Hi folks. Today I would like to talk about the very best budget robotic vacuum cleaners on sale at GearBest.com. This article is meant for clarifying things in the end of 2016, since Black Friday is due in one month, and Christmas in 2.
I wanted to offer a straight view of how I feel about some of the products I’ve presented on my blog in the last period. A lot of people are emailing me to ask which robot vacuum they should choose. I’m not talking here about premium models from producers such as Neato or iRobot. I’m talking about the accessible models from Chinese wholesalers such as Gear Best. Although it’s no mystery, these guys have provided me with some of the test units which I’ve been analyzing lately, I want to emphasize from the beginning that the opinions presented on my site are of my own; I was not paid to promote any of these products and the videos which I’ve been making and which you can watch on my Youtube Channel can very well stand behind my statements. By the way, if you want to stay up to date with everything I do, make sure you subscribe to my channel and social media.
Now, talking about my reviews, it seems that although my reviews are very complex and rigorous, it’s this high level complexity which really confuses people. It’s a pity to leave my site without some clarifications in your buying process. In fact, this is why I’ve built Vacuums Guide: to help people make a fast decision, without the need to do all the research, which should be only my job.
Let’s get back to our business and talk about the 3 models which really impressed me this year, as far as the market for robovacs goes. There are 2 producers which clearly differentiate themselves from the competition. I’ve already covered the iLife line of vacuum cleaners a while ago. I’ve chosen to include in this top 2 models from these guys: the iLife V7S and the iLife A4. Of course, there are other models produced by iLife which I’ve reviewed and which are good or very good: the V5 PRO, the X5 and even the V1. However, the A4 and the V7S are, at least in my opinion, the most versatile and thus, the ones which offer the best price/quality ratio. The price/quality ratio is in my opinion the essential thing informed consumers should look for.
The second manufacturer is Xiaomi. If we look back in time, I think you’ll agree with me that Xiaomi is a company which was little known a couple of years ago. However, an aggressive and efficient engineering team from these guys managed to break almost every limitation of the current robot vacuum market. The Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum has the highest suction power, the longest autonomy, the most complete sensorial system and arguably, the slickest design. And all of this comes at a really accessible price, and with the possibility to connect to smartphones.
Concluding the introduction, these are the 3 models which we will put under loupe today: the iLife V7S, the iLife A4 and the Xiaomi robot:
All 3 units look very good. If I were to match a furniture style with each of these robots, I would say that if you have shabby chic or traditional furniture, you might find the Rose Gold of the iLife V7S to be the most suitable. However, if you have all your home decorated in modern or industrial styles, the silver color of iLife A4 is without a question a match. The white Xiaomi robot blends perfectly with eclectic or minimalist designs.
The cleaning power
For this piece, I’ve renamed this paragraph from “The suction power” to “The cleaning power”. You see, suction is not everything in standard vacuum cleaners, and that statement is even more proper when talking about robot vacuums. Suction matters, yes, but other things need to blend together with this feature to achieve effectiveness. Agitation is one of them. Normally, agitation is achieved with a brushroll, and that is why I’ve selected in this top only models which are equipped with this feature. On bare floors, there’s no real need for agitation, as 2 well displaced side brushes should do just fine at this chapter. However, if you want to vacuum carpet or area rugs, you will need this. Here are the 3 brush rolls from each model:
As you see, the most effective brushroll is the one installed in the Xiaomi robot. Those used in the iLife models are also very good and reliable over long periods of time. One of the most important things which is often neglected is to have an easy access to this vital part, so you can clean it easily and regularly. Luckily, all 3 robots share this particularity. And since we’re still on the maintenance talk, another element which needs to be cleaned every now and then is the side brush (or the side brushes, depending if the model comes with 1 or 2 of these). Speaking of side brushes, all robot vacuums should be equipped with at least one. The longer the bristles of the side brush, the bigger the reach area. However, manufacturers cannot make side brushes very long, since they will tangle or touch the power wheels and interact with the navigation. Moreover, the bristles need to be strong enough to withstand the continuous friction, the tangled hair and the passing of time. Fortunately, all 3 models have quality side brushes, and most of the iLife robotic vacuums come with 2 extra replacements for this part. I got to say that the iLife A4 wins at this chapter, as it can accommodate 2 side brushes simultaneously, while the other 2 need to use only one.
As for the suction itself, if you’ve read my review of the Xiaomi robot, you already know that this unit can deliver up to 1,800 Pa in the strongest suction mode, making this product the absolute winner at this chapter.
Because the Xiaomi bot comes with the biggest battery on the market (5200 mAh vs the 2600 mAh offered by iLife), it also has a high autonomy, being able to work for 2 and a half hours continuously. But don’t be fooled by the mAh values: iLife models, even though they have half of Xiaomi’s battery capacity, perform admirably, holding a charge for 90 – 120 min (iLife A4) or 110 – 140 min (V7S).
The navigation is semi-random in the case of iLife models. Although having better sensors means spending more money on the manufacturing process, Xiaomi took that bet and installed the infrared radar and a bunch of sensors to cope with the entire system. The result is that Xiaomi mi robot can construct its own map and cover the floor area systematically, while avoiding both static and dynamic obstacles.
You know me, I like big spacious dust recipients, and with robot vacuums, that’s no exception. Luckily, all 3 models fit my requirements of having available 14 oz. or more. Of course, the most spacious of all is the one from V7S, with 17 oz. There are, without a doubt, other units with bigger bins, such as the Haier SWR Pathfinder, but these products failed to enter my top for other reasons. The bin capacity is not everything, accessing the bin and the easiness of the emptying process are also rating factors, which, in this case, are not even relevant, since my personal opinion is that all 3 models are about the same.
The least usable is in my opinion the Xiaomi, because it lacks one essential thing, a remote control. My best guess is that Xiaomi wanted to “copy” Neato, which also offers robot vacuums with laser based navigation and which can’t be controlled via a remote control. Another fact that made me take this decision is that Xiaomi’s app is in Chinese. My opinion is that the iLife A4 has the highest usability among these 3 products, since it has the lowest height, the lightest body and a very efficient sensorial system.
All 3 robots are sold by lots of online wholesalers. However, I encourage you to buy from a reputable source. Gear Best has some awesome promotions this fall. Make sure you check out their November discount program, which will start on the 11th. I’m pretty sure you will be amazed by some of the deals. For example, you can get iLife accessories at a fraction of price. Another tip, their Tech up Your Life program is worth a look. Also, if you sign up to their Gift rain event, you have the opportunity to win free electronics and gadgets. On your check out, don’t forget to use the coupon GBM1111 to get an additional 10%-15% off your order.
I hope I made things interesting enough to make your shopping experience, if not pleasant, at least bearable. Use the comments form if you have any other recommendations, or some experiences to share.