Cheap Robotic Vacuum Cleaners
Published on By Raechel Conover
iRobot Roomba 510 Review
From $250 Best
The iRobot Roomba 510 is the lowest-priced model from the popular name brand. Users seem impressed with its performance and "intelligence," saying it's smart enough to stop before it falls down stairs and to detect extra-dirty areas. Consumers are disappointed that the Roomba 510 has no home base for charging itself. But overall, this cheap robotic vacuum seems to have the most going for it.
In a category that gets harsh user criticism, iRobot Roomba 510 reviews comes out on top. Users posting reviews at Amazon seem very impressed with this cheap robotic vacuum, saying it cleans carpet perfectly and pointing out the convenience of special features such as spot cleaning. Users posting reviews at Buy.com agree, saying the ledge detection, which keeps the vacuum from falling down stairs, is also a nice feature and the vacuum overall makes life a little easier.
The Roomba 510 (starting at $250, Amazon) is the cheapest model from the popular iRobot brand. It's simpler than some higher priced versions but still manages to offer some great features. It adjusts to clean hardwood, tile, linoleum, and carpet, and it comes with a one-year limited warranty, something other budget robotic vacuums don't offer. Special features include sensors to detect dirt and clean dirtier areas longer, bumper technology to allow the vacuum to go under soft barriers like curtains, and spinning side brushes for close wall cleaning.
In a category without many good choices, this one is the cream of the crop. We like all of the special features on this low-cost robotic vacuum, especially the sensors to detect dirtier areas and spend more time cleaning those areas. Furthermore, user comments indicate that this machine works great and really helps keep areas clean between regular vacuuming sessions.
Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 Review
From $160 Good
Users like that the Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 doesn't take long to charge and cleans for more than an hour on a full charge, as well as the fact that it easily maneuvers around furniture and corners. It has a home base for charging but seems to have a hard time finding it, and some users say it doesn't transition well between floor types.
The Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 cleans well and maneuvers easily around furniture and corners, according to CleanMate reviews at Newegg. Some users report in reviews that the vacuum transitions well from hardwood floor to carpet and back, but some users disagree, saying it gets hung up while transitioning. The CleanMate QQ-2 is supposed to be able to find its way back to its home base and charge itself, but users report in CleanMate reviews that the vacuum has a hard time finding its home base unless it is nearby.
The Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 (starting at $160, Amazon) runs for 70 minutes on a fully charged battery and charges in three and a half hours. Other special features include an ultraviolet light that deodorizes and kills bacteria, a ledge feature to prevent the vacuum from falling down stairs, and a remote control. It cleans hardwood, tile, linoleum, and carpet.
This cheap robotic vacuum seems to be better than most, but it still has its problems. We like the self-charging feature but wish it worked better. While users seem to consider this vacuum a solid choice, it could use some improvement.
Where to buy
iTouchless AV002A Review
From $127 Think Twice
Durability is the main problem with the iTouchless AV002A Automatic Intelligent Robotic Vacuum Cleaner. Several users report that it doesn't hold a charge or quits working after only a few uses. This machine also seems to do a poor job transitioning between different floor types and reportedly can't handle carpet at all.
Users posting iTouchless vacuum reviews on the Home Depot website are not impressed with the iTouchless AV002A Automatic Intelligent Robotic Vacuum Cleaner (starting at $127, Amazon), reporting that it doesn't transition well between hardwood flooring and carpet and often gets stuck on carpet. One unhappy user posting a review on Amazon agrees, calling the machine maddening because it stalls out even on low carpet. Other users posting iTouchless vacuum reviews on Amazon report that this cheap robotic vacuum is not very durable and stops working or stops holding a charge after only a few uses.
ITouchless doesn't indicate how long the AV002A takes to charge, but it can clean for 70 minutes on a full charge. Special features include stair and ledge detection, wall- and corner-cleaning technology, and a feature that turns the machine off when it gets stuck. This vacuum also comes with a remote control and has the ability to come into a lighted area when it's done cleaning so it's easy to find.
One paper, this model seems able to compete with the other low-cost robotic vacuums on our list. In practice, according to user reviews, it just doesn't make the cut. While most robotic vacuums struggle on carpet, this one seems to perform exceptionally poorly. It also worries us that users report that it stops working after only a few weeks. This model is perhaps best avoided.
Vacuuming is not most people's favorite pastime, but it must be done on a regular basis to ensure a clean home. While a cheap robotic vacuum isn't meant to take over for a traditional vacuum, it can help keep your home clean until you get around to dragging that upright out of the closet again. Robotic vacuum cleaners appeal not only to consumers who don't like to vacuum often but also to those who like to keep even the floors under their furniture super-spotless. They range in price from as little as $30 to more than $1,000. Most fall between $300 and $600, and few are less than $300.
