(Pocket-lint) - Weekly chores are never fun, especially not the one where you have to dig the vacuum cleaner out from the cupboard and give your arm a work out in the process of trying to make your carpet look clean again.
Fear not though as robotic vacuum cleaners are here to take some of the flack and while they have been around for some time, they are becoming more and more popular with a number of companies investing their efforts in making these little chaps better.
The LG Hom-Bot Square measures 340 x 340 x 89mm and weighs 3kg, which is a little heavier and bigger than we initially expected it would be. But it offers a good looking design so we didn't mind it sitting on display in our hallway, plus it is light enough to move around easily.
We had the red colour variant in for review, which looked great and grabbed lots of attention from visitors. The colour helped make it into a feature, which is necessary, as it needs to be out and not hidden in a cupboard due to its docking station. In terms of material, it is a plastic affair that offers a glossy finish which collected dust, but was easily wipeable.
It's a smooth looking robot that houses the 0.6-litre dirt collection box under the bonnet-like top which you just need to push to pop open. The dirt box was easy to empty and we liked that it was situated inside, rather than visible for everyone to see how dirty your house gets.
The top of the Hom-Bot features a number of buttons including "Home" and "Mode" which allow you to send the Hom-Bot Square back to the charging station, or switch the mode. There is a display that will let you know what mode the Hom-Bot is operating in, what time it is and whether the Hom-Bot is on its way home, which is useful and easy to read.
You can use the accompanying remote to perform these tasks too and although it was very easy to use, it was nice to have the option to control it via device itself rather than relying on you having the small plastic remote to hand.
Underneath the Hom-Bot, there are two driving wheels in the middle of the robot, along with the brushes on two of the corners and a main brush in the middle. We found our hair getting caught around the main brush, which we had pull out but it was easy enough to do.
The wheels had good traction across a number of surfaces in our home, allowing the Hom-Bot to work well on our laminate floor, tiles and hard-wearing carpet.
When it comes to the charging dock, we liked the design of this too as it was relatively subtle, allowing it to inoffensively blend in when the Hom-Bot was parked.
The Hom-Bot is packed full of features, making this little robot vacuum cleaner almost like a game.
There are seven automated Smart Cleaning modes which the Hom-Bot Square can perform, including Smart Turbo mode, which unsurprisingly increases suction power (and noise) when it reaches a carpeted area for example, and Turbo mode that you can select manually to increase suction.
The Cell by Cell mode divides the room into smaller rectangular sections that the Hom-Bot then tackles one by one, while the Spiral mode does exactly as you would expect, moving in a spiral shape out to 1.5 metres to spot clean, which is great if you have spilt something but don't want the Hom-Bot to perform a complete cleaning routine.
Zigzag mode means the Hom-Bot will move back and forth across the room until it meets something, so if you have a coffee table in the middle of your living room for example, it will move up to that and then back to the edge of the room until it has passed it, after which it will return to going from one edge of the room to the other and there is also a Repeat mode to get everything cleaned again.
The Hom-Bot's schedule mode is brilliant and can be set using the touch-sensive controls on the Hom-Bot itself. Once you have set the cleaning time and the frequency, the Hom-Bot will go about its business autonomously and it was the perfect maid as it didn't miss a single cleaning slot during our time with it.
The one feature we really enjoyed though was the My Space mode, as this allows you to use the remote to define an area you want the robot to clean specifically. The cat enjoys pulling the soil out of a plant in the hallway for example, so we set My Space as the area of floor around it so we didn't have a garden in the hallway every day.
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You set the Hom-Bot to go into My Space mode using the remote and as soon as you press the button it shoots to the designated area. We had great fun defining the My Space area too as this requires you to use the arrows on the remote and it felt a little like we were playing with a remote-controlled car - it was good fun and very easy to map out.
The one thing we would criticise the for Hom-Bot however, is that you can only define one My Space area, which is a shame as it was a very handy feature and a couple of presets would have been nice to have.
There is a voice guide that will let you know what the Hom-Bot is up to, such as returning to its dock and the Hom-Bot also comes with a Mapping Resume Function, which means if you pick the robot up and move it elsewhere, the Hom-Bot will eventually return to its last position and carry on cleaning. Both were handy and added to the Hom-Bot's very robot feel.
Performance and battery
There is no denying the Hom-Bot Square's features are pretty impressive but its performance is equally so for the majority, which we were relieved to discover.
It's suction power is great and even if it didn't manage to pick something up the first time, it seemed to go back over the area until it did so by the time it was finished, you have a clean and shiny floor.
It's ability to clean deep-piled carpet wasn't as strong as tiles and hard floor, but the Smart Turbo mode was clever, even if the noise was considerably higher than the usual 60dB, and you were able to see that it had at least made the effort.
The longer 1.5cm brushes were very good at getting into the corners and the Hom-Bot deserves its praise here, but if you want it to pick up large objects, such as dry cat food, we found it struggled unless it ran directly over the pieces of dirt. Smaller things like soil and general dust were in the Hom-Bot's element though and it picked these up without any trouble at all.
When it comes to battery life, LG claims the Hom-Bot Square will give you 100 minutes of cleaning time, but we found it was closer to 70 minutes. Although this is 30 minutes less than the stated time, we did find it was perfectly adequate for a cleaning cycle in our the home but if you have a bigger house, you might not be happy with this.
What was clever however, was when the battery was running low, the Hom-Bot would make its way back to its docking station, where it would take 3 hours to recharge. A long lunch break you might say.
We had a couple of problems with the Hom-Bot Square, but we wouldn't say any were enough not to want to keep it around.
There were a few times when the robot essentially got beached on the edge of our high-piled rug, which we suspect was down to its low ground clearance. The Smart Turbo mode would have kicked in and it would just whirr away trying to get itself free. A couple of times it would sort itself out, but there were other occasions when we had to pick it up and put it back down after the Hom-Bot told us it was stuck via one of its automated messages.
This low ground clearance was also a problem when it came to cables as it would essentially suck any cables in its way into it, which meant that rooms with clutter weren't exactly the Hom-Bot's best friend, although this is the case with many of these robot vacuum cleaners.
The last issue we had was the Hom-Bot seemed to have a problem distinguishing the cat's food and water bowls, happily moving into them when it was performing its cycle. This meant we had a few cases of spilt water but it was solvable if we used the My Space function to map out our living room and kitchen, avoiding the bowls. The Hom-Bot also didn't recognise the cat itself, but we can't say we didn't laugh when it's corner brushes tickled the cat's paws.
All-in-all, the problems either had solutions or weren't enough to put us off the Hom-Bot.
The LG Hom-Bot Square is a great looking robotic vacuum cleaner that is packed full of features and offers a decent performance and battery life. It's very easy to use and the charging dock and remote control all offer a seamless design that we were happy to have on display in our home.
If you have a house that features more deep-piled carpets than any other surface, you will probably be better off with a different solution, but if you have a relatively clutter-free house with either laminate flooring, tiles, or normal carpets, the LG Hom-Bot Square is a great addition.
We loved living with it and we will miss it when it's gone, but the LG Hom-Bot Square is a pretty pricey bit of kit at £449 and it should be seen more as a device to keep on top of cleaning, rather than one to be used for spring cleaning once a month.
It's also worth mentioning that a smarter version of the Hom-Bot Square will be coming out soon, offering LG HomeChat, meaning you will be able to text it to start or stop cleaning, as well as control it via an app so if we were you, we would wait for that to launch.