17 March 2015

REVIEW: Vileda Relax Cleaning Robot

Relax… the robots will do it.

More than two years ago the first ever review to appear on The Test Pit was for a robotic vacuum cleaner, the iRobot Roomba 700. Since then, and after sending said robot back, our gaff has gotten into a right state. Seriously, Test Pit Towers is a mess, cluttered with torn packaging, stray LEGO, and those little rotor blades from micro-quadcopters (which are like standing on tiny razor blades). We need a cleaner, but as humans require payment for services rendered, we ain’t getting one anytime soon. Fortunately Vileda have the answer in their Relax Cleaning Robot. We set it to work.

The Vileda Relax Cleaning Robot is a self-guided vacuum cleaner that will scurry around your floors, sucking up all that crappy detritus, meaning you never have to even think about doing your own vacuuming again. But what makes the Vileda Relax Cleaning Robot truly attractive is that in a market crammed with ultra-expensive cleaners, this little beauty won’t set you back much more than £100. Is it worth the compromise? We find out.

About the size of a large dinner plate, and about as tall as your phone, the Vileda Relax Cleaning Robot is a bare-bones robot cleaner that seems to have been designed to do what it says on the tin without expensive embellishments. First up, it does not come with a docking charging station, and instead you have to physically plug it in with a separate adaptor. Not really a chore, but we did love that little feature on the Roomba.

We also miss the Roomba’s lighthouses which directed the vacuum cleaner away from certain spots. No such gizmos with the Vileda however, and once the unit is charged and set going, it’ll keep on going regardless of where it is. Because of this, we found it very important to have a look around the floor before switching it on. Make sure you lift things like pet food bowels, lengths of string and tassels from rugs, and anything too big and bulky that the robot wouldn’t be able to climb over. Again, a bit of a chore, but doing so (to take into account the Vileda Relax’s lower specs) is saving you all that dosh.

Once up and running (or slowly crawling) we found it to perform pretty well. Actual suction was good, and the spinning brushes on the underside helped to dislodge even ingrained dirt and crumbs. It also features a spinning brush on the right side to flick any bits and bobs from the edges of the floor under its all-consuming mouth. This too worked well, and you even get a replacement included should the original wear out.

As you might expect the Vileda Relax Cleaning Robot does not possess any sensors to map out the layout of your room and vacuum accordingly. Instead it just goes and bumps into stuff, adjusting the course with each contact. Fortunately the front bumper is very responsive and also acts like a cushion to protect your furniture. But still, it is very bump-and-go, slowly feeling its way around the room, sucking up as it goes. We discovered that, depending on how dusty your floor is, we got about thirty minutes of cleaning out of it before the dust reservoir needed to be emptied. This wasn’t as much as we had hoped, and in fact the pop-out unit where dirt and crumbs are stored seemed oddly small for a cleaning robot of the Relax’s size.

Fortunately it does come with cliff sensors, meaning it will never accidentally drive itself down the stairs – no matter how funny that would be to watch. The Vileda Relax Cleaning Robot will also automatically stop working as soon as it is picked up, so there will be no wrestling with it if it sucks up one of your socks.

Although the Vileda Relax Cleaning Robot misses out on a lot of the features that make other robotic vacuums so newsworthy, that compromise is actually pretty it. Once you understand what you can get from it, and know what in your house will give the plucky little thing trouble, it will provide you will a solid and reliable clean. And, if you’re really lonely, someone to talk to.

Just us?

Around £130

Available from www.amazon.co.uk

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