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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.
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.)
The iClebo Arte trailed behind on every rice test, collecting 1.69 ounces on mid-pile carpet, 2 ounces on low-pile carpet, and 1.95 ounces on hardwood. That's a last-place finish overall after the Neato BotVac 85, the Infinuvo Hovo 510 , the iRobot Roomba 880, and the Neato XV Signature Pro. Given that the lowest-priced Infinuvo Hovo managed to pick up 2.33 ounces of rice on mid-pile, 2.45 ounces on low-pile, and 2.48 ounces on hardwood, this was an especially disappointing results for the feature-rich Arte.
The Arte's pet hair test results were a little bit better. This time, it finished second-to-last after the BotVac 85, the XV Signature Pro, and the Roomba 880. It picked up 0.12-ounce of pet hair on mid-pile carpet, 0.07-ounce on low-pile carpet, and 0.13-ounce on hardwood. This isn't a particularly good result, but the iClebo did manage to beat the Infinuvo Hovo 510, which wasn't able to collect any pet hair on any of the flooring surfaces.
I noticed that a lot of the pet hair that didn't make it to the Arte's dust bin ended up tangled around the brush. Fortunately, the Arte comes with a small brush accessory designed for just such a dilemma. Unfortunately, there was too much pet hair for the brush accessory to make much of a dent. If you have a shedding pet at home, Neato bots are still your best option.
The iClebo Arte also significantly underperformed on the sand test, finishing in last place after the Roomba 880, the BotVac 85, the XV Signature Pro, and the Hovo 510. It picked up just 0.18-ounce of sand on mid-pile carpet, 0.10-ounce on low-pile carpet, and 0.88-ounce on hardwood out of 1.25 ounces of sand per test run. Consider another model if you want better results with small debris particles.
Since this robot vacuum also comes with a mop attachment, I tested that feature on hardwood, vinyl, and tile using the microfiber cloths provided. I spilled a quarter cup of coffee with cream for the liquid spill and half an ounce of cornstarch for the dry debris. I tested the coffee and cornstarch using both dry and wet microfiber cloths for comparison.
The iClebo managed to soak up some of the coffee on each run, but most of it ended up spreading around the floor and creating even more of a mess. That was true whether the microfiber cloth was wet or dry. This feature would work fine with a very small spill, but only if you don't let the Arte continue to "mop" the floor after it has passed over the liquid. Otherwise, it's just going take that coffee it just soaked up and redistribute it in an even layer across your entire floor. I know. I had a whole bunch of sticky coffee residue to clean after the robot vacuum had finished its cleaning cycle.
The cornstarch tests were equally disappointing. With dry microfiber cloths, the Arte simple pushed the cornstarch up against the walls. After wetting the cloths, it collected some and the rest turned into a pasty mess on the floor.
The takeaway is that this feature is best for maintenance cleaning. If your floor looks mostly clean, but just needs a little "sprucing up," this mop could work. However, there are other robot floor cleaners on the market -- like iRobot's Scooba 450 and Braava 380t -- that distribute water or cleaning solution onto the floor from a reservoir and are designed to be a more complete floor-mopping solution. I did try adding a wet disposable Swiffer pad to the Arte's mop plate and found that it covered more ground more effectively than the smaller microfiber cloths included in the iClebo's box.
While the $500 iClebo Arte had a lot of potential, it ultimately isn't a robot vacuum I can recommend. Simply put, there's just too much of a contrast between its amazing array of options and its disappointing performance. For $500, there needs to be equality between the two, which is why I suggest the $450 Neato XV Signature Pro or the $499 Neato Botvac 75 instead. Both offer considerably fewer options than the iClebo Arte, but deliver in every other category.