Powerful cleaning and innovative features undermined by usability niggles
- Effective, methodical cleaning
- Can “see” through onboard cameras
- Gets stuck frequently
- Camera quality is poor
- Too many annoyances and quirks
For middle-class homes, Miele represents the pinnacle of domestic appliance chic. Like the Mercedes-Benz of the household electronics world, the mere presence of a Miele washing machine in the kitchen makes a statement about who you are and your position in society; that Miele’s products also tend to be built with the solidity and durability of your average brick outhouse is a positive bonus.
All of which is why I was pretty excited about getting a chance to test the firm’s latest robotic vacuum, the Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision. It’s a Miele, I thought, so what can go wrong? Quite a lot, as it turns out, and much more than I initially bargained for.
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Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision review: What you need to know
Before I get onto that, however, here’s a quick summary of the Scout RX2’s talents and key features. On this front, everything looks fine and dandy. As with most robot vacuums, the Scout RX2 is a low profile, puck-shaped device that’s designed to do the job you most hate – vacuuming your carpets and floors – with little to no intervention on your part.
It’s capable of finding its own way around your rooms, circumventing obstacles as it goes, charges itself when the battery runs low and can be controlled from the screen of your smartphone via buttons on its top panel or the included infrared remote control. The Scout RX2 Home Vision’s most intriguing feature, however, is that you can use the smartphone app to “see” through its front-mounted camera, to keep tabs on the robot’s cleaning progress from afar.
Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision review: Price and competition
If its camera capability sets the RX2 apart from the competition then, unfortunately, so does the price. At £850, the Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision sits right at the top of the robot vacuum cleaner price spectrum. It costs around £100 more than our current favourite, the Neato D7 Connected and is pricier even than the Dyson 360 Eye.
Note that there are actually two models of the RX2. There’s the Home Vision model I have on test here and the regular Miele RX2, which has a smaller battery and no onboard camera.
The regular version is even more expensive than our current budget favourites, the Roborock Xiaowa E25 and Eufy RoboVac C30, both of which cost less than £300. Those robot vacuum cleaners lack the RX2’s advanced features, though.
Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision review: Features and design
The features aren’t the only unusual thing about the Scout RX2 – it also looks rather out of the ordinary. It’s slightly flattened at the front and has a pair of forward-facing cameras that look a bit like eyes. With two brushes extending forwards on sprung “legs”, the whole look is disconcertingly spiderlike in appearance – although without the eight hairy legs and web-spinning capabilities, of course.
It feels well-made, too. Sturdy plastics abound and it’s good to see a series of manual controls on the top panel, giving access to the robot’s various cleaning modes. There’s a play/pause button too, allowing you to stop the RX2 in its tracks (without having to pick it up) if it gets tangled or stuck, while a segmented LCD display shows the cleaning mode and error codes for when things go wrong.
The dust collection bin is accessed from the top, too. It’s beneath a push-to-release plastic panel and is very easy to access. Just yank on the handle to release, squeeze the two clips to disengage the lid and tip it out directly into the bin. The bin’s capacity is pretty small, although most robot vacuum cleaners tend to fill up rather quickly.
Flip over the RX2 and you’ll see a familiar set of components and features. Across the centre is a motorised roller brush sandwiched between two large motorised wheels. These are toed out, allowing for a wider brush than is usually found in this type of robot vacuum, and it means more efficient cleaning and less repeated trundling up and down your carpets. The brush still isn’t as wide as the brush on Neato’s vacuums, however, which have an even wider brush mounted at the very front and in advance of the main drive wheels.
One thing the Scout RX2 has that the Neato devices don’t is an additional slot-shaped aperture just behind the roller. This is designed to pick up fine dust and debris the brush misses – the stuff that gets caught deep at the roots of carpet fibres.
Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision review: Navigation and app
To find its way around, the Scout RX2 uses a combination of different sensors. The two cameras at the front give the robot a stereoscopic view of its surroundings and there are five more “optical” (infrared) sensors arrayed around the front to help it avoid crashing into furniture and other obstacles. A further pair of drop sensors can be found underneath, which prevent the RX2 from falling down the stairs.
