For now, though, Anker's first robot is content to clean your house. You may recognize the Anker brand name from affordable, highly rated chargers and cords sold on Amazon. Now, the company is branching out into inexpensive consumer electronics, including this robot vacuum.
Unfortunately, in order to sell a robot vacuum for a near-permanent sale price of $199, Anker had to go heavy on the vacuum and light on the robot. The RoboVac is slow, lacks any way to keep it from wandering into places you don't want to it go, and has the tendency to ram into furniture.
All those failings aside, however, it did a decent job of picking up dirt. And if you're interested in trying out a robot vacuum for the first time, this Anker is a low-risk investment. Just don't make the mistake of buying it on the rare day when it's selling for above its usual sale price. This is a great $199 robot vacuum, but it's a lousy value if the price goes any higher.
After multiple test runs in our robot vacuum obstacle course, the RoboVac suctioned up, on average, 11.6 grams of debris per charge. That's only a handful of dirt, but consider the fact that the RoboVac can be set to automatically trawl your floors every single day. Over the course of a week, that handful of dirt adds up to over 80 grams, which is about as much as a regular-sized vacuum picks up. Like with other robot vacuums, the Anker is a floor maintainer, not a replacement for a full-size vac.
Although the Anker excelled at being a vacuum, it got into choppy waters when we analyzed it as a robot. Its cleaning cycles last over two hours per room–twice as long as some of the better machines out there. Basically, this robot vacuum runs until its battery gives out, and then it's about five hours in the charging dock before it can run again.
Because the cycles are so long, it's best to set this robot to clean while you're away at work—which is possible, thanks to built-in scheduling. It's also best to keep anything delicate far away, as our impact test showed the RoboVac rams into furniture pretty hard. Bumping into and scuffing furniture shows poor navigation, but a little aggression helped this Anker get as much dirt as possible on soft floors.
Most robot vacuums come with some virtual barrier or wall to keep the cleaner from going into another room or bumping into a dog's water bowl. This Anker, however, goes wherever it pleases. (A remote control is only useful if you're in the house.) Another issue: for all that aggression, the RoboVac still could not muscle its way on top of a floor mat made of high-pile carpet.
When it comes to value purchases, it's important to keep in mind what you're getting in exchange for saving. With the RoboVac, you're getting a robot vacuum with basic functions that stand toe-to-toe with significantly more expensive models.
For example, the LG VR65502LV Hom-Bot (MSRP $749) costs three times as much as the RoboVac, and picks up about the same amount of dirt. However, the $500 extra went into the Hom-Bot's design, allowing it to climb atop thick carpet, and avoiding hitting furniture.
If you want a robot vac that's almost as affordable but a little bit more gentle, we suggest the iRobot Roomba 770. It sells for about $150 more and doesn't do as great a job with cleanup—but it does come with a virtual wall and isn't as tough on your furniture.
People looking for a helping hand getting pet hair and dirt out of a family room or den will be well served by the RoboVac 10. You can spend more and get more, but in the world of robot vacs, what you're getting in return will be proportional.
With that in mind, Anker sells a cost-effective product. It may work slowly and lack extra features, but it will still get the job done.
Meet the tester
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.See all of Jonathan Chan's reviews
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