In 2012, iRobot purchased Evolution Robotics, one of the company’s largest competitors in the home robotics technology space, and used some of the design and navigation features of this former competitor when creating the Braava line of floor mopping robots.
Both of these units look almost identical (aside from the color scheme) and have the exact same dimensions. The 380t is more expensive than the 320 – are the slight differences between the two units worth the higher price? This article looks at what sets these two models apart as well as the many similarities between them. For some, the additional cost of the 380t is worth it for the additional features of the unit. For others, however, the 320 is probably just fine. Continue reading to make your own decision.
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Similarities between the 320 and 380t
Appearances: Both units are 8.5” square and 3” high – allowing either unit to get under most low hanging kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both units weigh exactly the same at 4 pounds and most of the external hardware is also identical. Namely, the rubber wheels, bumpers, and magnetic pad holders are all the same as are just about every other externally visible attribute.
In a nutshell, both units look exactly the same aside from the color (the 320 is available in silver while the 380t is jet black).
Both Use Wet/Dry Mops: Both floor mopping robots are equipped with a multi-purpose cleaning pad designed for use with disposable wet and dry cleaning cloths or reusable microfiber cloths that can be thrown in the washing machine when dirty.
Same Navigational Technology: The navigational systems used by both robots are based on the same technology, but there is a major difference which will be discussed in the next section. Both units use the NorthStar Navigation System. This innovative navigation system is actually a combination of the long-revered iRobot navigational components combined with some of the IR scanning technology used in Evolution Robotics’ Mint product line prior to the company merger in 2012.
This navigational system can also be used in conjunction with an additional component known as the Cube. Similar to iRobot’s Lighthouse, the Cube is a small device that allows the Braava product line to clean a larger area. The Cube is designed to bounce a beam of IR light around the room and off the walls and ceilings to get a full picture of the room. This information is collected by the Cube and relayed to both the 320 and 380t, allowing either unit to clean a much larger area.
Both Can Clean a Variety of Floor Types: Both units are capable of cleaning tile, vinyl, linoleum, sealed hardwood, and laminate flooring types. Slate, stone, carpet, rugs, and waxed floors cannot be cleaned using either one of these units. Both the 320 and the 380t include cliff detection but neither unit includes a remote control. The lack of a remote control interface is one of the few areas where these units fall short of the competition as many of the new floor mopping robots from other manufacturers now include this feature as a way to easily stop and start the device remotely.
Neither Can Auto Charge Like the Latest Roomba’s: It’s also worth noting that neither the 320 nor the 380t will automatically return to its charging cradle when the batteries have been depleted. Both units must be manually picked up and placed in the charging cradle once the robot stops moving.
Additional Features of the 380t
More Thorough Clean: First, the 380t comes equipped with what iRobot refers to as the Pro-Clean Reservoir Pad. This system is basically a small tank that can be filled with cleaning solution (or even regular water). As the 380t moves across the floor, the cleaning solution is slowly dripped onto the cleaning pad to keep everything working without the need to constantly re-wet the cleaning pad (as is required with the 320).
Of note is the fact that the 320 is also compatible with the Pro-Clean Reservoir Pad but it must be purchased as an optional accessory.
Can Cover More Ground: Another added feature of the 380t is that it is compatible with up to 3 Cube units whereas the 320 can only be used with one Cube. The ability to get navigational information from 3 Cubes allows the 380t to clean a much larger area. Both units are only capable of cleaning a 150 square foot area without using a Cube. Using one Cube, either unit can clean up to 800 square feet in Dry Mode. The 380t, when used with three cubes, can clean up to 2,000 square feet in Dry Mode. Although these Cubes need to be purchased as optional accessories, the added versatility of the unit becomes apparent when multiple cubes are used in the home.
Better Battery Life: Improvements to both the battery and charging systems are also available in the 380t. Whereas the 320 only has a 1,500mAH rechargeable battery, the 380t has a 2,000mAH battery pack. This means the 380t can clean in Dry Mode for 4 hours (compared to 3 hours with the 320) and 2.5 hours in Wet Mode (compared to 2 hours with the 320).
Faster Recharging: The charging system has also been improved. The standard charging cradle available with the 320 takes between 8 and 10 hours to fully recharge the unit. This can make cleaning even a small home an all-day event. The 380t, however, comes equipped with a Braava Turbo Charge Cradle that reduces charging time to only two hours.
Final Take – Which One Would I Go With?
In summary, the additional cost of the 380t comes from the inclusion of the Pro-Clean Reservoir Pad, a larger battery, the ability to use multiple Cube units to clean larger spaces, and the Braava Turbo Charge Cradle to significantly reduce charging times. For some people, these differences are probably worth the price difference but for people with relatively small areas to mop, the additional features incorporated into the 380t may not be worth the price difference. The
Should you spend the extra cash on the 380t? It depends on how much floor space you have to mop, how often you feel like recharging the unit, and whether or not you plan to spend the money on the additional Cubes supported by the higher end unit. Also, the fact that the 380t can keep its cleaning pad damp without needing to spray the floor or the cleaning pad itself is a big plus and adds to the autonomous capabilities of the robot. Ultimately, both models are an excellent choice and despite a few differences, the similarities between the two still make the Braava line one of the best choices in the floor mopping robot marketplace. You can currently find the Braava 380t available for a good price here.