Samsung POWERbot VR9000 Review

Detailed Review

We looked at 7 factors that will likely influence which robot vacuum you decide to invest in. These areas were Cleaning Ability, Objective Avoidance, Features, Charging/Battery Life, Aesthetics and Price. Each category is scored individually, with the final score reflecting the average of each of the 7 categories.

Cleaning Ability

One has to hand it to Samsung. If any robot vacuum comes closer to an actual, traditional vacuum, we haven’t seen it. The Samsung POWERbot VR9000 is perhaps one of the strongest cleaning robot vacuums on the market today. This does not mean that is cleans the best. It simply means that it has the most powerful suction ability we have seen.

Samsung pulled out all of the stops on this one in order to create the highest-end vacuum cleaner they could make. They include the same cyclone technology that exists in their normal vacuums, which they term “Cyclone Force”. With it, the VR9000 is capable of sucking up pretty much anything. Combine this with the extra long 12.4 inch agitator brush, and you’ll find that this device pretty much leaves no stone unturned. That is, as long as it can get to the stone.

The biggest problem with the Samsung POWERbot is the fact that it struggles with walls and corners. Part of this is because of its design. The device (positively) avoids running into walls and other objects. Unlike the bots we see from iRobot or Ecovac, the POWERbot does not navigate its way around through feel. It navigates through sensors and a digital mapping camera. This makes its cleaning pattern very similar to the Botvac from Neato Robotics. Its physical design also makes it similar to the Botvac. However, because it is wholly adverse to bumping into objects, it will sometimes leave areas of dirt and dust in sitting in corners and along walls. The lack of a spinning side brush, which is common on most other robot vacuums, aids in this inability to really get to those corner areas.

While it does not run into objects during its cleaning process, it will get right up close to them and touch them lightly. It approaches things rather quickly, then screeches to a halt, backs up slightly, then slowly approaches walls and objects until it is right against them. If you notice that the vacuum is missing a spot, you can use the included remote to point a laser spot on the floor. It will then clean that area. It’s not quite the same as using the remote control, but it’s a good compensation.

There is automatic adjustment between hardwood floors or tiles and carpeted areas or rugs. This should help save battery. However, expect that this vacuum will be loud. The increased suction power puts it on par with a regular vacuum in terms of how loud it is. Even still, its first few times around, it may not clean effectively. It “learns” the room and routes, so it may take some time before it really gets going effectively. Round this off with a rather large and easy to empty dust bin capacity with a .7 liters capacity, and you have a fairly solid cleaning robot. Despite all of that power, it does not clean much better than the Botvac or the Roomba, which may make you question why you bought it in the first place.

Score: 4/5

Object Avoidance

This vacuum does not run into objects. Mostly, anyway. The only way it runs into objects is by slowly approaching and then ever so lightly touching against the object. This is aided by its proximity sensors, which also help make sure it does not get stuck inbetween chair legs or on other objects. The large wheels and somewhat large body also help prevent getting stuck when it transitions between rooms or surfaces.

It still struggles with some objects, however. For example, dark carpets with a high edge will appear like either cliffs (which it won’t go over) or objects that it’s just not supposed to run into. It is over 5 inches tall, which is what too high. It cannot pass under most couches. It includes the requisite cliff edge sensor to prevent long falls, but this is a given among robot vacuums. Nevertheless, the fact that it is gentle with walls and furniture and that it tends to avoid getting stuck in places gives it a definite edge.

Score: 4/5

Features

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The Samsung POWERbot VR9000 includes a fully-featured and highly desirable remote control. The remote allows you to control the robot through a spot-checking laser pointer, or directly with left, right and forward buttons. There are also buttons for turning on a silence mode, which reduces the suction strength and therefore the noise, as well as a “dust” mode that seems to turn on some kind of dust-detecting sensor.

The digital display is a rare treat for a robot vacuum. You can schedule different cleaning times, although it is a bit featureless regarding cleaning modes. Nevertheless, the digital display carries a load of different data points, including a battery meter and an indicator that tells you if there are any clogs, jams, or if the dustbin is full. Samsung went all out on the features for this robot vacuum, which should come as no surprise considering the brand.

