A fabulous robot vacuum – powerful, flexible, intelligent and very easy to use
- Powerful 2,000pa suction
- Live mapping and tracking
- Virtual no-go zones
- Gets stuck too easily
- A touch pricey
Robot vacuum cleaners aren’t bleeding-edge tech anymore and, if you want one, it needn’t cost the earth. But they’re not quite commodity items yet and, if you want the most advanced features and the best cleaning performance, you still have to pay up. That’s where the Roborock S6 comes in.
It’s the firm’s latest top-of-the-range robot vacuum, and that’s saying something for a company that a) specialises in robot vacuums, and b) is the biggest robot vacuum manufacturer in China. It’s absolutely stuffed with features and clever tech.
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Roborock S6 review: What you need to know
Outwardly, though, it doesn’t look all that exciting. It’s circular in shape, just like most other robot vacuums, and it works in the same way, too. Plonk it down on its charging base, press the Clean button on the top and it’ll bumble around the room, brushing and sucking up dirt until it’s covered the whole floor.
Once it’s finished, it rolls back to the charging base and tops up the battery until the next time you need to clean. It can also mop the floor for you, but that’s not particularly unusual these days.
The answer to why the Roborock is so special lies in the advanced sensors it uses, the software and the sheer cleaning power on offer. Using laser scanning to map its surroundings and plot its routes, a smartphone app that lets you fine-tune your clean, and with impressive levels of suction, the Roborock S6 is among the best robot vacuum cleaners available.
Roborock S6 review: Price and competition
The catch is that this isn’t the cheapest robot vacuum you can buy. In fact, at the moment, it’s tricky to buy full stop, with the only outlet selling it in the UK being Gearbest at a price of around £479. There’s no reason to suppose it won’t make it onto Amazon, eventually, though. Several retailers are offering its predecessor, the Roborock S5, at a price of around £370 – and have been doing so for some time.
Still, once it does reach these shores, the Roborock S6 represents impressive value for money. It competes strongly on features and technology with the Neato D7 Connected, which is our favourite robot vacuum cleaner and it costs slightly less, too.
There are cheaper alternatives but none are advanced as the S6. The Eufy RoboVac 30C is our pick of the more reasonably priced competition. It doesn’t have a mopping attachment, laser scanning or a particularly advanced smartphone app, but it’s nearly half the price and still effective.
Roborock S6 review: Features, design and app
What sets the best robot vacuums apart is the way they map their surroundings and find their way around. The cheapest robot vacuums use semi-random algorithms and bump their way around a room in a semi-random fashion, taking ages to fully cover even the smallest of rooms. Pricier cleaners have cameras and infrared sensors to help them figure out where they’re going and the best way to get there.
The Roborock S6, however, uses fancy laser scanning to map the room before planning its way around, making for the quickest, most methodical clean. Housed in the bump on the top of the robot, the S6’s “laser rangefinder” module spins at 300rpm, scanning for obstacles as it goes. It combines this with a huge range of other sensors to help it get around.
The S6 has cliff sensors that prevent it from taking a tumble down the stairs, a bumper at the front and infrared sensors to prevent it from colliding with furniture too heavily. It can detect whether it’s cleaning carpet or hard floor and adapt the suction power accordingly, too.
Perhaps most impressively of all, though, you can see the S6 build a map of your room as it cleans. And, once it’s finished, you can draw boxes and lines on the map to define areas where you don’t want the robot to go. The map graphics aren’t the cleanest to look at, but they’re accurate and it’s easy to relate them to the physical features of your home, making setting up no-go zones a painless process.
The S6’s mapping capabilities don’t stop there, however. It’s also able to map and remember multiple rooms and, once it has mapped those rooms, it stores them. Even better, once you’ve cleaned each of your rooms and mapped them, you can tell the robot to go clean a specific one, manually or to a schedule. You’ll need to leave your doors open, though.
Where the Roborock S6 is slightly less impressive is in the design and layout of the core cleaning components. Neato’s cleaning robots have a roller that spans most of the front of the unit, allowing them to clean right up close to skirting boards and furniture, whereas the S6’s brush sits between the two drive wheels.
