Dyson Hard – a treat for hard surfaces?

dyson-hard-vacuum

Having previously developed a range of attachments and accessories to tackle the unique cleaning challenges posed by hard surfaces, vacuum specialist Dyson has today launched a new product specifically designed to help people with hard floors in their homes. Rather suggestively titled the Dyson Hard (DC56), this is the latest addition to the Wiltshire company’s ever-expanding product range, and it shares plenty of DNA with its siblings.

The Hard’s signature feature is an integrated wet wipe, which performs the duties of a traditional mop, while a double-edged cleaner head simultaneously vacuums away dirt and debris. A detachable crevice and combination tool facilitates access to awkward corners, and the Hard’s tall, cordless design nods to established Dyson devices such as the well-received DC35 and DC44 ranges. Although Dyson will market their own wet wipes, rival household products can also be used, avoiding expensive proprietary ‘lock-in’ accessories – something owners of computer printers will be particularly relieved about.

The net result of the Hard’s combined functionality is the abolition of a two-stage cleaning process, where vacuuming traditionally precedes the laborious task of going over tiles or wooden floors with a mop and bucket to remove more stubborn or ingrained stains. Conventional hoovers, mops and even steam cleaners all perform a solitary role, whereas the Hard aims to avoid duplication of housework, as well as the relatively inefficient task of wiping floors with a mop that becomes increasingly soiled by the very dirt it is supposed to be removing. Furthermore, the instant-on nature of the cordless Hard makes it suitable for tackling spills or marks as soon as they occur.

Powered by a compact motor that spins at over 100,000rpm, the Hard is capable of operating for 15 minutes on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery, while a high-intensity boost setting provides six minutes of extreme stain removal. That isn’t sufficient to clean a whole house, but it’s certainly enough to shift muddy paw prints from the hallway. The Hard’s family-proof credentials are bolstered by being manufactured from the same rugged ABS polycarbonate used to make riot shields, while test models justified their proposed title by being subjected to almost six thousand different impact tests during a two-year development programme.

With its UK launch taking place on Halloween, critics have yet to experience the treat of a two-in-one cleaner and suction device. However, the Dyson Hard’s best trick may be convincing people that one floor-cleaning product is better than two.

Price: £249.99. Available exclusively at Tesco from October 31st.

Hands on: Vorwerk’s Kobold VR100 robotic vacuum

Being gadget-obsessed, we jumped at the chance to get ‘hands on’ with the VR100 – a robotic vacuum that uses laser technology to automatically clean your house. The VR100 is an improved version of the Neato XV-15 that we reviewed last summer. Changes include a new motor with almost twice the suction power, a side brush for edges/corners and a long-lasting lithium-ion battery rather than the NiMH (which suffers from memory loss effect) in the Neato.

The VR100 uses laser technology to map its surroundings and to then automatically and systematically clean your house, even when there’s no-one at home. The vacuum can be programmed to clean at a certain time of day or to combat a specific zone, such as a room you use most often. Other ‘smart’ technology in the VR100 includes the ability, when at low battery, to return to its base for charging. It will then go back to its previous position to continue cleaning where it left off.

The VR100 is a bag-less device with 0.6 litre capacity for dust collection. The quick-charging 64Wh lithium-ion battery has a reported battery life of 90 minutes. The unit comes in at around 5kg in weight with dimensions of 32.5 x 31 x 10cm. Check out this video of us unboxing the VR100:

After a week using the VR100 to clean our test living room (which the dog ‘re-furs’ every night!) we were pleased with the results. We used the supplied zoning tape to stop the device from mounting the fire hearth and only once, while under a table, did it stop with a ‘could not navigate’ error message.

We were also pleasantly surprised by the vacuum’s ability to pick up the aforementioned dog hair – something which other, more powerful, stand-up vacuums have failed to do. The VR100 is easy to use, being very much plug-and-play with a big a green button to get it started. We also tested the scheduled clean which took place without incident – apart from scaring the unsuspecting dog! Here’s some video of the device cleaning our test living room:

The VR100 costs £649 and is available exclusively from VK Direct.

iRobot Roomba 600: When Will Smith takes on vacuuming

Roomba-660

Keeping your house neat and tidy can be a nightmare at times, especially if you live in a one-bedroom flat like myself… There are just not enough hours in the day. As luck would have it though, the smart chaps at iRobot have come top the rescue with their new Roomba 600 cleaner.

