Photos of Roborock vacuum cleaner and walis tambo from Lazada
Culture

Mano a Mano: Is the robot vacuum really better than good old walis tambo?

They say the robot vaccum can change your life—so should you get one? We asked robovac owners to talk.
Jerome B. Gomez | Feb 02 2021

We all like a squeaky clean home. Living in the city, however, where dust are quick to gather on floors, rugs and furniture even when our windows are mostly kept shut, it can get pretty exhausting to keep wiping and sweeping every few hours. After all, we all have better things to do (or so we’d like to think.). The quick solution? Get a robot vacuum. 

A robotic vacuum cleaner, or a robovac, is really just a vacuum cleaner that cleans surfaces without your assistance. You just need to pre-program it’s “itinerary” using an app. It seems to be one of the most popular household equipments online at the moment. Search “robot vacuum” on YouTube and a long list of product reviews comes out. 

Thinking of getting a robot vacuum myself, I consult people I trust on Facebook. “Do you own a robot vacuum?” I ask. “What’s life been like? How’s it working for you?” The answers come quick and I discover that the most recent life-changing decision my friends have made involved a household appliance. 

One of them, a news editor, says it’s been very useful for him and his wife (they started with the brand iLife). “Hindi na kami nagwawalis,” he says. He’s so pleased with his robot vacuum he even sent one as a gift to his in-laws, from Eufy of the Chinese electronics brand Anker. The verdict from the biyenans? “Mas maganda daw ang Eufy.”

ILife V8plus Robot Vacuum Cleaner. Photo from Lazada

Another friend, a dad with grownup kids, sends me a private message. “It’s proven to be very useful. Takes care of the sweeping,” he says. “It can even memorize your floorplan—so assume mo na na someone out there is familiar with the configuration of your house.” 

He’s talking about his Xiaomi Mijia 2in1. “It’s very smart, but it does get trapped once in a while,” he adds. “But all in all, we’re very happy with it.” 

It seems like everyone who chimes in on the thread, even those my co-writer messaged personally, deem their robot vacuum to be a godsend. 

My friend Bea, for example, from whom compliments don’t come easy, called buying her robot vacuum life-changing. She even wrote about it here. She enlightens me on the merits of her Xiaomi (bought from the Cutting Edge store in Greenbelt “so there’s service option, warranty.”), saying it’s ideal for “flooring without a lot of clutter.” She says it vacuums over rugs and carpets, or as the website says, it is “capable of crossing obstacles at least 2cm in height.” Just the kind of obstacles I like. 

She explains the benefits of having a robovac. “You can select on the app what sections of your space you’d like to vacuum. You can power it remotely through the app,” she says. Bea lives on a high rise close to two major city thoroughfares, so imagine the dust she has to deal with. While she has help at home, she also has two dogs. Her floors are swept every morning with a good old walis but she’s amazed the vacuum still “picks up a LOT of dust” and dog hair every day.

Eufy RoboVac G10. Photo from Lazada

Convenience

Just listening to these testimonies almost got me convinced getting a robot vacuum is a step in the right direction. But I’m thinking, can’t the dutiful walis tambo practically do the same job as the robovac? 

For Aine Unson, mother of three, having a robot vacuum do the chore of sweeping is definitely a great help—it decreases cleaning time. The Xiaomi Mijia 1C that she got on sale at Lazada for P9,700 has been keeping their floor dirt-free while she’s working (she runs an online food business at home) and/or taking care of the kids on distance learning. She notes, however, that additional manual cleaning of corners and stubborn dirt may still be necessary—hence the need for a trusty walis tambo. “I need both in my life,” she quips.

Photographer and father of four Jar Concengco is very happy with his Xiaomi Mijia Robot Vacuum 1C as well and loves the fact that he can connect the cleaning gadget to his mobile phone. “Even while I’m out at a shoot, I can have the robot clean the house while kids are doing their online classes,” he says.

Kaye Lua, a work-from-home lawyer, loves the convenience of having a Eufy G10 Hybrid. “I don’t know why I waited this long to get one. It’s like having a helper without the hassle,” she says. She was hesitant to get a robot vacuum in the beginning because she can get very “OC” when it comes to cleanliness. But happily, her robot vacuum can fit under her furniture and has passed her high standards in tidying up.

Au Oliveros, a former employee of ABS-CBN, got her Xiaomi Roborock S5 at around P25,000 from Lazada, and she says it’s one of her “best purchases ever.” She can “just sit pretty and lounge around while cleaning the house at the same time.” And for someone like her who has an allergic rhinitis triggered by dust, the robot vacuum is such a “relief/life saver.”

2020 New Roborock S5 Max Robot Vacuum Cleaner. Photo from Lazada

The cons

While collecting these reviews, we also encountered people who are not the biggest fans of the appliance. Content producer Chris Clemente, who bought a generic robot vacuum, quickly switched back to basics after a short period of using her robovac: “Nakakalinis naman [ang robot vacuum na nabili ko], pero mas thorough pa din ang walis,” she says.

Tsina, a homeschooling mom with no helper, is loving the fact that their floors are always clean because of Xiaomi but admits there are a few things her robot can’t do. “Can’t go through corners. Can’t go under our low sofa. Can’t also go over some furniture with flat bases, so this also needs to be mapped out. Can’t also clean the bathroom and dishes.” Clearly, Tsina CAN’T manage expectations. 

Resort owner Gracia Buban has been happy so far with the performance of their INGCO Robotic Vacuum, which she got for P6,800. She likes the fact that it’s thorough—“It goes from one side of the room to the other, so suyod na suyod,” which makes it very useful for open spaces such as function rooms, seminar halls, and hallways.

The not-so-smart thing about her robot vacuum, though, is that it gets entangled in wires or fabric. It gets stuck in small or tight spaces and could not get out. “Hassle na magbantay while it’s operating, hassle to look for it sa ilalim ng somewhere, and hassle din mag-prep ng area to make sure na walang snags or it doesn’t get trapped,” she says. 

The gadget also stops working when it chokes on a big item. 

Meanwhile, the only downside teacher Liza, who lives in the US, can say about her Roomba is that she wishes the bin were a bit bigger. “We have to empty [the bin] after its daily cleaning because we have a dog that sheds like crazy!” she says. “But hey, it beats vacuuming every day!”

Xiaomi Mijia 2in1 Robot Vacuum. Photo from Lazada

The pluses 

From the photos available online, there’s no question these robot vacuums look really sharp and I imagine they would look great even if not on duty and just standing there. The black Xiaomi Mijia 2in1 Robot Vacuum looks like it can go to a black tie affair. Tsina’s Xiaomi in white adds to the overall clean atmosphere at home. “Even if it’s in a highly visible area, it’s not an eyesore,” Tsina says.

She also notes this of her Xioami, though: “When its repositioned in the middle of cleaning, it won’t be able to follow the mapping you created.” 

Au echoes this observation, saying her Roborock S5 is not advisable for multi-level homes, because it gets confused with the mapping. But she particularly loves the fact that it goes back to its hub on its own to self-recharge. Not so smart but aware of its weakness. 

Meanwhile, Jar’s Xiaomi is always stationed on their second floor but knows not to fall down the stairs. Now that's smart.

So I guess I’m adding one of these babies to my cart soon. There are guys who have their complaints but many more are satisfied. Some even sound like the machine can suck all their worries away. Well, maybe not all. It’s only a machine. As Bea would say, “It’s just a vacuum, not Valium.”  

 

—With reports from Rhia Grana