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LG Hom-Bot Square Robotic Vacuum review: LG's robot vacuum can't keep up with the competition

Pet hair (average amount picked up out of 0.20 oz.)

Neato Botvac D85
0.19
0.20
0.20
Neato Botvac Connected
0.20
0.18
0.20
Neato Botvac 85
0.17
0.17
0.20
iRobot Roomba 980
0.18
0.19
0.16
Neato XV Signature Pro
0.15
0.15
0.18
Samsung Powerbot VR9000
0.15
0.15
0.18
iRobot Roomba 880
0.12
0.10
0.17
LG Hom-Bot Square (2016)
0.08
0.11
0.10
LG Hom-Bot Square (2013)
0.08
0.02
0.08

Legend:

Midpile carpet
Low-pile carpet
Hardwood floors

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

The Hom-Bot left a lot of pet hair ground into the carpet, and missed other clumps altogether.

Ry Crist/CNET

Pet hair was a problem for the Hom-Bot Square, too -- enough to put the vacuum down at the bottom of the leader board with the 2013 Hom-Bot for the second performance test in a row. It struggled the most in our midpile test, where it picked up less than half of the hair by weight, and it left much of the rest of the stuff ground into the carpet fibers.

Now, in full disclosure, we've recently upgraded to a more sensitive set of scales for vacuum testing (we're talking about weighing hair, after all). This means that there's a greater margin of error for some of the other vacuums on the leaderboard than there is for the 2016 Hom-Bot Square.

That said, even if you give the Hom-Bot the full benefit of the doubt and round those other vacuums' results down to the lowest values within their margins of error, they still come out on top.

Sand (average amount picked up out of 1.25 oz.)

iRobot Roomba 880
0.35
0.58
1.25
Neato Botvac 85
0.43
0.45
1.22
Neato XV Signature Pro
0.48
0.45
1.22
Neato Botvac Connected
0.47
0.33
1.22
iRobot Roomba 980
0.28
0.37
1.16
Samsung Powerbot VR9000
0.38
0.27
1.18
Neato Botvac D85
0.33
0.25
1.24
LG Hom-Bot Square (2016)
0.29
0.31
0.89
LG Hom-Bot Square (2013)
0.23
0.27
0.75

Legend:

Midpile carpet
Low-pile carpet
Hardwood floors

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

An even coating of sand across our test floors makes for our toughest robot vacuum test.

Ry Crist/CNET

Our last standardized test is arguably the toughest: sand. And, for the third time in a row, the new Hom-Bot finished second to last, just ahead of the old Hom-Bot.

Like most other robot vacuums, the Hom-Bot found the most success on hardwood floors, where it picked up 71 percent of the sand. Still, compare that with the next best result, which came from the equally expensive, app-enabled iRobot Roomba 980: It picked up 93 percent of the sand. And at the top of the leaderboard, the $700 Roomba 880 picked up all of it. Given results like that, it's hard to imagine anyone buying the Hom-Bot Square for its cleaning power alone.

Still, there are other performance considerations to keep in mind. The Hom-Bot is still one of the quietest robot vacuums we've tested. Personally, I'd prefer a noisier, more powerful robot vacuum -- especially since most of the time, I'd schedule it to run while I was at work.

Also, while we didn't run exhaustive battery tests, we did keep track of how well the Hom-Bot held up to our barrage of test runs. And over three days of fairly constant testing, it held up quite nicely. I never once needed to take a midday break just to let the battery recharge.

You also want a robot vacuum that's good at finding its way around your house, and in this regard, the Hom-Bot struggled. In single-room runs at the CNET Smart House, it was able to make its way around various pieces of furniture without too much difficulty, and also able to find its way back to the base station fairly easily (although docking with it sometimes required more than one attempt).

Multi-room runs were another story, though. Even at a short distance, putting the base station around the corner from the cleaner would confuse it. And when I clicked the button to send it home, it would often set off in the wrong direction.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

The Hom-Bot is a good-looking robot vacuum and a marginally better cleaner than its previous version, but it continues to lag behind competitors that cost less. The variety of cleaning modes gives it the feel of a feature-rich vacuum at first glance, but none of those modes made much of a difference when it came to actual cleaning power or are any different than what you'll get with older Hom-Bot models.

The robot vacuum category is changing rapidly. Healthy competition between names like Neato and iRobot has led to a steady stream of robot vacuum advancements, including app-enabled smarts and fun new features like the laser-pointer guided cleaning that you get with Samsung's Powerbot VR9000. That's an awful lot to keep up with, and, frankly, LG's going to need to do an awful lot better than this.

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