In an industry dominated by two players, it can be tough for new comers to get even a small piece of the pie.
The robot vacuum industry is such and for years Neato and iRobot have dominated it with its combination of simplicity, cost and performance.
Can the Samsung VR9000 at least make a dent in terms market share with some features not found in the other two brands?
The VR9000 is the probably the first robot vacuum equipped with a cyclonic filtration, a similar system found inside Dyson vacuums which is a big reason why this machine is almost 2″ taller than market leaders Neato and Roomba.
The bulky motor will make it harder for this robot to go under beds whose clearances are less than 4″ tall.
And while the bigger motor produces more suction (as Samsung claims), tests have shown otherwise.
It was able to keep up with the other two brands I mentioned but it didn’t surpass them and the lack of a side brush hurts its edge-cleaning capabilities.
There are some positives though like the wide 12.2 inch brush width that is a good 5 inches wider than the 880 and the 10 year warranty.
A quick look at the features
- Wide 12.2 inch cleaning path – around 5″ wider than the Roomba 880
- Vision mapping system uses 10 sensors that help this vacuum create a virtual map of the room it’s cleaning
- Uses a cyclonic system called the “CycloForce” that prevents fine dirt from clogging the filters
- Introduces the “point cleaning” system where the robot will follow the direction of the laser pointer from the remote control you point on the floor
- Samsung says that this is 20 times more powerful than a leading robot vacuum brand
- Large wheels make allow this robot to transition from carpet to bare floor and vice versa
- Comes with a 10 year warranty for the motor and 1 year for the other parts
- Point cleaning feature makes spot cleaning easier than ever before
- Navigation system is very similar to the new Neato Botvac – after it figures out the layout of the room, it will avoid obstacles and cleaning in a straight back and forth pattern
- Long warranty at least on the motor
- Large bin capacity
- Wide cleaning path
- Very expensive
- It measures 5.31” tall so it may not fit under beds with lower clearances
- No side brush
- It doesn’t come with a virtual wall or barrier to block off areas that are off limites
- Cannot clean dark rugs
- Will have a hard time going over plush rugs and will push aside light area rugs
- Will not fit in tight spaces because of the wide cleaning path
What To Expect From This High Tech Robotic Cleaner?
When I first laid my eyes on this robot thought it was a giant Duracel battery, I mean look at the large gold accented cylinder that houses the motor.
This machine uses a large motor that utilizes cyclonic forces similar to that of a Dyson vacuum that Samsung claims produces more suction power than other robot vacuums.
Unlike the Roomba or Neato where the dirt cups are located on the side, the VR9000’s dirt cup is visible from the top. The semi-transparent housing lets you know when it’s time to empty it with just a quick glance.
The big is quite generous around 0.7 liters worth of dry dirt can be stored in there.
Even if it uses a lithium ion battery, the run time is disappointing at just 60 minutes. However if you switch it to “silent mode” that number goes up to 100 minutes. But it still pales in comparison to the BotVac D7 that runs for as long as 120 minutes and the Xiaomi S5 that runs for 160 minutes.
Perhaps my favorite feature is the “Point Cleaning” feature where you use the remote control to point the pointer to the area you want cleaned and the robot will follow it.
In my option, this beats the remote control of other robot vacuums that let you use arrow buttons to control the robot.
Downside of a big motor would be size. This robot is much taller than its competitor like the Roomba and Neato.
This product tops out at 5.31 inches tall which will not allow it to go under beds that have a 4” or less opening.
It does not have side cleaning brushes which make edge cleaning more difficult. The wide cleaning path makes it more efficient in cleaning because it will need less passes to clean a similar sized area compared to a Roomba 880.
Using a combination of an overhead camera and sensors all around this machine, it actually learns the environment it cleans. The overhead camera helps this robot map out an efficient cleaning path for subsequent runs.
You’ll notice that the first time you run this machine, it feels its way around the room and on subsequent uses, it’ll be more efficient since it has figured out an optimal path. Now if you moved stuff around, it may get confused and may slow it down.
Here’s the cleaning path taken by Tyler Lizenby from CNet with a glow stick attached on the robot. This is a long exposure shot.
Photo courtesy of CNet.
Here’s how it looks cleaning a small room with different obstacles (video courtesy of Reviewed)…
One thing to note with camera based navigations – it will not work well in low lighting situations since it needs light to see where it is. Unlike the Neato that doesn’t use a camera but instead fires laser signals to see obstacle around it.