Now I can sit back, put my feet up and enjoy the latest Will Smith film safe in the comforting knowledge that the Roomba 600 is running around the floor, vacuuming the flat from top to bottom – doing all the hard work for me, all without having to lift a finger.

Packed with new features, the Roomba 600 is one of the most technologically advanced cleaners on the market. An optimised airflow will ensure the evenly-filled bins need to be emptied less frequently, the Aerovac brush design means it will pick up more dirt than in previous models and it will need to be maintained less often.

You can even tell it which rooms you don’t wish to be cleaned, which it will then avoid and concentrate on the rest of the house. How have you survived up to now without one of these clever devices? Household chores will never be the same again.

To find out more about the iRobot Roomba 600 and how it can help keep the dirt at bay, visit their website on www.irobot.com/uk.

Neato XV-25 robotic vacuum cleaner review

Sweep away hair and allergens without lifting a finger

This is like a dream come true – as I write this, a small robotic vacuum is navigating its way around the ground floor of my house doing the vacuuming.

I will do anything to get out of housework, so when the ed suggested I try out a robotic vacuum cleaner, designed especially to pick up allergens and pet hairs, how could I refuse? The house is generally covered in cat hairs from dawn to dust, so I figured it would certainly get a good workout.

Neato-XV-25

The Neato XV-25 might sound like something from a 1960s sci-fi cartoon, but looks like a chunky set of bathroom scales in shape. It comes with a charging unit that plugs into the wall, and the vacuuming unit itself is low, so could sit beneath a chair or table if you wanted to keep it out of the way.

It’s incredibly simple to set up – a few buttons are all that stands between you and getting it to do a spot clean – and programming it to clean the whole house at a certain time on any day of the week is as simple as setting a digital alarm clock or setting the time on the central heating.

When it starts up, it does sound alarmingly like a plane getting ready to take off, but as it’s actually vacuuming it’s not too bad. I often can’t hoover because my other half works shifts and is asleep when I might do housework (another great excuse for not doing it!), but I could happily let the Neato do its job without disturbing him (not in the same room though!).

Watching the XV-25 navigate its way around the rooms (it has sensors in the front that can detect objects such as chairs and tables), the Neato looks pretty haphazard in where it goes, but it does manage to get pretty much everywhere. Being slim, it fits under chairs that my usual upright vacuum can’t. My only bugbear is that it doesn’t go close enough to the edges, and after a few days of vacuuming, I’ve noticed that there’s a building edge of dust along the sides of the couches that it just can’t reach.

It also does a far better job on carpet than it does on hard floors. Mind you, because I don’t have to do the vacuuming, I can happily set it off a couple of times a day to vacuum while I get on with other things.

Time-wise, I’m quicker – it takes about 30 minutes to do what would take me about 15 – but then I can get on with something more interesting – liker writing reviews for this website.

There’s a lot I like about the Neato – we’ve had a few visitors this week and everyone has been fascinated to watch it go around the room, avoiding chairs, tables and other obstacles (although it doesn’t seem to think anything of running over feet!) I like that it is simple to use, and that you can time it to vacuum when you want – great if you set it to have a vacuum round while you’re putting the kids to bed, or once you’ve gone to bed yourself.

And I love the way it posted a message on its screen saying ‘please put me on the floor’ when I picked it up. It’s got quite a character. It also tells you when it’s finished and is heading back to its charging station.

It has also proved itself pretty efficient at picking up cat hairs (never an easy task) – although I have to say the cats were pretty alarmed by it at first, although they’re getting used to it now. And as we’re in the middle of some decorating work, it has managed to keep the dust at bay far better than I and my usual vacuum cleaner would have done.

