Roborock S5 Max Review: a very complete robot vacuum cleaner that shines with its laser sight and battery
Roborock is one of the many companies that Xiaomi has invested in. In 2014 it did, to be exact. It is a company specialized in robot vacuum cleaners and one of the most popular is the Roborock S5 Max, a robot that at Engadget we have had the opportunity to test and submit to different tests to, as the headline of this article says, analyze it in depth. This has been our experience.
Roborock S5 Max Technical Specifications
|ROBOROCK S5 MAX|
|SOLIDS TANK CAPACITY||460 ml|
|WATER TANK CAPACITY||290 ml|
|AUTONOMY (ACCORDING TO MANUFACTURER)||150 minutes|
|LOADING TIME||About six hours|
|SUCTION POWER||2,000 Pa|
|AUTOMATIC RETURN TO LOAD BASE||YES|
|APP FOR IOS AND ANDROID||YES|
To analyze this robot, the first thing I have done is put away the robot vacuum cleaner that I use at home to make the Roborock my personal device. That is, the S5 Max has done exactly the same cleaning routine that mine does so that I have been able to compare it and get positive points and negative points.
With that said, let’s go over what’s included in the box. In addition to the instruction manual, the charging base and moisture protector that has to be placed in front of it, although not strictly necessary, a module is included with a mop whose texture is similar to the classic kitchen towels and the tank for liquids, which is set by default. Unlike what happens in other robots, the Roborock S5 Max has two tanks, one for solids and one for liquids, and they are handled separately.
As far as design is concerned, the Roborock drinks from other products of the brand such as the Roborock S6 to the point that it is difficult to differentiate them with the naked eye. In the upper part, we have the laser sight, whose performance we will talk about later, as well as two buttons: one to turn it on and that works alone and another to return it to the charging base. This time, there is no button to start spot cleaning.
If we lift the lid we will access the solids tank, which can be extracted by pulling up, a brush to clean the filter and some LED indicators that show us the status of the WiFi connection. Ideally, it should always be blue, since that means that the WiFi connection has been established and is stable. When it blinks it is because it is connecting and when it blinks slowly it is waiting for the connection.
We thus go over the edges. On the front, which is where the two buttons are, we have the protector. The load sensor (on the front) and the wall sensor (on the side) are located there. At the back, we have access to the liquid tank, which can be removed by pressing a tab down and pulling it towards us. That’s the hood, now let’s look at the chassis.
At the bottom, we have two cliff sensors (in case you have stairs at home), an Omni-directional wheel between the two charging contacts, the side brush (made up of five plastic strips that are subdivided into two), the two main wheels and the main brush together with its corresponding latch to remove and clean it.
As is obvious, one of the benefits of the Roborock S5 Max is that it is very modular. Everything is easily removed, allowing for easier cleaning and maintenance. A positive point for the robot, no doubt.
Although the instruction manual explains that we can use the Mi Home app (although Roborock is independent, it uses the Xiaomi ecosystem), you can also use the manufacturer’s dedicated app, which is available for iOS and Android. In both cases, the procedure to configure it is basically the same, and although the app guides us at all times, it does not hurt to give it a review.
- The first thing is to assemble the base and, if we wish, add the moisture-proof mat, something recommended if you plan to keep the scrubbing module and have a wooden floor. I, who at home has a marble floor, I have not put it. Be that as it may, make sure you leave 1.5 meters of space on each side and with the wall in front.
- If the robot is not charged, put it on charge until the LED indicator in the front area turns white.
- Download the Mi Home or Roborock app and create an account. If you already have other Xiaomi products at home, you probably have the first one already installed, but in my case, which I don’t have, I have found it more useful to use Roborock’s. Install it and create an account.
- Connect the mobile to the 2.4 GHz WiFi network, because the robot does not work with the 5 GHz one. If your router has smart WiFi, disable it if you notice any problems.
- Open the robot cover and locate the WiFi LED. Now press and hold the top two buttons until you hear the voice alert “Restart WiFi”.
- In the app you downloaded earlier, click on “Add device”. You will see a screen that will ask you to connect the robot to WiFi. Click on the button and the network selection screen will open.
- In it, you will see a new WiFi network called “roborock-vacuum” followed by some letters and numbers. Click on it and connect.
- Go back to the application and wait for the process to complete. It takes a couple of minutes at most.
Once this is done, you just have to press the cleaning button in the app and let the robot walk around our house. Through the application you can see in real-time how the laser viewer is detecting the walls and obstacles that it has encountered and the path followed, it is the most curious to see. As a tip, leave the house as you usually have it. Do not move armchairs or chairs, because then the robot will understand that there is nothing in its place when there really is. You leave things as they usually are and open the doors.
This first cleaning takes a long time, about an hour and a half in my case, but it is not the general trend. When you map the house, you learn to move around it by doing a non-erratic path, that is, you know where the entrances and exits and obstacles are, so if the reconnaissance cleaning took about an hour and a half, routine cleanings remain in about 55 minutes.
