January 10, 2019
Update Jan 24 2019:
I have had a little time to see how this vacuum performs in a number of situations. There are some good updates, and some not so good. Let's do the not so good first.
Map saving feature in the app is listed as "Beta" and it is clearly beta. It will save the map, but every ~3 to 6 runs, it also seems to shift that map, overwrite parts of it and get confused in the process. The result is, in my case, that I find my vacuum in the kitchen closet, when she thinks she's in my bedroom, across the house. Last night I had to use the remote control to drive her to the dock, and then when I told her to dock, she ignored the dock and tried to drive down the hall to my office closet, where the dock was now "located". So map saving needs work.
The good news is, it can be re-set by simply docking the robot and turning off map saving and then turning it back on, and that they know it's beta so it will get an update or two to fix this problem in the future. The good news is also... map saving is only necessary to use zone cleaning and no-go zones. So some people can get away without even using it, and re-setting it isn't very difficult.
The good news that I have discovered is that this robot is even more versatile than I thought. It turns out the LIDAR tower on top, with which it "sees", is actually a button in and of itself, and when the vacuum tries to go under something it can't fit under, the button gets depressed and she will conclude she can't fit.
Also, I can not only set my vacuum to perform a scheduled cleanup multiple times per day, but I can also schedule them at different suction settings; so, for example, I currently have it set to vacuum once a day every day except Sunday on Balanced mode, and then on Sunday vacuum on Max mode.
I did try the mopping feature, and I was surprised at how useful it actually turns out to be. I followed the advice I was given to have it perform mopping in zones and have it repeat the zone 3x. There was a zone for each room/hall, and it never ran out of water. I did have to re-fill it after each zone was finished, and it took a lot of manually changing water and cleaning the pad, but it works well enough that even my skeptical girlfriend was forced to admit she saw a real difference.
So far the only problem I see is that the app needs updating to correct the map saving feature. Which is going to happen... so I'll maintain my 5 star rating.
I am coming from three years with a Neato brand D80. I named him Dudly Do-Bot as a joke, but it quickly became "Dumba** Dudley" because he was, shall we say, not very intelligent. He managed to destroy a family heirloom in the form of a mirror, and knocked over it's replacement several times, as well as knocking over small tables with glassware on them, etc. In the end, I was constantly having to help him out from under things, out from corners, and put the dustbin back in several times a cleaning with him beeping incessantly at all times of day. In the end, I had to replace him.
But Dudley did do one thing right. When he wasn't beeping and screwing up, he kept the dust down in my house, which is why I bought him; and without him, it quickly became a problem for me to breathe again. My girlfriend works as a housekeeper, so she wasn't exactly keen on coming home and vacuuming, and I have no vacuum otherwise (tile floors). So a replacement was necessary.
I looked at Neato, Roomba and a number of other options. After a lot of consideration, I was planning to get the Xiaomi Mi, based on amazing reviews. Then this one came out and the reviews were even better. That coupled with the improvements and the wet mopping feature sealed the deal. While I had to pay various bills first, I did manage to get it about a month after Dudley bit the dust.
I have only had it about 24 hours as of this writing, but I will be doing this review in sections over time. So this is "part 1" of the review. And I have to say, I am significantly impressed. Maybe not as much as I might have been were I not as well studied on what the options were, but regardless, I am still significantly impressed. Here is why.
First, getting started was not difficult. I just had to pay attention to the instruction booklet and the Mi Home app while it was being connected to the network. It took me about 7 minutes all told.
Second, updating the vacuum's firmware was easy and flawless.
Third, the instruction booklet is better than I expected; it is translated into English well, although you can tell that whomever did it was speaking English as a second language, as there are some minor word choice errors. That is true in the app as well; but in most cases, it still can be figured out, and the errors are rare and minor in almost all cases. It was a nice change of pace from the crazy "English" I have seen in some other Chinese product manuals.
Fourth, the app is very well done. I say that as someone who used to be a programmer. It has a lot of features, and in fact has almost every feature I could think of or want. For example, nobody who has reviewed this vacuum seems to have mentioned that this vacuum has unlimited configurability for when and where. You can set it to vacuum on a schedule of as frequently as once a day, but you can also create multiple schedules - meaning that you can, for example, have it vacuum five times on Monday, once on Tuesday, not on Wednesday, three times on Thursday, and then four times on Friday, while skipping the weekends.
Zone cleaning allows you to set up multiple zones where it should clean and make up to three passes, all during the same cleaning. So you can have it clean the bathroom rug, the floor next to your bed, and the kitchen, for example, and do so 1, 2 or 3 times in a row.
