For many years the big electronics companies avoided jumping on the home robotics band-wagon. The success of the iRobot and Neato robotic vacuums has done a lot to garner increased interest in the market. Even the most stalwart upright vacuum incumbents like Dyson and Bissell have either jumped in – or announced plans to jump in – to the robotic cleaner market. Samsung also wants a piece of the pie.
Samsung makes a lot of home electronics so I was initially skeptical that they could create a robot to compete with the like of the Botvac and Roomba. The Powerbot – however – should not be ignored!
While the Powerbot isn’t perfect, it does have some key strengths relative to the competition. In short, it’s definitely playing in the top tier of robotic vacuums. Depending on your needs, it’s an option worth considering.
The following is a detailed review and evaluation of my experience so far with the Powerbot. I’ll get into the key features, pros and cons, as well as comparing it to the competition. At the end of the review, you’ll find my overall recommendation.
Contents (Jump to)
Key Features of the Powerbot VR9000
The following are the key “selling points” of the VR9000. I’ll fully evaluate whether they actually live up to the hype in the “Pros” and “Cons” section in the next heading.
- Powerful Engine: This is the key selling point for the Powerbot. It has a lot of technology and horsepower under the hood. The “CycloneForce” suction might sound over the top, but it does deliver solid results.
- Smart Mapping: Like the latest devices from iRobot and Neato, Powerbot uses built-in sensors to map out the room prior to initiating a cleaning cycle. This includes a ceiling facing camera. This type of technology has really helped push home robotics to new levels of efficiency.
- Corner Cleaning: Much like Neato’s popular Botvac line, Samsung sells the Powerbot for it’s non-circular design. This is a not so subtle dig at Roomba. In promotional videos, you’ll see the Powerbot expertly navigating corners and collecting debris. See my “Cons” section for an assessment of if this actually works.
- “Silent” Mode: The Powerbot has an interesting “silent” mode where the already mild mannered robot goes into super stealth mode for a quiet clean. This is ideal if you’ve found other robot vacuums to be noisy in the past.
- Remote Control: The remote control is a nice addition that allows spot cleaning. There’s also a built-in laser pointer of sorts that can act as a guide for the Powerbot. Simply point the dot where you want the Powerbot to go and it will move to the point.
- 10 Year Warranty: A ten year warranty is nothing to take lightly. For example, both iRobot and Neato generally only offer 1-year warranty’s. Samsung has been around for a while, so it’s probably a warranty you can take to the bank and not just a sales gimmick.
Pros and Cons
So here’s the hard truth (for better or for worse) about the Powerbot. There’s definitely positives and negatives to consider.
- Remote Control is Good for Spot Cleaning: It can be a bit jerky, but manual mode works as advertised with the handy remote control. If their is one thing Samsung understands, it’s probably remotes. You can access all the cleaning modes and settings from the remote control, so you don’t have to even get off the couch. The laser pointer mode is especially handy if you want to direct the Powerbot much like an RC car.
- Quiet Compared to Competition: This is one of the other areas where the Powerbot is a class leader. Normal operation is noticeably quieter than both my Botvac’s and my Roomba’s. There’s even a “silent” mode which is even better at reducing noise pollution. This seems to be ideal for those living in open concept areas or 1 bedroom city apartments (etc…) where humans might be sleeping while the Powerbot is in operation.
- Easy to See Bin: The transparent bin on top of the device adds to the bulk, but also allows users to quickly identify whether the bin is full or if there are problems at a glance.
- Good Suction: Where it does clean, it cleans very well. It’s arguably in the same neighborhood as the Neato and Roombas, although I don’t think it is “better”.
- Navigation Can be Spotty: The powerful suction and deep cleaning abilities almost makes you for forget the VR9000 isn’t a Roomba. Almost. The navigation is where Samsung’s lack of domain expertise comes through. It’s not that the Powerbot struggles all the time, it just struggles more than similarly priced Neato Botvac’s and Roomba’s. Overall, movements are a little less fluid than the Neato and Roomba devices. For example, my Powerbot paused for about 2-3 seconds on the edge of a carpet, almost as if it was trying to identify the change in terrain. On the whole, not a huge deal but still something to consider.
- Can’t Fit Under Some Furniture: One of the nice things about having a robot vacuum is that – presumably – it can quickly get at the areas a traditional upright vacuum can’t. For me, this is under couches, coffee tables and other lower clearance items. Unfortunately, due to the relative bulk and height of the Powerbot, most common couches are just too low. This is actually a more annoying drawback. Don’t have this kind of furniture or don’t care? No sweat, but buyer beware.
