Robotic house helpers were the stuff of 1950’s sci-fi movies, so its easy to forget that it has been over a decade since the original Roomba robot vacuum was released. As with any emerging technology, software bugs, sensor tech limitations and just the sheer initial expense puts many potential customers off of the devices.
Since then the market for robot vacuums has been expanding rapidly, with competing models offering greater cleaning performance at a smaller price point. Here we take a look at the Mi Robot Vacuum Roborock 2, (the latest cleaner from the company that appears to make literally everything) and discuss its performance and effectiveness. Is it time to ditch the upright dyson? Are you already sold on the idea of a robot vacuum cleaner? Buy your Roborock 2 now!
What is the Roborock Vacuum?
The Roborock Vacuum is an autonomous robot vacuum cleaner. It features an array of advanced, accurate sensors that allow it to navigate the complex floor of your home whilst cleaning it. A companion base station gives it a home and place to recharge. This latest model is capable of vacuuming many different floor types and can even mop floors with the included attachment. With the companion app you can schedule cleaning or set the robot to spot clean an area; All you need to do is regularly empty it!
Roborock Vaccum : In the box
The packaging is standard recycle-friendly brown cardboard and holds everything you need to get cleaning. The power supply is included with a UK plug and English documentation. The spare filter is a welcome addition.
- Robot Vacuum
- Charger Base
- Spare filter
- UK Power Cable
- Power Adaptor
- User Guide book pack
- Mop attachment
Roborock Vaccum : Setup
Slot the moisture-proof translucent plastic apron into the foot of the dock charger(It has small rubber feet underneath it to hold it in place on polished floors) and run the included figure-8 power cable to it. You will need to ensure the base station is clear of objects 50cm left, right and ahead of it to allow the vacuum to dock easily.
As per the instructions, power up the vacuum (which arrives with a ‘storage’ level charge) via the button the top, and place it facing inwards on the apron as shown below.
The front of the vacuum features two pins aside of the steering caster. These contacts are used to charge the vacuum’s 5500mAh battery, which will take a maximum of 5 hours to fully charge.
A closer look at the Roborock Vacuum
Lets take a moment to look around the Roborock. At the front is the bumper that detect if the vacuum cleaner drives into objects.
On top we have three buttons, for power, spot cleaning and recharging. The central power button boots the Roborock up and shuts it down with a long press, it also doubles up as the ‘begin cleaning’ button. Around this button is a circular indicator led that is lit white down to the 20% battery level where it switches to red.
Aside this are the recharge button (which will send the robot back its charger) and the spot cleaning button that will set the robot to cleaning the immediate area around it. Pressing these two buttons together will also reset the Wi-Fi settings, which is handy if you are having difficult connecting it to the app.
On-top of unit is the real magic, the Laser Distance sensor, a device that rapidly spins providing the processor information about its surrounding. This combined with knowledge of its movements from the base allow it to navigate rooms.
Under the hood (which just lifts up from the back edge) we can see the dust bin, the brush bar cleaning tool and the WiFi led. The Vacuum comes with a dust filter already fitted to the its 500ml dust bin and a spare in the box.
Flipping the vacuum over, we can see the business end. The two large drive wheels feature treaded solid rubber tyres and are mounted to sprung swing-arms that allow it to climb over thresholds or carpet edges. The Y-shaped side brush pulls light objects into the pathway of the orange main brush-bar that sits centrally under the unit.
At leading edge of the robot, under the bumper, are four cliff sensors that ensure it doesn’t commit suicide by heading off the top step of your staircase. Behind that is a front caster sat between the two metal charging pads. Lastly at the rear of the hoover are two catches that hold the mop attachment.
Revised : Roborock Vacuum Differences
We tested the ‘v2’ of the cleaner that is often referred to the ‘second generation’ or Roborock S50 model online. It is effectively the successor to the popular Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum and as we have touched on, works with the same Mi Home app. Having both units on hand were were able to compare the differences between the Xiaomi Vaccum (left) and Roborock (right).
The Roborock vacuum has better ‘off road’ performance with the swingarm action reversed to enable better climbing ability over rugs and thresholds. It can also auto-detect carpet from hard floors to step up the vacuum power. It has a sleeker, smaller base-station with revised charging contacts underneath the vacuum.
The Roborock is also faster in practice than its Xiaomi older brother. The re-positioning of the laser navigation dome to a more central position appears to have improved its path-finding ability. The filters are now washable to lower the long term cost of ownership. Lastly the Roborock has the new mop attachment for that final step of cleaning.
We were really impressed with the laser distance module on the roof of the vacuum. This sort of tech was the preserve of scientific ‘concept’ self-driving cars not all that long ago and yet here it now is, found on-top of a hoover!
In cleaning mode, the vacuum will systematically work its way around the floor edges of the floor, cleaning as it goes, mapping the entire space before returning to zig-zag across the space to clean up.
However using the remote control panel in the app, you can actually manually drive around your hoover. Whilst not necessary, it was a fun way to interact with the hoover and allowed it to fully map out the floorplan which it then saved for future navigation usage.
Fantastic control from your smartphone
For full control of the vacuum the Mi Home app from either the Google play store or iTunes store is essential. The app is well designed giving you a birds eye view of the hoovers view of the property, built with its advanced sensors.
From here you can simply ‘Clean‘ which will set the device off, cleaning everything it sees. Alternatively you can set spot cleanup (see the first screenshot below), vacuuming the immediate area around it after navigating to that location.
