What it is:
The robot cleaning revolution apparently has arrived. Years after the first Roombas were introduced into homes around the world, Neato stepped up to the plate with its impressive XV-11
. Now, just a few months later, Evolution Robotics
has launched its own proprietary floor-cleaning robot, the Mint, and it has some solid sweeping skills of its own.
Why it's different:
In some ways, the Mint is a bit of a throwback. Rather than vacuum, it goes for a simpler process of cleaning your floor with wet and dry cloths. In this sense, it's competing with Roomba's Scooba floor cleaner
, as it's useless without a vacuuming counterpart, robotic or otherwise. There's no spraying involved, either. You attach either a wet or dry cloth (included) to the bottom of the device, or use Swiffer dry pads in their place. The robot find its way around with the aid of the "NorthStar" Navigation Cube, which you place facing the middle of the room to help it keep track of where it's gone and where it still needs to go. The Mint approaches sweeping and mopping differently. When sweeping, it generally moves forward, turns, and repeats, and, when mopping, it moves in a back-and-forth "scrubbing" motion.
What we like:
We all know that dusting sucks and mopping is even worse, so the Mint does both of these chores for you -- and pretty darn well. It's incredibly quiet, and, when used regularly, it makes a significant impact on the overal cleanliness of your floors. Surprisingly, it gets around very well; when we tried it out, rarely did it lose its place or get stuck mid-clean, something we could not say for either the Roomba or the Neato, the latter of which often needed to be manually put back on course. (Mint also knows when it has reached a carpet and gets back on solid ground immediately.) With such quiet operation and intelligent navigation, the Mint was easier than the Roomba or Neato to fit into the day; you can go about your business and trust it to do its thing. The squared body, measuring 10-inches wide and 3-inches tall, is refreshingly modern. Its clean, white plastic and rounded edges recall more '2001: A Space Odyssey' than 'Robocop,' and the sleeker angles look more understated than other robot cleaners out there.
What we don't like:
Just as neither the Roomba nor the Neato were replacements for a real vacuum cleaner, the Mint doesn't make the mop obsolete. With no spraying or sucking, the device is only capable of cleaning as much muck off your floors as can fit on a single cloth. (When cleaning an entire home, you'll want to rinse and replace the cloth a couple of times.) In this sense, it's not a deep-down, mop-and-bucket cleansing, but rather a "wiping down" of the floor. While its navigation is better than any we've tried before, Mint still ran under the carpets, got stuck on cords, and found itself generally incapacitated more than once. Of course, it's still necessary to vacuum; with too much gunk on the floor (pet hair, dirt, leaves, etc.), the Mint will mainly just push that stuff around rather than clean it up. Finally, there's no way to automatically block it from entering other rooms.
What it costs:
Does it live up to the hype?
The Mint was a very pleasant surprise. Though it's not the all-cleaning wonder bot that 'The Jetsons' foretold, it's an extremely useful device to have roaming around. The quiet cleaning, smart navigation and discreet size far outweigh its minor flaws. Like the Roomba and Neato, it's a bit of a luxury, but if you're looking for an automated cleaning partner, the Mint is easily one of the best options out there.