It’s finally arrived!
That was the first thing that sprung to mind when I heard the Dyson 360 Eye was finally being released.
For as long as I’ve been covering home robotics online (5+ years), Dyson has always been rumored to be the elephant in the room. It’s been cited as the “Roomba Killer” in the wings.
But has Dyson waited too long to jump into the robot game? We all know they make great upright vacuums, but can this success directly translate to home robotics?
These are the questions I was most interested in answering when I tested out the Dyson bot for the first time. The following review is my full assessment (warts and all) of the new Dyson 360 Eye.
Contents (Jump to)
- 1 Key Features – How Does Dyson Stand Out?
- 2 Pros and Cons – Aspects I Like, and Things I Don’t
- 3 Alternatives to the Dyson 360 Eye
- 4 Final Round – Is the Dyson 360 Eye a Good Buy Today?
- 5 Where to Buy the Dyson 360?
Key Features – How Does Dyson Stand Out?
The following are the key “selling points” that attracted me to the 360 Eye after reading early previews.
- Powerful Suction: This is the main allure of the Dyson. It aims to mimic the deep cleaning power of a mid range upright vacuum. Dyson knows a thing or two about superior suction. This is particularly evident on carpets, where the robot vacuum pretenders are separated from elite.
- Smart Mapping: As the name suggests, the Dyson makes use of a smart “eye” on the top of the device to map a room. It constantly measures distances between objects to create an organized and methodical cleaning path. This feature ensures that every inch is adequately covered.
- Smart App: Taking a page from the latest Botvac and Roomba, Dyson has rolled out live with a smart app. It allows you to schedule remotely from your smart phone/device. You can also receive updates and alerts on your smart watch (if you have one). A fully featured app is a key identifier in this market as robot makers continue to find an edge over the competition.
- Scheduling: Much like the leading competition, you can schedule your Dyson runs depending on your needs. You can even do so remotely via the app (say, if you are at work or on vacation).
- Wider Coverage: Unlike the competition, the Dyson Eye is able to cover more territory under the device (no more side bristles). This leads to a more even coverage and less probability of missing spots.
- Higher Clearance: The track design of the wheels means that the Dyson bot won’t be stumped by thresholds, carpet edges, or other irregularities on the floor surface. This is a notable improvement over the competition, making the Dyson 360 a more “rugged” cleaner.
Pros and Cons – Aspects I Like, and Things I Don’t
Here’s where it get’s messy and honest! Even the best robots still aren’t perfect (we aren’t there yet, folks). The Dyson 360 is no different. However, the Pros and Cons are different than the leading models from competitors.
Pros to Consider
- Deeper Clean on Carpets: This is one of the areas I was most impressed with the Dyson bot. It’s been a few years since I touched my carpets with a traditionally powered vacuum. I have my Roomba set on a bi-weekly clean cycle, not to mention all the other robots I may be testing during the week. Even after my Roomba 980 had just done a pass with “carpet boost”, the e Roomba 980 was a huge step up over previous versions on carpets, but the Dyson took it to a whole other level.
- Decent Cornering: While I still prefer the unique design of the Botvac (Neato) for getting at the deep corners, the Dyson Eye seemed a bit better than the Roomba (and other circular bots) at suctioning up along baseboards and in corners. This is likely due to the superior suction power and design which casts a wider path.
- Smaller Footprint: While the Dyson bot is taller, it actually has a smaller footprint than the Botvac or Roomba. This makes it adept at getting along the baseboards (see above) and around the base of furniture.
- Advanced Mapping: The SLAM technology is clearly powerful and Dyson has gone live with a very competent mapping system. While it hasn’t mastered multi-room mapping and boundary marking (like iRobot), the camera “eye” tackles every possible inch of the particular room in which it is operating. Overall, this instantly catapults the 360 Eye into the top tier of robotic vacuums.
- Nifty Cleaning Report: Unique to the Dyson 360 is a really interesting after action report on what your robot has cleaned. It’s essentially a criss-crossed schematic of where the robot has gone so you can see remotely (via the app) what kind of coverage a particular cycle gave you. This can be helpful to determine which areas might need touch-ups, even without manually having to inspect. Overall, it’s just a cool feature to nerd out with. Competitors have the same technology, they just don’t let you see it. Aggressive move!
