This is not the first robotic cleaner I have had from iLife. Last year I got the ILIFE A4 Robot Vacuum Cleaner and have used it to clean the downstairs rooms every day with great success. I decided to invest in this new model so I can return from work each day to clean floors upstairs too. One day perhaps they will produce a robovac that can climb stairs which will replace them both!
This model is very similar to the earlier one but is less expensive, updates some features and leaves out a few minor functionalities. The A4 has access to the dust bin from the front but the new model does so from the top which is easier and more intuitive to use. The replaceable HEPA dust filter is smaller on the new model which may make it cheaper to replace albeit at greater frequency. The new model lacks the three stage cleaning system of the old – I am not even sure what that is which shows how much I used it. – It also has dropped the Max mode of the old one, this was a high power high noise mode available for intensive cleaning and which again I never felt the need to use. These points aside this model otherwise is almost the same in performance and functionality as the old.
In the large and very impressive box can be found the vacuum cleaner itself, the charging dock, replacement brushes and HEPA filters, UK power supply with hard wired cable, Cleaning brush, Remote Control, a Quick Start Guide, and an excellent User Guide, which I have added to the end of my unboxing video.
The device itself has only two controls. On the top is the large CLEAN button which can be used to start and stop the device and to take it out of error mode should a problem arise. On the side is a power Off/On button which can be used to turn the unit off for long term storage or when changing the battery or brushes. There is also a power in socket as the vacuum can be charged either using the dock or directly with the power unit supplied with the device.
The cleaner has several operating modes which with the basic cleaning mode AUTO mode have all to be selected using the supplied remote control. The remote control is medium sized with proper clicky buttons and a non backlit LCD screen. The available modes are AUTO, SPOT, EDGE, and PLAN. Spot cleaning allows a small area to be intensively cleaned, Edge sends the device up and down the room edges only, Plan is for scheduled cleaning which is the way I use my device. The Remote also has Up, Down, Lefty and Right buttons so you can manually steer the cleaner around in real time. Unlike some rivals this unit has a revolving beater bar on the underside as well as a suction motor which allows it to deal with thin carpets as well as hard surfaces.
I have found the best way to use the device is to set it to automatically clean the floors at a set time each day using PLAN mode. To do this you first ensure the Remote is set to the correct time of day and then program a scheduled cleaning time using the remote and at the set time each day the A3S will start up and progress through the house cleaning as it goes until the batteries start to run out after a couple of hours then it will return automatically to the dock to recharge itself ready for the next day. It has a cliff sensor to prevent it falling down stairs and will detect walls and furniture and work around them. Note that only one scheduled task is possible per day. You cannot get it to schedule clean morning and evening, for example.
In my experience it is best to empty the dust bin and clean the HEPA filter after each use but it will take at least a couple of days of normal use to fill the bin completely. Before using the cleaner it is essential to check the room first for wires, small objects, dog biscuits, tassels on furniture etc as if it it possible to snag itself on something it will do. If it does the cleaner will stop and from the error beeps it makes in conjunction with the status LEDs you can determine the problem. Usually a wire or something is caught up in the wheels or beater brush. Unravelling trapped cables can be a nuisance and quite tricky to fix although the beater bar on the underside can be easily removed to allow for this.
I have been very satisfied with both this new model and my old one and have been surprised by just how well they will clean. Unlike some rivals this one is not too tall to fit under furniture. Don’t expect miracles, no robotic vacuum of this type will be able to successfully clean thick pile carpets or heavy spills. It will deal with general dust, crumbs and other light detritus of everyday life and very well too. The ideal location would be a large hard surfaced area with minimal furniture and the further away you are from this ideal then the less effective the cleaner will be.
Unlike some high end rivals this device does not have internet access, does not pick up where it left off when cleaning a large area, lacks a controlling app, will not produce maps of cleaned areas. This is a fairly basic machine that performs its one core task very well indeed. If all you need is an automated vacuum that will clean the room without fuss or bother and then this is what you need.
Good cleaning action
Multiple cleaning modes
Easy to Clean
Slimline to fit under furniture
Beater bar for carpets
No cleaning memory
No network access
Room should be decluttered before use
No phone app
Only one scheduled task
Current mode not displayed on LCD screen
LCD screen not backlit