I bought myself a robot vacuum cleaner for 45€ on AliExpress and I’m super impressed

I was browsing AliExpress the other day for some stuff and I came across a deal that was almost impossible to resist. I didn’t actually need it, but curiosity got me. Was always fascinated over robot cleaners, but was never willing to drop 500€ or more on it just to try it out. Because it was discounted from some 600€ down to just 45€, I said, what the hell, even if I throw it away after 1 year or even less it’s not gonna be a huge loss at this price.

Midea, what is this brand?

It’s from company called “Midea” (model is MR06) and after some searching, I found out Midea actually isn’t some no name Chinese brand you can only find on AliExpress, but a huge Chinese robotics company that acquired famous German robotics manufacturer KUKA not long ago (if you’ve seen orange robotic arms in factory tours, those are all KUKA robots).

The robot

Unboxing experience was quite similar to iRobot, big box, robot is about the same size as all the iRobot units and is actually designed better by not having stupid shiny black plastic chassis. I absolutely hate that on iRobot because it scratches super fast and then looks ugly as hell. Also because almost all iRobot units are black, they are fingerprint and dust magnets. Nothing worse than dirty looking device that’s suppose to keep your place clean… This Midea robot is matte white except the top cover is shiny white plastic. It has two side brushes (you get 2 pairs in the box) that sweep dirt inwards toward the belly brush (single brush, dual brush system is patented by iRobot so no one else can use it but them) and also has turbine that creates actual suction and air passes through a dust bin with washable plastic pre-filter and what looks like HEPA filter (you get 1 extra spare in the box). It’s probably just EPA, but hey, better than micro filter either way. Unit feels super robust and chunky and really well built. Has an IR sensor I think on top just like iRobot and uses M-SLAM collision system (collision switches) to detect walls and obstacles which also has a rubber lip so it doesn’t always slam into furniture with plastic and also has sensors below to detect stairs or other edges to prevent falling down. Access to NiMH battery is easy with 2 screws so I’ll be able to replace it easily when it wears out. It comes with charging station and it has EU and UK adapters (I got both even though you were suppose to pick one during ordering) in the box and you can charge the robot with the station or by directly connecting it to adapter.

Summary of contents:

  • 1x robot
  • 1x docking charging station
  • 2 pairs of side sweeping brushes
  • 2x EPA/HEPA filter (1x inside robot, 1x extra)
  • 1x EU plug adapter
  • 1x UK plug adapter
  • 1x remote control (2x AAA bateries, not included)
  • 1x large cleaning brush (another small one is attached to dust bin)
  • User manual in several European languages and English one is well written

Control

You can fire it up with single button on the robot or by using included remote control with more controls. It’s a bit chunky but does the job. It has very basic scheduling that can’t be set on per day basics, but you set it in delay and it repeats that cycle every day. If it’s 17:00 in the afternoon and you set 1 hour schedule, it’ll fire up at 18:00 and repeat this cycle every day at 18:00 from then on. It’s a bit weird, but when you understand the manual and try it out, it’s fairly simple and kinda makes sense. You set a delay when to start and when it starts, it fires up 24 hour internal timer that then sends it to clean every day at the same time.

Remote has few other controls like 4 different cleaning modes ranging from random motion to parallel motion cleaning, spot cleaning and return to docking station button.

Oh and the robot is talking about things it’s doing in pretty well spoken English. It says cleaning, confirmations of schedules, when cleaning is completed it says “Cleaning completed” etc. Pretty nice.

Cleaning

After setting all up I fired it up and it moved about my room and the motion logic is pretty decent. I’ve seen basic robots several years ago that cost like 4x as much that were just moving all over the place like headless chicken, missed bunch of dirt and then failed to return back to base even though it was 3m away in its visible sight. This one moved pretty nicely along walls once it found them and when it hit thin obstacles or corners it tried to rotate around and not just turning away. While it was cleaning I jammed it with my foot against table and it was making funny noises for few seconds until it said something about obstacles/getting stuck and turned off. Good to know it won’t burst into flames trying to move while being stuck and has a safety feature that just shuts it off entirely. Checked the dust bin after it returned to base and there was quite some dust and dirt particles in it and I’ve cleaned half of the room with a cordless vacuum just before delivery of robot happened.

