Robot vacuum vs smart vacuum: Which should you get?

Roborock Dyad Pro in white

Roger Vengas / Android Authority

I recently had the opportunity to review the Roborock Dyad Pro, my first smart vacuum cleaner that isn’t a robot. This concept may be unfamiliar to some people, so others urged it on Android AuthorityI’m sharing my experience with both cleaning options – weighing their pros and cons for people who have tried one or not.

Let’s make things clear right away: the robot vacuum is capable of completely autonomous cleaning, or at least operation without directing your hands. Control is handled through a mobile app, or if you have one, a smart speaker or display. Some robots come with docks that automatically empty debris into the trash can, or even change dirty water if the robot has mopping functions.

Smart parking vacancies are very similar to traditional ones, both in design and in requiring practical control. The difference is that they offer application-based settings and status options, and/or the ability to switch between cleaning modes automatically. Dyad Pro claims both, and its main feature is the ability to switch between suctioning and wiping based on surface detection. It also comes with a dock that allows for self-cleaning and drying when you’re done.

Do you own a robotic or smart vacuum?

37 votes

What does it feel like to use a robotic vacuum cleaner?

Deebot X1 Omni cleans tile floors

Roger Vengas / Android Authority

The main advantage of a bot is the ability to set it and forget it. If you program the right schedule and deal with potential obstacles, you can almost forget your bot even exists. When I was testing the ECOVACS Deebot Omni X1, for example, I only scheduled work on the main floor while my family slept upstairs, out of earshot. Sometime after my review, I felt like the floor was naturally clean, and the X1 was a piece of static room scenery. This void is unfortunately outside my house now.

If you set the right schedule, you can almost forget your bot even exists.

When you need to step in with a robot vacuum, the effort is often minimal, usually with a few taps on your phone or a voice command. This is especially true if the robot has a high-end dock, like those of the X1 and another Roborock product we’ve reviewed, the S7 MaxV Ultra (below). These help extend the time between container/tank changes from days to weeks, or even months if you don’t run your machine often. As far as I know, you can’t find this kind of dock to stand on—I now empty my Dyad Pro about once every week or so, and replenish with clean water every two to four sessions. Fortunately, their detergent cartridge seems to last longer.

second opinion: After six months of using the vacuum cleaner, I will never go back

Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra Empty Laundry Filling Basin with Open Compartments

Rita El Khoury/Android Authority

The ideal place for a robot is a home with an open layout, with relatively few things cluttering the floor. This increases its efficiency and reduces the possibility of it getting stuck or clogged. My current house is the opposite of my ideal in this sense, because it has small floors, narrow hallways, and collections of toys and renovation supplies. In fact, while I still have a Neato D7 robot I reviewed years ago, I’m only using the Dyad Pro for now, since the D7 and its charging base would take up more space than it’s worth.

The (literal) pitfalls of robots

Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra with a smiling Samoyed dog

Rita El Khoury/Android Authority

In my view, the main disadvantage of bots is the possibility of getting trapped in furniture and objects. Their obstacle avoidance is only as good as their sensors and algorithms, and since AI hasn’t been invented yet, they aren’t always smart enough to dodge a pet, a USB cable, or the edge of stairs. Although I haven’t personally dealt with this, I occasionally hear tales of robots tumbling down the steps.

None of this is a big deal if you’re ready to bail out, but if you’re away or asleep, it’s a problem. In the best case scenario, you may discover that your battery is flat and you haven’t finished turning it on; At worst, valuables may be ruined.

Obstacle avoidance is as good as the robot’s sensors and algorithms, which can wreak havoc.

Relying on “weak” AI (a technical term, not an insult) also means that the robot can miss spots a human would, especially in corners or under furniture. The D-shape of Neato products helps with the angle problem, but with any robot, you’ll inevitably need a second hand to finish the floor, not to mention things the robot can’t reach, like curtains or desks.

By the way, something that is never mentioned in the reviews is that robots can be a problem if you have preschoolers. In our old home in Austin, my son loved playing with the buttons on our robots, or even pulling them off their docks. He knows better now, but only because he’s been scolded over and over again.

What does using a smart vacuum cleaner look like?