Alternatively zoned cleanup (see the second screenshot) allows you to select a particular area or room, add multiple zones and have the robot concentrate on that. This is ideal if you want to restrict the robot from entering certain spaces, or have rooms that get particularly dirty and need more cleaning than others. Note how the robot will ‘lap’ the area before orderly zig-zagging across it to clean it thoroughly. The amount of passes for the zone can be set in the bottom right, from one to three.
The extended menus are full of options and settings to customise its performance. Fitting into the Mi Home ecosystem allows you to trigger cleaning based on the end state of other tasks or sensors (such as closing the front door to automatically set the vacuum to work after a certain time).
Amongst other things, the Menu allows you to swap out the voice packs for different languages to the voice alerts. It also allows you to ‘find your robot vacuum’, having it call out should you misplace it (or want to shock people). A cleaning history page shows the date, time, area and duration alongside a map of its previous cleans. Even the power of the vacuum can be altered via the app, allowing quieter operation as to not wake others.
We tested the robot vacuum in the flat of one of our staff, to assess its capabilities on a variety of surfaces.
Smooth wooden floors are the ideal surface for a robot vacuum cleaner. However a worn parquet wooden floor offers more challenges than a freshly laid laminate.The surface is uneven with plenty of gaps in-between the pieces for dirt to gather.
In ‘turbo’ mode, the hoover picks up a huge amount of dirt from what appeared to be a relatively clean room.
This being the lounge it was the most complex floor in the property to navigate, with coffee tables and sofas to work around. The robot cleaner handled these admirably, only once getting stuck after clambering over some thick power cables under a low armchair.
Short pile carpets
The cleaner came into its own in bedrooms, easily slipping under the bed to clean the areas that are so often passed by, by a tall upright vacuum.
The cleaner can automatically detect when it is cleaning a carpet. In the ‘max’ suction mode it does become relatively loud but does a great job at pulling dirt and hair from a short-pile carpet.
The painted concrete surface of the hallway is a simple surface to clean but often the most dirty. Scheduling the Roborock to regularly clean the property meant this could be kept clean with minimal effort.
Again the vacuum can fit under radiator covers with ease, cleaning the difficult to reach areas.
During our test the robot was most heavily used in the kitchen. It handled spills of all kinds from chopped onions to noodles without issue. Naturally you will want to clean the dust bin out daily if you intend to use the robot in this manner.
This new model has the added advantage of a mop attachment, ideal for mopping light marks on a laminate or linoleum floor. Note that the mop is designed to be run after the area has been vacuumed first. The package includes one mop module, two mop pads and spare mop filters. To use the mop, release the drain plug from the rear of the module and add water (without overfilling) before replacing the plug.
Flip the vacuum over onto its back and slide the module into the rear of the Roborock vacuum where it snaps into place. When using the mop, ensure you have switched to in the Mi smartphone app .The mop reservoir is only designed to take water, so do not add any detergent.
We have yet to try the vacuum and mop attachment on a tiled surface so cannot comment how it works on ‘interrupted’ surfaces with gaps for grout. The mop should only be installed when in use, it is not recommended to leave it attached when cleaning carpet.
The new model is capable of scaling a few centimetres of height difference which is enough to handle the thresholds in the test flat. Rises greater than this will require a helping hand, such as a matt for it to step up on to enter a room.
Cleaning your vacuum cleaner
Regular maintenance will ensure that your device performs at its best and lasts as long as possible.
If you are looking for guidance about how to approach this, the application has a care guide section that will instruct you best practices for maintenance. It also features a questionable component lifespan countdown with links to buy replacement parts.
Ensure you empty the bin regularly, it can fill up quickly. Thankfully It is easily removable from the robot by lifting it up when the lid is open. Then you can hinge it open via the central catch to empty it into a dustbin. To remove and replace the dust filter, release the filter at the end marked with arrows and hinge it out and away.
The second most important check is of the main brush-bar. Remove the cleaning tool from under the flap lid before turning the Roborock onto its back.
Release the brush-bar cover before pulling out the brush itself. The supplied tool can be run along the brush and rubber to tidy it. Ensure no fluff or hair has bunched around the end of the spindle before refitting it.
Voice activated cleaning with Amazon Alexa
For fans of home automation, there is now an Alexa skill for the robot vacuum. This allows you to set it on its way via your Amazon Alexa by way of voice activation without having to dig out your phone and fire up the app; We found it most useful for activating it when leaving the house for work.
The skill itself quite limited at the moment with just two commands ‘Alexa, turn on robot‘ and ‘Alexa, turn off robot‘ but is an entertaining way to summon the vacuum into action, if only to show off to your friends! We suggest you rename your Robot to something unique (eg. Dustin) before attempting to add yours to the app to make it easier to find in the huge list that you are presented with.
Should I buy a Roborock 2 vacuum?
If you live in an apartment with one floor, the Roborock 2 vacuum is a fantastic buy. Allowing it to regularly clean your living space whilst you are at work is the killer feature, even if it cannot completely replace the job of a vacuum for cleaning elsewhere.
We really love
- Set and forget cleaning capability!
- No disruptions, scheduling means your home is cleaned whilst you are at work,
- Great companion App through Mi Home for iPhone and Android
- Incredible route finding, will negotiate items left on the floor and clean around them without touching them
We’re not fond of
- Relatively small dust bin
- For full coverage You will need one per floor, not ideal if you live in a townhouse
- Mopping attachment performance not fantastic on linoleum
Paired with a lightweight handheld cordless vacuum, your home will never be cleaner!