Robot wars: is Aldi’s robot vacuum cleaner up to the task?

We pit the budget bot against iRobot’s Roomba to check if it’s worth the investment

 

Technology is a wonderful thing. And no more so than when it’s taking over a much-hated task in your home. In this case, it’s the vacuuming.

If you have wooden floors, a pet, children, or even just fancy living in your home rather than hovering above the flooring, you’ll know that no matter what you, dust, dirt and general crud seems to build up out of nowhere. And with precious weekend time so limited, you’d be forgiven for bitterly resenting having to push a vacuum cleaner around just to keep the place looking presentable.

In this regard, the robot hoover has been a revelation.

But do you have to shell out hundreds for the top end machine to get good results? Or could a sub €200 machine from Aldi do the trick?

On Sunday, Aldi put its latest home appliance on sale: the Easy Home robot cleaner. By all accounts, it’s proved popular among consumers looking for a bargain way to reduce their housework load. We put it to the test against the iRobot Roomba - in this case the 650 model - to see if it could handle the competition.

While you may be suspicious about own-brand electronics, a bit of research revealed that this particular machine is made by an Italian firm that is actually a division of DeLonghi, which may put some minds at rest.

It takes just over three hours to charge, although the instructions, as usual, recommend leaving it for far longer on initial set up. Once it’s done, you get about one and a half hours of cleaning time out of it, although as the battery depletes, so does the suction. Once it hits a certain point, the cleaner will head back to its dock to recharge, all without you having to do a thing.

Well, apart from remember to plug the dock in.

The Good:

Looks wise, the Easy Home cleaner is minimalist. White with a bit of green flashing, there’s little in the way of buttons to mar its profile.

The Aldi cleaner has two brush bits on either side, compared with the Roomba’s single one. In theory, that means it should get into more corners, clean more dirt, and generally perform a bit better.

It comes with a remote control that allows you to set cleaning schedules or activate the turbo clean mode for particularly dirty areas. The ultimate in couch potato cleaning.

Setting it up for the first time is simple. Once it’s charged, you hit the button the top and let it go. It will wander around the room, crisscrossing until it’s covered every inch, and then head back to the dock.

All the dust, dirt and crud is collected in the small bin inside, leaving the emptying of it as only task you need to take care of.

If it hits air - the top of a staircase, for example - the crash sensors mean it will stop moving, leaving you to rescue it. The sensors weren’t as sensitive as the Roomba, but it stopped in plenty of time, even if was a little precariously balanced.

The not so good:

Although Aldi’s machine’s sensors were a little more sensitive than the Roomba - it didn’t bump into as many walls - it also meant that it missed some of the corners the Roomba did not.

Don’t lose the remote control. Without it, you can say goodbye to scheduling, even turbo cleaning mode as there are o on-machine buttons to activate this, simply an on and off switch. Plus you’ll have to get up to actually activate the machine, which defeats some of its purpose.

Be careful removing the bin - it’s small and although it has a lid and carry handle, I encountered a bit of spillage when I tried to remove it a bit too enthusiastically. Which meant the cleaner had to run again to tidy up after itself.

The rest:

The Aldi machine comes with a three-year warranty, which is better than what some of the better-known manufacturers offer. One tip: check how long the warranty is on the battery, as some companies - including iRobot - offer only a six month warranty on these.

Also, if you have deep pile rugs, neither machine did particularly well getting to these. Best to save it for wooden floors, tiles and shorter pile carpets.

But good luck getting your hands on one of these now. If it does crop again - and it well might at some stage in the next few months - grab one while you can.

The verdict:

At that price, it’s cheaper than most of the other decent offerings out there. And with a three-year warranty, it’s definitely worth the risk.

Now if only they could invent something that automatically did the ironing for you….