iRobot Scooba 230 review

The iRobot Scooba 230 is the company's new robotic floor cleaner designed to mop your kitchen floors so you can do something better with your life, like put your feet up and have a glass of wine. But is it really that simple? We got it to work in the Pocket-lint kitchen to find out.

Design

The Scooba 230 is a tiny and compact little robot. Around the size of a large cereal bowl - it measures 9.2cm tall and 16.5cm in diameter and has been designed to get into corners easily, under your cooker, and anywhere else you might spread your human dirt and mess. It is certainly smaller than the company's vacuum cleaner range and will fit happily in your kitchen. It's also vastly improved on the previous model.

The main controls on the top of the Scooba 230 allow you set the cleaning process in motion, and holding the large clean button lets you chose between a quick or long clean. The top also includes a hidden handle, handy for carrying it around the kitchen. 

Around the sides are the water tanks. Named the "Advanced Water Management System" the 230 is fitted with two active-reservoirs which keeps clean and dirty water apart. The cleaner manages the flow between the two, filling the dirty water tank with what it has picked up off the floor. As the clean water tank empties, that leaves space for the dirty water tank to expand. Clever! All this happens beneath the plastic shell of the Scooba 230 without you noticing.

On the bottom of the cleaner are the serviceable brushes that work to scrub your floor. The design is as simple as it is effective.

Cleaning

There are two cleaning modes available to users of the Scooba 230: full and short. The full cycle allows you to clean a room up to 14m2 in 45 minutes, while a short cycle allow you to clean a room up to 6m2 in 20 minutes.

As with the company's vacuum cleaner models, the iRobot device gets to work on your floor in what seems a random and chaotic process to begin with. First it maps your room around the edges before going back over its tracks to clean it thoroughly.

It is a fascinating to watch - although that's not the idea, remember - and over several cleans in our kitchen we were happy with the results every time.

The Scooba 230 first washes the floor, then scrubs it, then dries it using a squeegee and vacuum to pick up the dirty water. That means that by the end of it you've got a dry floor rather than one you can't walk on for 30 minutes, as is normally the case when we get the bucket and mop out.

If you can imagine the robot whizzing around your room - it works on lino, laminated floors, and tiles - then you'll also imagine the Scooba escaping into the rest of your house and causing disaster as it tries to wash your carpet.

To stop this happening the kit comes with what iRobot calls a Virtual Wall barrier that allows you to create an invisible barrier that it will not cross. This confines it to the room you want to clean, saving your expensive shag-pile from a robot attack. Scooba also naturally avoids rugs and the like, and in a similar way to all of the company's home robots it has cliff detection so it won't hurl itself down the stairs like a lemming either.

In use

We are impressed with the performance of the Scooba 230. It comes with a couple of sachets of approved cleaning fluid, and although you can't use other cleaning fluids apart from white vinegar, a bottle of it only costs £6.99 for 32 full cleans or 64 short cleans. 

You do have to brush the room before you start, getting rid of any debris first. Once that's done, the 230 does a good, quiet, job of cleaning the floor. Leave anything more than the odd breadcrumb can be problematical, especially dog hair, as it can get wet and destroy your pristine finish.

Our kitchen floor was noticeably cleaner afterwards, and emptying the dirty water from the Scooba 230 shows that too. What we don't like however is the lack of charge the device holds.

You really do have to have it fully charged before you set it going if you want to complete a cleaning cycle or else it stops half way through. iRobot actually recommends you have it plugged in all the time, we can see why. While this fixes that problem, we can't help thinking that's not very eco-friendly.  Sadly there isn't a docking station for it to return to so you'll have to plug it in manually each time - a full charge is 8 hours (or overnight) and that's going to be annoying if you've only got half way through cleaning a room before it yelps out for more power.

Verdict

At £249.99 the iRobot Scooba 230 won't be for everyone and you still have to get the brush out to sweep your kitchen to prep it for the iRobot Scooba 230: how much harder is it to get a mop out too?

That question of laziness aside, the iRobot Scooba 230 does get the job done, as long as it is a small room.

The small size means it's able to get into those difficult-to-reach places, however with a poor battery life, you will have to make sure you've fully charged it before you set it whizzing around your house.

Simple, effective, but not without limitations.