The 360 S9 is the latest robot vacuum cleaner to come from the Chinese manufacturer, which like Xiaomi, has fingers in many pies. The S9 is the company’s top of the range robot mop vacuum cleaner (or robot mop sweeper) with a particular emphasis on better mapping, thanks to a trio of technologies and extended battery capacity (which means more cleaning between charges). But can the S9 outflank the countless other competitors that operate in this crowded market?
The 360 S9 robot mop vacuum cleaner carries a suggested retail price of $599.99 at Amazon (US) but had a $140 discount at the time of writing. The device can also be purchased online from numerous other retailers depending on your geographical location.
This is a sizable circular robot; with a diameter of around 35cm for a height of 9cm, it is too large to vacuum between the legs of most chairs but its low height means that it will be able to collect dust almost anywhere. Its charging docking station may not be one that automatically empties the robot vacuum cleaner but it can be easily hidden under a sofa (assuming that yours – like ours – has legs with enough clearance underneath).
The S9 comes with a remote control, a spare brush, a spare mopping cloth as well as a few manuals and the separate charger.
Believe it or not, the S9 is packed with electronics and what makes it even scarier is that it also carries a reservoir of water. Jokes aside, the S9 scores cookie points by bundling not one but three different technologies: LIDAR, which has become popular thanks to autonomous vehicles, a traditional 2D map system that can store up to 10 floors and ultrasonic (which mimics how bats operate).
Used together, they provide a more accurate and reliable way of mapping the area to be cleaned, while making sure to avoid obstacles, either moving or static.
The robot can sweep and/or mop for up to three hours although that is likely to be quite ambitious. Likewise 360 claims that it can suck up to 24 cubic feet of air per minute while reaching a mere 60dB noise level at the quietest setting.
Its dust bin size (420ml) and water tank capacity (200ml) are not exactly market leading though. Both are located under a flap on top of the vacuum cleaner and are easily accessible.
If this is your first time then, a few things you need to bear in mind. The S9 like most of its counterparts uses a rotating brush to bring rubbish nearer to the opening where it will be sucked. As such, we’d recommend moving away any cables, faux-fur rugs and the likes to avoid any potential mishaps.
Like most electronic devices, make sure you check the firmware update from time to time as there might be some new features; ours showed a voice package.
Reading the operating manual is optional; all the information you need to start is on the device itself, in the form of a sticker that can be peeled off. First download the 360Smart app, then register and log on (assuming this is your first robot vacuum cleaner from the brand). Then just follow the instructions; your vacuum cleaner will loudly say “connected” when the “binding” process will be completed.
The device is only compatible with 2.4GHz Wi-Fi which is not ideal for a number of reasons. The S9 will need to be constantly connected to a networking device (router, access point, hot spot). Failure to do so will show the device as being disconnected without the ability to give any updates on its progress.
From there on, it was smooth sailing; the app provides you with a real-time update of the cleaning schedule. You can store up to 10 storeys, create separate zones to tweak the vacuuming process (with no-go zones as well), schedule cleaning (different zones at different times) and so on and so forth. There’s even a virtual remote control that you can use to freak out your pets control your S9.
All our tests were done on the quiet mode; the most economical (and quietest) of four modes which also include in ascending order of power consumption, standard, powerful and max mode. We haven’t fully tested them in terms of rubbish collected and usage time as your mileage will vary.
Our S9 cleaned around 76 square meters and with the battery indicator dropping by 13%, so one could assume that that level could be cleaned almost eight times over. The robot vacuum cleaner will also automatically go and charge the 5200mAh battery that it houses, should it feel the need to and resume its task automatically after.
The two metal bumps at the back automatically connect to the docking station and start charging immediately. The mopping feature lacks the sort of downward pressure you’d expect from a traditional hand mop; as such it is more of a light tidy, not a deep clean one. You also need to manually add the mopping cloth and it is advisable to wet it lightly before it goes to work but at least the water tank is electric which means that you can set up the water flow.
There’s also a clever reversing feature (to remove anything that might have been trapped) plus you can voice control it with Alexa and Google Assistant.
If you are after your first robot mop and vacuum cleaner (or robot vacuum and mop cleaner, however you want to call it), then there’s not much to fault. The reservoir capacities could be better, there’s only a one year warranty and the S9 can only connect to a 2.4GHz network.
Just bear in mind that they are only good for scheduled cleaning rather than – as it is often the case – mending life’s small accidents. As such, one feature we’d love to see would be one that would immediately clean a particular area, great for a quick tidy before guests’ arrival. Otherwise, you’d be left using a (cordless) vacuum cleaner or the good old (and trusty) broom and dustpan; just remember that there is no robot vacuum cleaner that can either go up or down stairs.
Future evolutions of this range could also include other smart features to deliver even better value for money. Bearing in mind that a robot vacuum cleaner is, in many households, the only moving smart appliance, one could see the potential to add security and maintenance features, especially when the owners are away. It is not a new concept as iRobot, the creators of the Roomba, made their robot vacuum cleaner “maker” friendly early on, understanding the power of building a community.