Pros and Cons of a Samsung POWERbot robot vacuum: Should You Buy One?
Dec 10, 2018 6 min read
You might have heard about the Samsung robot cleaners. It has a D-shape similar to what Neato robots have. What is a POWERbot and what are the downsides of buying one?
How a Samsung POWERbot works?
Samsung POWERbots has a shape that is better at cleaning corners and edges. It doesn't have a side brush, instead of it, the unit comes equipped with a wide combo brush that covers mode area when cleaning.
The older POWERbots have a small 300 ml dustbin that caused frequent emptying. The newest models have 700 ml one.
There is a filter (not HEPA) that is machine washable. Now suitable for people with allergies.
Mapping & App
How does Samsung POWERbot mapping work?
The robot is equipped with a camera sensor that takes multiple snapshots while navigating around the house. It layers the images over one another building a 3-D map thus covering the entire space and creates a plan.
Unfortunately, you can not interact with a created map. There is no option such as setting digital walls. If you want to block off some zones, there is a magnetic tape in the box.
The app is very basic. There are a lot of complaints about the connection issues and how it needs to be improved. You can schedule the robot, control its movements instead of the remote control (not suitable for older models).
The bonus is the manual control. Samsung calls this Select & Go. Select & Go feature makes the robot to go to a particular area you've chosen in the app. However, the app is buggy the robot might ignore the Select & Go commands because of the map that is not very detailed.
Remote control & Point cleaning
The robot comes with a remote control that uses a laser to make the machine follow a laser beam that was sent in front of the robot. It is called "Point Cleaning". It does have trouble finding the beam, and it loses it quite easily which means you'll most likely receive reports in the app.
With older models, you can't control the robot's movements via the remote control.
Easy Pass is what Samsung calls the wheels POWERbot has. The wheels are extended a little higher to make the robot transiting from hard floors to carpets smoothly.
The wheels got upgraded since the first robot was released. The older models in the line tend to hit a corner and get turned around; the newest POWERbots seem not to have these issues.
Samsung claims the first robots last about 60 minutes when in reality if it runs over carpets, its carpet identification drains a battery faster. All you can expect is about 25-30 minutes. It might last longer on bare floors.
Same with the high-end model Samsung POWERbot R9350. It should be running for the whole 120 minutes, and it might be true if we'd talk about a bare floor. On carpets, the battery doesn't get that much.
The good thing is the robot gets back to recharge and once its battery full of energy, the unit gets back to finish cleaning from where it left off.
What issues does POWERbots have?
Unfortunately, we couldn't find a lot of information about POWERbots. Here is what we found consumers complained about:
The robot is incredibly loud when operating. Don’t expect to watch a movie while your home is being vacuumed
It still knocks into walls and furniture a little too hard even though the manufacturer has produced many cleaners
The height prevents it from going under a lot of the furniture. All the POWERbots are taller than most of the robot cleaners on the market
The POWERbots cleaners suck good as long as you don't need to use the app. Once you start to interact with the app, the magic of cleaning is gone. The app is basic and buggy. It might work with Android devices (however, several owners claimed they couldn't integrate the bot with a Samsung phone), when it comes to IOS devices the app doesn't work well. If you can get it to connect, the app will often crash and lock up.
The old models perform poorly on carpets. It could be good on a bare floor and not as good on carpeted flooring.
The battery doesn't last as long as Samsung claimed it does. On carpeted flooring, the battery drains fast and dies in about 50-60 minutes of cleaning. Sometimes the robot can't make it back to recharge before the battery dies.
Filtration system has not been upgraded since the first models. It is not HEPA; however, the filter can be washed. Not the best choice for those who have an allergy.
Old brushes were easy to get hair tangled. The company has upgraded the bristle pattern, and now it is easier to clean the brush.
What is not that good with maps created by a POWERbot & Navigation issues. Is the Samsung Smart Home app bad?
Because of the camera-based mapping technology, a POWERbot, the robot hits collisions it hasn't mapped before since its camera has a 130-degree field of view. Because of space, its camera doesn't see, the robot might bump into things when cleaning.
The same happens with dark-colored carpets and furniture. The camera is not able to recognize it as a collision thinking it is empty space and crash right into it.
The app still doesn't have an option to set digital boundaries. In fact, you can't do anything with the app except controlling the robot instead of a remote controller (the oldest versions of the POWERbot don't support even that). When all the high-end robots offer options like setting blocked off areas or recognizing the type of a surface (ECOVACS does), the Samsung seems to be staying at the same place where it was when had released the very first robot vacuum.
Something similar to a spot cleaning you can do with the remote control. This feature is called Point Cleaning. It enables the laser pointer to show the cleaner where to go, and a POWERbot follows it. Due to a not very detailed map, the app will occasionally give you errors because the robot might lose the spot. The feature is upgraded in the newest models, yet the app did not get that much updates, still has room to improve.
Everything that lays on a floor is a weakness for older POWERbots. When the cleaner goes over rugs and clothing, it starts alerting asking for help. It doesn't go back and get rescued itself. Still can happen with the newest R9350 but not as much as with its older brothers.
Before setting the robot to map out your home, make sure the battery is full otherwise, you'll get a charge error.
The Select & Go feature supposed to make your robot clean a specific room you've chosen. In reality, you will most likely need to manually move its charging dock to the room where it's cleaning so the robot can get back to recharge.
If you are using "Select and Go" and you create multiple floor plans be-aware you will not be able to delete them. Sometimes the "Select and Go" doesn't work. The app an error saying it can't locate the picked rooms.
You are not able to use the "use this floorplan" option when the robot is cleaning. Once is on a charger, you can pick the map you want the robot to follow.
If for some reason the POWERbot stops during mapping (e.g., gets stuck, gets low on power, loses connection, etc.), it kills the entire mapping process, so you need to start over again.
If the charger base is placed on a wall that is diagonal to most of the rooms in the home, the cleaner will vacuum in a diagonal pattern.
Before mapping make sure you picked up EVERYTHING from the floor such as rugs, coins, etc., with that being said, other robots can map your house without you picking up every small particular.
You can not delete a created floorplan. If you need it to be removed, contact the support. The maps are stored in a vacuum, not in the app.
Samsung produces great robot cleaners that are able to clean bare floors, thin and medium-pile carpets, easily get rid of pet hair. The machines are heavy and have a design that is unique. The shape is great at cleaning corners, and the wide cleaning brush works well on carpeted flooring and bare floors.
The troubles show up once you decided to download the app. It is very basic and buggy. The robot has a lot of issues with mapping and features that relate to creating a plan.
For a robot vacuum cleaner that costs about $1000, it is a big deal. You don't want to spend this much money and get a robot cleaner that randomly moves around without remembering your home layout, right? For these porpuses you can have a look at cheaper robots, there are plenty of similar products on the market.
In the next article we will be talking about the POWERbots alternatives, stay tuned!