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UncategorizedBest robot vacuum for 2021

Best robot vacuum for 2021

Gone are the days when robot vacuums were only found in Jetsons-like midcentury dream homes or the pages of science fiction. Now they’re real, everyday appliances that can take charge of your housekeeping and many boast features like sophisticated sensors, lasers, CPUs and AI-enhanced software

If you’re having trouble justifying the cost of a robot vacuum to keep your home tidy, know that these machines will pick up even small bits of debris like cat litter and dust bunnies. A robot cleaner is versatile, too: Depending on the cleaning mode, they can keep hardwood floors, tile floors, area rugs and carpets spick and span with powerful suction that, in some cases, rivals that of upright vacuums. Even better, if you tuck the charging dock in an out of the way space, you’ll never even have to think about your robot vac — you just have automatic dirt disposal and a clean floor.

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As cool as they are, robot vacs can set you back a hefty sum — some higher-end cost as much as four figures. While you don’t have to spend that much, you do get a lot in return at those higher price tiers. That includes self-emptying dustbinsmapping multiple rooms and floorplans, powerful cleaning power and thoughtfully designed hardware. None of these machines can truly replace a mop and human exertion on a hard floor that’s truly dirty, think of them as day-to-day maintenance bots that elevate the baseline cleanliness of your home.


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To choose the best robot vacuum, I spent over 120 hours torture-testing a group of 12 robotic cleaning vacuums for things like suction power, their ability to perform on carpets and hard flooring and performance during each cleaning cycle. Among them are brand-new models that launched in 2021, flagship models from companies like iRobot, Samsung and Neato, and compelling options offered across numerous online retailers. I excluded older models that likely won’t be sold for much longer. I’ll continue to update this best robot vacuum list periodically as new models become available.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

If someone were to give you a blank check and tell you to buy the best robot vacuum, this is the bot to get. That said, the iRobot Roomba S9 Plus has a whopping price tag: $1,100 (though sometimes it’s discounted). For that staggering amount of money, this robotic vacuum delivers powerful suction and superb dirt and dust removal. 

On hardwood floors this Roomba picked up an average of 93% of our test sand, the highest amount in our test group, but this Roomba robot vacuum struggled a bit cleaning sand from low-pile carpeting and area rugs, earning a low average dust and sand pickup of 28%. 

The Roomba robot vac removed an average 71% of sand from our medium pile carpet while vacuuming, which is again the best result that we saw on this specific test. It also cleaned up more dog hair, pet dander and allergens than any vacuum in this test group. It can also bot navigates and maps multiple rooms and floors, including accounting for “keep out zones” that you can designate for the S9 Plus to avoid when cleaning. The app also lets you use voice commands to immediately clean a room using Alexa or Google Voice Assistant.

The robot zipped through our test room in a short average time of 25 minutes, too. You can link the S9 Plus to the Roomba app and your home Wi-Fi as well. Best of all is the Roomba S9 Plus’ CleanBase docking station. The dock both charges the robot’s battery and empties its dustbin automatically, making cleaning even easier and keeping you from worrying about battery life. Now that’s convenient.

Read our first impressions of the Roomba S9 Plus.

 

Roborock

With a competitive price, plus rock-solid performance and intelligent navigation, the Roborock S7 is our new favorite midrange robot vacuum. It demonstrated the same power to remove sand from hardwood floors (92.8%) as the Roomba S9 (93%) and Neato D7 (95%). 

However, unlike the Neato D7, our previous mid-range robot pick, the Roborock S7 was much more effective pulling sand away from both medium pile (50.4%) and low-pile carpets (64.2%). The Neato D7 managed 36% and 47% on those tests respectively.

The Roborock couldn’t match the Roomba S9 Plus’ impressive ability to clean up pet hair, but it fared better than most. The S7 wiped hardwood floors completely free of hair and left only a few stray tufts on carpeting.

Aided by multiple sensors and lasers, efficient navigation is the S7’s strong suit. It covered the entire floor of our test room in an average of just 16 minutes. That’s a full 9 minutes shorter than the Roomba S9 required (25 minutes). 

Another feature that sets this robot apart is its advanced mopping capability. Just fill the machine’s reservoir with water then attach the included mopping pad. The S7 will now mop the floor on command. It can even mop and vacuum carpets within the same cleaning run by raising and lowering its mopping pad depending on TKTKTK.

