Neato has a new competitor called MI Robot Vacuum that has most of the features in it for less than a few hundred dollars!
When I first set my eyes on this robot in the flesh, my first reaction was awesome from the packaging to the actual product inside.
The design is almost on par with the brands that cost a few hundred dollars more.
It has an elegant, simple yet fully functional design which is uncommon for a Chinese brand.
But Xiaomi isn’t just your brand running in the mind, it’s a global brand that plans to dominate the connected world.
This brand is a step up from the ILIFE robot vacuum series due to the improved mobility and battery life.
It also comes with an app compatible with both Android and iOS devices called the MI Home App.
This app allows you to schedule, start or stop the bot, recharge it and even track its progress as it cleans your house even when you are not there.
Be sure to check out more coupon codes at Where can I buy this down below.
Here’s the packaging…
Unlike the ILIFE series that uses infrared sensors, the MI uses laser-guided sensors (they call them Laser Distance Sensor, or LDS) located under the upper ring case on top.
This is the same navigation system used on the nearly $600 Neato BotVac Connected.
In terms of accessories that come in the box, this filter does not come with additional filters or side brushes.
It doesn’t have any remote control (you have to download the app – more on that later), the only extras it gives you are a cleaning brush and a mac-like charging station.
It’s a little disappointing that this product doesn’t have any extra filters or even an extra side brush.
But this is just a simple omission. The main goal here is to see how smart this robot is and how it works.
Quick look at the features
- Uses 12 different sensors to draw an effective cleaning pattern, avoid falling stairs and remember which areas they have cleaned
- The main sensor is a laser distance sensor (or LDS) that scans a 360-degree location (1,800 times per second) to form a virtual map in its memory of your interior home layout
- Helping create this virtual map is the Synchronous Localization and Mapping Algorithm (or SLAM)
- It uses three processors to save this virtual map and then calculate the most effective path
- It contains a 5200 mAh lithium-ion battery that lasts for 2.5 hours on a single charge
- The drive of the vacuum cleaner is a powerful and efficient Nidec DC motor that produces 1800Pa of suction power
- Edge Cleaning 10mm – The robot will stay 10mm from the wall and will use the side brush to clean the edges
- It does not come with a remote control but you can use the MI Home app which you can use to schedule, clean and track its progress remotely as it uses a WiFi signal
- 1 Year Repair Warranty, 45 Days Money Back Guarantee and 3 Days DOA (Death On Arrival) Warranty. Click on this article for more details
- A few hundred dollars cheaper than Neato BotVac which uses the same SLAM algorithm and WiFi enabled app
- Long runtime thanks to 5,200 mAh battery
- WiFi APP allows you to control and track remotely
- You can schedule a cleaning more than once a day
- Uses effective cleaning mode
- It has a HEPA filter
- It does not come with anything extra like an extra side brush or filter
- Struggles a bit in terms of corner cleaning
- No manual in English (so far only in Chinese)
- The app needs more improvement (plus better guidance)
What to expect from MI Robot Vac
Outside of the Dyson 360 Eye, Roomba 900 series, and Neato robot vacuums, the Xiaomi MI robot is one of the most “smart” robot cleaning devices we have right now on the market.
Although it hasn’t added much in terms of additional tools or accessories, it has plenty of features that make this a worthy competitor to other premium brands like Roomba 980 and BotVac Connected.
Let’s start with the brain, which is the navigation system
The MI Robot uses a total of 12 sensors to not only avoid bumping things and going in a random direction, but it actually scans a room to give it an overview of what you should be working on before creating a cleaning path.
Below are the sensors on the top, sides, and bottom of the robot, as well as other components.
View from the bottom
On top of the robot is a circular dome containing an LDS or laser distance sensor that uses a laser to scan obstacles and draw a 360-degree room layout.
On the left side of the robot is a wall sensor that detects anything solid so the robot can maintain a distance of 10 millimeters between it and the wall.
The ultrasonic sensor in front of the robot is the robot’s “eyes”.
Beneath it are four cliff sensors that tell the robot to stop when there are landing points.
In front of the robot there is a shock absorber that rebounds upon impact. Inside are collision sensors that detect so they tell the robot to stop when it detects something.
Inside there are three processors:
- All Winner Tech . Quad-Core ARM Cortex A7 Processor
- Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processor
- ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller
These processors collect data from sensors to track movement in real time, calculate location, and determine the most efficient path.
This is a sharp shift from cheaper robot vacuums like ILIFE that use a simpler system based on infrared sensors for navigation.
There is a massive improvement in complexity and refinement here.
Positioning and building a map of the place at the same time
SLAM or Simultaneous Localization and Mapping is software used by the world’s leading robotics manufacturers.
Brands like Dyson, iRobot, and Neato use this in their products to help their products navigate.
This technology is also found inside Waymo also known as Google’s self-driving car.
It basically maps your home into the robot’s internal memory that helps it remember which areas it has cleaned and which areas it hasn’t.
I’m not entirely sure if MI uses the same exact algorithm as those 3 brands you mention but the basis is the same. This system allows him to track his exact position and remember the areas he has cleaned.
