I am a very busy man with a couple of jobs, three daughters, a house, and a wife, all of which occupy my time. Thus, if I can find ways to have today's modern electronics take care of tasks and lift the chore load, then I am going to pass off what I can.
See it now: Roborock S5 robot vacuum on Amazon
One area that I've given over to robots is vacuuming the lower level of my house, which is primarily composed of hardware floors and a couple of area rugs. Various models have been tested over the past couple of years, so I have some practical experiences with these devices. Most people have heard of Roomba, Samsung, and Neato in this space, but there are some other options out there that are worth consideration.
A couple of months ago the Roborock S5 arrived, and it has been cleaning my lower level floors since then. This has included through a couple of business trips, vacations, and weeks of activity with two dogs, a cat, and a family of five moving around throughout the house.
Hardware and box contents
The Roborock S5 arrived in a plain cardboard box with some identifying words in black. It was actually shipped from Amazon since that is the retail partner for Roborock and Xiaomi. You may recall that the Mi Electric Scooter I tested in April was also from Xiaomi and sold through Amazon.
The Roborock brand is not prevalent in this space or in the US, but it seems to be gaining traction with highly rated reviews on Amazon and has been selected for an Amazon's Choice. After using it for a couple of months, it is definitely one of my favorite robot vacuums due to its capability, reliability, functionality with smartphones, and effectiveness at cleaning up the house.
There is a power button on the top center with two other buttons on either side. The left button is for spot cleaning, and the right button is to send your vacuum home to the charger. I only used these occasionally, as I relied on the smartphone integration and apps for most functionality.
The top houses the LDS (laser distance sensor) in a central round area that rises above the top of the vacuum about half an inch. Behind this is the lid to access the dust bin and other internal parts of the vacuum. A wall sensor sticks out from the front half of the vacuum with a rotating side brush over on the right side peeking out from under the vacuum. The speaker and an air vent are found around the back.
Lifting up the lid reveals the Wi-Fi indicator light, system reset button, main brush cleaning tool, and the dust bin with a removable filter for fine dust.
On the bottom, we have two large main wheels with silicone tire treads that are sure not to scuff up your hardwood or tile floors. There is a main brush, the side brush, an omnidirectional wheel, and two charging contacts.
The Roborock S5 also supports wet mopping with a slim water tank, mopping cloth, and moistureproof mat. One of the primary problems I have had with robot vacuums is having them return every time to the charging station and recharge on their own. The moistureproof mat connects to the dock charger so that the vacuum properly aligns with the charging contacts every single time and the only time the vacuum has died on me was when it ended up in a stuck position under a chair or behind some other obstacle.
The dust bin, 480ml capacity, has proven to hold one to two vacuum sessions for the approximate 700 square feet of coverage on my wood floors with a few raised area rugs. My floors look pretty clean, but it is stunning to everyone how much dog hair and other things are picked up by this vacuum on a regular basis. There is a washable E11-grade strainer/filter in the dust bin that is rated to provide 95 percent filter performance after a year of normal use.
Our acacia hardwood floors are beautiful and well taken care of. My wife was concerned about the vacuum creating marks on the floors, but the soft silicone wheels turn and navigate around the floors with no trace of their passing. The bumper also quickly detects obstacles so has not dented or marked up our walls, table legs, or chair legs in any way.
The retail package also includes a main brush cleaning tool with a hook end that slices through hair stuck on the brush bar. With my long-haired dog and women in the house, hair is a constant battle for the vacuum.
Software and services
You can control the vacuum using your iOS or Android device by downloading and installing the Mi Home app. This is the same app used to manage the electric scooter that I tested earlier this year, along with other products from Xiaomi. Once you have everything setup, you can choose to have a Mi Home shortcut appear on Android that takes you directly to the Roborock controls and bypasses the general Mi Home app interface.
Simply walk through the setup of the Mi Home app to connect your phone or tablet to the Roborock S5. The great thing about this Mi Home app is that you can install it on multiple devices, which can all control the Roborock S5 with the same login. Unlike some other robot vacuums I have tested, the Roborock S5 map translates over to all connected devices. This was a major frustration with other vacuums that constantly wanted to recreate my floor map.
The Mi Home application launches with the floor plan (after it creates it the first time), history of last cleaning event, and quick controls below the map. These controls currently include Go, Dock, Clean, and Zoned Cleanup. The Go option lets you designate spot cleanup and manual control over where you want the vacuum to operate. The Dock option sends the vacuum back to its charging station. The Clean option initiates a full cleaning operation.
Zoned cleanup lets you designate one or more square zones for targeted vacuuming. This takes some time if you want to vacuum most everywhere except for one or two spots, so I am hopeful that a future software update will take the opposite approach and let you designate exclusionary zones.
I would also like to see virtual barriers supported, so I could draw lines across some areas that really do not need cleaning as often as other areas.
The smartphone software provides the ability to control the vacuum volume, carpet mode, level of suction (higher levels are louder), setup a cleaning schedule, update the firmware, monitor the status of accessories, and much more. It is a full-featured software application that is easy to use.
Update: A recent update was released for the Roborock S5 that addressed exactly what I was asking for so that this vacuum does everything I wanted, and more. The update includes the following:
- Virtual No-Go lines: Create a line that the vacuum will not cross. This is perfect now that my Christmas tree is up since I can draw a line in front of it and keep the vacuum from bumping into the tree.
- Exclusionary Zones: We have a dining room table that is not used often, but has legs for the table and chairs that can be challenging for robot vacuums. With the space not being used much, I now have this area setup as an exclusionary zone so that the vacuum skips it during a typical cleaning session.
- Map Saving option: Since my wife and I both control the vacuum at different times, it is awesome to have the map saved for all to use. Other vacuums drove me nuts with having to recreate the map on a regular basis, which is one reason I no longer use those other vacuums.
Price and competition
The Roborock S5 has a MSRP of $579.99, but the white model can be found on Amazon for $463.99.
Competition includes the array of Neato Botvac Connected vacuums ranging in price from $500 to $700, the iRobot Roomba vacuums priced $400 to $550, and the Samsung POWERbot line from $400 to $900. All these have different capabilities, so there is a lot to check out when comparing these vacuums to the features included in the Roborock S5.
Also: Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners for 2018 CNET
Daily usage experiences and conclusion
The Roborock S5 has proven to be a very reliable vacuum with a floor map that is captured and then maintained across devices. It is very powerful and does an excellent job of sweeping and mopping while having battery power to easily vacuum my entire main floor of the house. The Z-shape cleaning pattern has excellent coverage to make sure everything is covered in a cleaning session. The 5200mAh battery is advertised to last 150 minutes and that is just about what I have been seeing over the last couple of months.
See it now: Roborock S5 robot vacuum on Amazon
I appreciated using the floor wet mopping feature, as the system adds just enough to wet and clean the floor without soaking it or leaking water everywhere. It seems to be an effective system and has helped keep our floors clean, although it is obviously not as powerful as cleaning your floor on your hands and knees.
Also: Photos: Robot vacuums and rolling laptops TechRepublic
It rarely gets stuck, unless someone in the house changes the arrangement during vacuuming. One time, the vacuum had some issues going back and forth attempting to vacuum over a thick carpet, but that only occurred once in the two months of use.
Another area for improvement in the software is to include voice assistant support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and others. A major software update was recently released that enhanced the capability of the vacuum so I look forward to continued updates and improvements in an already great vacuum.
Overall, the Roborock S5 Robot Vacuum Cleaner has proven to be a great performer at a price that is reasonable given its power, efficiency, and utility.
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