So other than creepily-named bacteria, does the Scooba 230 actually do a good job of cleaning floors? Perhaps surprisingly yes, but this comes with caveats.
The good news is testing it in both a kitchen and bathroom we were left with clean floors that dried within 5 minutes. The last part is particularly significant since manually mopping the floor is well known to make floors treacherously wet for hours at a time. Furthermore the iAdapt tracking system - which can look horribly random to the naked eye - is here more controlled, cleaning in straight lines along walls, washing in efficient, ever widening circles in large open areas and finishing a four metre by three metre kitchen in under 15 minutes.
We say 'finish' because that is exactly what the 230 does. Unlike robot vacuums, which clean until they run out of battery then return to their base station for charging, the Scooba can detect when it has done its designated area and switches off with a celebratory jingle. This saves battery and water (particularly if the supplied Virtual Wall [pictured below] has it restricted to a particularly small area) and signals it can be moved to the next destination.
A further highlight is the 230 is quiet. Working in the same room may be difficult (and rather pointless with the floor being made damp) but it is possible and even just one room away the noise becomes little more than a distant hum. We're sure the size of the 230 is a key factor here, but it sets new standards for other robot vacuums to aspire to. Maintenance is also simple as you just wash out both clean and dirty inlets and wipe clean the bottom.
So what about those caveats? The first is that while the 230 does have some limited vacuuming functionality it is primarily a floor washer. This means you'd be wise to sweep/vacuum any heavy dirt prior to using it (something iRobot does mention upfront) and leave the 230 nothing more challenging than breadcrumbs. In particular fluff can be a problem as it is made wet during the washing process and can then stick to the floor or get caught up in its brushes. Again the thought crops up: if you have to manually clean in the first place maybe you should just go the next step and mop too.
On top of this is a lengthy eight hour charge time - frustrating if it doesn't quite get finished - and for those that could truly benefit from such a device - owners of large hard floored apartments for instance - the 41.8 square metre range is unlikely to be enough. Other caveats include incompatibility between its virtual wall and that of Roomba vacuums which means multiple virtual walls must be set up to divide a room if you are to leave two devices working. The 230 also has no dock so you will need to manually plug in the cable at the end of each cycle meaning your 230 is always flat when you come home.