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5 Aug 2020

Is Aldi's cheap robot vacuum cleaner worth buying?

The budget gadget aims to take the effort out of keeping your floors clean, but it might not be as hi-tech as you'd hope

Aldi is selling a dirt-cheap robot vacuum cleaner as part of its August 'Special Buy' deals, but can this low-cost robot compete with the big brands?

The Easy Home Robotic Vacuum Cleaner costs £130 and is available exclusively online from Aldi's website from Thursday 6 August 2020.

It's a slim automated cleaner that can be programmed to run automatically or manually using a remote control, and is a fraction of the price of robots from brands such as Dysonand iRobot

The top-end iRobot Roomba s9+, for example, sells for £1,500 - more than 10 times the price. If Aldi's robot can keep your floors clean, it could be a spectacular bargain.

We've looked into how the Aldi robot vacuum cleaner measures up on spec and used our expert insight from testing robot vacuums to give you a steer on whether it's worth snapping up or not.

Best robot vacuum cleaners - get straight to our top picks, only a few models made the cut in our independent lab tests

Aldi robot vacuum cleaner: what you get and how it compares with rivals

You get useful basic kit with Aldi's robot, including a charging dock, four side brushes (two of which are spares), a HEPA filter, a cleaning brush for the dust container and a remote controller with a pair of AAA batteries.

It's got a relatively tiny dust capacity of 0.35 litres, but that's not unusual for a robot vacuum. Dyson's £800 360 Heurist model is actually smaller at 0.31 litres.

You get four cleaning modes: standard, powerful, corners and edges, and it says it takes four to six hours to charge, which gives you 90 minutes of cleaning time. Charging wise, this is on the slow side, but that's to be expected for a cheaper model.

As with most Aldi Special Buys, the three-year warranty is generous compared with pricier rivals.

It has the edge over some similarly priced rivals, too. The very cheapest robots don't have a charging station, so you have to recover them from wherever they end up and plug them back in manually, potentially leaving you with a half-cleaned room.

Lack of smart navigation features

Just the idea of an autonomous robot cleaning your floors may sound impressive for the uninitiated, especially given the price. But there's no getting away from the simplicity of this robot.

The Aldi robot isn't smart enabled, so there's no programming via an app or connecting it up to a smart home system. You can't bark 'Alexa, clean the living room!' at it like you can with most other robots.

The Aldi relies on basic infrared sensors to avoid obstacles and edges, and find its way back to the charging station, but some rivals offer much more advanced navigation options.

The Dyson 360 Heurist (pictured above), for example, uses a 3D mapping system to learn and remember the layout of your home. You can tell it to clean specific spots, and each time it cleans it works to remember previous cleans and fine tune its performance.

You can still programme Aldi's robot to clean at certain times - you'll just need to use the remote and analogue display on the charging station instead of a snazzy smartphone app.

The remote also lets you operate the robot manually, so if there's a certain area you really want it to focus on (or if you just want to make it run laps around the coffee table) you can use the arrows to drive it around.

That presents its own kind of fun, but it's not quite the 'set and forget' approach you get with pricier models, which do the thinking (and driving) for you.

Is it worth it?

The price is certainly appealing and you do get a lot for your money. If you want to dip your toe in the world of robot vacs, or take the edge off between cleaning sessions, it could be worth a go.

It might not be as intuitive as pricier rivals, but we have found that some cheaper robots can navigate effectively without loads of bells and whistles.

Bear in mind that our tests have shown plenty of robot vacs struggle to suck up dust and only a rare few are good enough to rival a mains vacuum.

That's not to say you have to pay top whack for brilliant cleaning. Check our robot vacuum cleaner reviewsto see which cheaper models impressed us.

Are HEPA filters worth it? - we reveal if it's an essential for allergy sufferers buying a new vacuum

Is a robot vacuum right for you?

Robot vacuums sound like the future we've all been waiting for, but unfortunately they can be pricey and it's very rare that we find one that can clean as well as a cordless vac or a standard vacuum cleaner.

Our robot vacuum cleaner tests have found one or two robots that can compete with the best vacuums, but most fall short and some fall very short - one robot we tested only managed to pick up 4% of the dust in its path.

If you're keen to get your hands on a good cheap vacuum, we've found a few gems among the cheaper cordless and corded vacuum cleaners, too - including several Best Buys that cost less than £100.

Check out our pick of the five best vacuum cleaners or use our guide to buying a vacuum cleaner to help you decide on the best option for you.