In normal terms, the MI robot cleans in a more efficient pattern back and forth and never goes to the same area more than once.
This means that it will clean a larger area and is fully capable of cleaning multiple rooms (up to 250 square meters according to the information on GearBest) which is the equivalent of a small to medium sized home.
Can this clean multiple rooms?
Thanks to the SLAM algorithm built into the system, this robot builds an interior map of your home and systematically cleans it one room at a time without the need for any virtual wall or beacons.
You can see here how this robot would work inside a small house.
I also tested this if it could clean two rooms and a hallway in our tiny house.
This is my home layout…
Mi Home app
This is probably my favorite feature of this product.
It has a WiFi connection which means you can start or stop this from anywhere as long as you set it up and connect it through a router.
Note that the app will not work without the router.
You don’t have to pay up to $600 just to have access to this feature.
Before continuing, I will just share with you how I managed to connect the MI Home app to the Android…
Downloading the app is easy, if you own an Android device, you can download it from the Play Store by searching for “MI Home App”. For iPhone or iPad users, do the same process in the App Store.
Once you launch the application, this window will appear asking to select a language – be sure to click on Mainland China.
Create an account…
After signing up and logging into your account, you will likely see something like this on the screen.
Click “My Devices” and you will see this window…
Click the “+” button on the top right to add a robot vacuum and these windows will appear…
You will first see the screen on the left, just press the “Add manually” button to bring up the screen on the right.
Once you see the right screen, click on the icon that looks like MI Robot (the red arrow is pointing to it).
Make sure that the robot is connected to the base and that the WIFI is flashing.
When the app detects the robot’s WiFi signal, it asks you to connect with the username and password of your router.
Once you connect to the app, the fun begins. You can use this tool to control the bot remotely but make sure the router is still turned on as this will be a gateway to the bot.
This is the main interface once the app is connected to the robot…
The map above is the blue print for the third floor of our country house. Yes, the SLAM algorithm and the laser distance sensor work together to create the above map.
I read on the GearBest product page that you can view the real-time progress of the bot remotely, but I haven’t been able to do that yet.
Some great features…
You can schedule cleaning more than once per day.
This is actually one of my favorite features of the app – you can actually set it to clean more than once a day.
The screen on the left shows you the times you’ve scheduled the bot to clean – 13:04 (or 1:04 p.m.) and 17:50 p.m. (or 5:50 p.m.).
You’ll notice that the software uses military time, so setting it to 1:00 means the bot will clean up at 1 AM.
The screen on the right is the interface for which you make an appointment. To save, just click on the icon in the top right.
Xiaomi has added more flexibility by giving you the option to schedule on weekdays, weekends, or every day. It also has a custom option where you can schedule on certain days.
The robot actually records every cleaning session it performs. This includes how long the cleaning took, the size of the area cleaned, and how long.
Since the app is only available in Chinese, I wasn’t able to explore further, but it’s a step in the right direction when you talk about Chinese branded robot vacuums.
I made a video to show you the different features of the app.
It still lacks some polishing but Xiaomi has done a lot to improve the app. The latest version has added real-time updates – this means that you can track the whereabouts of the bot in real time.
MI Home app in English!
Update (May 19, 2017): The MI Home app is now available in English. Watch this video to find out more…
Nidec brushless motor
MI doesn’t hold back here – this robot vacuum uses a Nidec brushless motor from the same supplier that supplies the motor for the Roomba 980.
Xiaomi has a more powerful motor (1,800 Pa) compared to the Roomba 980 (1,670 Pa) and the BotVac D8500 according to Engadget.
Torture tested for 2,000 hours, this motor is built to last.
Li-ion battery 5,200 mAh
The 5200mAh lithium battery provides this robot with 2.5 hours of runtime. Since there is minimal power fade, it will provide consistent suction.
When you combine this long runtime with efficient navigation style, this robot will cover a large area – 250 square meters on a single charge!
Neither Xiaomi nor GearBest has specified exactly how the charging time will be. It would be best if you charge this overnight before first use.
Not only will this battery give you a long runtime, but it also has a specially designed CC and CV charging system and several systems that protect it from overcharging, overdischarging and overheating. It also has protection against short circuit, overcurrent and overvoltage.
Battery cover is stainless steel housing and PTC/CID protection.
All of these systems ensure that the battery will last up to two years.
1 side brush
Unlike many ILIFE robotic vacuums that use two side brushes, this one comes with only one side brush that helps it reach the edges when it’s cleaning the contour.
It also automatically adjusts the spin speed depending on the surface being cleaned.
Main motorized brush
Here’s what the Neato brush looks like…
Now compare it to MI…
Aside from the color, the design is almost the same.
In terms of design it is similar to the brush inside the Neato Botvac. This design has been proven in tests to capture pet hair well.
Under the robot there are three wheels.
One wheel in front steers the robot. Two large rubber wheels in the back help it move through different terrains inside your home – carpet, tile, hardwood or linoleum.