Virtual barriers work to prevent it from going where you don't want it to go, but so far they have been entirely unnecessary: she recognizes and honors the magnetic barriers I placed around my bedroom mirror for Dudley, and has not touched the mirror. But even if she did, it wouldn't matter, as she is so gentle that she doesn't disturb the pipettes I have situated on top of the perfumery components and glassware on even the smallest (folding) table in my perfumery lab. I couldn't have left that table out at all with Dudley, as he would have (did regularly) either gotten stuck and knocked everything off of it or knocked it over. She also doesn't move the shoe I have holding open my bedroom door for her, which Dudley would always plow through, getting himself locked in my bedroom, which of course resulted in endless beeping from him. Dudley was a bull in a china shop. My new vacuum is surprisingly careful, gentle and precise.
Dudley did not intelligently use his side brush, except by always taking a course that would put it closest to the wall. But what good does that do when the brush stopped spinning, and nothing I did would get it to spin again? My Roborock S5 has a very intelligently programmed and used side brush, which spins gently when she is cleaning away from walls so that it sweeps debris into her path, and when she is near the wall, it spins faster to get things out from next to the wall. Both work very well, and you can tell that a lot of consideration was put into that. Furthermore, she will move in small arcs to use that brush to sweep intelligently, not just in a straight line. That makes it much more effective still.
The only time so far that I had to rescue her was when she managed to swallow the old telephone wire I have near the baseboard coming out of my garage in the kitchen, which Dudley never could get to somehow. When she realized she was caught, she moved backward, which brought a folding chair down around her, trapping her. I have also found evidence that she has been intelligently designed to detect tangles and clogs (socks, for example) and will reverse the direction of her brushes to "spit them out". Have not seen this first hand yet (except for the side brush spinning backwards), but I have found socks on the floor in my bedroom where they were not before she vacuumed, and if she wasn't doing that, it should have gotten stuck in her main brush. It didn't.
Dudley could not fit under my bed. To my surprise, she does - and she has cleaned the entire surface under it. The first time she got stuck because my cat had torn up the liner on the bottom of the box spring, but I ripped it off and now she deftly cleans under my bed.
The first time we ran her fully, the house hadn't been vacuumed in a week, and with a cat and two Yorkies, it gets pretty funky by that point. I picked up most of the pine needles they brought in, but I did leave a few 2-3 inch pieces on the ground to see if they would clog her like they did Dudley. Nope, she sucked 'em right up and kept on going.
Another thing I really like is that when she was done with her first complete cleaning, her dust bin was completely full. With Dudley, he would fill it right where the air came in, leaving the sides of the dustbin empty. It required me to tap the dirt down into the sides, or empty it three times as frequently. She fills her dust bin much more efficiently, which should require less effort on my part.
I also was very surprised to see how much she picked up during today's full cleaning, after I emptied the dust bin yesterday. It was 1/3rd full again.
There are a lot of other features I like. It speaks to me in a pleasant female voice, and it was in English by default. If it gets lost, there is a feature in the app for finding your vacuum, which plays music continuously until you press a button on the top of the robot. The software has a volume control, and you can update and change the language packs, although right now there is only one in English. Updating the language pack installed on the vacuum was something I didn't expect them to be doing.
It also includes a remote control for manual control. You have the four different vacuuming modes (quiet, balanced, turbo and max) plus the mopping mode (I haven't used mopping mode yet). It even has a Do Not Disturb mode, where you can set it to not vacuum or make sounds. By default this is set for between 22:00 (10 PM) and 8:00.
You can also request help and give feedback directly through the app. I have not had to request help, so I can't say how that goes.
Overall, the machine and the app are both 5 star. I am very pleased and very impressed. Even my girlfriend likes the new vacuum. She was expecting to hate it as she did Dudley, but was quickly won over by how intelligently it works.
The only downside I can see has to be the reports of some people having trouble when they need customer service, but if this company is competent enough to get everything else right, I am sure they will eventually get that right too.
One thing I notice that Roborock/Xiaomi could improve is the one thing that Neato (Dudley) does better. That is, the cleaning path. Neato makes sure that their vacuums move back and forth along the long side of whatever area they are cleaning; lengthwise. The Roborock cleans in a widthwise pattern, meaning it takes shorter paths and must make more turns. This is not as efficient for time or cleaning. That said, the higher suction on the Roborock and it's obviously higher intelligence more than makes up for the difference.
There's more, but I can't remember it. I'll update this review in a few weeks or months and give you more information. If you're looking for a great robotic vacuum, though, I can (so far) heartily recommend this one. We shall see how well she lasts.