Cheap Robotic Vacuum Cleaners
The main difference between cheap robotic vacuums and pricey ones is special features. According to About.com, cheap robotic vacuums are sufficient for simple cleaning and dusting of hard floors, while higher-priced models transition better between hardwood and carpet and have features such as schedulers and dirt sensors. Some models can seemingly think for themselves and even have the ability to return to their home bases to charge themselves when their batteries run low. Other desirable features include extra-long battery life, short charging time, stair and ledge detection, and programming abilities. Cheap robotic vacuums often lack many of these features.
Robotic vacuum cleaners made by iRobot are by far the most popular. In fact, iRobot so dominates the market that few other brands exist. The Roomba 510 (starting at $250) is the least expensive iRobot model and the most basic, with other models ranging from pet options to professional options and ranging in price from $400 to $600. Also in the low-price range is the Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 (starting at $160), which gets decent user reviews and is probably the only other cheap robotic vacuum worth mentioning as a good budget option. The iTouchless AV002A Automatic Intelligent Robotic Vacuum Cleaner (starting at $127) falls short on durability and seems to have trouble transitioning between floor types.
Overall, user and expert reviews are few and far between, and the ones we found were somewhat negative for almost all robotic vacuum cleaners. Even our picks have their limitations. Expectations are high for these machines, and the consensus seems to be that even pricey models could use improvement. The feeling is that, while a robotic vacuum cleaner is a great idea, the technology just isn't there yet.
Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table
iRobot Roomba 510 Review
Transition Capability Hardwood, tile, carpet, and linoleum
Battery Life N/A
Special Features Wall-following technology, dirt detection, cliff detection sensors, anti-tangle technology
Warranty One-year limited
|250||Hardwood, tile, carpet, and linoleum||N/A||Wall-following technology, dirt detection, cliff detection sensors, anti-tangle technology||One-year limited|
Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 Review
Transition Capability Hardwood, tile, carpet, and linoleum
Battery Life 70 minutes (3.5 hours to charge)
Special Features Ultraviolet light to deodorize and kill bacteria, stair/ledge detection, self-charging, remote control
|160||Hardwood, tile, carpet, and linoleum||70 minutes (3.5 hours to charge)||Ultraviolet light to deodorize and kill bacteria, stair/ledge detection, self-charging, remote control||None|
Robotic Vacuum Reviews
Cleaning and Transitioning Ability.Most high-end robotic vacuums and even the cheap robotic vacuums on our list have the ability to differentiate between floor types, say the robotic vacuum reviews that we read. The iRobot Roomba 510 (starting at $250), the Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 (starting at $160), and the iTouchless AV002A Automatic Intelligent Robotic Vacuum Cleaner (starting at $127) can all go from hardwood to tile to linoleum to carpet.
The super-cheap P3 International P4920 Robotic Vacuum (starting at $33) can clean all the different floor types, but the user must manually add an attachment to transition the machine from carpet to hardwood or tile flooring. In any case, robotic vacuum reviews on Newegg suggest that this model is effective only on hardwood or tile. In a robotic vacuum review at Buzzillions, a user says this model works on low carpet but not as well as it does on tile or hardwood floors. This seems to be a theme among budget robotic vacuums.
However, a couple of the robotic vacuums on our list earn praise from users for their ability to clean many types of surfaces. Users posting robotic vacuum reviews at Buy.com seem pleased with the iRobot Roomba 510, saying it works great on hardwood floors and low carpet, especially carpet without tassels or fringe. One user says the Roomba 510 tackles several area rugs with ease. The Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2, our good choice, has users posting robotic vacuums review at Newegg split on whether it transitions well between surface types. One user says it goes from tile to carpet to throw rugs without any hang-ups, while another user reports it has a hard time climbing from hardwood floors to carpet and often gets stuck in the process.
According to a consumer posting a robotic vacuum review at Home Depot, the packaging says the iTouchless AV002A Automatic Intelligent Robotic Vacuum Cleaner transitions well, but in reality it does not. It pretty much stalls out transitioning from hardwood to carpet and then moves very slowly on the carpet, the review says. A frustrated user posting in robotic vacuums review on Amazon reports that this model doesn't work on carpet at all, saying that it can't manage to clean her very low area rugs, or even get onto them in the first place.
Battery Life.Battery life dictates how many rooms (or, more likely, how big a room) a robotic vacuum can clean on a full charge. Consumers should also consider how long a robotic vacuum takes to fully charge. Even higher-priced models charge for hours at a time and then run for only a little over an hour.
Assessing battery life is somewhat hard to do, as most manufacturers don't list battery life or charge time in the product information. The Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 is the only model we researched with a listed battery life and charging time. The manufacturer states that this cheap robotic vacuum charges for 3.5 hours and runs for 70 minutes on a full charge. We didn't find many complaints about the battery life on this model. It is even supposed to be able to find its home base when the battery is low in order to charge itself, but users posting robotic vacuum reviews on Newegg say the vacuum can't find the charging dock unless it's nearby. One user reports having to move the vacuum within one foot of the home base before it found it on its own.
