Editor's note (May 8, 2014): The rating of this review has been updated to more accurately reflect the recommendation.
Yujin Robot's iClebo Arte robot vacuum is impressive at first glance. At $499.95 (£469.99, $455 AU), it's not more expensive than several competing Neato robot vacuums, yet it offers a lot more features. In addition to a standard cleaning mode, the Arte comes with other options like random, climb, self-steer, max, and even wet mop. It also has two side brushes and a remote control for enhanced usability. No other $500 bots I've come across offer that wide range of options.
Get it working, though, and you won't be so pleased. Even with all those features, the iClebo Arte performed poorly against its rivals. That's why, if you're looking for a robot vacuum in the $400-to-$500 range, I'd recommend the Neato XV Signature Pro or the Neato Botvac 75 instead. They don't have nearly as many features, but make up for it with excellent performance. And if you want a robot vacuum with a similar mop feature, the Moneual Rydis H67 is a more reasonably priced option.
Design and features
The iClebo Arte has a black finish with orange accents. The overall design is simple and understated; it won't stand out in a room like Neato's white and blue BotVac 85. It's on the lighter side for robot vacuums, too; just 6.1 pounds compared to the heavy BotVac 85's 9 pounds.
The touchscreen-style display is equipped with all kinds of helpful options, including power on/off, cleaning cycle start/stop, timer status, battery status, and a digital clock that also notes the time it takes to run a cleaning cycle. There are also several modes -- auto, random, spot, mop, max, self-steer, and climb.
Auto mode relies on a built-in camera to map the room and systematically travel in a back and forth pattern. For random mode, select your desired cleaning time and the Arte will bounce around the room without following a particular algorithm. Spot mode focuses on a 3x3-foot space. Attach the included mop plate to the bottom of your Arte and the bot will automatically default to mop mode. Max mode starts out in auto mode and instead of returning to the dock after it's done, continues to clean in random mode until the battery runs out. With self-steer, you can use the directional arrows on the remote to "drive" your Arte around your house.
In climb mode, the bot will lift itself up roughly 0.8 inches (2 centimeters) to clear area rugs or other low barriers. iClebo recommends pairing auto and climb as its default setting, so I used that mode for the majority of my testing. However, a lot of the tests took place in a test environment with no obstacles. So, I took it home and tested it in my kitchen, which transitions from hardwood to an area rug. I also tested the feature transitioning from the hardwood in my kitchen to the carpeted surface in my living room. It had no trouble, but I don't recall any of the robot vacuums I've tested having problems with these sorts of transitions.
Yujin Robot's Arte comes with a lithium ion battery, a smaller brush that detangles things from the main brush, one magnetic strip to mark off sections of a room, three filters, two reusable microfiber cloths, and a mop plate for attaching the cloths in mop mode. And, like the Moneual Rydis H67, the Arte has two side brushes for sweeping errant debris into its path.
The robot also comes with a camera that uses "vision mapping" and a specific algorithm to navigate around room. Similar to the $800 LG Hom-Bot Square, the Arte's ceiling-facing camera scans the layout of the room and plans its route accordingly. The iClebo Arte also has 15 sensors that respond to obstacles and keep the bot on its cleaning path. Its navigation pattern is very systematic, similar to what we observed with Neato-brand robot vacuums, although the Arte was particularly impressive. It never had trouble returning to its docking station and it maneuvered around obstacles without confusion.
The iClebo Arte was very simple to operate. It's relatively lightweight compared to other robot vacuums we've reviewed, and the remote control adds to its overall ease of use. Each run time in our 4x8-foot test pens lasted a brief 2-to-4 minutes, and it dutifully returned to its dock without any issues -- even the Neato and Roomba-brand bots we've reviewed occasionally struggled to return to their charging stations. Not so with the Arte.
A full charge lasted about two hours, and it took just under two hours to recharge. The extra features and accessories, like the detangling brush and climb mode, make it easier to customize each cleaning cycle as needed. I was extremely impressed with the Arte in this category, unfortunately that didn't translate to top performance.
I tested the $499.95 iClebo Arte on mid-pile carpet, low-pile carpet, and hardwood. In addition to the different floor types, I also tested it with a variety of debris. I scattered rice, pet hair, and sand on all three surfaces, comparing the starting debris weight (2.5 ounces for rice, 0.2-ounce for pet hair, and 1.25 ounces for sand) to what was collected in the bin after each cleaning cycle. I compared the Arte's results to the $699.99 iRobot Roomba 880, the $599.99 Neato BotVac 85 (£449.99), the $449.99 Neato XV Signature Pro (£389.17), and the $239 Infinuvo Hovo 510. (Note: Pricing and availability were not available for the UK and Australia except for those items shown.)