This means the roller can’t get close up to the room edge, instead leaving that area to a rather pathetic, spider-like brush that sits at the front-right corner of the vacuum. While this is adept at sweeping up dust on hard floors and items lying on the surface of your carpets into the mouth of the S6, it can’t lift dust from the roots of the carpet in the same way as the roller brush.
And, of course, the usual limitations of robot vacuum cleaners still apply to the Roborock S6. The dustbin is a relatively small 0.48l, so you’ll need to empty it frequently, and you’ll also need to keep your floors free of obstacles that might get tangled in the roller brush. Be aware, too, that the wheels can surmount only very low thresholds of 2cm and less.
On the plus side, the S6 is easy to maintain and use. The dustbin is top-mounted and simple to remove and empty – just pop up the flap on the top and pull it out. And, thanks to a handy combination brush and hair-cutting tool, it’s simple to keep the bin and carpet roller free of long hairs.
Roborock S6 review: Cleaning performance
Roborock makes great play of the Roborock S6’s suction power and well it might. The Roborock S6 has four power levels and the highest reaches 2,000pa (pascals), making for the most powerful robot vacuum I’ve used. The amount of dust and fluff it continues to lift – even after several consecutive runs in the same room – is truly impressive.
It won’t clean as deeply as a full-powered upright vacuum, or even a cordless unit such as the Dyson V11 or Shark Duoclean, but since the idea with a robot vacuum is that the cleaning is done on a more regular basis, outright power is less important.
It won’t mop as thoroughly as your Vileda Supermop, either, but the same theory applies. Clip the mop attachment onto the rear underside of the vacuum, after filling it with water and cleaning fluid and attaching the cleaning pad, and it will proceed to drag this around the floor, picking up grime as it goes. It won’t remove stubborn stains, but if you run it on a regular basis, it works quite well to keep the floor clean and shiny.
Battery life is excellent. The S6 has a large, 5,200mAh battery that runs for up to 2hrs 30mins at a time, and it’ll clean a huge 250m² before needing a recharge. That’s impressive but, given it will recharge itself automatically, it’s not the most essential aspect of a robot vacuum’s capabilities.
Far more important is that the vacuum finds its way to all areas of your floor and cleans methodically. On this front, the Roborock S6 is pretty much flawless. Once a room has been mapped out, the bot makes its way steadily around the edges and then trundles happily up and down the room in straight lines until the whole area has been completely cleaned.
You can even track in real-time where the bot is on the screen of your phone and see exactly where it has cleaned. A small graphic follows the bot’s progress around the room map, tracing a line behind it as it makes its way around.
The S6’s only significant failing is that it gets stuck quite easily on low-lying obstacles such as the popular Ikea Poang armchair. During testing, it also managed to beach itself on the thin, wiry leg of a clothes airer, which isn’t ideal.
Still, once these obstacles were marked as no-go zones on the room maps, the S6 avoided them and carried on cleaning. It’s also pretty good at resisting the urge to wrap its brush in loose cables. Clearly, if you leave them in the middle of the floor, the S6 will wrap itself in knots just like any other vacuum, but if you keep them tucked into corners and along the edges of your room, it will ignore them and carry on cleaning.
Roborock S6 review: Verdict
The Roborock S6 is mighty fine robot vacuum cleaner. It has its flaws – and it won’t clean the stairs – but it has great suction and navigation capabilities. The ability to define no-go zones ensures you can keep it well clear of danger areas and delicate furniture.
I still prefer the Neato D7 Connected’s wider roller brush, which enables it to clean more effectively into corners than the Roborock S6. However, the S6 hits back with mopping capabilities, live tracking and the ability to clean individual rooms.
In the end, there isn’t much between the Roborock S6 and its arch-rival. Since you currently have to import the S6 via Gearbest, I’d err on the side of caution and go for the Neato instead. Once the S6 arrives in the UK, however, I’d probably choose it over the Neato.