The iTouchless AV002A Automatic Intelligent Robotic Vacuum Cleaner runs for 70 minutes on a full charge, but the manufacturer doesn't indicate how long it takes to charge. IRobot does not report how long the Roomba 510 takes to charge or how long the battery lasts. The battery information we were able to gather on this model comes from user reviews, including one from a satisfied customer on Amazon who reports that the Roomba cleans one large room and sometimes two on a full charge.
Best Robotic Vacuums
Special Features.Special features separate the more expensive, best robotic vacuums from cheaper ones. Yet the iRobot Roomba 510, our pick for best cheap robotic vacuum, has many features often reserved for more expensive models. It has the ability to detect dirt and spends more time cleaning dirtier areas. Wall-following technology allows it to hug the perimeter of a room and clean against the walls. A cliff detection sensor prevents it from falling down stairs and bumper technology keeps it from getting hung up on soft barriers, such as curtains, and instead allows the machine to vacuum under them. A spot-clean mode allows the Roomba 510 to quickly clean concentrated dirt spots and an anti-tangle mode prevents the vacuum from getting caught up in cords, carpet fringe, and more. By comparison, the only special feature on the P3 International P4920 Robotic Vacuum (starting at $33) -- the cheapest robotic vacuum we found by far -- is a wall mode to clean around the perimeter of a room.
Between those extremes are the Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 and the iTouchless AV002A Automatic Intelligent Robotic Vacuum Cleaner. The Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 has several special features, including an ultraviolet light, which deodorizes and kills bacteria, and a ledge feature to prevent the vacuum from falling down stairs. In theory this model can even find its way to the charger and recharge itself, although users have found that it's not always able to do so (more on that in our discussion of battery life on the previous page). The Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 also comes with a remote control. The iTouchless AV002A Automatic Intelligent Robotic Vacuum Cleaner comes with a remote control too, as well as stair and ledge detection and wall- and corner-cleaning technology. It also turns off when it gets stuck and moves into a well-lit area when it's done cleaning so the user doesn't have to go searching for it.
These special features don't always work as advertised, however. Even the one good review of best robotic vacuums for the iTouchless AV002A Automatic Intelligent Robotic Vacuum Cleaner on Amazon says it gets stuck around furniture and walls. Other complaints on Amazon indicate that this model does worse than most on carpet. In contrast, the Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 gets mostly positive reviews at Newegg, where users say the vacuum moves easily around walls, corners, and furniture and doesn't get stuck that often.
Most users seem impressed by the special features on the iRobot Roomba 510. One user who posted a best robotic vacuum review at Amazon says the machine knows when to stop before falling down a ledge, when to turn a corner, and when to spend extra time on a dirty area. In fact, the only drawback to this model is that there is no home base to charge it, which means the user must manually plug it into the wall to charge. More expensive iRobot models return to a home base on their own to charge.
Warranty and Durability.Despite what you might expect from relatively expensive electronics, few cheap robotic vacuums come with warranties. In fact, the only warranties we saw were for iRobot brand products; the iRobot Roomba 510 has a one-year limited warranty. Even then, a Roomba 510 user posting a best robotic vacuum review at Buy.com bemoans the short lifespans of two beloved Roombas, saying they really need a two- or three-year warranty -- unheard of for a robotic vacuum -- and iRobot was reluctant to honor the existing warranties.
Durability seems to be a problem for the category as a whole, and the iTouchless AV002A in particular. Several users posting robotic vacuum reviews at Amazon report that their machines were defective or just didn't last long. One user says this robotic vacuum stopped working after just a few months and another reports that it stopped holding a charge after only five or six uses. We found only one user who complains that the Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 isn't durable, saying on Newegg that the vacuum lasted only a year before needing to be replaced.
Additional Products We Considered
P3 International P4920 Robotic Vacuum Review
Despite lacking a lot of special features, the extremely cheap P3 International P4920 Robotic Vacuum gets good marks from users posting P4920 reviews on Newegg. They say it maneuvers well around furniture and walls and does a good job picking up dirt and dust. The main gripe in reviews seems to be that the vacuum takes almost a full day to charge. The long charge time coupled with only 45 minutes of running time means it can really clean only one room per day.
The P3 International P4920 Robotic Vacuum (starting at $33, Amazon) is the cheapest and simplest robotic vacuum we researched. Its only special feature is an along-the-wall mode that allows it to clean a room's perimeter. It cleans hardwood, tile, and carpet, but the user must manually add an attachment to transition to tile and hardwood floors from carpet.
While some users seem to like this vacuum and compliment its maneuverability and cleaning ability, others find it lacking. Robotic vacuums are supposed to be easy to use and "intelligent," and this model falls short on both counts. Some consumers might feel its worth the super-low price, but we think you'll find better value for your money if you spend a little more.