Let's be honest, none of us like cleaning. So when robot vacuum cleaners started appearing on the scene a number of years ago, the idea that we would never have to do any vacuuming again got a lot of people excited.
The problem is most robo-vacs don't work that well. You'll end up looking at your floor afterwards wondering what the little robot has been doing all that time. And unless you've got a cat in a shark suit chasing a duck, the humour soon runs dry.
Can Dyson improve the situation? We've been living with the company's new robotic vacuum, the 360 Eye, to see if it's as all-seeing of dirt and grime as its name suggests. Can we, finally, give up cleaning forever?
Dyson 360 Eye review: Design
The Dyson 360 Eye is small but tall. That means it can get into tighter corners than other robotic vacuum cleaners we've tested before. However, its height - it's about the same height as a skirting board, at 12cm - might stop it going under certain bits of furniture.
The height is so because of the size of the Dyson digital motor tucked inside. It's a variant of the same power motor used in the company's cordless range, but adapted slightly for the requirements here. In our home the 360 Eye was still able to get under a tub chair, the kitchen table and most places you would expect it to be able to clean.
The cleaner itself is very "Dyson" in look and feel. Robust and well built, it can be easily dismantled to clear blockages, access the filter, or empty the dust bin. Flipping it over reveals the large brush bar to suit all floor types and the robot's two tank-track wheels that allow it to navigate varying floor heights like carpets or door runners.
Unlike other robotic cleaners the Dyson's brush - which is made from stiff nylon bristles and softer carbon fibre filaments - dominates the width of the design, ensuring it can clean as wide an area as possible. As such the 360 Eye can get very close to skirting boards or objects, without needing one of those not-so-useful "flick" brushes of the competition.
The 360 Eye has a 0.33-litre dust bin that's easily accessed with the press of the (fairly small) button, while a (much larger) single control button activates or stops the cleaner itself. The rest of the controls, including scheduling functions, are accessed via the accompanying app, which is free to download.
When charging the Dyson 360 Eye returns back to its simple-looking white docking station, which sits against your wall by a plug socket. This docking station is about the size of a A4 piece of paper.
Dyson 360 Eye review: The all-seeing Eye
The tall design and large brush aren't the only differentiating elements of the 360 Eye. The robot gets its name because of the 360-degree camera Dyson has placed on the top of the unit to help it navigate your home.
Rather than use a series of lasers to bump its way chaotically around the rooms of your house - with the competition these are a pain to setup and get in the way - the 360 Eye uses a camera sitting on top to help it locate itself at all times as well as help it find its base station to recharge after it's used up its 40-minute battery. The use of a camera has its negative, though: without good light the 360 Eye struggles to work properly.
Unlike other cleaners, the 360 Eye drives to the centre of the room and then creates a snail shell-like shape until everything is clean. You never get to see what the camera sees, but you do get a detailed map of what your robot has and hasn't been able to clean.
Dyson 360 Eye review: Cleaning
Regardless of what it looks like, if it can't clean then it's about as useful as a chocolate teapot. And here's where the Dyson 360 Eye is a real winner: it's fantastic at cleaning. Wave goodbye to regular dirt, dog hair, and various detritus.
We tested the robot cleaner over a number of surfaces ranging from carpets and shaggy rugs, to tiled areas with a range of obstacles left in the way. In most cases the 360 Eye managed to navigate around the array detritus left in the way - we have three kids and dog, so you can only imagine - and still get on with the cleaning at hand. It did get caught in a towel that had been left on the floor one time, though.
The camera feature also allows it to move from room to room (you have to leave the door shut if you don't want it to escape) and the range of sensors on board means it won't throw itself off the top of the stairs like a robotic lemming.
Like all robot cleaners, the Dyson 360 Eye isn't perfect in every room or every situation. You need to remember to empty the dust bin regularly, and you will still need a vacuum cleaner for the stairs, for spot cleaning, and for more intricate nooks and crannies - not to mention high-up places. For general maintenance cleaning, though, we've been more than happy with the performance.
Dyson 360 Eye review: App control
Rather than insist on you sitting with your new robot cleaner punching in a series of commands via a handful of buttons, the 360 Eye's setup, scheduling and monitoring is actioned via the accompanying iPhone or Android app for phones and tablets.
It's here you get to name your cleaner - we called ours Linty - start it remotely from anywhere in the world where you have internet access, check on its activity, get it to send you alerts, and manage the schedule.
The scheduling tool likes you set individual day cleaning programmes so you can have a different setting at the weekend or on a day off. However, clean freaks will be disappointed you can only set it once daily - but there is always the manual activation option.
When it comes to checking up on your robot's performance you can use the activity area of the app. It shows you a map of the area your robot has cleaned, where it wasn't able to get to and, if you zoom in, the path it took to clean your room. It's basic and fairly dry - it would have been fun to see some animation here.
The app also details how many charges it took to clean the area, the time it took, and the square meterage covered. Plus when the dust bin is full or the 360 Eye has got tangled it will send you an alert so you can come to its rescue... unless you're half way around the world on holiday and can't.
Software updates will arrive every couple of months and auto-update too, to ensure the 360 Eye always performs to the best of its ability. During our testing we saw one update arrive, which, so we've been told, improved cleaning performance and general handling.
What the app doesn't offer, however, is a way to communicate with other devices in your house. It's very much a closed system. No IFTTT support, and no Apple HomeKit either. The days of your robotic vacuum cleaner coming on based on other factors like you leaving the house, or because you've turned your out of office on, isn't going to happen any time soon.
Some 16-years in the making, Dyson has concentrated on making a robotic vacuum cleaner that is a cleaner first and a robot second.
But for all its good the 360 Eye is pricey. Its £799 asking price is more than most other robo-vacs. However, it's markedly better than its competition so, pound for pound, it's worth it.
Thing is, a robotic vacuum doesn't mean you can stop cleaning forever. The stairs, high-up places and spot cleaning will still all require another vacuum. You'll also need to spend a little bit of time finding the right place for docking station to get the best results, plus you'll need to remember to empty the bin regularly.
Nonetheless, for what it's designed to do, the results are impressive. The Dyson 360 Eye is, in short, the best robotic vacuum on the market to date. We're mighty impressed.