I hated my previous robo-vacuum. The Ecovacs Deebot M80 was a dumb and terrible device that was infuriating — it would never be able to find its way back to the base station, would keep going in circles and end up at the same spot where it got stuck; it was a bad device. As I started evaluating my next robo-vacuum I had the following requirements:
- Must be able to find its way back home
- Must be really really good at navigation
- Must let me define custom mapping features like no-go zones
- Must be good at not having hair stuck in it, and make it easy to remove the hair
I was looking to invest in the Roomba because I needed something that would just do the damn job. I started talking to my fellow tech friends about it and @Reetesh strongly suggested I get the Roborock for my requirements. He’s a proud customer and was very convincing. I started doing some online research on Roborock vs Roomba, and the Internet really doesn’t have a clear winner. For Roomba’s dustbin collector, the Roborock comes with a built-in mop, and then the Roborock is much cheaper.
As I read more, it turns out, Roborock is the company that makes the famous in India tech brand Xiaomi’s robovacs. I bought Roborock’s latest & greatest S6 MaxV for $600 on Prime Day ($200 off).
I’ve largely had a positive experience thus far and their software is definitely their strength.
Here’s the good:
- The S6 was quick to setup with the Wi-Fi: took a retry for me to get it working, the voice prompts are a nice touch
- The auto apartment mapping works like magic: The first cleaning created a floor map of the apartment, the second cleaning updated the floor map dividing it into my rooms
- It is surprisingly not loud: It also has some configurations where the sound is gets softer
- The S6 has always found its way back to the base station: It has not once been unable to make its way back (and it does that without banging into walls on the way)
- Switching to the mop mode was very easy: Filling in the tank, attaching the mop, and just letting the robovac do its thing
- The AI-powered obstacle detection is really good: Not only did the robovac identify objects like a one-off slipper or a dress thrown on the floor (don’t ask!), the robovac took photographs of these objects and I could see them in the app
- Alexa integration makes it very convenient to use: I really love this feature but takes some getting used to on the commands
- Cleaning specific rooms works great: The robovac figures its way around
- The phone app lets you see what the camera sees: I like how the software notifies you about privacy issues and that you need enable it
As I continued using it over the next few days, I noticed that the navigation is just good, not great.
Now the bad:
- My gray gradient carpet confuses even Roborocks’ fall sensors: It’s a thing where the gray colors make the fall sensors think that there’s a a cliff because of the change in shadows. The robovac then keeps going back & forth on the spot till it gives up and then stops
- It still gets stuck on the aluminum rods of my chairs: I have these chairs with slim aluminum rod legs, these rods are so slim that the robovacs feel that they are so cool that they’ll somehow roll over these rods, then the rods always win (even the Roborock couldn’t roll over or detect these rods as obstacles)
- Open closet doors are not its friends: If I leave the closet doors open, even the Roborock can’t get over the small speed breakers
- While the robovac can detect that it’s on a carpet and increase its suction, the robovac in the mopping mode won’t detect a carpet and will still try to mop my carpet
- Spot cleaning based on the map is a bit challenging because it’s difficult to create the spot on the tiny phone screen
Roborock’s app fixes the bad:
The mobile app is really the dark horse, a strong complement to the hardware. It really is polished software with features that have a workaround for the negatives I found:
- No go zones: I’ve set the area with the aluminum rod chairs as no-go zone, problem solved
- Virtual walls: I’ve blocked off my closets as virtual walls and the problem’s solved
- No mopping zones: As it says, I’ve marked my carpets as No Mopping Zones and the problem’s solved
PS: It’s still too early to tell whether the Roborock is good at not letting the hair get tangled.