Score: 5/5

Charging/Battery Life

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Samsung does not give too many details about their battery life or charging function for this device. There is only one way to charge it, which is through the included remote charging station. The device will automatically return to its charging station when the battery starts getting low, and will return to its uncompleted tasks until it is finished. The charging time is around 2.5 hours, while you can expect to see about 100 minutes of life out of the vacuum.

Keep in mind of course that your battery life will vary. Because this vacuum uses extra powerful suction via cyclonic technology found on a regular vacuum, it can be a battery hog, especially on carpets. Combine this with the large number of sensors this device has, as well as the digital display, and you’re looking at run times that can dip below 1 hour. Still, the max battery life is on the high end for robot vacuums, and the charging time is to be expected.

Score: 4/5

Aesthetics

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Samsung whipped up one of the clearest winners for futuristic look and appeal when they designed the POWERbot VR9000. The only negative is the cyclone area, which, with the copper color on the side, makes it look like it has a giant Energizer battery sitting on the top. The side profile and the top profile are all you need to know about why this product is so expensive. It’s a top-of-the-line Samsung product, and they have obviously poured a good amount of money into designing something that is both powerful and fun to look at. The biggest problem is probably how large it is. The device is extremely bulky, with the look of a futuristic vacuuming tank roaming around the floor. It still manages to be extremely lightweight, a testament more likely related to higher-quality, lightweight materials than cheap ones.

Score: 5/5

Accessories

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Unsurprisingly, Samsung offers little in the way of accessories. You can purchase extra filters, extra charging stations, or spare brushes. Otherwise, you’re out of luck. The company really does not want you tampering on the inside, which includes changing out the battery. The sponge filter, however, is reusable and washable. Its not as effective as the HEPA filters you might find in other vacuums, but it does the job. It’s hard to be kind to Samsung on this end, as they do not give users much leeway to fixing their own machine beyond returning them through the mail, which can be costly.

Score: 2/5

Price: $759.99

The price was originally $1,000. Samsung wisened up and dropped the price by about $250 dollars. Still, the price tag might be a bit too high when compared to the Roomba and Neato models on the higher end. If Samsung really wants to push these, they’ll need to drop the price by at least another $200, if not a little bit more. It simply does not perform at a level high enough above its peers to justify the cost, even with the extra features and stronger suction strength. We score them a little better than we would have due to the more recent price drop, but the high price is still painfully unjustified based on the actual performance of the machine.

Score: 2/5

Detailed Summary

Samsung makes a powerful entry into the robot vacuum market with the POWERbot VR9000. In some ways, they help justify the existence of robot vacuums with their bot. In other ways, they help to prove that the technology is either too expensive to make the product a good alternative to a vacuum for most people, or that they as a company are charging to much for their own name brand. Either way, the VR9000 is a good example of great machinery at too high a price.

As stated, the cleaning ability on the Samsung POWERbot VR9000 is top of the line. It’s hard to match the cyclonic suction power that Samsung puts in this robot vacuum, as evidenced by side-to-side comparisons between it and other vacuums. However, that suction power only goes so far when the vacuum still leaves noticeable areas uncleaned, particularly close to walls and in corners. Its cleaning pattern is methodical and common sense, which helps it avoid missing the most obvious areas, but its limitations in both physical design and features help make it little better at cleaning than its significantly cheaper rivals.

The biggest draw for this device is likely going to be its features and design as a whole and not any one thing. It’s great at cleaning, but not the best. It does have some of the best features available, however, with some hints that Samsung may be bringing it up to digital integration with other products as part of their wider “Smart Home” initiative.

At $759 (which is probably the best you’ll find anywhere online, as prices vary), this vac just doesn’t prove itself worth the price. If Samsung can swallow its pride in its own brand name and bring the price down at least $200, it may have a winning device on its hands.

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