The charming Samsung NaviBot
will warm your cockles, but it won't clean your abode so thoroughly that you'll
want to fly-tip your standard vacuum cleaner. The Samsung navibot SR8855 robot vacuum cleaner employs some
clever tech and is a great way to get the bulk of your vacuuming done without
lifting a finger. However, you'll still need a second vacuum cleaner to get in
all the nooks and crannies and it is very expensive.
Few household chores are
quite so loathsome as vacuuming. Cooking can be out and out enjoyable, mowing
the lawn gets you out in the sunshine, cleaning the bathroom is a quick and
small job. However, vacuum cleaning is hot, dusty, laborious work that needs to
be done with far too much frequency for it to ever be a novelty. In other
words, if there were a robot that could do it for us, we'd lap it up. Oh
frabjous day! What do we have here?
nature abhors a vacuum, so human nature abhors vacuum cleaning. Samsung,
however, is aiming to liberate mankind from the eternal struggle against the
build-up of dust. The company says its NaviBot will whip around your gaff,
suck up dust, return to its charging station, and start all over again the next
day -- with a minimum of human intervention.
Liberty from domestic drudgery doesn't come cheap, though: the
touchscreen model that we've reviewed, the SR8855, costs around £390 online,
while the version with physical buttons, the SR8845, costs around £350. Can the
NaviBot's performance justify its price, or will you feel like you've been
taken to the cleaners?
How it works
Before you can use the NaviBot, you'll have to charge it for around 2
hours on the bulky, mains-powered charging dock. Once that's done, you'll be
able to select one of four modes that will give up to 1.5 hours of cleaning
time. Auto mode lets the NaviBot handle everything, 'spot' mode will see it
focus on a 1.5 by 1.5m area, 'max' mode will make it clean until the
battery's exhausted, and manual mode will let you take control, using the
remote. When the battery runs low, or the NaviBot thinks the job's done, it'll
automatically return to the charging station.
charging dock is bulky, so you might have trouble finding somewhere convenient
to put it
You can schedule the NaviBot to start at a certain time of day, so it
can go about its business while you're playing a round of golf. If you're
worried about it entering certain areas of your house, you can also deploy one
or both of the 'smart gates' (the cheaper SR8845 comes with only one).
These battery-powered gates are about the size of a large can of tomato
soup and emit an infrared beam that the NaviBot can't cross. You can also set
them to allow the NaviBot to cross their beam only once it's completely cleaned
the room it's currently in. Note that you won't need to use a smart gate to
prevent the NaviBot falling down a stairwell. Three cliff sensors on the
NaviBot's underside frustrated all of our efforts to make it commit robotic
Warms the cockles
The NaviBot is a veritable bobby dazzler, and guaranteed to send the
temperature of your cockles soaring when you first see it in action. Somewhat
resembling a giant, shiny, moustachioed beetle, its diameter is about 35cm --
roughly that of a toilet seat -- and it measures around 9.5cm high. It makes slightly
less noise than a hairdryer on a low setting.
can vary the length of the smart gates' beam to between 1 and 3m
The display is home to numerous
yellow symbols that respond to a prod satisfactorily, although
the touchscreen is far less sensitive than those you'd find on
virtually any mobile phone.
Pressing a mode icon, or a mode button on the remote, will send the NaviBot
into battle with a cheerful beep.
The NaviBot does an admirable job of navigating its way around a room,
but, despite having a ceiling-mapping camera on top and an array of sensors
all over its carcass, it's prone to gently bashing into obstacles.
Nevertheless, it successfully circumnavigated obstructions in our tests -- most
of the time. You'll want to make sure the floor is as free of impediments as
possible to get the best results.
Okay, so this isn't exactly the first robot
vacuum cleaner to hit shop shelves and neither is it even the first made by
Samsung. However, it is the first one made by Samsung to be available in the UK
and it's the first we've looked at.
The Samsung navibot
SR8855 is a low-lying circular device that scurries around your house,
automatically navigating its way round, cleaning your floor as it goes. It
incorporates a conventional cylindrical brush as well as brushes for prizing
dirt out of corners and uses a combination of sensors and cameras to work out
where it's going. Unlike the iRobot Roomba, which is arguably the most famous
of these devices, the navibot actually maps out your rooms and works out the
quickest way to work its way round. In this regard it is much like the first of
these robot vacuum cleaners, the Electrolux Trilobite, which is no longer on
With dimensions of
360 x 360 x 105mm, the SR8855 is markedly larger than the Roomba meaning it has
less chance of fitting under beds and sofas and between chair legs. With that
extra bulk you do get some extra features though. As well as two
inward-rotating brushes to help it tease dirt from edges and corners and into
its clutches (the Roomba only has one), the navibot has a proper conventional
rotor on its underside. This is in contrast to the Roomba that uses two contra-rotating
cylindrical brushes that are prone to snagging on cables or carpet tassles. In
theory the navibot doesn't completely avoid this issue, but we certainly had no
problems. With the SR8855 you
get two Smart Gates, a docking station, and a remote. The Smart Gates use an
electromagnetic beam to block the navibot from crossing an otherwise open path
– say the transition from one area to the next in an open plan living room. You
can set it to either permanently block the path or to let the 'bot through only
when it has finished the area it's working on.