on 28 August 2013
I have had my XR210 robotic vacuum cleaner for about one month and on the whole I have been impressed. It has been used almost every day, although obviously I am not yet in a position to comment on its long-term reliability. I will first address some of the criticisms that the item has received in other reviews.
1) Some people have said that it "ignores" obstacles less than one inch high. This is true and is clearly intentional as otherwise it would not be able to go over rugs, door bars, and other uneven areas of floor. However, it does mean that if you leave items on the floor such as books, lengths of wood, flip-flops, etc, it is liable to try to climb over them. In such cases, it can get itself stuck.
2) Rugs. It can have problems with rugs that have long shaggy pile or tassels, as these will tangle in its mechanisms. Also, if you have floppy rugs (that is to say rugs that are easily folded, like towels, rather than quite rigid like a doormat) then the robot is likely to fold over the edges and move the rug around.
3) Battery life. Somebody said that the UV light significantly reduced the battery life. I did four timed tests to see if this was true, and I found no difference at all in the battery life whether the UV lamp is on or off. I have noticed, however, that the battery lasts longer when the robot is cleaning a smooth laminate floor rather than a capret. Typical cleaning times from a single charge are 2hrs on carpet and 2½hrs on a smooth floor.
4) Small bin. If your floors are really dirty, you will find yourself having to empty the bin very regularly. When my robot first arrived, I had not vacuumed for a few weeks, and within 15 minutes its bin was full and filter clogged. Now, after using the robot every day so that each room gets cleaned about twice a week, I find that it takes 1-2hrs before the bin or filter need emptying/cleaning.
5) Strong sunlight. After a couple of weeks my robot went crazy, bouncing off imaginary objects and generally acting as if it was stuck when it was in the middle of an unobstructed floor. Eventually I discovered that its sensors were being confused by very strong sunlight. I have only had this issue on a very bright day when the sun was on the horizon. I closed the curtains and it began acting normally again.
6) Poor manual. The manual explains some things in detail and completely omits other important issues. The manual is very good in explaining how to clean and maintain every part of the robot, but less comprehensive in its general usage. It does not explain, for example, that the FULL GO setting means that it will start cleaning automatically once fully charged. Having said this, when I contacted customer services for some clarifications, they were prompt and helpful.
7) Detectors and stairs. On its front end, the robot had several very effective detectors. It will normally stop just short of hitting an object. Or if its front edge goes over a drop such as at the top of a staircase, it quickly stops before it falls. The problem is that occasionally the robot goes into reverse, and it has no detectors on its back end. If it reverses into an object it will simply drive into it. This is not really a problem as it is not strong enough to damage walls or furniture. But if it reverses towards the top of a staircase, then it will simply leap to its death like the apocryphal lemming. The robot doesn't often go into reverse mode, so chances are it would be fine for several weeks in a room with unguarded downward steps... but eventually it will drive off the edge, so you cannot risk leaving it unattended around open drops.
8) Maintenance. There are lots of parts on the robot that can get clogged, tangled or jammed. You will have to clean these on a regular basis otherwise the vacuum will keep shutting down and giving errors. The biggest cause of problems without a doubt is hairs. Generally it is fine with short hairs, like cat hairs, but longer human hairs get twisted around the various spinning parts of the mechanisms and eventually cause jams. (Maybe the manufacturers assume this product will only appeal to single men, rather than households with women where there are more likely to be long hairs on the floor?!)
9) Mop function. This is a useless gimmick. It is a small pad underneath that you can moisten so that the robot mops the floor as it goes. If your floor actually needs mopping, then the pad will get dirty and need removing and washing within about 30 seconds. If the pad can mop for an hour or even five minutes without getting so dirty that it needs cleaning, then frankly your floor doesn't need mopping!
10) Some reviews have complained that the robot has no ability to "learn a room". No robotic vacuums have this feature and it would be counterproductive if they did. Rooms change. Pieces of furniture get moved around, doors open and close, other transient obstacles get in the way. Imagine if the first time your robot cleaned a room it encountered your sleeping dog in the middle of the room and avoided it, and then for the rest of eternity it never cleaned that patch in the middle of the room because it assumes there is a permanent obstacle there.
11) One reviewer said that the robot stops and does a thorough clean "if the robot finds a patch of dirt". This is not true either. The robot switches between its various cleaning strategies (such as random zig-zags, following the edge of a room, or spot-cleaning in an ever-growing spiral) but it does this at random, not in response to the amount of dirt.
12) Docking station. When it runs out of battery, my robot seems quite good at finding its charging station and heading towards it. But often, once it reaches it, it can take ten minutes having several goes at trying to dock with it! I think automatic docking works best in a very open, unobstructed area on a smooth floor.
13) Narrow areas. The robot can sometimes get stuck in areas that are slightly wider than itself. For example, there is a 40cm gap between the end of my futon and the wall. Sometimes when the robot goes in there, it spins about madly and eventually, because all its proximity sensors are constantly being triggered and it cannot find its way out, it shuts off. That said, 80% of the time it finds its own way out.
14) I am particularly keen on the timer function. Each evening, I set the robot to turn itself on automatically about an hour before I get up next morning, then place it in a different room each night. Usually, i wake up to find the robot merrily cleaning that room. Sometimes I wake to find it sitting beeping in the middle of the floor, complaining of a jam or other error, but generally it is fine.
The above may seem like a lot of complaints, but for my purposes they are all fairly trivial and the problems are not so frequent as to make me regret my purchase. All in all, it is everything that I expected for such a competitive price.