Let's face it; housework is a necessity that no sane person enjoys doing. We would certainly love a home that can take care of itself, but until that dream comes true in the future, we can settle for a robot vacuum that can clean the floor on our behalf. On this review, we got our hands on the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum, a cost-effective Roomba alternative, we put it to the test, and present you the results.
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Table of Contents
About robot vacuums
Robotic vacuum cleaners are not new on the market; they have been around since 1990 when Isaac M. Dizon invented the first one.
Electrolux, which was a Swedish household appliances manufacturer, purchased the prototype model from Dizon, and put it into production in 1996 under the name "Electrolux Trilobite."
That very first model doesn't look very different from today's robotic vacuums, besides the fact that more than 20 years have passed since its production.
However, since 1996 many other manufacturers tried to build an automatic vacuum cleaner, and some of them took it to the next level. Thus, they created new variations, like vacuums that mop the floor as well.
Lately, most of the robotic vacuums use laser-vision rather than the old fashioned ultrasound models. Over the years, their capabilities have increased, the cleaning times have been reduced significantly, and today, robot vacuums have become more popular, along with other smart devices.
Most of those robots do a fantastic job in cleaning, but unfortunately, they are costly. The cheaper models are usually awful; they either don't get the job done, they have poor controls and battery, and so on.
Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum is a Chinese device that promises to change that and deliver exceptional house cleaning at half the price of other popular brands. But let's see its characteristics and performance in detail.
Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum has twelve different sensors. The primary sensor uses a laser (LDS sensor) to scan the area in 360 degrees at a range of 6m, and it creates a map of the interior house that stores in its memory. The map is also accessible through the company's app, but more on that later.
The rest of the sensors help to recognize obstacles, avoid dropping off the stairs and memorize the rooms it cleaned.
The device is powered by three processors that can calculate the most efficient route. Along with the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping algorithm (SLAM), the map we mentioned is very accurate.
This same technology is used by the best robotics manufacturers and Google's self-driving car.
Inside the small vacuum robot, there is a 5200mAh high capacity battery, that is supposed to last for 2.5 hours of cleaning.
Unfortunately, there is no remote control, but Xiaomi's Mi Home App manages to sync with Mi Robot Vacuum and help us initiate and monitor the process.
GearBest provided us a sample device for this review.
The package is a simple plain cardboard box with a sketch of the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum outside.
We were a little bit confused for a moment, since it kind of looks like a frying pan with a lid, but it turned out we had the right package after all.
At the top of the box, we found an envelope with the instructions in Chinese.
Right below is the vacuum robot wrapped in plastic material.
Although the box looks big, the size of the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum is pretty small and compact.
On the right side of the package, we will find the charging dock...
...along with the cable.
The back side of the dock has a removable lid, to fit the cable inside.
That way, the cable is not loose when we plug in the device.
The last part of the package is a plastic brush.
The vacuum's top cover opens with a simple move and this way we have access to the transparent dirt bin.
When first holding the cleaner, we noticed that it's a solid construction with elegant, all-white design. The charging base is minimal and sleek as well.
The whole design is similar to most robot vacuum models out there. The dirt bin is easy to remove and empty, while the cleaning with the plastic brush seems effortless.
It didn't have any other components, such as extra cleaning brushes, filters, and the likes, but that didn't disappoint us at all.
Once we plugged the dock and turned the vacuum on, it was ready to scan our house and operate. All in all, our first impressions were positive.
The Mi Home app
Although we can control the Mi Robot Vacuum from the two buttons on the top side, Xiaomi has also developed an app for all the similar home appliances. The app is called Mi Home, and we will find it on the Play Store and the Apple Store.
Since May 19, 2017, the app supports English by default, so we don't need to worry about learning Chinese to control it.
We installed the app on our smartphone and took the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum for a spin. Here's what we found out during the process, along with detailed instructions on how to maximize the robot's efficiency.
Download and run
First things first; we need to install the app on your phone, by visiting the links above. We used an Android device, but the steps are the same on iOS.
The app asks for plenty permissions, and it is normal if you consider that it is used to control a ton of Xiaomi smart home appliances. After the installation, the app shows up on our launcher.
Once we open it, we have to set the server for our vacuum. Although we are based in Europe, we chose the U.S. server, and it worked flawlessly.
Connect with the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum
First, we have to turn on the vacuum, by holding the On/Off button for a few seconds.