- Handles Difficult Terrain: Relative to other robots on the market, the Dyson is a tank. Having trouble with the shag rug? Can’t get past the kitchen threshold? Foiled by the welcome mat? Not the Dyson! I was pleasantly surprised at how easily it overcame the usual “problem areas” that stumped my Botvac’s and Roomba’s (any many lesser bots before). This a really innovative feature that truly differentiates the Dyson from the pack.
- Gets Smarter Over Time: The first time through your house/apartment, it will be painful. There will be multiple re-charges and some uneven results. Over time – however – the Dyson 360 Eye will get smarter (machine learning). This is a really nice attribute. If you give it a few chances to prove itself, it WILL get better. Will it be “good enough” eventually (efficient, etc..)? That’s a different story.
Cons to Consider
- Range: This is one of my bigger concerns with where Dyson stands in the market. They don’t have any smart boundary marking mechanism like magnetic tape (Neato) or virtual walls (iRobot). This technology is critical to making or breaking the value of a robot. What I found was that – in the absence of any of these boundary systems – my Dyson would struggle to properly clean the furthest rooms on a particular floor. Example: the base is in the living room where the Dyson starts. It does a superb job covering every inch of this room. However, the far study (three rooms from the living room, on the same floor) does not get the same attention. Sometimes it’s even skipped. This is exacerbated by the next point.
- Battery Life: The Dyson has to return to base to charge frequently. It seems the more times it returns to charge during a cleaning cycle, the less likely it is to fully clean the further rooms of the house.
- Speed: While the 360 Eye does a great job cleaning, it does take a while. Unlike the Botvac Connected, there doesn’t seem to be any “quick” clean features. You are essentially stuck in one cleaning mode. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great! But don’t expect to do a quick 30 minute run prior to the guests arriving. Cleaning cycles are best scheduled when occupants are out of the house (at work, etc…). For my floor plan, it took about 4 hours per cycle (ground floor).
- Height: Here’s another key issue. The 360 Eye won’t be able to get under most conventional couches, coffee tables, bureaus, some beds, etc… This is a bit frustrating because part of the allure of a robot vacuum is that it can easily get those hard to reach (and seldom cleaned) crevices. Annoying, no doubt but only a deal-breaker if you have lots of furniture that would be affected (situation dependent).
- Finicky Docking Mechanism: This will hopefully be perfected eventually, but as of this writing my charging contacts are fail to latch about 20% of the time. This is kind of annoying because it will through off your nicely planned cleaning cycles. Thankfully, you can assess this remotely via the app.
- High Cost: I always knew Dyson would attack the higher end of this category, particularly so as not to cannibalize sales from their successful upright vacuum lines. I just wasn’t expecting them to blow the category out of the water with a $1200 price tag (at the time of this writing). You do get a high quality machine, but whether or not it is “worth it” is contingent on your household budget for these types of things. I’d recommend checking this listing for the latest discounts.
Alternatives to the Dyson 360 Eye
I don’t like making my purchasing decisions in a vacuum (no pun intended). There are plenty of grown up competitors to the Dyson. In many ways, Dyson IS the upstart when it comes to robotics, despite their long track record with traditional vacuums.
The following are the top robot vacuums I would consider as the main competition to the 360 Eye:
Samsung PowerBot – Samsung is another recent competitor who has jumped into the home robotic market. Their series of 4 PowerBot robots also deliver advanced suction power. You can check out one of my reviews here.
Similar to the Dyson, room to room navigation gets more difficult the more rooms you have. What it does – like the PowerBot – is deliver powerful cleaning on the areas it does cover. It’s also a few hundred dollars more affordable (check here) and only some models have WiFi capability (not all).
Roomba 880 – Looking for something less expensive but still reasonable competent? The Roomba 880 has come down significantly in price. It’s no longer the newest robot from iRobot, but it’s still once of it’s best selling and more advanced (see my full review).
You won’t get the smart app control, but the core technology is not far off from the 360 Eye. You can schedule cleanings (on the device), and – best of all – use virtual walls to ensure multiple rooms on a large floor plan are cleaned. You will also get significantly better battery life and a more consistent cleaning experience out of the box.
As of this writing, it’s roughly HALF the price of the 360 Eye, but you should check this listing for the latest discounts. If this is your first robot vacuum purchase, this might be a better investment to see if you really “need” it vs. want it.
Dyson 360 Eye vs Roomba 980
The single most asked question in the coming months is likely to be “which is better” when comparing the new Dyson to the Roomba 980. Roomba was the first to market with a WiFi enabled smart robot earlier this year (see my full review here).
