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Hands-on with the iLife A7 robot cleaner: A must-have for automated office and home cleaning

Written by Eileen Brown on

ilife A7 robot cleaner

  • Two roller brushes
  • Stair avoidance feature
  • Dust bin easy to remove and clean
Don't Like
  • App not strictly needed to operate robot
  • Icons difficult to see

I tested the iLife V8s robot a few months ago, and I was impressed with its cleaning of hard floors in the office. Now, I have tested this single function A7 cleaning robot, and I love it.

The iLife A7 robot is a nice-looking cleaner. It is minimalist in design, with a sleek look and iridescent black lacquer top (which looks like it has a light covering of dust on it). It has cyclone power cleaning to ensure that as much dust as possible is removed from the floor.

Its brushless motor and sealed air duct gives a good suction for carpets and solid floors. It goes back to its base when it needs to be recharged, and can be programmed to clean at a specified time each day. It can also be operated from the remote control supplied with the cleaner.

Also: Neato announces Botvac D7 Connected

When it initially starts to clean, it goes across carpeted rooms randomly to discover the boundaries of the rooms to be cleaned, before settling down to a structured pattern.

It seemed like it was hesitantly learning the boundaries of a regular room, and with every cleaning cycle, it became more efficient and quicker. It is quiet, too -- even on maximum power.

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Unlike the V8s robot, the A7 has a roller brush in addition to the two side brushes. It also has two interchangeable roller brushes, a soft bristle brush, and a silicone roller brush.

The manual has a safety warning that warns humans to beware of falling off ledges. Intrigued, I used the A7 on the mezzanine floor, near the stairs. Its cliff and edge sensors meant that the A7 cleaned right up to the edge of the stairs, then it backs away to continue cleaning.

This feature means you can set it to operate on an upper floor without any risk of it tumbling downstairs.

The A7 operates in two suction modes: Low and high. I switched it onto maximum suction and left it like that for the whole week. In this mode, suction is excellent, and I had to empty the bin after each clean -- even when performing multiple cleaning cycles in a day.

Also: How to take care of your robot vacuum CNET

I was impressed with how much extra dust and hairs it picked up, even after six cycles, one after another. The redesign means the A7 bin is much easier to empty, and clean the filters -- a much better design that the V8S

I was not sure which roller brush to use. It is not specified on the supplied operating manual, nor is it on the main A7 ilife description on its website.

The Amazon page for the A7 stated that the soft bristle brush should be used for carpet and the rubber brush used for hard flooring. I found that the bristle brush clears both types of floors well, but the bristle brush needs clearing more often to get rid of hairs and other fibres.

Like the V8s, I could set the A7 to do multiple cleaning modes. However, the silver icons on brushed silver background makes each mode hard to see clearly.

Installing the app was a palaver. I downloaded the European version of the app from the store, registered an account, received an authorisation code through email, and tried to connect to the robot.

Also: Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners for 2018 CNET

To initiate Wi-Fi, press the spiral icon on the A7 for three seconds or so, which makes a Wi-Fi symbol flash, and an audible alert sound indicates the device is broadcasting.

I spent over an hour trying to connect the A7 to two different Android phones with no success. Although the connection can only be made over 2.4G Hz Wi-Fi, I could not connect from my 2.4GHz access point. Therefore, I did not test any app functionality.

The app does seem to be unnecessary. I could do most of the app functions directly by using its remote control, or programming the A7 directly on the device.

Apparently, I could have also located the robot through the app, but a quick walk round the office meant I could find the robot and take it back to its base.

Also: Robotics in business: Everything humans need to know

Besides the issues I had with the app, I loved the A7. It is an excellent robot floor cleaner that could easily be used in either the home or small office, with the added bonus that it will never fall off ledges or plummet down stairs.

The A7 is certainly worth its $250 rice tag if you want trouble-free automated cleaning in the small office or your home.

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