I started my cleaning tests by coating each of the test floors with half an ounce of a powdery dust substitute. The sweeper wasn't able to get more than a fine coating of the dust up into the bin, but the mop head actually fared pretty well, with more dust trapped in the Smart Maid's disposable cloth than I had seen captured by the Braava's reusable microfiber cloth.
Still, the Smart Maid can't adequately clean along walls or in corners, so none of the runs left me satisfied. There was always dust left over that the rear-mounted mop head simply had no way of getting to.
This applied to the rest of the tests, as well. No matter what mess I was cleaning, no matter what surface I was cleaning it off of, the Smart Maid would fail to get the corners clean.
Mud was up next. Splattering the stuff across each of the floors, I found that the Smart Maid did the best job with hardwood, leaving the testing area noticeably cleaner then it found it. Of course, it wasn't the shiny, totally clean floor you'd probably hope for, and again, the corners were still dirty. Still, this was better than it did on vinyl, and much better than ceramic tile, where it simply smeared the mess around and left mud caked into the grout.
That said, tile wasn't as much of a problem for the Smart Maid as it was for the Braava, which struggled with each and every test on the surface. The Smart Maid actually gave me its best result when I told it to clean splattered cooking oil off of the ceramic tile (we dye the oil green so it shows up a little better on camera).
The Braava was almost totally unable to clean grout, leaving greenish gunk in between the tiles and forcing me down to the floor with a rag to scrub them clean again by hand. The Smart Maid wasn't great at grout either, but it wasn't quite so bad, and actually did a decent job of picking up my mini-oil spill. It even managed to clean one of the two corners I had dirtied up.
Unfortunately, this was the only test that offered anything close to a positive result. At the other end of the spectrum was my tomato sauce test, which the Smart Maid simply could not handle.
This was most true on vinyl, where the spilled sauce quickly gunked up the Smart Maid's wheels. After less than a minute of cleaning, it got stuck, and no amount of nudging could get it rolling again. I was forced to abort the test and spend an unpleasant 15 minutes scrubbing tomato sauce out of the the Smart Maid's underside. Clearly, I had asked too much of it.
Overall, the tests were overwhelmingly disappointing. The Smart Maid never managed to impress me. There wasn't a single run that didn't require me to re-clean the test area by hand afterwards. For an automatic cleaner, it's an abysmal level of performance.
Given that kind of disappointment, I really can't recommend this cleaner to anybody, especially not when iRobot's Braava 380t retails for just $50 more. While not a perfect cleaner, the Braava is a quiet, smart little navigator capable of getting into corners for adequate dusting, if not deep cleaning. That's certainly leaps and bounds ahead of what the Smart Maid is capable of.