Science Fiction has been promising us robotic slaves for decades. The promise of a hassle free existence, with all daily chores completed by a combination of bits and bytes with mechanical hardware. The Navibot S is the closest we’ve come to that reality.
There is a lot to like about the Navibot S. The discreet robot vacuum is quiet, (relatively) intelligent and powerful. It’s capable of sucking down dirt all over the house, giving a surprisingly effective clean to both tiled and carpeted areas, removing dirt, dust and dog hair with ease.
Setting up the Navibot S is fairly simple, although I did need to check the manual about a couple of pieces of plastic that weren’t actually needed in the setup. After a quick automatic clean, I set the Navibot S onto a schedule of daily vacuuming and let it do its job.
Like the best cleaners, the robot didn’t complain. It went about its business quietly and professionally, using its vast array of sensors to work around obstacles and spend extra time on extra dirty areas. It was, initially, amazing to watch.
I was testing out the premium version of the robot, which includes a two litre dirt container in the base station. The Navibot would return to its home, empty out its contents and then continue its day job in the most efficient manner. The extraction of dirt to the base unit was noisy – much noisier than the robot itself – but not so loud that it would wake a sleeping baby. Trust me – I tested.
But the fact that I have kids proved to highlight some of the Navibot’s biggest issues. Primary among them is the fact that for all its sensors, the robot did occasionally get stuck on an errant toy left lying around the house. It also got stuck under the back of the lounge – a spot that rarely gets vacuumed purely due to the difficulty of getting under there. But when the Navibot gets stuck, it screams like a hungry child with an earsplitting beep, which IS loud enough to wake a sleeping baby.
The other issue I had with the Navibot was its base station. While the robot had little problem returning to base when it was out of battery or needed to empty the dirt compartment, the base itself didn’t really stay in position. On more than one occasion, I watched the Navibot S push the base around while trying to dock, making the process impossible. While I just had the base sitting on tiles, it seemed like there could possibly be a better solution at permanently fixing the base in place.
The third issue is that the Navibot, no matter how tidy your house is, can not vacuum everywhere. Its round shape makes corners a no-go zone. It’s sensors bump against chair legs, which prevent it from getting under the dining table. Which means that you will still need to not only own a vacuum cleaner, but use it semi-regularly.
That may not be such a problem for people with plenty of moolah, but for those who are watching their back pocket, the $1,099 minimum asking price for the Navibot S is a big turn off. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing piece of kit that does a pretty great job for what it is. But it’s still just a machine, and until Judgement Day occurs and the machines become self aware, chances are products like the Navibot S will remain a luxury appliance accessory rather than a replacement for the appliance itself.
Price: From $1099 ($1,299 reviewed)
Nick Broughall is the Australian Editor of TechRadar.com, where he gets to indulge his passion for geekery and the lastest technology. He is also the Editor of EFTM.com.au, where he gets to indulge his passion for manliness, from sampling fine liquor to the joys of growing a beard. It’s a pretty good life, really.