While the iLife’s A10 robotic vacuum cleaner looks appealing in an instant, with an attractive design, lots of accessories and lots of features, it falls short where it matters most: cleaning performance. For $ 349.99, its suction and mapping capabilities simply do not live up to the price. No need to spend more to get a better model, such as the $ 299.99 iRobot Roomba 675, which automatically adjusts to different floor surfaces and detects and focuses on heavily soiled areas; $ 249.99 Wyze Robot Vacuum, which has a HEPA filter and uses laser mapping; or $ 299.99 Bissell SpinWave Wet and Dry, which can mop beyond vacuum.
An attractive design and lots of accessories
The A10 is one of the nicer robotic vacuum cleaners I have tested, with a sleek gray finish characterized by a shiny silver dial that holds the Lidar navigation technology.
With a size of 12.9 inches and 3.7 inches high, it is close to the Roomba 675 (which measures 13 inches round and 3.7 inches high) and weighs just under 6 pounds. It’s a bit on the high side, but should still be able to fit under most standard furniture.
Apart from the main unit, the box contains a generous selection of accessories, including a charging station, a charging mat, a remote control, a power adapter, a cleaning tool, an extra rubber brush, two side brushes, an extra filter and user manual. The extra rubber brush and the extra filter are particularly welcome inclusions that you do not always get. The side brushes do not come pre-installed, so you will need to attach them to the vacuum cleaner if you want to use them.
The circuit breaker is on the side of the circular body. The auto button at the top can pause and resume cleaning or be held down to put the vacuum cleaner to sleep; below this is a trash can release button. Other features are launched via the remote control or the iLifeHome mobile app for Android and iOS devices.
The remote control has a small display, buttons for starting and stopping cleaning and four arrow buttons for navigation. With the Schedule and Clock buttons you can set a time for scheduled cleaning. There are also dedicated buttons to activate Edge and Spot modes, a button to switch between suction modes and a Home button to send the robot back to its charging station.
At the bottom of the unit you will find clip sensors, a nose wheel and side wheels, a pair of side brushes (if you choose to install them), the main brush and charging pins attached to the charging station. There is also a place to connect the power adapter on the side of it for charging without a dock.
Multiple cleaning modes allow the A10 to adapt to work in different environments and on different types of flooring. As mentioned, you can use the remote control to select your preferred cleaning mode. In Auto, the robot plans a path and cleans it in a zigzag pattern. Spot mode puts it on a solid path to clean a specific area of concentrated dust and dirt. In Edge mode, the A10 moves forward until it detects a wall and then cleans around the edges of the room. You can also set different cleaning cycles to run at a specific time each day.
The A10 did a pretty average job in testing. Even with its suction power set to max (2,000 Pa), it struggled with medium-sized objects and captured only dust and hair. More disappointingly, it actually moved some dirt around instead of sucking it in: It picked up a hairball very half-heartedly, walked around for a while with it hanging from the side of the machine, and then dropped it. It picked up a string lying on the floor, but a few seconds later the string came out again; it probably hung from the underside of the machine like a hairball. This also happened with a few other items.
In terms of navigation, the robot often struggled for a few seconds as it encountered obstacles. It stumbled a lot in tests and was unable to go under some low-profile furniture due to its height. It also hit my furniture pretty hard. Usually, robot vacuum cleaners detect furniture at a distance of a few centimeters and change direction in time to dodge them. However, the A10 made a few hard blows each time before realizing it could not go any further.
There are a few things to like about the A10’s cleaning performance. It steered around areas that had many wires, and when it ran over such places, it came out of the mess quite neatly without ever getting entangled. I also appreciate the A10’s almost silent cleaning. Even at maximum suction, the vacuum seems very quiet.
In addition, the rubbish bin is generously sized, with a capacity of 450 ml, so it should be able to handle at least one full coat of a floor in your house without having to be emptied.
When it comes to the battery, the A10 can be manually connected or sent to the charging station. That said, after pressing the Home button on the remote control, the vacuum went towards the charger, approached it, and then continued to go around in circles without ever docking. I tried several times but failed to dock once.
As a result, I even had to resort to plugging in the vacuum cleaner. I connected the charging cable next to the power switch on the side of the machine. The A10 told me it “would start charging soon”, but it did not inform me when it actually started charging. When fully charged, the vacuum cleaner should be able to withstand about 100 minutes of cleaning time before being reconnected.
It’s not hard to do better
While the iLife A10 seems to offer plenty of features and functionality for the price, it falters in terms of performance. While it can do a useful job of cleaning your floors, there are plenty of robotic vacuum cleaners in this price range that can do it better while offering features that the A10 cannot. One of our favorite choices for $ 300 is Bisell’s SpinWave Wet and Dry, which both mops and vacuums your floors. That said, the Bissell model offers no navigation features that you get with the Wyze Robot Vacuum, along with HEPA filtering and a lower cost. Meanwhile, the Roomba 675 offers longer battery life than the Wyze model, better options for avoiding obstacles, and support for voice commands. All of these choices are better than the iLife A10, so choose the one that has the features you need.