After that, in the main windows of the app choose the "+" icon to connect the vacuum.
The app will start scanning for devices, and once it finds the cleaner, we'll have to tap on "OK."
In the following screen, we chose our Wi-Fi, entered our password...
...and it started the sync procedure.
After a while, it reported the success.
Now our Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum shows up on the app's home screen.
If we click the icon, we will see the vacuum's main menu.
Before we start cleaning, we can change a few settings to make our life easier.
English voice pack
The robot has a Chinese voice pack from default, but we can switch to English through the app.
To do so, we navigate to the settings and tap on "Voice pack."
The English pack is at the bottom, and we can activate it by tapping on "Use."
Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum can receive updates through the app. Our device didn't have the latest firmware, so we navigated into "Settings > General settings > Check for firmware updates."
It started to download the firmware. After a while, the Mi Robot Vacuum will "tell" us that the update started and may take up to 10 minutes to complete. At the same time, the app will keep us informed about the details.
When the process finishes, we'll hear that the device "Updated successfully," and the same message will show up on Mi Home.
Now we are finally ready to use the cleaner to its full potential.
Is this all the app can do? Aren't there any extra settings? We are glad you asked, imaginary reader, cause there are some pretty neat features we'd like to mention.
First of all, there's an English user manual inside the settings menu that explains everything in detail.
Furthermore, we will find a timer to set a specific schedule for the vacuuming, a DND mode, our cleaning history logs, and a care menu that reports the device's "health."
Before we start using the Timer feature, it is a good idea to sync the device on our current time zone. We have to press on "Robot's time zone" from the main settings, and tap on "Sync time zone."
Last but not least, you'll find a gaming mode on the "Remote controls" menu.
Well, it is not exactly a gaming mode, but you can waste a lot of time moving the vacuum around with this controller. It works with buttons or joystick, and it is precisely like a remote control car. Actually, it is even better.
Of course, this feature won't help us to clean the house automatically. The vacuum is supposed to do the job by itself; we won't save time if we have to move it around for cleaning. It can be handy though in case we spill something on a particular area, and we only want to vacuum that spot.
Start the cleaning
Now that we are ready and set, it's time to test the robot's cleaning skills. All we have to do is press the home button once (on the top of the device), or tap on the app's "Clean" button.
The robot will start moving around the room, scanning the place in the process. At the same time, we will notice an outline of our house if we look on the app.
Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum divided our space into parts, and it started cleaning the outline of the first part. Then it continued with parallel lines to the inside, before it moved to the next part of the room. You can see an outline of its route on the image below.
In our case, we had it fully charged, and it took 58 minutes and 30% of its battery to finish our whole house. It reported a total area of 53m2.
When it finished, it went back to the dock by itself. With the home button the device, or the "Dock" button on the app, we can send it to the dock manually.
The "Balanced" button on the right side of Mi Home is supposed to change the vacuum's mode. It has Quiet, Balance, Turbo, and Full Speed. The difference is, of course, the speed it cleans, but in Full Speed, it also generates a lot of noise.
If you're wondering how well it cleaned the house, let's just say that it did a great job.
Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum costs approximately 300$, but with the coupon code "XIAOMIVAC" you can buy it at 277.99.
Opinions and final thoughts
Our tests with the product ended with the best impressions. The Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum did an excellent job cleaning every visible spot, but also wherever it could fit. That includes under the bed or other furniture.
We think that the cleaning times were fast, and the routes it took were probably the best. The device may not have a dedicated remote control, but the app has all the features we may need to set up the robot vacuum.
We recommend the device to anyone that wants a reliable automatic vacuum cleaner. In comparison with more expensive brands, we believe that Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum is an excellent value for money device.
On the other hand, there are even cheaper Chinese vacuums that may do a good job as well.
Below we summarized its pros and cons.
- Elegant structure and sleek design
- Minimal dock that fits nicely on the wall
- Excellent cleaning capabilities
- Great application with all the necessary features
- English support on both the device and the app
- Cheap compared to top brands
- Supports scheduling
- No extra parts, besides a plastic brush
Would you choose the Xiaomi Mi Vacuum as a Roomba Alternative?
Are you interested in smart devices that can help you with household chores? Do you plan to invest your money on Xiaomi Mi Vacuum Cleaner? Would you like to see other vacuum reviews on our site?
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