Saturday, February 15, 2014

iRobot Braava 320 floor cleaning robot

iRobot Braava Floor Cleaning Robot product video

(Note it is Braava and not Brava)

Now you have watched the Manufacturers product video please continue to read our review.

Initial Gambit
You may be familiar with the Swiffer line of products where you attach a disposable cloth to a broom like device and mop around to pickup dust.

This does not take long right?  So why would I invest in an automated version of this tool?

Well, Braava is to Swiffing as Roomba is to Vacuum Cleaners. That is as a value proposition:

  • It is not as effective as doing the job yourself with a Swiffer or Vacuum Cleaner
  • Also, you need to make sure there are no obstacles on the floor
  • But it does make a difference
  • And since it is simple, you can set it up and just walk away
  • It fits in nicely with Marcus' OCC (Obsessive Compulsive Cleaning) methodology

So what do you really need to know?

We bought the Braava 320.  There is a choice of 2 models, this is the cheapest.  The 380 is a lot more expensive but does come with the fluid dispensing pad (explained below)

The 320 unit is small, silent and works as designed.  That is to say you attach a small cloth to the magnetically clipable removable  base

After a clean on the floor you can see that the pad is quite dirty.  Oh what a good sign.  It is working!

Navigation is via the NorthStar cube which you switch on and point towards the centre of the room.  This communicates the floor shape and area to clean to Braava.

Unlike the Roomba vacuum cleaners which move about randomly, Braava tries to cover the floor area just once.

Cleaning Modes and Pad
You get 2 Microfibre cloths provided  (generosity!) with the Braava 320, one dry and one wet.  As shipped you would soak the wet cloth in water/ cleaning fluid and attach to magnetic base, then clean.

For the wet cloth you use the right button (teardrop) and not the broom button  (left for dry pads).    Wet cleaning means that the motion is not just linear in a straight line but back and forth, just as if you were using a mop.

Obviously with a mop you would be cleaning and re-wetting.   The 320 base does not come with the liquid topup base but potentially you can buy one.
The 320 is supplied with the pad holder

What you really need is the liquid dispenser from the 380

As far as I can see they are compatible but so far all efforts to buy one cheaply, or at all in Switzerland have failed.  Of course it's easily available in the UK or US!

Without this base after a small wet clean it would be advisable to remoisturise the pad which is a bit of a pain since you are not automatic anymore.

We have used the Braava for about 2 weeks now.   It performs fine as an automated floor mopping robot, picking up dirt as it silently and intelligently cleans your wood or tiled floor.

It is easy to setup and means that daily, without fail, a floor area is cleaned, automatically.

We use it in all areas of the flat including kitchen, lounge, bedroom, bathroom.

The 320 model does not come with the liquid dispenser but we hope to retrofit our with the 380 one.

The 320 model is priced a lot more cheaply than the 380 and I think like with early Roombas there will be a flurry of new improved models for this product line.  So we bought in early and cheap as a test, which we think is the right thing to do for now.