Few household chores are quite so loathsome as vacuuming. Cooking can be out and out enjoyable, mowing the lawn gets you out in the sunshine, cleaning the bathroom is a quick and small job. However, vacuum cleaning is hot, dusty, laborious work that needs to be done with far too much frequency for it to ever be a novelty. In other words, if there were a robot that could do it for us, we'd lap it up. Oh frabjous day! What do we have here?
Okay, so this isn't exactly the first robot vacuum cleaner to hit shop shelves and neither is it even the first made by Samsung. However, it is the first one made by Samsung to be available in the UK and it's the first we've looked at.
The Samsung navibot SR8855 is a low-lying circular device that scurries around your house, automatically navigating its way round, cleaning your floor as it goes. It incorporates a conventional cylindrical brush as well as brushes for prizing dirt out of corners and uses a combination of sensors and cameras to work out where it's going. Unlike the iRobot Roomba, which is arguably the most famous of these devices, the navibot actually maps out your rooms and works out the quickest way to work its way round. In this regard it is much like the first of these robot vacuum cleaners, the Electrolux Trilobite, which is no longer on sale.
With dimensions of 360 x 360 x 105mm, the SR8855 is markedly larger than the Roomba meaning it has less chance of fitting under beds and sofas and between chair legs. With that extra bulk you do get some extra features though. As well as two inward-rotating brushes to help it tease dirt from edges and corners and into its clutches (the Roomba only has one), the navibot has a proper conventional rotor on its underside. This is in contrast to the Roomba that uses two contra-rotating cylindrical brushes that are prone to snagging on cables or carpet tassles. In theory the navibot doesn't completely avoid this issue, but we certainly had no problems.
With the SR8855 you get two Smart Gates, a docking station, and a remote. The Smart Gates use an electromagnetic beam to block the navibot from crossing an otherwise open path – say the transition from one area to the next in an open plan living room. You can set it to either permanently block the path or to let the 'bot through only when it has finished the area it's working on.