We know that iRobot makes a mean robot vacuum, however the $300 (£260) Braava 380t is something completely different. There’s no suction upon this little bot, no brushroll, no bin. iRobot calls it a floor-mopping robot, and it will get the job done with reusable or disposable cloths, wet or dry.
The Braava may be the product of iRobot’s $74 million dollar acquisition of Evolution Robotics, makers of the Mint robotic floor mop. Rebranded and rereleased as the Braava, the “whisper-quiet” floor cleaner will mop dust, dirt, hair, and grime from any hard surface, according to iRobot. While I could attest to the whisper-quiet part, I cannot say that I’m totally sold on the cleaning power, even though using it, I came across myself missing key features from the Roomba, like autorecharging and scheduled cleanings. For basic cleaning, this bot might seem sensible, but temper your expectations if you are longing for heavy-duty mopping power.
In conditions of design, I supply the Braava fairly solid marks. It’s a good-looking, unobtrusive cleaner — even more so as a result of how quiet is, by far the quietest of any robot floor cleaner we’ve ever tested. In the event that you set it to completely clean the kitchen while you’re watching TV within the next room, you won’t have to turn the quantity up.
Weighed against bigger, heavier bots just like the Roomba 880 and the Neato BotVac 85 , the Braava is small-fry, weighing just 4 lbs (1.8kg). You will not have any issue picking finished . up — which you’ll want to should do often, because it can’t take up a cleaning run or go back to its charging base without your help.
For convenience, the Braava includes a handle included in its rear edge, so that it is especially simple to carry. My only complaint is that the handle is situated on a single side as the charging nodes, which you’ll want to reduce onto the vertical charging dock. For that reason, you can’t utilize the handle whenever you’re picking finished . up out of your dock. It’s a fairly minor quibble given how light the Braava is, but nonetheless, a top-mounted handle may have been an improved choice.
The Braava’s handle helps it be simple to carry — though it isn’t positioned in the easiest spot.
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Talking about the charging dock, its vertical alignment is a departure from what we’ve seen from the Roombas we’ve tested out, which all align horizontally while charging. This ensures that the Braava occupies a lot less living area in its resting position, so that it is simple to hide the charging robot behind a couch.
The downside to the is that the Braava can’t possibly go back to its charging position automatically, like other cleaners can. If it is finished cleaning, you need to part of and return it to its dock, which diminishes a number of the appeal of obtaining a robot to clean your home for you.
I was also a lttle bit disappointed that the dock doesn’t double as a navigation aid for the Braava. To greatly help the Braava find its way around, you’ll place an accessory called a NorthStar Navigation Cube somewhere in the area you want it to completely clean. The cube will sync up with the Braava wirelessly, giving it a navigational reference point. To completely clean multiple room, you’ll need multiple NorthStar, and extras can be purchased separately.
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The Braava has just three buttons: one for dry mopping, one for wet mopping, and someone to turn the thing on / off. Wet- and dry-mopping modes each have their own distinct cleaning head. The dry cleaning head is made to use disposable Swiffer-style cloths (in addition to the included dry microfiber cloth), as the wet cleaning head includes a reservoir that you’ll have to keep filled up with water.
Swapping the heads in and out is a cinch, as is changing the cloths. The wet cleaning head uses fine, Velcro-like pads to carry the cloth set up, as the dry cleaning head has grooves so that you can tuck the cloths into.
Once you have got the cleaning head set, you’ll carry the Braava to wherever you want to buy to get started on cleaning, set it down, and press the button for the required cleaning mode. After a few cheerful beeps, it’ll reach work, cleaning in straight, neat rows in dry mode, or sashaying arcs in wet mode. Once it’s determined that it is finished, it’ll go back to the approximate stick it started, beep out an “I’m finished” song, then patiently wait that you can come and make it back again to its dock.
The NorthStar Navigation Cube can help your Braava find its way around the area.
Colin West McDonald/CNET
Compared with almost all of the other robotic floor cleaners that we’ve tested, the Braava evidently requires somewhat more hands-on interaction, and certainly a lot more than I would like from an automated cleaner. With the Roomba, I could leave for work each day with crumbs on my carpet and get back to completely clean floors without ever having thought twice. I cannot say that about the Braava.
Granted, this style of the Braava costs significantly less than the higher-end Roomba we tested (the hottest style of which costs a lot more than twice of what you’ll invest the 380t). Still, considering that it bears the iRobot name, the Braava just wasn’t practically as smart or feature-rich as I’ve come to anticipate.