There’s no laser scanner but that doesn’t seem to affect performance too badly and the Miele finds its way around in a fairly methodical manner. It doesn’t track the edges of the room in the same unerringly accurate way as Neato’s machines, but it goes about covering the whole floor in a sensible fashion, steadily making its way up and down the floor until everything has been covered.
The RX2 can be controlled in a number of different ways. You can select the mode (Auto, Spot, Turbo and Silent) from the top panel using dedicated buttons, use the bundled infrared remote or employ the app on your smartphone. This allows you to set up schedules, kick-off cleaning in the various modes, control the robot remotely, and – if you have the Home Vision model – see through one of the cameras at the front of the robot.
My initial excitement over the latter feature was short-lived, however. The view in the app isn’t particularly high-resolution, so images come through rather murky and muddy looking. And although its fun to be able to control it from afar, it didn’t turn out to be all that useful.
I imagined it might be handy on those occasions when the robot gets stuck. You could see where it was, back it out into free space and start cleaning again. However, whenever this happened, the RX2 simply threw an error and froze, refusing to respond to remote commands. It took me a while but I eventually figured out a way of releasing it so it could carry on. You have to turn it off, wait a few seconds and turn it back on again.
I also found the Scout RX2 unpaired itself from my phone when I physically turned it off, despite still being connected to the Wi-Fi, making it impossible to control using the app and, on one occasion, it got stuck in a loop where the only thing it would do was return to base, despite a cleaning mode being selected.
These sort of niggly irritations hold true of the app’s room map feature. As the robot cleans your floor, it also generates a map of the space, so you can see where it has and hasn’t cleaned. With the Scout’s main rival – the Neato D7 Connected – it’s possible to draw lines on these maps that tell the robot to avoid certain areas. Unfortunately, you can’t do that here. You can tap on the map to tell it to go and do a spot clean there, but that’s about it.
That’s okay, though. As long as a robot vacuum cleaner can find its way around reliably without getting stuck, you shouldn’t need to take advantage of fancy camera and mapping features. Unfortunately, this is where the Miele Scout RX2 comes up short once again. It gets stuck regularly and, when it does, you have to clear the error by either turning it off and on again or long-pressing the play button. I also found it struggled to neatly clean around basic obstacles such as table and chair legs. It got there in the end, but it took an absolute age.
That’s not the end of the app’s quirks, either. One particularly annoying issue is the inability to switch modes mid-clean. If you start the Scout RX2 in standard mode and then decide you want to switch to Turbo, the only way to do it is to send the robot back to its charging pad and start all over again. It’s also frustrating that, when the robot does have a problem, it beeps and displays an error code on the screen but doesn’t send a matching notification on your phone.
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Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision review: Cleaning performance
All of this is a bit of a shame because, when it isn’t getting stuck or being annoying, the Scout RX2 is actually pretty effective at the business of cleaning. It effectively picks up everything from fine dust particles to cat fur and long hair. And, when it came to the ultimate test – spot cleaning a spill of heavy, compressed wood pellet cat litter – it swept up every last piece.
Those brushes in the corners, usually so ineffective on other cleaners, work exceptionally well here. They’re stiff, don’t get tangled up with debris and the brushes are spaced widely enough apart that they don’t end up flicking bits all over the floor.
They’re still not as effective at cleaning corners or skirting boards as the full-width brush on Neato vacuums but with the assistance of that suction slot behind the brush, the RX2 does a very effective job.
And last, but by no means least, it’s good to see that battery life is exceptional. If you opt for the more expensive Home Vision version of the Scout RX2, you’ll find it’ll last up to two hours per charge in Auto mode, which is enough even for the largest of homes.
Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision review: Verdict
The big question is whether effective cleaning and long battery life are enough these days, especially as the competition is so fierce. Unfortunately, I don’t think they are.
While the Miele Scout RX2 is effective, cleans well and has some interesting features, namely the ability to see through its eyes, it has too many annoying and irritating quirks for me. It gets stuck too frequently and is a pain to reset.
In short, this is not a robot vacuum cleaner I can wholeheartedly recommend, especially considering that the price for the Home Vision model is so high. If you have this much money to spend on a robot vacuum cleaner, do yourself a favour and pick up a Neato D7 Connected instead. It’s smarter, more thorough and, although it lacks some of the Miele’s features, it’s a lot easier to use.