Cleaning is done by side brushes sweeping dirt towards center of the robot where central brush is picking up dirt and throwing it into the dust bin. It also has a turbine that creates suction effect so it’s not like those crappy robots that just brush the dust into the bin, this one actually vacuums. I don’t know how strong it is, but the effect is there and the air flow on the exhaust part of the robot was fairly strong so it has to be helping the brushes to some degree for sure.

Noise

I was also quite surprised by how quiet it is. You can certainly hear it working, but the loudest part are motion motors for main wheels that have slightly whiny noise, the suction turbine is quite tame and not really annoying at all. It was cleaning while I was listening to music and the suction noise sort of became background noise of the room so I only really heard wheel motors. Also very impressive.

Final thoughts

I’m still shocked I got a proper full featured robot that doesn’t really look that much different than robots that cost 500€ and more. I was skeptical when buying, thinking it’s a scam of some sort, but the more I was inspecting the unit, the more shocked I was what an amazing deal I got here. It looks good, it’s built well, comes with enough spare parts to work for quite a while, battery access is simple and most importantly it seems to clean well too.

This is basically 0 minute impression and not exactly a full fledged review since it only did one cleaning run and I’ll have to use it for longer to see how it really works over time, but so far shockingly impressed. I mean, for freaking 45€ with free shipping! And because it shipped from warehouse from Spain, I had no customs or extra taxes. For 45 €. FOURTY FIVE EUROS! You can hardly get a good cordless handheld vacuum cleaner for this money and here I have a proper robot. Unreal experience this. If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll try to answer them if anyone is interested in this unit and managed to find it at similar insane price.

UPDATE 2020-07-15

Been using this robot for more than 1 month now and I’m even more impressed than in the beginning. And a bit scared for the future. Coz if this one dies one day, which one to buy then?

There is no way I’m gonna buy a robot with single side brush seeing how much wider scope dual brushes have in sweeping dust and dirt into middle of robot where it picks it all up. Dust bins on others, even iRobot look really cheap and clumsy to clean where this MR06 has amazing bin. You can take it out and when open you have easy access to any part so cleaning it is super easy.

Navigation is spectacular given it’s only using bumper switches and IR for navigation. It always seems to follow the same routine for scheduled cleaning. It either begins the cleaning by circling the entire room twice around the edges and then goes zig zag through entire room surface. Or in reverse order, starting with zig zag pattern and then finishing with around the edges path. There are other manual modes, but this seems to be the default for scheduled cleaning.

And with navigation, there is cleaning. And that is amazing as well. I don’t have any carpets (used to have one tiny and it actually cleaned it really well), just laminate flooring and even if I clean the filter and checking it after next cleaning and dust bin will have bunch of stuff in it. I used to vacuum the room with a cordless vacuum cleaner every day and sometimes even more times a day and it always looked clean “on the surface”. But after first few cleanings with the robot there was unusual dust and debris as well as few tiny dead bugs that I’ve never seen in the cordless one. Then I watched it how it’s cleaning and noticed it’s dual side brushes actually sweep super deep underneath the furniture. A furniture that’s just few millimeters above floor. Apparently it swept all this crap from underneath the furniture and packed it into the dust bin. There is no way I’d ever get under there with ANY vacuum cleaner, be it corded or cordless. But these side brushes did it as they are positioned super low coming from underneath the robot. Impressive.

Seeing how this robot is so amazing, I’m wondering if those costing 6x more can even be any better. And in what way. I could use 3 times a day schedule, morning, mid day and evening because there’s a lot of dust because of computer, but that would really be the only thing I miss. Instead mid day schedule is done automatically and I fire it up manually in morning and evening. I can’t think of a single other thing I’d want with the robot. Remote activation with phone? Maybeeeee? But if you have good scheduling, it’s frankly not really needed.

When time will arrive and I hope it won’t be soon, I’ll be looking at Midea robots again. This thing is freaking amazing and it totally hooked me into robotic cleaners. So convenient and thorough I only use the cordless one now to clean everything above floor where robot can’t clean 🙂

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