also timed how long it took each to complete each test, as well as how loud the vacuum was as it went about its business.
Next, we sent each to our reviewer to see how well they performed in a real-world environment. Here, we looked at things such as how easily it navigated around an apartment, how difficult it was to set up, and how messy it was to empty its dustbin.
What to Look for in a Robot Vacuum
Before you buy, you need to determine what your needs are, and how much you’re willing to spend. Things you’ll want to consider include:
- How much you’re willing to spend.
- The size of the space you want to clean.
- If you need a vacuum to clean up pet hair.
- If you want to control the vacuum using your smartphone.
We've put together a handy robot vacuum buying guide to help you determine your needs.
It's not easy keeping a house clean, but the Samsung Powerbot R7070 can certainly help in your time of need. This midpriced robot vacuum was one of the best at picking up pet hair and getting the food scraps in the corners. It's easy to schedule, works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and features one of the most user-friendly dustbins of the vacuums we tested.
The Eufy RoboVac 11 is a worthy entry-level robot vacuum simply because it works. The device is short enough that it can track under furniture where you normally can't reach with an upright vacuum. And though there's no Wi-Fi connectivity or app control, there's a companion remote, which you can use to schedule the vacuum so that it cleans up any litter crystals, stray hairs and food crumbs left behind.
Sometimes, going for old faithful is just as good as something shiny and new. The iRobot Roomba 650 is a solid helper at picking up around the house. And though it doesn't have all the fancy features of some of the newer models -- like Wi-Fi connectivity, Google Assistant and Alexa integration, or even a remote -- it's still a very capable cleaner.
Other Robot Vacuums Tested
Our runner-up for the best overall vacuum, the Botvac Connected was nearly as good as the Samsung Powerbot R7070 at picking up pet hair, and its app was even more comprehensive. It also works with Alexa and Google Assistant. However, it’s $100 more than Samsung’s vacuum. Get it if it goes on sale.
This top-end Roomba doesn’t skimp on features, but it didn’t clean well enough to justify its $900 price tag. It was also pretty loud in our anecdotal tests.
This sub-$200 vacuum cleans well on hardwood, and was easy to control using the included remote. However, it doesn’t have a primary rolling brush, which made it less effective at picking up debris, and its dustbin was a chore to empty.
This $250 robot vacuum failed most of our pet hair tests, and got caught on rugs and other items very easily. However, its low profile means it could fit under furniture very easily.
New and Notable Robot Vacuums
"Alexa, clean my house." It's almost as simple as that to get the Roomba 690 to start its rounds vacuuming up your floors and carpets. You can also control this bot using a smartphone app, or through Google Assistant. It has a 60-minute runtime and you can schedule cleanings, but it lacks advanced features such as a high-efficiency filter, multi-room cleaning, and the recharge-and-resume found on the Roomba 960 and 980.
The Strata Home Cadet is Monoprice's low-cost entry into the robot vacuum market. The Cadet has anti-drop and anti-collision sensors to keep it from falling down stairs and running into walls and furniture, and it can automatically detect what surface it's on and adjust suction accordingly. Measuring 12.8 x 13.1 x 3.34 inches, it should fit under plenty of furniture to pick up dust bunnies. It has a 0.25-liter bin, and will run up to 65 minutes before needing a recharge. If you step up to the Strata SmartVac 2.0, you get additional features such as scheduled cleaning, a 0.5-liter dustbin, 100-minute runtime, remote control, and a wet-mopping function.
Credit: Tom's Guide
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