No, we don’t own autonomous cars, refrigerators that can hold a conversation with us and self-organising wireless routers for dynamic interference management.
But what we can own today is a less futuristic machine to help keep the floor clean – a robot vacuum cleaner. Every geek needs his/ her own robot.
The prices of robot cleaners have come down significantly since launch, putting it within my reach. The prices are even lower on online shopping sites like Qoo10, with branded robot cleaners going for as low as $300+. Temptation.
So, this inquisitive mouse went on a journey to find the robot cleaner that fits his budget and more importantly, cleans well.
After hours of searching forums, reading reviews and watching demo videos, I got the LG VR6340LVM at slightly over $400 from Qoo10.
- Picks up dust pretty well. The floor feels clean after each run. After three runs, it picked up a fist-sized bunch of dirt. The easy-to-remove dust bin can take about 2.5 to 3 times that. Looks like the bin needs to be emptied every 5-7 days.
- Targets corners really well. It goes up close to walls, table legs, etc. Like really close, unlike round shaped cleaners.
- Learning mode, assisted by the optical camera at the top of the cleaner. This feature, I’m truly impressed with. The first run, right out of the box, took 1.5 hours. After a few runs, the cleaner started finding its way around my five-room flat much more efficiently – 55 mins currently. It remembers the layout of the house pretty well.
- It’s quiet. Really quiet. The whirring sound it makes is from the vacuum pump and the spinning drum that picks up dirt. The drive motor is virtually silent. According to LG, it only emits 48dbm of noise. According to my iPhone volume meter, it’s 49dbm on wooden floors and 47dbm on tiles. Not too far off.
- It has three ultrasonic sensors to help it avoid obstructions in front of it. Sadly, there are no sensors at its side and back. As it goes really close to corners and obstructions to clean thoroughly, it tends to bump into them while reversing or changing directions.
- Like all robot cleaners, it can’t handle small. loose objects like wires as well as objects with flat bases. It will get stuck. Thankfully, it’s smart enough to try to get itself out of the rut. A warning chime will sound if it can’t untangle itself.
- It’s a Korean Domestic Model – voice prompts in Korean, and no local warranty, but the lower purchase cost makes up for this limitation.
Here’s a quick video of the VR6340 in action. Note how it doesn’t bump around to find its way. It even managed to clean under the sofa, or in fact any gap with a clearance of 8.9cm or more.
Now, on to my shopping experience on Qoo10 – great. As compared to my first purchase on Qoo10, this is way better. The South Korean seller answered my questions promptly, though he/she had some issues understanding English queries. Package (well padded I must say) took about a week to come via FedEx; slight delay at the local customs.