This robot is part vacuum, part trash compactor
Hey, a robot vacuum is a power tool too.
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More known for making power tools, Black & Decker announced a new lineup of robot vacuums at CES 2017. The older models were drab, black and gray affairs, utilizing nickel batteries, and possessing the barest minimum of features. This time around, the new the Smartech lineup is an explosion of color and new technologies.
After you get past the flashy exterior, you'll find a remarkable claim: the dirt and debris that this vacuum suctions up gets compressed into a disposable disc. You see, bagless vacuums have this problem where when you empty the bin, a little mushroom cloud of dust forms over the trashcan. Plus, no matter how much you shake and spin, a clump always stays in the bin.
So we can't wait to get the Smartech in our test labs to see if the dust compression actually happens. My guess is that dirt and hair will clump together, but larger debris might remain.
Besides claiming to be more hygienic, the Smartech is going to try and live up to its name by hosting a whole suite of WiFi connected features. With the companion app, you'll be able to schedule cleanings, change the color of the LED display on the higher-end models, and even take direct control. None of those features are game changers, but rarely do we see these features at the $399 price point.
On the cleaning front, we can tell that this Black & Decker is loaded for bear. It has a 9-inch wide beater brush, a width matched by only a few competitors, like the Dyson 360 Eye. A wide brush means the Smartech can more efficiently cover a room, and decreases the chances of hair getting tangled up.
Overall, we're pretty optimistic that the Black & Decker is going to be a good mid-level robot vacuum. Models will range in price from $349-$399, and will be available for purchase in late March 2017.