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Review: Narwal Freo ushers in a new age of robot vacuum moppers

New York Post logo: MainLogo New York Post 12/6/2022 StackCommerce

You work. You’ve got friends and family, responsibilities to handle, and activities to enjoy. Occasionally, you even like to relax a little. Basically, you’ve got a life, which means you don’t have time to babysit a robot.

Unfortunately, with many robot vacuum and mop units, you can often feel like you’re overseeing a hyper-energetic toddler. You endlessly keep an eye on it as it bounces off walls, gets lost under furniture, rolls into situations it can’t escape, and forces you to watch it like an ultra-vigilant parent. And then there are the even bigger headaches: the robots that don’t actually do their vacuuming or mopping all that well in the first place.

Fortunately, the new Narwal Freo Self-Cleaning Robot Vacuum and Mop doesn’t need all that oversight. Putting this conscientious little bot through its paces doesn’t feel like being on constant monitor duty. Instead, engaging with the Freo feels more like you’ve tasked a motivated, accountable teen with the responsibility. And just like dealing with a responsible high schooler, the Freo is capable of understanding and carrying out the assignment to get carpets and floors sparkling clean. 

Narwal Freo Self-Cleaning Robot Vacuum and Mop, $1,299 © Provided by New York Post Narwal

The Freo is the latest evolution of upstart Narwal Robotics’ highly regarded maiden effort in the robo-vac and mopper space, the Edison and Red Dot Design Award-winning Narwal T10. However, despite those accolades for the all-in-one robot named to TIME Magazine‘s 100 best inventions of 2020 list, the Freo isn’t just the T10 with a fresh coat of paint. Instead, the Freo improves on the efficiency and performance of the T10 by adding a handful of much-needed improvements that make it a clear contender for the smartest robo-cleaner available today.

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Getting the Freo up and running right out of the box doesn’t take much. Once you’ve connected the bot to the Freo app, filled the base station water tanks, and charged up, the Freo is ready to get started with its five different cleaning modes.

Unlike the add-on attachment configuration of the T10, one of the Freo’s massive improvements over its predecessor is the fully integrated built-in mopheads, always ready to be deployed for any mopping tasks. You can even run the Freo in its combination of vacuuming and mopping mode, allowing the unit to shift back and forth intelligently between carpet vacuuming and hard floor scrubbing at a moment’s notice.

The app also makes it easy to quickly adjust the Freo’s mopping work to match the type of hard surface it’s cleaning. For example, with a touch of a button, it was simple to switch from the hard, deeper scrubbing available for tile, vinyl, and other hard floorings, to lighter, less abrasive mopping for more easily damaged surfaces like soft wood.

You can’t trick Freo, either. Its intricate web of sensors instantly suss out its location and shift from vacuuming to mopping and back again like a hardened pro. 

In the unit’s proprietary Freo Mode, the robot really shows off its smarts, combining its patented DirtSense and Smart-Swing features for improved cleaning that actually senses how dirty a floor is, then automatically adjusts itself to redo the area as often as needed to get the job done. For example, with DirtSense, the Freo re-mops an area until it is decidedly clean, no matter how many times it needs to go over it.

While piloting the Freo via the Narwal app is simple, it’s definitely a convenience to also have complete robot control via the LCD screen buttons on the Freo base station. It’s the first touchscreen of its kind in a robo-vac and mop unit and allows for a lot of optimization mid-session if you don’t want to run everything through your phone.

As it turns out, the Freo can head back to the base station for self-cleaning during its full circuit cleaning. However, the stops are generally fast and surprisingly quiet as the Freo automatically washes the mop with water and floor detergent (included with the Freo). The Freo then uses 40-degree-Celsius hot air jets to dry the mop heads to prevent bacteria growth, which is the most efficient way to dry the mop and preserve the mop fabric.

Between its various cleaning modes and thorough self-cleaning routine, the Freo is just the kind of robot assistance most shoppers want. It does a complete job cleaning floors while requiring almost nothing from its human overlords. Besides replacing water after mopping or dumping out the dust traps, the Freo is a self-sufficient addition to nearly anyone’s vacuuming and mopping arsenal, allowing users more time to focus on other things like work or family.

Right now, you can pick up the Narwal Freo Self-Cleaning Vacuum and Mop Robot through the Narwal website at up to $400 savings off the retail price. For a limited time, you can get a Freo at the low price of just $999, now through 11/30.

Prices subject to change.

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