Despite that, I think it is far more suited to some homes than others. If you have a minimal house, with very little on the floor, it will work far better than it does in our, admittedly cluttered, home. In fact, it is far more suited to a flat, as it can’t do stairs – we’d love to see it sprout little legs and go up each stair, vacuuming as it goes! If you need to keep it away from certain areas (an area full of wires for instance), special barrier tape is included, which the Neato will detect and keep away from.

The other thing I’m not so keen on (but then regular readers of Latest Gadgets will know I am a skinflint!) is the price – £429 is quite a lot to pay when you’ve still go to go round and dust the edges!

The Neato XV-25 is available from www.amazon.co.uk now

New vacuum from Vax is on the cards

A gadget made out of cardboard? Are you mad? That was my first thought when I found out about the cardboard Vax. I checked the date – no, not April 1 so maybe it wasn’t a joke. And, aside from what you read on Latest Gadgets, I know not to believe everything I read on the internet.

Cardboard-Vax

But after some digging around, I have found it is indeed true – there is a vacuum cleaner that has been made out of cardboard, and you, dear readers, can find out how you might be able to take part in a trial of the prototype, as well as make your very own cut out and keep mini cardboard Vax!

The idea behind the Vax ev is, as you may have guessed, ecological. With manufacturers, agencies and the consumer wary about how landfill is filling up, this neat little number has been made with optimum sustainability in mind, as it is made from recycled and recyclable materials.

The Vax ev has been developed by industrial design student Jake Tyler, who worked with the support of vacuum cleaner maker Vax’s new product design team. The plan was put into action while Jake was working at Vax’s UK headquarters on a student placement scheme. Probably unsurprisingly, Jake graduated with a first class degree and now works with Vax full time.

The motor housing is contained within a cardboard body, that begins life as part of the retail packaging, and then pops into place around the working parts. It can be customised using felt tip pens, so your Vax ev will be like no other!

And if you’re thinking this could be a fire hazard, rest assured that the cardboard has a flame retardant coating. Where parts cannot be made from cardboard, a recyclable nylon plastic casing gas been used. This is easily produced and cuts out the need for assembly lines, so the product can be made and distributed locally, reducing energy use and fuel costs.

The Vax is a fully working prototype at present, and if you want to get involved in its trial, send your details to Vax here

iRobot Roomba 700 Series

We’re suckers for automated vacuum cleaners here at Latest Gadgets – there’s just something of the future about them. That’s why we’re pretty excited that the creators of the world’s most popular robovac – the Roomba – have brought out the iRobot Roomba 700 Series, the most comprehensive hoover’ing robot to date.
iRobot, having sold over six million home robots worldwide, know they’re onto a winner with the Roomba. That’s why it’s evolution rather than revolution for the 700 Series, bringing a whole host of cleaning-enhanced super-powers to the familiar form.

iRobot

The biggest update for the Roomba is the iAdapt Responive Cleaning Technology. Using a combination of sensors – including aural – the Roomba monitors its local environment 64 times/second. That’s about 39 million times more frequently than we do at LG Towers.

What separates Roomba from its competitors is the Dirt Detect Series 2 (available on Roomba 770 and 780 models), which uses an acoustic sensor to detect debris as small as sand to suck up. It also uses an optical sensor to detect larger and softer debris (popcorn was the given example).

The Dirt Detect system, along with a more advanced cleaning head, improves overall cleaning from previous models, with iRobot stating a 20% improvement in the collection of fine particulates.

If the ‘bot detects a particularly gruesome area (your teenager’s bedroom), it’ll use its Persistent Pass Cleaning Pattern, using a brush-like, back-and-forth motion to focus on an excessively dirty area.

All of the 700 Series comes with new power management software that results in a 50% increase in battery longevity compared to the old model.

Other upgrades include the AeroVac Series 2 bin, which maximises air flow through Roomba’s cleaning head to pull more debris from the brushes and into the bin.

There are also two HEPA-type air filters keep fine household dust from re-circulating in your home, a soft-touch bumper to protect walls and furniture and – most usefully, a full bin indicator light, for knowing when your Roomba is has had its fill.