Amazon

You might not expect sufficient cleaning power a budget robot vacuum, but that’s precisely what the Anker Eufy Robovac 25C delivers. Its ability to scour sand from hardwood floors (78.9%) wasn’t too far below that of the Roborock S7. The Robovac’s sand performance across low-pile (52.2%) and medium pile carpets (53.5%) was decent as well.

This robot also wasn’t too bad at dealing with pet hair. It pulled all save one tuft from our hardwood test floor. Multiple small tufts of hair remained after vacuuming low-pile carpeting. Medium pile carpets proved to be the most challenging for the Eufy. Many more and larger clumps of hair stayed behind after the vacuum travelled over this surface.

One area where Anker cut down on costs is the Robovac’s navigation system. The machine bumps around the floor like a slow motion ping pong, only changing direction when it encounters an object or obstacle. As a result it took a long 91 minutes to finish its cleaning cycle with our test room. 

Brian Bennett/CNET

Solid pet waste and robot vacuums don’t mix. If they do, the results have typically been catastrophic. iRobot set out to solve this potential problem with its new Roomba J7 Plus. This robot comes with software which enables it to recognize solid pet waste on the floor and steer clear of it.

Anecdotal lab tests confirmed the J7’s waste avoidance skills. The robot smoothly cleaned open areas within the confines of a test pen. More importantly, it never touched any of our solid pet waste facsimiles. We used three pieces of prank dog poop, all of different shapes, to represent the offensive substance.

The Roomba J7 also performed relatively well on hardwood and low-pile carpets too. It removed 91.7% and 58.5% of test sand from those surfaces respectively. However, the robot struggled vacuuming medium pile carpeting, pulling away just 17% of sand here.

Keeping a constant eye out for pet waste didn’t seem to slow the Roomba J7 down. The robot successfully covered our test room in just 17 minutes. Pet hair on carpets wasn’t much of an issue for the Roomba either. Hair on hardwood was a problem however. It left about half of the material on the floor during this test.

Like its more expensive sibling the Roomba S9 Plus, the J7 Plus can empty its own dustbin. The robot’s CleanBase docking station both charges it and vacuums it free of debris automatically.  

Samsung

Samsung’s $1,299 Jet Bot AI Plus is another sophisticated robot vacuum cleaner that is supposedly smart enough to avoid pet waste. Equipped with a camera, a bevy of sensors and lasers, it certainly has a premium price tag. And just like fancy Roombas it comes with a dustbin-emptying charging dock.

On our anecdotal tests, however, the robot consistently failed to recognize 1 out of our 3 gag poop objects. It wouldn’t just touch the item either. Often the machine would push the piece of fake poop from one end of our test pen to the other. That’s a recipe for poopocalipse in the real world.

The Jet Bot AI couldn’t match the Roomba J7’s cleaning power on hardwood floors either. It picked up 85.6% sand compared with the Roomba’s 91.7% result. Vacuuming medium pile carpets went better for the Jet Bot. It removed 26.5% of test sand from that surface compared with the J7’s 17% showing. The Jet Bot’s performance over low-pile carpet (27%) was less effective than the Roomba’s (58.5%) as well. 

Samsung’s robot took its time navigating our test room too. It needed an average of 89 minutes to complete the task.

The chart below shows the fine particle cleaning performance data for all of the robot vacuums we tested. It should give you a pretty good idea about their cleaning performance on different kinds of flooring surfaces including hardwood floors, bare floors, low pile carpet and others. Our rice-based, medium-size particle test didn’t show enough differentiation between each cleaner, which says they can all handle larger particles without trouble. For fur removal for pet owners, we judged anecdotally. To learn about our cleaning power and navigation tests, read more about how we test robot vacuums

Percent soil removed

Samsung Samsung Jet Bot AI Plus

Neato Botvac D7 Connected

Neato Botvac D4 Connected

Neato Botvac D6 Connected

Legend:

Sand from low-pile

Sand from hardwood

Sand from medium-pile

Note:

Results listed are the average percentage of total material removed from test surface

Want more robot vacuum options? Here’s a list of the other robot vacuums we tested besides the models listed above.

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