The Roomba 980 stands out from the 360 Eye primarily because of how iRobot deploys “virtual walls”. These devices signal (electronically) to the Roomba where to go, which rooms are off limits, etc… This effectively helps expand the range of a Roomba. Where the 360 Eye will struggle with the far reaches of your floor plan (sometimes missing certain areas/rooms), virtual walls are a double redundancy to ensure every inch is cleaned.
The 360 Eye is Better At: 1) Deep cleaning smaller areas, 2) navigating thresholds/difficult terrain, 3) and cleaning corners.
The Roomba 980 is Better At: 1) Cleaning large, multi-room homes, 2) getting under low-rise furniture, 3) quicker clean cycles, and 4) longer battery life.
One other key advantage of the Roomba 980 is that iRobot has an excellent market for secondary parts. If you ever need to replace components, there are plenty of third-party suppliers to choose from. This effectively means that “cost of ownership” is lower over time. You can find the Roomba 980 available here.
Dyson 360 Eye vs Botvac Connected
Another leading robot vac is the Botvac, recently released by Neato Robotics to counter the Roomba 980. Like the 980 and 360 Eye, the Botvac Connected is WiFi enabled, allowing for remote control via app. You can read my full assessment here.
Other key features to like are the 1) improved suction power, 2) new enhanced visual mapping system, 3) superior corner cleaning (better than Roomba), 4) dual “eco” and “turbo” cleaning modes.
In terms of improvements over the Dyson Eye, the dual cleaning modes is a nice feature, and the magnetic tape boundary system is an improvement over the lack of any boundary system on the Dyson. This makes it – like the Roomba – a better option for larger floor plans.
Overall, the Dyson is still better at pure cleaning (in terms of suction). The WiFi apps are comparable, although I do really like the after action cleaning report on the Dyson.
The big improvement in this tight battle is the price. You can find the Botvac Connected here for about half the price of the Dyson.
Final Round – Is the Dyson 360 Eye a Good Buy Today?
The 360 Eye is a powerful dirt sucking beast. There is no doubt about that. If you’ve ever wanted a robot that actually hoovers up debris like a state of the art upright vacuum, this IS the definitive replacement! This is where it truly shines.
On a 1 to 1 basis, my (admittedly unscientific) tests confirm that the Dyson 360 Eye does a deeper clean than either the leading Botvac (Connected) or Roomba (980).
If this were the only factor to judge a robot, Dyson would be the instant market leader.
There is a LOT more that goes into a truly smart robot, however. What iRobot has done so well with is creating a smart, autonomous, experience. Virtual walls and technology from the frontlines (literally, they make robots for combat) mean that a Roomba generally is more hands free and…well…robotic!
My Dyson bot is great for concentrated limited area cleans. It’s the “industrial” cleaner of robots. But ask it to equally cover 5+ rooms of a 1000+ square feet layout (hallways and all) and you likely be disappointed. It’s powerful, methodically, but not quite as adaptive and intelligent as it’s leaner competition (namely, Roomba and Botvac).
Suction technology and navigation technology are two very different beasts. Dyson probably makes the best pure vacuums, but still needs to catch up to the current market leaders (iRobot and Neato) when it comes to navigation technology.
Developing a smart boundary management system (like Roomba’s invisible boundary beams or Botvac’s magnetic boundary tape) would go a long way to making the Dyson are a more useful appliance.
The height issue will be another deal breaker for some. Part of the reason you buy an expensive robot is that it can get at those hard to vacuum places under beds, coffee tables, couches, etc… Depending on your layout, this alone might make it frivolous.
So where does that leave us?
Bottom Line: If you have a nice clean floor plan (maybe a small bungalow), 2 bedroom or less apartment, or just a limited area/room that you need cleaned regularly, the Dyson 360 will give you the best clean. Period. Anything bigger, and this big bot is out of it’s depth (for now).
All in all it’s, Dyson has undoubtedly moved the industry forward. If iRobot can master Dyson’s suction power, or Dyson can master iRobot’s navigation tech, there might be a clear favorite on the horizon.
Where to Buy the Dyson 360?
For a while, Dyson had a waiting list you can sign up for. Recently, Amazon has created an official product listing page here. Be wary of the other listings, as there are a few different ones that carry European and/or Asian versions (often with foreign language instructions and higher prices).