- No Virtual Wall/Guard: While presumably you can order them from the Samsung website, my Powerbot did not come with any virtual walls. I’m not sure if this is intentional for the US market or an oversight, but it certainly is an issue for larger homes. I’ve become accustomed to using the iRobot virtual walls and Neato magnetic tape, so this was quite the let down. For such a powerful vacuum, it seems silly to limit it to smaller homes and apartments. Of course, you can try and let it run free, but you maybe have to do some complicated “powerbot proofing” of your house.
- No WiFi: This appears to be a trend across the industry and the Powerbot is a bit behind the power curve. Presumably, Samsung is working on implementing this on a future model. Currently, the Botvac Connected and Roomba 980 both offer WiFi control.
- Misses Some Corners: This was another big let down for me, given the advertising that suggesting adept corner handling. While the device isn’t circular – and this definitely helps – it’s still very bulky. This tends to cause problems in my kitchen where the floor cabinet overhang is generally too low for the Powerbot to effectively push into corners. Even without the cabinets, it doesn’t clean my baseboards as well as my Botvac. A simple fix would be the addition of side brushes to help with corners.
- Price Tag: The elephant in the room. The retail price was $999.99 for a while, which made it almost prohibitively expensive. I was able to find mine for about 30% off at this listing, so be sure to check it out. The bottom line, all the new robots are expensive. For this year’s models, you’ll be spending well over $500 whether you choose Neato (Botvac) or Roomba.
Video in Action
To get a sense for how the Powerbot actually performs in a real household environment, check out this video.
Powerbot Alternatives to Consider
The Powerbot has had a nice debut on the big stage, but there are certainly other robots with more market share. The following are some similarly priced alternatives that are at least worth considering.
Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room, the Roomba 980 represents the latest and greatest from the market leader iRobot. It’s not cheap. In fact, it’s the most expensive robot vacuum currently on the market. However, the 980 has seriously stepped up it’s game from previous Roomba models. Most prominently, iRobot now has a smart home app and WiFi capability for the 980, meaning you can control and monitor your Roomba from the office (or any other WiFi network). Other added features are the new VSLAM navigation technology, carpet boost mode, and more intelligent room navigation.
The only downside? It’s more expensive by at least $200 than the Powerbot (judging by what I paid and what most retail stores are selling them for).
Pros: WiFi control via app, carpet boost mode, and VSLAM tech, fits under most couches and furniture.
Cons: Price, but see here for discounts.
Full Review: Read it here.
The other big player has long been Neato. Their latest Botvac Connected is effectively an answer to the Roomba 980. It also offers WiFi capability for the first time in it’s history, while boasting stronger suction, better filters, and a longer lasting battery pack.
Long time fans of the Neato devices tend to like the organized cleaning patterns and the logical way rooms are cleaned. For Roomba’s – particularly the older models – the seemingly random bouncing around can be a bit disconcerting. Another perk is the expert corner cleaning capability due to the unique design of the device.
It’s also an expensive investment, but it’s cheaper than the 980 and comparable to the Samsung Powerbot. I’ve found the best prices at this listing.
Pros: Great corner cleaner, also comes with WiFi and app control, organized cleaning patter, better suction power than previous models, comparable price to the Powerbot.
Cons: No carpet boost mode and requires magnetic tape stripes to define boundaries (no “virtual” wall/guard compatibility).
Full Review: See here.
The Roomba 880 is last year’s model from iRobot. It’s comparable priced to the Botvac Connected and Powerbot, while still offering much of the same industry leading technology as the 980. I get it, it’s not the latest model in the showroom, but that can also lead to some cost savings. If you see this listing, you can frequently find it on sale precisely because it’s last year’s model.
The main drawback is that – like the Powerbot – it doesn’t feature any WiFi capability or app control.
Pros: Still very competent, less pricey than the latest Roomba, good market for replacement parts (should you need it), low clearance (fits under most common furniture), comes with remote, and uses (and comes with) “virtual walls” to block off certain areas.
Cons: Seemingly random cleaning patterns, no WiFi capability, not the latest technology (although still competent).
Full Review: Read the review here.
Final Take – Is the Powerbot Worth the Money?
It’s not a slam-dunk. It doesn’t dethrone iRobot or Neato from their perch atop the food chain. The powerful suction is a bit hampered by trouble with corners. However, the Powerbot is a competent “new kid” on the block. Given the number of “copycat” robots constantly being released, I was skeptical that Samsung could deliver a competent robot. The truth is, they have!
There’s definitely other competitive options to choose from currently, but the Powerbot VR9000 is the type of robot most users can’t go wrong with. It might not be quite the “full package” that the Botvac or Roomba 980 are, but the strong suction power at least gives it a seat at the table.