For the last five years most of the vacuuming in my home has been delegated to a robot, an iRobot Roomba 511. It was the simplest and cheapest model available at the time, and I bought it second-hand - though only slightly used. It changed our lives. Being able to just raise a few furniture and let the robot do its thing while we are away feels very much like living in the future. We couldn’t go back.
So, when it started acting out - first the battery started dying early on the cleaning cycle, then it would be stuck circling itself when the front bumper got stuck, then the front wheel just started dropping off - we begin looking for a replacement. Between the time we acquired the 511 and the time to buy a new one, I was lucky enough to learn about a small brand called Anker, and its sister brands. I knew it produced quality at affordable price. So, when the RoboVac 11+ got a heavy discount at the last Cyber Monday, I went for it.
The RoboVac checked all the boxes I wanted, but it came with a few unexpected shortcomings. Scheduling, charging base, large bin, all that was a must, and all that was fully delivered. I was quite impressed with the suction power and the way the little robot works silently. And, of course, it will vacuum for a long time, thanks to the great Anker battery tech. It does the work for hours.
Which can turn into a problem. If you lock the RoboVac in a room where its charging base is not, it will vacuum the room until the battery dies. I was hoping it would be satisfied after a few passes over and just turn off since it wouldn’t be able to find the charging base, when I would gently point it to the base using the remote control. But it went dead, and I had to carry it. I realize, as I write this sentence, that this looks like the ultimate first world problem… But it must be said.
Then, there’s the biggest problem of all: wires. Bear in mind that my wire management is better than most - and I don’t mean that is exists, which is already better than most; I’m careful with hiding them and making sure they are safely concealed. But, as most people today, there are a lot of wires in my home, specially in the living room. It’s where both my wife and my computer are, our TV and our home theater set, and since it has no ceiling light, also a couple of standing light sources. Still, you won’t see many wires when looking at my living room. The home theater speakers on the side of the couch have wires literally running in the middle of the room, but concealed under a rug and tucked under the couch. My old Roomba 511 never had any trouble navigating the wires. It went over them and left them behind. But the RoboVac will get tangled easily. I went so far as upping my wire management game, to the point where there’s virtually no wire unprotected anywhere on the floor where the robot can pass, but it’s still able to unlock the wires from the hooks under the couch and get tangled. So, before putting the robot to run I must do a check-up, and there’s always something to unplug and put the wires up, like the three light stands. It might seem like a small annoyance, but this ultimately nullifies one benefit of the RoboVac 11+: the possibility of scheduling. The whole point of scheduling is to have it clean every day, but it’s pointless if it will get tangled in a wire and stop mid-cycle - which happened to me a few times.
I know it says in the manual that the robot might get tangled and we should remove wires from the floor. But even then I thought about the entry-level five-year-old Roomba which had it sorted out and though it wouldn’t be such an issue. I was wrong. It’s almost a dealbreaker.
That's the level of cable management in my home in one of the hardest spots to manage. The RoboVac got tangled.
But the little robot cleans well when it’s not interrupted by its own issues. Really well. The three cleaning modes - spot, edges and single-room - are all useful, and it will find the charging base even if I didn’t follow the manual when placing it. My charging base is hidden from human eyes under a furniture with less than a meter from each side, but the RoboVac will still find it.
Can you see the charging base? Well, the RoboVac can.
So, even if the RoboVac 11+ saves me the work of frequent vacuuming myself, it still makes me do some work before I can put it to clean.
Large bin. Like, way bigger than on the Roomba 511, so I can spend many more vacuuming cycles without emptying it.
Remote control. I thought it wouldn’t be that useful. It is.
Silent. Like, really silent, to the point where I can watch something on the TV with the robot working. It’s no louder than a fan.
Suction power. I’ll refrain from making the same old joke. But it’s great.
Charging base. This one I knew I would like. In fact, it’s one of the reasons to pick a new robot. And the robot find it even when "hidden ».
Battery life. I mean, it’s an Anker product. Batteries are their thing.
Lacks some intelligence. When locked in a room, will clean until the battery dies, instead of when it detects the room is clean.
Hungry for wires. If there’s any wire with a minimal possibility of getting in the way, the RoboVac will find it, and will eat it, and get stuck.
- The material on the RoboVac will attract floating dust unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Which is… kind of good? I mean, it’s keeping all that floating dust from settling on my furniture, I guess. Still, it was covered in dust about 15 seconds after I pulled it from the box.
Am I satisfied? Yes. Could I be more satisfied? Yes, and it would only take tech that’s was available to my entry-level Roomba from five years ago. It’s something I will have to point out when suggesting this product to someone else.