Spring cleaning season is upon us, and the $250 Smart Maid RS118 from California-based Techko Maid wants to pitch in. With dual sweeper and mopping functionality, it's a robotic floor cleaner that promises to handle just about any type of mess on just about any type of surface.
Unfortunately, this maid isn't quite up to the task. The sweeper lacks suction power, the bin lacks a filter, and the rear-mounted mop head lacks the ability to get into corners. Like the iRobot Braava 380t, you won't be able to schedule automatic cleaning runs -- something which cuts directly against the appeal of having a robotic floor cleaner in the first place. Given all of that, the Smart Maid simply isn't worth the money you'll spend on it, nor is it worth the time you'll need to spend cleaning up the spots it misses.
With its rather dated design, the Smart Maid looks the part of a cheap, budget-friendly floor cleaner. There's not a whole lot of style to this device, so if you're looking for something aesthetically pleasing, you'll need to look elsewhere.
The aesthetic that does manage to come through is a slightly creepy one. Turn the face of the cleaner upside down, and the Smart Maid transforms into a depressed clown, complete with teardrops. One of those teardrops even glows blue in sweeper mode, as if the thing is crying. Plug the Smart Maid in to charge, and that light glows red. That's right -- this clown cries blood.
All coulrophobia aside, the design isn't a terribly practical one, either. The mop-head is located on the back of the unit, meaning that it's just about impossible for the Smart Maid to mop corners. The sweeper's bin doesn't have any sort of filter, which should be an immediate deal-breaker for anyone with allergies. It's a noisy cleaner, too, far more so than the whisper-quiet Braava 380t.
About the only good thing that I can say for the Smart Maid's design is that I appreciate the top-mounted handle, which makes it easy to pick up and carry. Aside from that, almost every design element feels poorly constructed, and as poorly thought out as the clownish appearance.
The Smart Maid doesn't feature any sort of water reservoir for its mopping head, so you'll need to use wet, disposable cloths, or spray a generous amount of cleaner onto the floor. For dusting, you can use dry, Swiffer-style cloths, or you can remove the mop head altogether if you just want to sweep up a few crumbs.
What you can't do is schedule the Smart Maid to sweep those crumbs up automatically with preset cleaning runs. If you want it to clean, you'll need to start it yourself. You'll also need to tell it when to stop, because the Smart Maid doesn't know how to tell when it's finished covering an area.
Also absent: a charging dock. You'll need to plug the Smart Maid into a wall socket using a DC cable in order to recharge the battery. Not a huge deal, but still, not nearly as convenient as robotic floor cleaners with enough smarts to navigate back to a home base and recharge themselves.
Using the Smart Maid is easy enough -- just set it down on the floor and press either the sweeper button or the mop button to get it started. The Smart Maid doesn't map out the room, and it doesn't seem to keep track of where it has and has not cleaned.
Instead, it bounces about randomly, going with the flow. If it detects an open, central area, it'll start to move in sweeping circles. If it detects a wall, it'll repeatedly bump its front side along the length of it, which isn't terribly effective. This is especially true for mopping, since the mop is in the back.
This all leads to cleaning performance that fares a lot better in the center of your room than it does along the edges. In all of my tests, the Smart Maid missed spots, even after twenty minutes of cleaning the same, small area. Most often, these spots were the corners or along the walls, though the Smart Maid would occasionally miss spots in the middle, too.