I Try The

iLife

 "Beetle"

Robot Vacuum

ILIFE V5s Pro Robotic Vacuum Cleaner with Water Tank, Automatically Sweeping Mopping Floor Cleaning Robot"  Under $200

First, a few points: I am not a robot enthusiast who is forgiving of robotic devices that don’t work well. You know the type: "Well, the batteries don't last, it overheats, it's really slow, but this robotic walnut cracker is soooo coooool!" No, not me.

 

I also do not expect any robot to do heavy housework, especially at this price point. If you are expecting a robot to relieve you of household drudgery, come back in 50 years. There are some exceptions, as in many of the HE washing machines that can be programmed in many modes and some that apparently can sense what kind of clothes are in the drum.

 

At about 1/2 the price of the two “big” brands (both of which I have used) this one holds it’s own and more. It is more attractive, more effective and less trouble to use and clean. This unit is logically designed, easy to maintain and, again, also quiet.

 

Because it is designed for WOOD and TILE floors, NOT CARPET, it does not have the rubber rolling beater that others use to get debris out of carpet pile. It uses an effective vacuum built into a mobile chassis. If you imagine a decent “Dustbuster” type mechanism on wheels, you get the idea.

 

The center of the unit has a box-like chamber a bit smaller than a 1 lb butter package or 3x5“ card recipe box. If you put the vacuum module in, it collects debris and exhausts air through a small HEPA filter. The filter is cleanable and comes with extras. You can order more if needed.

 

In vacuum mode, the unit moves around the room at a steady pace with two brushes spinning that direct debris towards center vacuum area. While it will gently bump into chair legs, etc., it seems to sense walls and backs away without touching them. It also has a mode that hugs the wall to brush debris out of the edges of the room into the unit. There is also a “spill” mode where the unit circles around in an ever-larger circle for those times when dry coffee grounds, flour, ashes, etc. are dropped. There is also a “turbo” mode where the vacuum strength is increased. This produces more noise. As our 1900 farmhouse is mostly troubled by road dust and cat hair or tracked litter, the regular setting was fine.

 

See the short video of the cats and the vacuum.

 

You will need to check the debris container fairly often. Even in a well-maintained house like ours, it is surprising how quickly the iHome “Beetle” fills up with found dust and fur!

 

Yes, it would be nice to have a larger debris receptacle, but then EVERYTHING would have to be larger..larger vacuum motor, larger housing, larger battery, larger motor for transport, etc. You would end up with something bigger and heavier than a Thanksgiving turkey that could not get into tight places.

 

I did bring the iHome Beetle into what call my “torture track.” My home recording studio is often messy with extension cords, twist-ties from product packaging that missed the trash can and just the stuff that gets left in my sort of technological “man cave.” The Beetle handled it well, getting over wires and dealing with just about everything...except those twist ties, which it ignored. By the way, there have been no jam-ups plugging the vacuum path as it is pretty straight. The only time I thought it was jammed turned out that the debris chamber was full!

 

Replace the vacuum box with the water box and you have a damp-mop system AFTER you add a simple bracket to the underside to hold the micro-fiber cloth. It takes a bit, but the cloth does get damp and collects fine dust as the Beetle makes it way around the room. Damp-mopping is not the same as scrubbing! This is not going to take a dingy kitchen floor, clean it and make it sparkle! But being very, very familiar with damp-mopping Army barracks floors, I can tell you that it does make floors look better!

 

This unit comes with a dock, or you can plug the charger directly into the unit. I’m not sure how it works, but when you hit the “home” button on the remote, the Beetle stops what it is doing and heads right over to the dock and settles in. Fascinating! It even did it when certain wise-guy cats tried to knock it off course.

 

Speaking of cats, I repeat that there is no rapidly spinning rubber axel on the front used to beat carpet fibers because this is not for carpets. The first time I used another brand (we’ll call it “R”), a cat got in the way and got it’s tail yanked by the vacuum. My other vac (we’ll call in “N”) never got that far, as the electronics were all messed up from the moment I opened the box.

 

Using the dock and the remote, you can tell the Beetle when to start and when to quit and go back home. I have not used it long enough to make use of this, but from what I can see, there is no reason to doubt it works. I have also not tested the “cliff detection” and note that even the instructions caution it may not work in all circumstances. The edges of our steep wood stairway have rounded edges after 117 years, and the Beetle might not realize that!

 

The instructions are quite good and the unit, in it’s attractive box, is very easy to set up. Great wedding gift!

 

A final important note: This is not one of those products, like so many coffee makers and kitchen items, that are sold “generically” to an importer and found with five brand names and no support. iLife is making a very serious effort in this marketplace and has a website and help, not just a name attached to a product that nobody knows much about. Definitely worth your consideration.