I’ve been using a few different models of vacuum robot cleaner since 2013 when I bought my first Neato XV-21 Pet & Allergy Automatic Vacuum Cleaner from Woot. Neato XV-21 was very smart and efficiency compared to iRobot machines but it was also more expensive. However, after 2 sets of Neato XV-21 , I gave up on it as it’s battery liftspan seems to be its Achilles heel, dying on both occassions just after 1 year of usage. After Neato XV-21 , I switched to LG Hom-Bot Robotic Vacuum Cleaner which I shipped over from Korea via Qoo10. It was speaking Korean but luckily there was a way to switch to English language although the buttons on the cleaner is still in Korean. Nevertheless, the LG Hom-Bot is still serving well except that it’s getting louder and louder as the days goes by. The LG Hom-Bot algorithm for cleaning is not as smart as the Neato XV-21 but it’s very robust and strong and would not stop at any obstacles in it’s way. Price wise, the Neato XV-21 cost me about SGD$500 for a setup inclusive of shipping from USA. For the LG Hom-Bot cost about SGD700 from Korea via Qoo10 while the retail price in Singapore is more than SGD$1000. All these robot cleaners are quite hefty investments for the price of convenience. 🙁
I chanced upon a flash sale of the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner last month on Qoo10 for less than SGD$330. Having seen some of the good reviews of this online, I thought I would just take the purge and give it a try. Xiaomi Inc. is a privately owned Chinese electronics company headquartered in Beijing. Although it started off with doing smart phones, Xiaomi has moved on to designs, develops, and sells other consumer electronic products such as laptops, air purifiers, home automation kits and even TVs and sound systems! I would say that the key attractive trait of all Xiaomi products are quality features but at fraction of the price compared to other big electronic players such as Samsung, Apple, Sony, etc. You will see this key trait in action again for the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner later on when I tested this mean machine.
The delivery took a while but it was worth the wait. It came in a big brown carton box with all the chinese wordings (expected since this is bought from the China mainland market) saying it’s fragile and needs to be handled with care.
The design of the box reminds me of the packaging for Apple products, Simple and Zen.
My Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner is just hot off the manufacturing line in May 2017.
Opening up the carton box, inside consist of a simple envelope on top of the white foam packaging with another carton box on the left.
Revealing the contents, from left to right, are the base charging station, the setup instruction notes and the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner itself!
The Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner looks clean n sleek in a pure white body. There are minimum buttons to interact with the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner unlike the LG Hom-Bot. This is because much of the functions on the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner is available via the accompanying mobile app. This protruding piece with the Xiaomi logo on top houses the Laser Distance Sensor (LDS) which scans 360 degrees, 1800 times per sec, much like those available on self driving cars.
The Laser Distance Sensor (LDS) peering out at us. The 2 metal bars below are the charging contacts. For full specifications of Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner, please refer to their China mainland site.
The simple single 2 way button on the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner only shows the main power switch and a “Go to Home” button.
Flipping the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner around, below shows the simple looking yet sophisticated mechanisms. Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner went for the single brush design instead of dual brushes on the LG Hom-Bot. The roller brush and wheels design look strangely similar to those on the Neato XV-21 and the LG Hom-Bot. The Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner also contains various sensors including cliff sensor, accelerometer, drop sensor and speed meter. These will help the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner determine if it’s going to fall off a step or if it’s venturing into some areas it’s not suppose to go to.
For the main dust box, once again it’s a simple design with a replaceable filter and a washable container.
For the base charging station, the design looks exactly like that for Neato XV-21 with 2 charging bar in the front and the whole power unit behind complete with the coiling feature for the excess power cords. The base charging station is light yet stable enough such that it would not shift around when the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner approaches it for charging. This is important as I faced the issues of the LG Hom-Bot‘s base station moving out from its position whenever the LG Hom-Bot moves to contact itself with its base charging station.
For accessories, the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner only comes with the power cord and a “comb” to remove stubborn hair on the roller brush.
The envelope contains a simple few sheets instructions on how to setup the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner in Chinese.
Moving on to the setup of the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner, the first step is the setup the base charging station and place the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner in contact with the charging mechanism. Lifting up the main cover reveals the below. The white strip of instructions reminds the user the steps of how to empty the dust bin while the wordings around the orange strips provides the simple instructions of how to put the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner into setup mode for the WiFi.
By pressing both icons for 3 seconds, the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner will go into default WiFi setup mode and a blue light will be flashing. This step is common for most of Xiaomi product. After this step, the Mi Home app will guide you through step by step how to configure the WiFi setting on the Xiaomi appliance. The Mi Home App is available on both iTunes as well as Google Play Stores. After the simple setup of the WiFi on the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner, it should appear as a device inside your Mi Home App. For mine, it immediately went to retrieve and update itself with the latest available firmwares.
While it’s updating its firmware, I can actually see the status of the charging as well as other parameters regarding the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner. The big blue empty space in the center will have its purpose later on. Simple buttons at the bottom of the app replaces the physical buttons on the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner to allow actions such as “Return to Base Station”, “Start Cleaning”.
Additional Settings are available via the (…) button on the top right. Here, you will be able to setup Timers for schedules jobs, Do-Not-Disturb Timings and even changed the voice of the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner! I changed mine from Chinese language to English by applying the English Voice Pack.
You can also remote control the movement of the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner using the Mi Home mobile app. This remote control page also allows for spot cleaning to take place just in case someone spilled some crumbs or salt accidentally.
I thought I should just also provide a simple comparison between the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner and the LG Hom-Bot since I’m still running both at home. In term of size, they are pretty similar except that one is squarish while the other is round. See the number of buttons on the LG Hom-Bot compared with the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner?
Back to the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner. From the Mi Home app, once the cleaning starts (you can turn on notification for this and the Mi Home app will prompt you whenever it starts and ends a task), you can see that the entire layout of area it is working in. Also, it will map out the route it will take to complete the task, avoiding any overlapping routes wherever possible. You can also see clearly where are the obstacles it will need to avoid to complete the task. Once the task is completed, it will automatically return back to the base charging station for re-charging.
The Mi Home app will also track the utilization of the expendables on the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner, eg filter, brushes, sensors and prompt you whenever they need replacement and cleaning. Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner uses magnetic strips to mark out invisible walls to prevent the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner from crossing over. For this function, you will need to purchase the magnetic strip separately as it does not come with the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner Robot itself. I tested the Magnetic Boundary Markers Strip for Neato Robotic Vacuum Cleaner that came with my old Neato XV-21 and they work on the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner as well. Thank my luckily stars that I didn’t throw them away when I disposed the old Neatos.
Overall, I would say that the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner is a value-for-money robot vacuum cleaner. It has the features of all the other more expensive robot vacuum cleaners available in the market now at a fraction of the price. Although its warranty may be an issue now as it’s only meant for the China Mainland market, the low price of it would offset the risk and the Return-of-Investment (ROI) would certainly be achieved within a 3-6 mouths period. I would certainly recommend anyone who want to get a Robot Vacuum Cleaner to give the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner a try.