These wheels are self-adjusting which means they will automatically adjust their height depending on the surface you are cleaning.
Opening the top lid will reveal the clear 420ml dirt container.
It’s a little smaller than a robot this size but I think with the size of the battery and DC motor you can just cram a lot more inside.
One thing I’ve noticed is the lack of a mesh filter that provides some protection to the paper element filter.
It also does not come with any cleaning brush that you can use to remove dust from the filter and container.
When you compare this to the Neato charging base, it looks the same.
As you can see in the photo above, there is room in the back to store a portion of the wire.
When the robot detects that its battery level is at 20% it stops what it is doing and goes back to base.
If there are areas that you were unable to clean, it will go back and resume completely in the area you left when docked.
The MI robot vacuum uses what it calls a virtual wall but is actually a magnetic strip similar to the Neato BotVac.
For this to work, you will have to place it in the restricted area. A good example is the pet area in the kitchen where there are small dogs that this robot might frighten.
Note that the virtual wall is not available out of the box and you’ll need to purchase it separately and it’s available at GearBest for about $16 for a 78″ magnetic strip.
Xiaomi has more capacity compared to Roomba 980 and BotVac Connected. When you combine that with the brush roller design, you have a pretty decent floor cleaner.
It has more than enough suction power to tackle an exposed floor. When compared to ILIFE A4, it almost doubles the suction power. The A4 also had no problems cleaning up large messes.
Getting more suction doesn’t hurt, especially if your house has old, old wood with a lot of deep cracks.
This is a video I recorded while testing the MI Robot against a big mess like this…
To show you how messy I created this quiz, just look at these pictures…
With 1800 at its disposal I was expecting Xiaomi to inhale this mess but it didn’t.
When it comes to cleaning fine baby powder, it has struggled. He doesn’t seem to like cleaning up really good stuff like that.
Here are the following pictures…
You’ll notice that it left a trail of powder but managed to pick up most of the cut paper and rolled oats.
Despite the expected pattern, it missed some points (watch the entire video to see).
To clean up the mess, I used ILIFE V7 with the mop included and it cleaned just about everything.
These are the cases where a mop helps.
Since I posted this review, Xiaomi has since released an updated firmware that improves cleaning performance.
I mentioned earlier that this bot might be functional but with an update. It passes through the room twice, around the perimeter of the room and the internal parts thus improving the cleaning performance.
These are some pictures before…
Some pictures after…
I must say that the firmware update did a lot to improve how this bot is cleaned. It added a level of precision that wasn’t there before.
Now if they could only devise an app in English…
Carpet and rug cleaning
We don’t have any rug, so I used a large rug to simulate cleaning a low pile carpet.
The rug has two black stripes and floral designs on both sides, so this is not your typical rug.
This bot seems to hate patterns and never skip anything black. If you have a black rug or rug, don’t buy this one because it won’t get over it.
I also noticed that the MI Home app has made important upgrades to the app.
The biggest improvement will be the real-time updates that allow you to monitor the location of the bot.
Again, the downside is that the primary function of the app is Chinese.
Where do you buy supplies?
When this product was first introduced, consumable parts such as the HEPA filter, motorized brush and side brushes were not available for sale.
This was a major concern but it shouldn’t be because these are available for sale.
But what if you only need the filter and not the side brush? The only reason I would recommend this is that you can get it is because you can use coupon code “11nov329” to save about $8. Without the coupon, just buy it separately.
|Battery Type||5,200 mA
|charger type||charging base|
|Water tank capacity||Nobody|
|Dirt Capacity (Dry)||Approximately. 0.45 liters|
|the show length||2.5 hours|
|net weight (with battery)||8.4 pounds|
|Purchase Weight||15.32 EGP|
|an offer||13.58 inches|
|bin full indicator||
|Cleaning sessions per week||Unlimited|
|brush cleaning tools||1|
|Accessories included||charging base
brush cleaning tool
CN . plug
Where can I buy this?
You can also buy this on Amazon for around $400.
The MI robot vacuum is a great alternative to the Neato BotVac and Roomba 980. It has the same SLAM algorithm found in more expensive robots.
This algorithm is responsible for the effective cleaning and multi-chamber cleaning capabilities of this product.
The best part is that you don’t have to spend $700 for it.
It will run for about 2.5 hours before needing to charge thanks to the 5200mAh large capacity lithium battery.
The suction power is also higher than the competing brands I mentioned at 1800Pa. This machine is capable of cleaning low to medium pile carpets but don’t expect it to be deeply cleaned.
In terms of cleaning performance, you’ll miss a few places here and there. My biggest concern would be cleaning up the edges because it doesn’t work as well as ILIFE.
The application is a step in the right direction but it is not a finished product as it lacks clarity.
Xiaomi has updated the app and now you can monitor the location of the bot in real time!
Remember, as with all robot vacuums, this will not deep clean carpet because it lacks suction.
This robot is best used as a daily cleaner that keeps dirt from accumulating. In homes with bare floors only, you can use this vacuum cleaner as a basic cleaner complemented by a handheld vacuum cleaner.