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Which? tries out Miele’s first robot vacuum cleaner

Our verdict on the Miele Scout and a cheap rival

As more and more brands launch robot vacuum cleaners, we’ve taken two models for a spin to bring you our first look verdict – the £700 Miele Scout RX1 and a budget robot vacuum from Vileda.

Few of us relish our weekly date with the vacuum cleaner, so the allure of an automated robot vacuum cleaner is obvious. But despite robots having been around for quite a few years now, high prices and variable quality have prevented robot fever spreading far and wide.

To see whether the latest generation of robot vacuums will prove to be the one that finally takes the technology mass market, we’ve taken a closer look at a couple of models that have been making a splash in recent months, the Miele Scout RX1 and Vileda’s budget Robot Cleaner – a big seller on Amazon from a small brand.

There’s more information about each of the vacuums below, but for our full first look reviews and verdict, go straight to our robot vacuum cleaners first looks area.

Miele Scout RX1 robot vacuum, £700

Miele Scout RX1 robot vacuum cleaner pictured at the top of stairs

The Miele Scout RX1 has cliff sensors that prevent it toppling down stairs

On the outside, Miele’s first foray into the robot vacuum cleaner market seems to stick to the tried-and-tested design for robot vacuum makers: a small circular gadget on wheels that can rotate as it moves close to the ground. Two revolving sweepers at the front reach out to push dirt underneath the vacuum to be sucked up.

It comes with a remote control and a docking station for recharging, and navigates using a combination of sensors and an internal digital camera. Particularly alluring is the Scout’s timer and clock, which enables you to set the machine to clean at a pre-set time, paving the way for you to get the vacuuming wrapped up while you’re out. It has a high degree of self-automation, and can enter and leave its docking station without you having to lift a finger.

There’s four cleaning modes which serve up options for extra thoroughness in corners, ‘Auto’ for normal everyday cleaning and an express ‘Turbo’ program for a quick, less thorough run around. A spot cleaning mode completes the quartet, and focuses the Scout on cleaning within a 1.8 x 1.8 metre radius of where you put it.

The £700 price of the Miele puts it at the top end of the market. But while it costs more than the top-of-the-range Roomba 880 from robot specialist iRobot, it’s slightly cheaper than we expect the Dyson 360 Eye to sell for if it launches in the UK later in 2015, and it’s the same price as Samsung’s Powerbot VR20H9050UW.

Find out if we think it’s worth the cash in our first look Miele Scout RX1 review.

Vileda Cleaning Robot, £149

Vileda Robot Cleaner on a stone floor

Three buttons on the Vileda allow you to choose Short, Medium or Large cleaning mode

At the opposite end of the market to the Miele is this budget robot vacuum cleaner from Vileda. Like the Miele it’s suitable for use on all types of hard floors and short pile carpets. But unlike its more advanced rival it doesn’t come with a remote control or docking station, but it does have a plug-in charger that will re-energise the vacuum in 4-5 hours.

There’s three settings to choose from, Short, Medium and Large. Short sets the vacuum cleaning on a five minute mission to clean in a small restricted area from where it starts (good for spillages), Medium is for a half hour clean of rooms up to 25m squared and Large gives you an hour’s clean for rooms bigger than 25m squared. These modes set the Cleaning Robot apart from pricer, more advanced robots, which typically use sensors and cameras to map the area it’s in and then work logically through it.

A sensor inside the vacuum can detect drops to prevent it falling down stairs. Other than this, there is no other way of restricting its movements, so it’s worth closing the door on anywhere you don’t it to go.

At £149 it’s one of the cheapest models around and costs less than a quarter of the price of some big brand rivals. But does the cheap price add up to lacklustre clean?

Find out in our first look review of the Vileda Robot Cleaner.

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