Samsung Powerbot review: Something out of the Jetsons

Samsung’s Powerbot is smart and powerful enough that it could retire some traditional vacuum cleaners.

Samsung Powerbot VR9000
  • Samsung Powerbot VR9000
  • Samsung Powerbot VR9000
  • Samsung Powerbot VR9000
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Intelligent mapping system
  • Strong suction power for an autonomous vacuum cleaner

Cons

  • Pricey
  • 700ml chamber

Would you buy this?

The Powerbot tops Samsung’s range of robotic vacuum cleaners for a good reason. Last year Samsung introduced its digital inverter technology, which is the cornerstone behind its top-end refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners. This is tech backed by a ten year warranty.

A miniaturised version of Samsung’s digital inverter technology is found at the heart of the Powerbot vacuum cleaner, though because it is a ‘lite’ version, it doesn’t come with the same warranty. What is does offer, according to Samsung, is 60 times more suction-power than older Samsung robotic vacuums.

Well designed with a sense of direction

The design of the Powerbot achieves a fine balance between function and mobility. The digital inverter technology and a 700ml dust chamber sit at its core. Grooved wheels give the robotic vacuum traction on all surfaces and the rounded back lends itself to easy maneuvering. The front end is squared so that the bot can pick up dirt in the corners.

Watching the Powerbot scurry from room-to-room, weaving between chair legs and dodging obstacles, is an uncanny experience. It goes around furniture, halts at steps and knows what parts of a room it has already vacuumed. A digital camera, a range of sensors and clever software are all behind its awareness.

Positioned up-front and aimed at the ceiling is a digital camera. It captures 15 image-frames per second of your ceiling and uses this information to knock up a floorplan of your home. Forward-firing ultrasonic sensors give the Powerbot eyes on the ground and help it circumnavigate furniture. Three edge sensors allow it to approach steps with speed, though it comes to a dead halt as it nears the very edge.

The Powerbot can find its way around a house. It's smart enough to trust it with the vacuuming when you're not home, which can be done by setting the timer. Simply keep the floor clear of clutter first, such as shoes or, in one instance, the fake snow placed beneath a Christmas tree.

Clearing clutter from the bot isn’t difficult. The drum brush at the front can be completely removed with ease, cleaned and returned.

How much power goes into a bot?

The Powerbot is a methodical cleaner. It will vacuum one row, perform a tight turn and vacuum another, until it has cleaned an entire room. The 15mm ride height is enough for it to clear the odd power-cable and the wheels have enough traction for it to vacuum carpets or any hard surface in its stride.

Samsung has equipped the bot with one particular feature that is fun as it is functional. Built into the remote control of the Powerbot is a laser pointer that can be used to lead the Powerbot to specific spots. The bot has to be guided; that is to say it won’t just materialise at a spot on the other side of the room. There is something comical about the great feature, and it comes down to how easy the Powerbot makes vacuuming.

The Samsung’s robotic vacuum cleaner can’t match a manual vacuum on suction because it’s powered by a Lithium-Ion battery and not a 240-volt wall socket. That said, its performance is comparable and the margin of difference is so little that it could replace traditional models.

On its first run of our two-story townhouse, which is typically the domain of our Dyson barrel vacuum cleaner, the Powerbot managed to fill three quarters of its 700ml chamber with dense dust and dirt. It will vacuum continuously for 80 minutes, automatically return to the charging station and then resume vacuuming from where it left off.

Final thought

The problem facing the Powerbot — and other robotic vacuums — is that you still need a secondary handstick vacuum in order to clean corners, steps and nooks thoroughly. The best way to use the Powerbot is daily, with it maintaining a household, while resorting to a handstick or your older vacuum every week or two for that thorough clean. The Powerbot then isn’t an end to vacuuming, but it will spare you a great deal from the chore.

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Read more on these topics: samsung, Digital inverter technology, Vacuum, Powerbot
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