It might be expensive but the Dyson 360 Heurist outperforms its rivals with a level of power that we haven’t before experienced in a robot vacuum cleaner. Exceptional pick-up and methodical navigation, combined with some clever customisation features, ensure you’re unlikely to have to pick up a manual vacuum cleaner too often. Initial configuration is slightly fiddly, and charging stand placement is crucial, but once done you’ll see why the effort was worth it.
- Extremely powerful
- Flexible configuration
- Methodical cleaning
- Slightly fiddly to set up
One of the first companies to launch a robot vacuum cleaner, the 360 Eye, in 2016, Dyson has been slow to release an update – until now, that is. The Dyson 360 Heurist promises better navigation, greater flexibility and boosted power. Happily, Dyson delivers on all fronts, making this the most powerful robot vacuum cleaner we’ve tested.
Related: Best vacuum cleaner
Design – Round and neat, the Dyson 360 Heurist vacuum can squeeze between small gaps
- Narrow but tall, this robot vacuum cleaner can get between some smaller gaps but not under all furniture
- Has a very small and easy-to-place charging dock
- Easy to empty
At a cursory glance, not much has changed between the Dyson 360 Eye and the Dyson 360 Heurist; both use the same tall-but-thin case. It’s fair to say that the Heurist is far more striking, decked out in a bright finish that appears purple or blue, depending on how the light hits it. The rather more drab original was grey.
The robot’s shape and size (120 x 230 x 240mm) offers the advantage that it will fit between narrower gaps compared to rivals, but the extra height may mean the Heurist won’t fit under some furniture. Dyson is different from its rivals in another way: there are no side-sweeper brushes to be found. This isn’t a disadvantage, though: the Heurist has a brush bar that stretches the entire width of the robot, which allows it to pick up right to the edges of the room.
It’s a better design since the Heurist uses its full suction power for the whole clean; side sweepers just brush dirt they can reach into the path of the vacuum cleaner but can miss more ground-in mess.
While most vacuum cleaners (bar budget models) use LIDAR to detect where they’re going, the Dyson 360 Heurist uses a camera to see where it’s going. The disadvantage of the original was that the camera needed light in order for the robot to navigate; Dyson has addressed that issue by adding a ring of LEDs to the Heurist that light up when it’s dark.
This model retains the tank tracks of the original, which propel the robot to climb bigger steps and push through thick-pile carpet and rugs, for example.
Internally, the vacuum engine has been updated, using a Dyson V2 motor that produces 20% more power than the V1 motor in the original. Given that the original was (and still is) one of the most powerful robots we’ve tested, more power still can only be a good thing.
As with the original, the 0.33l bin pops out of the front. Just remove the top, and you can tip the dirt away easily enough. There’s a washable filter at the back that can be removed for easy cleaning. And, you can use a coin to eject the brush bar to cut away any hair that’s become wrapped around it.
Dyson provides a lightweight stand that folds down. It must sit right up against a wall, as the robot would otherwise push it out of the way. Neatly, Dyson has put a power input on either side of the stand, so you can achieve a neat cable run, no matter where you place the stand.
Features – The Dyson 360 Heurist has smart cleaning options that you can adapt to your home
- Excellent map features, letting you fine-tune where and how the cleaner operates
- Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- Easy to schedule cleans for hands-free operation
Installation of the robot is via the Dyson Link app. The new version is far easier to configure, using Bluetooth from your phone to make the initial connection to the Heurist before you connect the robot to your Wi-Fi.
While the original 360 Eye could start cleaning immediately, the 360 Heurist must first perform a mapping run. For this, the robot zooms around your home without the vacuum turned on, allowing it to discover rooms. There’s plenty of storage on offer, and you can store multiple maps for different floors, letting you carry the robot to different locations for whole-home cleaning.
It can take a while for the Heurist to map out your home, and it’s important to clear objects from the floor and place the stand and furniture in the right place. I found that on my first run, a couple of wooden chests resulted in the robot becoming confused, and it wouldn’t come out of the living room. I moved the charging dock closer to the door, which solved the issue.
Getting this right is important, as the vacuum cleaner will not clean anywhere until it has a working map of it. That’s a bit annoying if you normally have the Heurist downstairs, for example, but decide once to carry it upstairs to clean the bathroom.
While all of this is a bit of a faff, you only need to map each area once; it’s important to get this step right. Once a map of your home is complete, you can configure zones, splitting up your house into rooms. Here’s where things get clever.
While other robots have zones, the 360 Heurist uses its zones differently. When you start a clean, you can choose which power mode you want to use for each zone – say Max for high-traffic hallways and carpet; High for most other areas; and Quiet for hard-floor areas or where there’s a more delicate floor. You can toggle zones on and off before you start a clean, just getting the vacuum cleaner to tackle a single area. That’s really handy if you want to focus on a particular area, say because you’ve just been cooking and want to tidy up the kitchen only.
The user interface doesn’t make it particularly clear how you do this: just tap the icon next to a room’s name. If you see the icon in purple it means that the room will be cleaned; if it’s clear, then the room will not be cleaned.