Vacuum the carpet with the Roborock Dyad Pro

Roger Vengas / Android Authority

For the most part, these smart versions are as handy as anywhere else, which means you push around the handle and empty any bins or cabinets yourself. The Dyad Pro self-cleaning dock saves some effort, but you’ll spend anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes or so to actually clean your floor.

It may sound unattractive, but as mentioned in the introduction, some smart functions like the Dyad Pro or the Tineco Floor One S5 use sensors to switch between wiping and cleaning on the fly. The combination of this steering with manual steering can actually make standing mode more efficient than robots in some cases, since you can cut the chase distance at endpoints that the robot might miss, or save the hassle of changing attachments when the robot supports both vacuuming The scan however cannot switch modes on its own (as is the case with the X1). A bot doesn’t really save you from grief if you spend a lot of time working out its flaws. This is especially true in my current home, which is an obstacle course for AI but an obstacle course for humans.

Stand-ups are also better for in-place cleaning, since you don’t have to mess with app-based targeting or unnecessarily run a full run. Furthermore, most robots do not have enough power to handle large or stubborn grits such as pasta or custard. While the Dyad Pro isn’t the most powerful vacuum out there, it has more suction than the X1, and man knows when to hold still to make sure the mess is gone.

Spare interfaces are superior for spot cleaning or large messes.

For some people, the biggest selling point may be the option to combine vacuum and mopping functions at a much lower cost than a robot. The X1 comes in at $1,550 before discounts, and even iRobot’s Roomba Combo j7 Plus lists for $1,100. Suddenly, $450 for a Dyad Pro or Floor One S5 seems paltry.

Robotic or smart vacuum: which is better for most people?

iRobot Roomba i3 Robot Vacuum

I would suggest buying a dry robot vacuum with a self-emptying dock—like iRobot’s Roomba i3 Plus ($400-500) or Ecovacs’ Deebot Ozmo N8 Plus—and combining that with a “dumb” mop, a cheap wand, and a small handheld vacuum for things like Desks and keyboards. Dry floor debris is usually what people care about the most, and this combo automates that part while saving the rest of your money for the tools you want anyway.

However, there are plenty of exceptions. If you have a small house, a lot of things to clean, and/or need to do a lot of spot cleaning, a smart broom/mop might be your best basic tool, assuming you have time to work. Obviously, people flush with cash can buy a top-of-the-line vacuum/mop robot with a dock like the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra, but like I said, they’ll still need secondary hardware to complete the job.

Most people should get a dry-erase robot, pairing that with a bunch of cheaper ones to cover the bases.

I can’t tell you how to spend your money. But in my own view, $1,000 or more seems like a lot to pay when you’re usually dealing with crumbs, hair, spilled milk, and juice.

$1,059.99 at Amazon

Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra


Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra

Independent and capable
Accurate mapping and avoiding obstacles
Excellent cleaning and wiping

$999.99 at Amazon

Ecovacs Depot X1 Omni


Ecovacs Depot X1 Omni

Omni Convenience Station
Good cleaning, wiping performance
Well designed mobile app

$449.99 at Amazon

Roborock Dead Pro

Roborock Dead Pro

Smooth vac and wiper functions
Smart app control
Light and easy to maneuver

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no firm number, but the consensus seems to be between 4 and 6 years. This assumes that you perform the necessary maintenance, such as cleaning sensors and replacing filters and brushes. The major downside is battery life – even a rechargeable lithium-ion battery can only handle about 1,500 to 2,000 charge cycles.

You may be able to push the numbers longer if you buy a higher quality model and avoid any serious stress on your device.

Yes, and technology is getting more and more complex. Better robots use cameras and LIDAR to map obstacles, and save that data to improve subsequent runs. Maps will also typically appear in the vacuum app, allowing you to target specific areas and/or furniture.

Yes. The tech industry moves quickly, and while vacuum makers seem to have been pretty good about long-term support so far, there’s always the chance of dropping the production line when you need more supplies or replacement components.

At the very least we recommend purchasing additional consumables such as bags and filters. Replacement components are less important, but if you want to put off buying a new vacuum for as long as possible, you should consider spare brushes, rollers, charging cables, and/or mop cloths, depending on your model. Keep everything in a labeled box so you can actually get the most out of it.

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