Lastly, I’d like to point out that there are 5 cleaning modes:
- Auto – automatically cleans the whole room or house
- Spot – cleans a specific area
- Max – this option will clean a small area until the battery runs out
- Manual – you use the arrow buttons on the remote to control the robot
- Point Cleaning – instead of using arrows, you point the robot where exactly you want it to go
Bare Floor Cleaning
Overall it lagged behind the Botvac 85 and Roomba 880 in terms of cleaning rice and sand off hardwood.
Here’s a demo on tile flooring (sorry, it’s not in English) v.s. the Botvac 85…
The Botvac picked up more dirt on the same area compared to the Samsung despite the supposedly stronger motor and cyclonic technology.
Here’s another demo on hard floor on how much it picked up from 100 grams from what looks like sand…
It picked up 94 out of the possible 100 grams of sand scattered around the room.
Again, going back to the CNet’s test, the Samsung still could not outperform the 880 and Botvac 85 in terms of cleaning rice out of mid-pile and low-pile carpet. In the sand test, it fell to last place in cleaning it on medium and low pile carpet though it slightly outperformed the Roomba 880 in picking up sand out of midpile carpet.
Here’s a demonstration on how it will transition on different surfaces just to give you an idea. On the far left are area rugs…
It may not bea good idea to remove light area rugs before letting this robot clean your room. Also this robot will not go over black rugs or carpet because of the cliff sensors.
Pet Hair Removal
In terms of cleaning pet hair, the VR9000 did a much better job than the Roomba 880 and was tied with the XV Signature Pro in terms of how much pet hair it was able to clean on low and mid-pile carpet as well as hardwood.
Will it Clean Stairs?
Unlike the Neato or the Roomba that allows you to set it up to clean at different times for each of the 7 days in a week, this robot only allows you to schedule only one time for the whole week.
That means if you set it at 7am, from Monday to Sunday it will start cleaning your home at 7 am, you cannot set it to clean at a different time on Tuesday or Wednesday.
See how it’s done in this video…
It will take 160 minutes to fully charge this robot vacuum.
As for all robotic cleaners, you need to make sure the sensors, motorized brush and filters are clean. This particular model isn’t equipped with a side brush so that’s one less item to clean.
Let go through it one by one.
Cleaning the filter…
Cleaning the motorized brush…
When you use the standard cleaning mode the battery will only last for an hour but when you activate the silent mode where the motor decreases suction run time is extended to 100 minutes.
For the robot, Samsung will back this up with a 1 year warranty but the motor gets a generous 10 year warranty, the longest so far in the market.
Despite being one of the more expensive robotic cleaners in the market consumers were generally happy with the performance of this machine. Some said it had better suction than the Neato particularly when cleaning pet hair.
There are some quirks that you need that consumers have observed. First, while it did pretty well on linoleum, tile, carpet and hardwood, it will struggle going over a thick area rug (I shared this earlier in one of the videos above), more often than not it will go around it.
Second, there will be instances where this vacuum will not go back to home base to recharge. This is where you’ll have to prepare the area that the robot will clean. You’ll have to clear small obstacles like toys and wires as well as light area rights that could potentially obstruct and stop this on its tracks.
You’ll have to remove chairs because this is another area where this robot will struggle with.
Don’t expect this machine to clean edges well because it lacks an edge brush.
Lastly, while the dirt bin is large, it makes this robot tall so it will not go underneath beds that have a low clearance (5.31 inches and below).
One consumer pointed out that while this will cost almost twice as much as a Neato Botvac, this comes with a remote where you can manually control it when spot cleaning (if that’s what you fancy) so whether or not that’s important for you, you’ll have to decide for yourself if that’s enough reason to spend the extra $$$.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that this doesn’t come with any virtual wall or containment mechanism that will keep it off places you don’t want it to go to so this is another con.
Here’s the video review from CNet…
Take note that the price of the VR9000 has since gone down from the time CNet published this review.
Where can I buy this?
This robot vacuum has a few worthy features that deserve your attention namely the pointer feature that makes manual spot cleaning that much easier than pressing arrow buttons to control it.
But aside from that, this machine still lags behind in terms of performance compared to cheaper options like the Neato Botvac, Roomba 880 and the Neato XV Pro despite cyclonic powered motor that Samsung says produces more power than their competitors.
In real world performance tests, it still could hang in with the Neato and Roomba but it couldn’t outperform them.
Plus the bulkier motor and larger dirt bin means this machine is taller and will not fit under beds that have less than 4” of clearance, a big downer since this is one of the big reasons why you buy a robot vacuum – to clean areas such as these without the need to bend over.
It’ll will be hard for me to recommend this product but if you like the way it looks and want something different then go for it put functionality wise, I cannot recommend this just yet.