After you reach a certain age — I kid you not — robots that clean your house for you become some of your most beloved gadgets (seriously). In my house we’ve got three pets and a toddler running around: things get messy quickly and I find that my wife and I have less and less time (or willpower) to clean as much as we’d like (or maybe should is a more apt word). So, I repeat: cleaning robots are Awesome.
At the moment I’ve got three beloved robotic cleaners in my arsenal: a Neato BotVac (vacuum), an iRobot Braava (sweeper) and, the newest addition, the ILIFE A4 Smart Vacuum Cleaner. The A4 is billed as a full-on vacuum cleaner, but I actually found that it doesn’t work the best on carpeted areas (at least not compared to the much pricier Neato BotVac). If you are looking for a robotic vacuum, I will say this product can handle surface carpet cleaning alright, but I just don’t think it gets super deep (way down where the real dirt and grime persists). It does, however, work very well on hard floors. And in that sense I’d call it a great budget alternative to a robot like the Braava.
When the opportunity presented itself to review the ILIFE A4, I quickly pounced. Looking over the product information I was sold in an instant. The price is incredibly affordable (essentially half that of the Braava), it’s got a 3-step cleaning system (suction, rotating brushes and side brushes), features a solid battery capacity (2600 mAh to be exact) and a sensor suite that should (in theory) help the vacuum successfully avoid obstacles.
Since I found that this robotic vacuum works best on hard floors, that is what I’m mainly going to concentrate on when I describe how well it cleans in this review.
The area that I tested the A4 in was my laundry room which has a linoleum floor and also happens to be where we keep our cat’s two litter boxes. If you’re a cat owner yourself, you probably know that cats tend to drag plenty of litter out of their litter boxes which then drops around the surrounding area. Before I got the A4 this area had to be constantly swept by hand. Since the A4’s arrival, that is no longer the case.
After running the A4 the laundry room floor has no litter pieces left — I’d call it completely clean. So this robotic vacuum/sweeper works really well and truly does an admirable cleaning job. If there’s a downside to how well this bot cleans it’s that it isn’t especially speedy. Whereas the Braava can clean my kitchen and dining room in about 15 minutes, the A4 takes at least 45 minutes (and often longer) to clean a much smaller area. The reason seems to be that this bot just doesn’t have a particularly smart brain; it often seems to roam about aimlessly and frequently goes over the same areas where it has already been. I guess that could be viewed as a “dumb” thing for this robot to do, but perhaps it’s one of the reasons it seems to do such a thorough job. However you slice it the A4 gets the floor swept and to be honest the length of time doesn’t bother me at all (since I usually turn it on before I head to bed or while I’m in another room or even before I head out to door).
I wouldn’t call the laundry area in my house isn’t the easiest place for a robot vacuum or sweeper — any robot vacuum or sweeper, budget or top-of-the-line — to clean. There’s a door to the room that we keep open but that presents an interesting obstacle to a robot. Usually the A4 has no issues getting around this door however it is positioned, but occasionally it returns to it’s charging cradle having been confused or thinking it has cleaned the entire intended area when it actually hasn’t. Outside the laundry room is a bathroom, a door to the garage with a mat in front of it and the top of the stairs leading to the basement. It never has any trouble cleaning the bathroom floor, doesn’t move or rearrange the mat in front of the garage door (something the Braava has trouble with) and never has any issues stopping itself from falling down the stairs.
One great feature about the A4 is how quiet it is: it’s far more quiet than the Neato BotVac (which, again, has a lot more suction power) but a tad bit louder than the Braava (which just sweeps — and is near silent at that). In any case, the A4 can definitely be run “in the background” while you’re doing something like watching TV or listening to the radio or your favorite music or podcast.
I’ve witnessed much more expensive cleaning robots have trouble getting back to their charging cradles (usually the rule is to give them 3 feet of clearance on all sides, but in many houses that just isn’t going to be possible). But the A4 always seems to find it’s way back to home base like a champ (and in my testing scenario there is only about a foot of clearance, or maybe even a little less, on each side of the charger). This is important because you wouldn’t want to go to turn on your robot and have it start cleaning only to find that it lost it’s way and hasn’t been charged.
Some people might really like the fact that this robot comes with a remote control. Personally I don’t use it much (ever, actually) because it’s just as easy for me to reach down and hit the on button (or just press it with a toe, ha). The remote does, however, have more options and can enable more features than you’d get if you chose not to use it.
I’d call the A4 well-built. I’m not worried about it breaking at all. It’s not as heavy as other robots (I’m thinking pretty specifically about the Neato here) and yet it doesn’t feel cheap.
To conclude I’d recommend buying the ILIFE A4 robot vacuum cleaner if you’re looking for a great budget sweeping robot or a basic vacuum. If you’re looking for a really deep clean on your carpets, however, rather than a surface cleaning, well you might want to continue your search. Without a doubt I’d call this one of the best budget (affordable) robotic vacuums you can buy.
The ILIFE A4 is a great home improvement product and you can buy it from GearBest right now for just $146.99.