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Xiaomi's robot vacuum sucks more than its peers

Engadget Engadget 31/08/2016 Richard Lai
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Xiaomi has yet to make a dent in the Western world, but back in China, it continues to expand its presence with smartphones and smart home products -- the latest of which being the Mi Robot Vacuum announced today. This is the first device coming out of a Mi Ecosystem startup dubbed "Stone Technology" (translated name), and it already claims to have a higher suction rating (1,800 Pa) than the likes of iRobot's Roomba 980 (1,670 Pa) or Neato's Botvac D8500 (1,000 Pa), partly thanks to the same brushless motor supplier used by the Roomba. Best of all, Xiaomi is selling this for just 1,699 yuan or about $250, which is a steal when compared to the $900 Roomba.

The general design of the Mi Robot Vacuum isn't too far off from many existing offerings. At the bottom you'll find two circular side brushes that help sweep dirt into the main cylindrical brush. To boost suction, the machine automatically adjusts its height for a tighter seal with the floor. It walks around using its two main rubber wheels plus an assistive wheel, and is aided by ultrasonic radar sensors, wall sensors, collision sensors, cliff sensors and drop sensors. In other words, you won't have to worry about the Mi Robot Vacuum falling down the stairs or bumping into things.

As you'd expect from any high-end robot vacuum, Xiaomi's machine is able to map your rooms using its laser distance sensor that's poking out of the top. If needed, users can set a virtual wall to block the vacuum using what's essentially a magnetic tape for just 39 yuan or about $6 a pop. By calculating the most efficient route on the fly (which it claims to beat others at as well), its 5,200 mAh 14.4V lithium ion battery will cover 250 square meters of space -- which takes about 2.5 hours -- on a single charge. When done, the machine will make its way back to its charging dock.

The companion app lets you check the vacuum's status via WiFi: You can remotely toggle it, get a live tracking, switch between three modes (normal, quiet and active) and set schedules for automatic cleaning.

The Mi Robot Vacuum should come as no surprise, considering that Xiaomi's range of connected home appliances already include air purifiers, water purifiers, lights, body scale and even a rice cooker. It's obviously too early to tell whether Xiaomi's robot vacuum is as good as it claims to be, but for those who are willing to give up $250 and don't mind being guinea pigs, it'll go on sale in China on September 6th.


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