Review Price £700.00

Can Miele conquer robot vacuum cleaning?

Robot vacuum cleaners aren't a new thing per se, but they've mainly been the preserve of specialist brands like iRobot and tech companies like Samsung and LG. But now Miele, a brand with as good a reputation for its traditional vacuum cleaners as any around, is having a go.

How does its first attempt compare to potential rivals, and is this a sign robot vacuum cleaners are about to become a real 'thing' rather than a niche luxury?

Probably not given Miele has slapped a hefty £700 asking price on the Scout RX1. This sets it up against the most expensive robot cleaners rivals have to offer, such as the iRobot Roomba 790. This isn't such a ridiculous thing when you look at the RX1 on paper, though.

Miele claims it has the longest battery life of any robot vacuum cleaner on the market, at two hours. It also includes a camera to help map the room it's cleaning more accurately, a feature you don't generally see on some of the cheaper models in the market.

Visually, however, Miele hasn't veered too far (if at all) from the established robot vacuum cleaner norms. It's circular with two protruding 'sweepers' to help pull dust and detritus into the main vacuum just like the rest. Miele reckons its brushes are longer than rivals, however, though I didn't have a ruler handy to test this claim.

In common with most robot vacuum cleaners, the Scout RX1 uses a combination of sensors to detect and navigate obstacles, including ones to ensure it doesn't take a running jump down the stairs. During a test run it appeared to navigate obstacles very well, though what I saw wasn't enough to say this conclusively.

The Miele Scout RX1 has four cleaning modes: Auto Mode, Spot Mode, Corner Mode and Turbo mode. Auto Mode leaves the RX1 to work things out for itself, using its camera and sensors to navigate the room; Spot Mode lets you specify a 1.8m square area to focus on to tidy up spills; Corner Mode is the same Auto Mode, but the RX1 will return to all the corners to give them an extra go; Turbo Mode, finally, takes half the time as Auto as it doesn't overlap areas as much.

All of this is fairly standard for robot vacuum cleaners, and of course the RX1 automatically returns to its charging base station when done or the battery is running low. All the modes are selectable from the provided remote, which is fairly basic, and easy to use as a result. There's also the option to remotely control the robot using the remote and its D-pad, though given this relies on infrared it doesn't appear the most reliable (or useful) feature unless you just need to get one tiny spot.

The 0.6 litre capacity doesn't sound like a lot on paper, but it's actually about the same as many rivals and more than the Dyson DC59 cordless vacuum cleaner and its tiny 0.4 litre compartment.

First Impressions

It's hard to get a conclusive first impression of a product like this, it's the cleaning that counts above all other concerns. Miele, being a specialist in this area, reckons it has the advantage here, but there's no way to say for certain until we test it.

What I can say, though, is on paper Miele isn't bringing anything new that rivals aren't. That's not to say it won't perform better when tested, but fundamentally the Scout RX1 looks like more of an evolution than any sort of robot vacuum cleaner revolution.

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