Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so human nature abhors vacuum cleaning. Samsung, however, is aiming to liberate mankind from the eternal struggle against the build-up of dust. The company says its NaviBot will whip around your gaff, suck up dust, return to its charging station, and start all over again the next day -- with a minimum of human intervention.
Liberty from domestic drudgery doesn't come cheap, though: the touchscreen model that we've reviewed, the SR8855, costs around £390 online, while the version with physical buttons, the SR8845, costs around £350. Can the NaviBot's performance justify its price, or will you feel like you've been taken to the cleaners?
How it works
Before you can use the NaviBot, you'll have to charge it for around 2 hours on the bulky, mains-powered charging dock. Once that's done, you'll be able to select one of four modes that will give up to 1.5 hours of cleaning time. Auto mode lets the NaviBot handle everything, 'spot' mode will see it focus on a 1.5 by 1.5m area, 'max' mode will make it clean until the battery's exhausted, and manual mode will let you take control, using the remote. When the battery runs low, or the NaviBot thinks the job's done, it'll automatically return to the charging station.
You can schedule the NaviBot to start at a certain time of day, so it can go about its business while you're playing a round of golf. If you're worried about it entering certain areas of your house, you can also deploy one or both of the 'smart gates' (the cheaper SR8845 comes with only one).
These battery-powered gates are about the size of a large can of tomato soup and emit an infrared beam that the NaviBot can't cross. You can also set them to allow the NaviBot to cross their beam only once it's completely cleaned the room it's currently in. Note that you won't need to use a smart gate to prevent the NaviBot falling down a stairwell. Three cliff sensors on the NaviBot's underside frustrated all of our efforts to make it commit robotic suicide.
Warms the cockles
The NaviBot is a veritable bobby dazzler, and guaranteed to send the temperature of your cockles soaring when you first see it in action. Somewhat resembling a giant, shiny, moustachioed beetle, its diameter is about 35cm -- roughly that of a toilet seat -- and it measures around 9.5cm high. It makes slightly less noise than a hairdryer on a low setting.
The display is home to numerous yellow symbols that respond to a prod satisfactorily, although the touchscreen is far less sensitive than those you'd find on virtually any mobile phone. Pressing a mode icon, or a mode button on the remote, will send the NaviBot into battle with a cheerful beep.
The NaviBot does an admirable job of navigating its way around a room, but, despite having a ceiling-mapping camera on top and an array of sensors all over its carcass, it's prone to gently bashing into obstacles. Nevertheless, it successfully circumnavigated obstructions in our tests -- most of the time. You'll want to make sure the floor is as free of impediments as possible to get the best results.