Neato Robotics XV-15: Robotic vacuum cleaner

Robotic vacuum cleaners are great. They combine robotics (cool) with not having to do chores (awesome!) The Neato Robotics XV-15 is the latest addition to the robotic vacuum family, bringing with it a unique, square-tail design.

Neato

Technology-wise, the XV-15 uses 360-degree laser-mapping to survey a room’s size, notice obstacles and get to work. Like a cat, it’ll glide into a room, walk the perimeter before moving inwards. Unlike a cat, however, after the XV-15 has finished, there will be less hair on the floor.

By intelligently surveying the room, the XV-15 uses less energy moving about and on wasted sucking than previous models. This power has been redirected into the motor, increasing the suction to new heights (for robotic vacuums, anyway).

At the vacuum’s core is a centrifugal compression impeller that follows jet engine airflow principles, which Neato claim offers “unprecedented cleaning performance”.
It’s laser-mapping ensures that any object over four-inches in height is avoided, while it’s low profile (under four inches) means it can clean under a tables, beds, sofas etc.

It has other useful features, like a scheduler to ensure constant cleaning, and the ability to find its way back to the dock when in need of a charge. We’re more taken in by the look, however – it’s like an Atari Jaguar console. The square end is actually there to allow for a larger dirt bin (.65 litres), as well as better corner-cleaning – a big problem for robotic vacuums (no eyes for detail).

The Neato Robotics XV-15 is available for pre-order today from Neato Robotics for £379.99.

Samsung Navibot: New breed of cleaning robot

I confess it: here at Latest Gadgets.co.uk, we’re not always interested in domestic appliances. I mean, until someone put an internet connection in a toaster, I’d never cooked bread. So when we go out of our way to visit the launch party of a vacuum cleaner – the Samsung Navibot – it had better be a really special one.

And it was. The Navibot is the most technologically advanced robot vacuum in the world, boasting 36 sensors, a camera capable of capturing 30 frames a second (or 110,000 an hour) and a 167 degree viewing angle. And with a small form and cute circular case, the device impresses aesthetically as well as on paper. It was almost like meeting Wall-E’s great-great-grandfather.

Navibot-Cleaning

All that technology is squeezed into the Navibot’s small shell so that the device can be packed with more features than some computers. For instance, the device boasts six cleaning modes – Automatic, where on the touch of a button (or a touchscreen, on the premium model) the device sets about vacuuming the room. Set it to Max, and the little dirt-warrior will begin cleaning your house non-stop until it runs out of battery – perfect for those of us with mansions or neuroses.

However, a dead battery is a rarity, because the device boasts a range of 100 square metres before needing a recharge. Even if it does need to recharge, it will return to the docking station, charge up, and then start cleaning from where it left off. According to Samsung’s tests, it finds its way home 99% of the time – better than most pets.

Other modes include Schedule, in which you can programme the Navibot to carry out your cleaning bidding at set times, Spot Clean, where the device cleans the nearest 1.5m, Edge, where small brushes come out the side and sweep dust towards the main suction unit, and my favourite, Manual, where you can control the toy vacuum from a supplied remote control.

The Navibot achieves these feats of cleanliness due to Samsung’s “Visionary Mapping System” which dynamically maps your room, allowing the little beast to work out where it is, where it has been, where it needs to go and what it needs to drive around. This system is powered by IR sensors that detect near-by bumps, and a camera aimed at the ceiling, used to work out how much space it has to clean.

As far as sucking-up dust goes, the unit picked up everything I saw it roll over, has a HEPA filter, a bagless 0.6 litre capacity with quick-empty (you can suck out the dirt using another hoover, but only on the premium model), the ability to detect edges and avoid falling down the stairs, and, in an example of supreme innovation, an anti-tangle technology, so if the device picks up a trailing cable, it will reverse until the cable has unwound itself, and then avoid that location.

At £399 and £449 for the basic and premium models, the unit itself isn’t super cheap – but it does undercut existing remote vacuums as well as boasting a whole lot more features. However, if you feel that isn’t enough of an expense, opulent buyers can purchase the optional “Virtual Guard” add-on, which is two mini-towers that send an anti-Navibot signal between them, creating an invisible wall that the device will never pass.