Beyond power modes, you can also set restrictions. These include an “Avoid” area, where you stop the vacuum from going; “No brush bar”, where you can turn off the brush bar (for some hard floors or for deep-pile carpet or rugs); and “No climb”, which stops the robot mounting items such as furniture with annoying support bars that run across the floor and cause issues.
Getting the restrictions in the right place and configuring zones properly can take a while to fine-tune – but once set up, you’ll find that your vacuum cleaner works for your home, and you’ll spend less time moving objects to get the perfect clean as a result.
As the robot cleans your house, it begins to refine and update the map, learning which areas should be cleaned next for the most efficient clean. In my case, when I took the vacuum up to the second floor loft conversion, I originally had the bedroom door shut for mapping. After a couple of cleans with the door open, the vacuum cleaner learned that there was a small landing outside and started to integrate that into the map: it originally appeared with a dotted line around it until I selected edit map to integrate the new area. It’s still best to get the robot to map properly the first time, but it can and will adapt to future changes in your home without having to start again.
As well as starting a clean from the app, you can set schedules so that the Heurist goes out automatically on the days and times you set. Each scheduled clean can use different power settings to a manual clean. For example: once a week, you may want the robot to go out on Max for a deeper clean.
If you have an Echo device, you can start and stop cleans using your voice with Alexa. The skill works and responds well, as does the recently released Google Assistant skill.
Performance and navigation – The Dyson 360 Heurist is the most powerful robot vacuum cleaner I’ve tested
- Exceptional performance with the best cleaning I’ve seen from a robot vacuum cleaner
- Works well on hard floors and carpets
- When you do have to grab a regular vacuum, you’ll only have small jobs to do
Setting the Dyson 360 Heurist off on a test clean, the first thing that I noticed was how long the robot takes. While much of the competition – such as the Neato Botvac D6 Connected – can tackle an average-sized room within 20 minutes and the downstairs of my house in under an hour, the Heurist takes far longer. In fact, the downstairs was scheduled for over two hours.
Don’t be put off: the speed of clean isn’t important; it’s the quality. What the 360 Heurist does exceptionally well is work methodically around your home, making sure it covers the entire floor.
Navigation is far better on this model than the original, hugging the side of rooms and moving neatly around furniture. With this robot, I found that it didn’t get stuck and could dive deftly between chair legs. That’s not to say that you won’t have to move anything. Lighter rugs or mats on the floor will need to be picked up, as will any cables, to prevent them from becoming tangled in the brush bar (assuming it’s turned on).
For my tests, I ran the robot vacuum cleaner on High mode throughout the house. First, I sprinkled some flour against the side of my fireplace hearth. As you can see from the before and after images, the 360 Heurist picked up practically every bit of the dusting, even picking up flour in the cracks of the floorboards. I’ve not seen a robot vacuum cleaner do that.
Edge test: Dirty hard floor (left) vs Clean hard floor (right) – move slider to compare
Moving on, I placed an “X” of flour in the middle of the room. After a clean, it’s normal to see a few telltale signs of where this “X” was, with bits of flour missed or tyre tracks through the middle. Not so with the 360 Heurist; I couldn’t see anything left over at all.
Hard floor test: Dirty hard floor (left) vs Clean hard floor (right) – move slider to compare
Finally, for the carpet test, I spread another “X” of flour out. Again, the 360 Heurist sucked up everything, leaving a perfectly clean bit of carpet behind.
Carpet test: Dirty carpet (left) vs Clean carpet (right) –move slider to compare
As a result of the Heurist’s power, this cleaner is quite a lot louder than the competition. I measured it at 70.8dB when on High mode. You can certainly hear it as it makes its way around your home. However, I’d happily have a louder vacuum cleaner in exchange for a cleaner house.
Most robot vacuum cleaners are described as maintenance cleaners: they pick up most of the mess you can see but need you to vacuum manually from time-to-time to really get everything. While the Dyson 360 Heurist still fits into that category, it does a far more thorough cleaning job.
Once the robot had finished in my house, it managed to go far beyond a basic clean. Sure, there were a few areas it couldn’t quite get into, such as corners of rooms and behind some furniture without much of a gap, but the overall clean was excellent. Most importantly, when I did have to do a regular clean with a vacuum cleaner, the job was easier.
It can take the Dyson 360 Heurist a while to generate its first map. I found that positioning of the charging dock and furniture was crucial to getting the vacuum to work, which was a bit of a faff. Setting up Zones and Restrictions further added to the time it takes to get the cleaner working optimally, while actual cleans were slower than with the competition. However, spend the time to configure the Dyson 360 Heurist and get it working properly, and the reward will be a clean that’s far superior to that on offer by the competition.
Sure, the Dyson 360 Heurist is more expensive than its rivals – such as the excellent Robrock S5 Max or other choices in my guide to the best robot vacuum cleaners – but the quality of the deep clean, reducing how often you have to manually vacuum for (or how long that takes), could just well make that extra cost worthwhile.