Updated: November 8th 2016. Robotic vacuum cleaners are the latest wave of home automation technology which are gaining traction rapidly, and today we proudly present the HomeTechStar Samsung Powerbot VR9000 review. This is the latest in an increasingly big line-up of smart home technology coming out of Samsung. We’re going to dive in to see if this powerfully priced (£700) vacuum has both the suction and brains to match its aggressive price point. You can explore more on the official Samsung website here but first, lets dive in.
Samsung Powerbot VR9000 Review – introducing the headline act of Samsung’s robotic vacuum revolution
The Samsung VR9000 is an autonomous vacuum cleaner – which basically means it exists it do your vacuuming for you. It exists within a large array of vacuums in the Samsung range, found here. This premise is achieved through a series of pretty smart sensors which surround the machine, which enable it to interpret its surroundings in order to navigate common household objects. It has an 80 minute run time, after which it will automatically return itself to its charging dock, where it will plug itself back in and refill its gas tanks.
Below are its key features: in this Samsung Powerbot VR9000 review, we have been looking at the below key features that the next generation vacuum has in its armoury.
- 5 key operational modes include – Auto, Spot, Max, Manual and Point – the latter using a remote control which allows you to override its automatic hoovering patters in order to better direct it around more complex obstacles.
- ‘FullView’ sensor, which locates the household obstacles, ranging from your sofa to your dining furniture in order to enable it to go about its hoovering business
- 0.7-litre bin capacity in order to ensure it can get full utility out of its 80 minute battery life (having nearly an hour and a half of charge would be fairly pointless if it served only to run out of bin space after say 30 minutes)
- Charge dock – where it returns to re-charge
- 80mins run time
- Noise level 71dB
- Review Price: £700.00
Firstly, the price point sets a very big benchmark and makes this a tough vacuum to recommend. We can expect a deluge of these robotic cleaners during 2016 – CES in Vegas had plenty on show – and pioneers like Robotics have much cheaper offerings already in the market, which arguably act as a better starting point. Vacuum kings Dyson are expected to enter the fray this year too, and I would recommend that you hold fire to see what they bring to market, as the suction is likely to blow this VR9000 out of the water. So this space is rapidly going from super-niche, to an expected mainstay in the smart home, a concept which is exploding in popularity this year. So what do robotic cleaners do for us?
The basic idea of the robotic vacuum cleaner is ‘set and forget’. They’re intended to take away the chore of vacuuming, by using a combination of sensors to help navigate around obstacles and to thus clean up the whole house. They also typically have porting docks, which they navigate back to in order to empty their bins and recharge, and they also typically have the ability to be scheduled, meaning you don;t have to listen to the onerous sound of the vacuum cleaner whilst at home.
However, much as you would expect from the PowerBot, considering its not insignificant cost, it does have a few slightly niftier and unique tricks up its sleeve. Firstly is its navigational ability.
Such home automation tech is still a work in progress, meaning its not necessarily fool proof, yet. So Samsung’s answer with their PowerBot is to add a human element, via its remote control. So if you observe the vacuum getting a bit stuck, you can direct with with a remote control. You simply point, and the vacuum goes, helping it to ‘learn’ the layout of your house.
The Samsung PowerBot is headlined by its “CycloneForce” suction system. This is a copper-colored engine which is really the centre piece of its design. This is clearly borrowing on the concept taken from Dyson, who have always placed the design of their engine at the heart of their solution. Its worked for them, and doubtlessly, Samsung believe it can work for their device too. It has the clear upside of letting you see when the bin is full too, which takes away the guess work that used to come with the horrible old bin-bag solution of yesteryear.
This is not the sleekest device that you’ll ever see, but it is all about purpose and execution and less about the sleekness brought to market by some of the competitors. Its bigger than both Roomba and Neato, two pioneer robotic cleaner company offerings, which does have some practical downsides. The smaller the device, the more able it is to get into smaller nooks and crannies. However more bulk brings more suction, so what would you rather – the capability to do a better job in open spaces or the nimbleness to cram into smaller cracks and complete a greater percentage of surface area? On balance, we would take the former.
And the PowerBot is very good in the open space, not least because of its ‘dust sensing’ capability. When it notices dust, it ramps up the horsepower helping it to power through tougher situations.
The PowerBot does make a fairly aggressive sound when doing its business, largely due to its exposed engine, so its better left to work its magic whilst you’re out and about, in our opinion at least. If you are challenging the device to nail pet hair, sand or other such stuff, this is a real bonus. Once you also factor the point and shoot feature, where you use the remote control to direct it, and this device can really do the business.
Samsung VR9000 review – is Samsung SmartThings the missing feature?
Samsung are making a huge play around the concept of the smart home, and a lot of this is enabled by their acquisition of SmartThings, which acts as the brains which connect the dots. Adding the robotic cleaner in would be a nice addition which would round out their offering.
What this would then bring, via the Internet of Things (IoT) is the first truly connected smart-vacuum. Dyson’s rumoured 360 degree eye product coming in 2016, so the fear here is that Samsung have missed the boat for a true global-first position. This seems both a shame – as we for one would have loved to see what this would look like – and also a strange omission considering the push that Samsung are making around SmartThings. We can expect an update here I suspect, especially if/when Dyson get to market, connecting up to iOS and Android devices. We’ll keep you posted.
How well does the PowerBot VR9000 vacuum navigate?
The PowerBot VR9000’s navigational capabilities are pretty strong, and are definitely comparable with the Neato, which does a pretty splendid job. It has a clever camera which tracks the ceiling, which in turn outlines the room for the vacuum. It then uses sensors around its rims to help navigate objects. The two work well together and the device is effective at navigating.
After that, the VR9000 navigates in straight lines, much like how you would mow a lawn, working in orderly strips up and down the room. Once it is finished or low on power it returns to its hub to recharge. All in all its a very efficient and clever process.
Samsung Powerbot Vr9000 Review – what we liked most about it
- The remote control – having the ability to take over the reigns and to manually correct its actions proved useful on a couple of occasions. In my apartment i have a fairly ‘difficult’ furniture arrangement which enables me to cram a large dining table as well as living room furniture into our combined living space (good old London apartments). These are genuinely tricky to hoover around and this was the one area where the VR9000 did struggle. However, i could simply pick up the remote and ‘take over’ from it – getting aorudn the problem quickly.
- The navigation was otherwise impressive – with its ability to machine learn and also to generally find its way around my apartment. There’s no doubt it did a good job in what i must admit is generally a less then technical course.
- It nailed the hard floors – which is important in my place which is 70% hard laminate floors / tiles vs carpet. It had no issues working between these different floor types.
Samsung Powerbot Vr9000 Review – what we disliked most about it
- The price – £700 is a LOT of money to pay for a vacuuming solution. Period.
- It missed some of the edges. Yes we have odd shaped rooms which are not perfect squares/rectangles but it seemed loathe to get up close to the skirting boards and edges of doors – and that’s where most of the dust seems to settle. I found that if i’m happy for a more general hoovering, then that’s fine, but if i’m trying to present my home as spotless then i’d need to follow it around. Otherwise it could look to the casual observer like a half-a*** job had occurred, which seems like a lame thing to have to live with when you have spent £700 on a hoovering solution?
- Ledges/small steps can pose issues – we have some laminate edging that sits between rooms, forming a small step of sorts (I guess, at a real push). Most of the time this was not an issue, but other times the Powerbot proved its name can be a slight misnomer as it laboured to get over these tiny obstacles!