Once this first cleaning is finished, the robot will return to its base (not without first telling you in perfect Spanish “Cleaning completed, returning to base” and sending you a notification to your mobile). The map of your house will be completed and you can edit it to modify rooms, divide them, combine them, etc.
Laser viewer, vacuum, scrub and different settings
We thus go on to talk about the performance of the device, and that happens by talking, first of all, about the laser viewer. It is located in the upper hump and serves so that the robot knows where it is and, in one way or another, “see”. This means that it does not move like the first robot vacuum cleaners, which used to bump into walls and leave their trajectory to chance, but rather moves with meaning and following a defined trajectory. It is also valid for dark rooms, since being a laser you can see without the light being on.
The Roborock S5 Max doesn’t usually crash, as it has wall sensors that tell you how far away it is from the walls, but it does. It is not a thunderous crash far from it, just a slight touch, as if to make sure that it can not happen there (and hopefully so, now you will see why). On the other hand, I do not have stairs at home so I cannot judge the performance in that context, but it has two lower sensors to detect unevenness and not to fall. The only way I have had to check it has been to put it to clean on a table and, indeed, it does not fall.
An insurmountable wall.
Now, with the curtains and gutters, we have a little problem. The curtains and gowns or table clothes, whatever you want to call it, are not a wall, they are soft, they weigh little and if the robot wanted to pass through them it could, but it does not. In my case, in the living room, I have some curtains that reach the floor and some small boxes on the table to put the brazier in winter.
The robot, instead of passing through the curtains, detects them as a solid obstacle and ignores them, skirting the curves of the fabric, which I find much more difficult than going in a straight line. Something similar happens with the enagüillas on the living room table. If I pick them up, the robot passes and cleans under the table, so that its internal map registers that there is an area that can be accessed. If under the gutters, the robot understands that there is an insurmountable barrier there and passes by.
As a suggestion for improvement, and based on the fact that the Roborock S5 Max has front protection, a system could be implemented that would force the robot to move forward when detecting a movable obstacle, such as curtains, but until that arrives, if it arrives, take note: under the tables and on the edges of the windows that have curtains to the floor you will have to continue sweeping and scrubbing by hand.
Since it has guards, the robot could try to pass through an obstacle to check whether or not it can
With that said, let’s talk about power. The level that I have used the most and the one that has given me the best aspiration/noise ratio is “Balanced “, although there are two on each side: “Delicate”, which makes very little noise, does not aspirate the heaviest solids and makes only one pass; “Silent”, something more powerful, but with little noise; “Balanced”, which is normal and recommended; “Turbo”, which makes it move a little faster and make more noise; and “Maximum”, which turns the robot into the engine of a Boeing 747. This mode makes it suck harder but makes too much noise.
This is completed with the water levels, which are “Off”, “Low”, “Medium” and “High”. After trying them all, I stick with “Medium”, since it applies a thin layer of water to the floor without getting it soaked. Not that “High” leaves a puddle, nothing is further from the truth, but with the “Medium” level it is more than enough to do good maintenance.
The mop is easily attached from behind.
A very interesting point is the option to customize. You can create power and water level settings for rooms. Suppose you have different types of flooring in the house: wood, marble, etc. Each one has to be cleaned in a way, so you can tell him that in the corridor, which is made of wood, do not pour water, and that in the hall, whose floor is marble, do so. For example, I have configured the robot so that, when it arrives at my office, it goes into the “Silent” mode, because it is programmed to start cleaning at 9 in the morning and at that time I am already working.
In terms of modes, we have “Estancia”, “Todo” and “Zona”. It goes without saying that “Stay” allows us to select a room and for the robot to clean it individually, making up to three passes; Same “Zone”, but personalized, that is, you mark the locations you want to be cleaned and the number of passes; and “Everything” is the whole house.
Interesting fact: in “All” mode, by clicking on the button on the left, the one with the icon of a GPS, you can add restricted areas. What is this for? To add an invisible wall, to put a restricted access area (in case you don’t want the robot to enter the children’s room) or an area without scrubbing, something interesting if you have a rug under the bed. If you activate the latter, the robot will ignore the marked area until you remove the mop.
We have already mentioned it in passing, but it is worth reviewing it: the robot can be programmed to activate automatically. It is one of the most useful functions since you forget about having to go to press the button automatically. You can set the activation time, when it repeats (only X days, weekdays, only on weekends …) and the cleaning mode, water level, or custom if you have it configured. It does not fail, at my house 9:00 comes and the robot warns that cleaning begins.
And how about the battery? The truth is, really good. With a full charge, it can clean my house, of about 90 useful square meters, in 55 minutes and consuming 30-35% of the battery in balanced mode. Come on, I can clean my house three times in a row without a problem. Now, be patient with the load, because setting it from zero to one hundred takes a long time, more than four hours. If you had a very large house and the robot could not clean it all in one go, it would return to the base by itself, recharge itself and resume cleaning where it left off.
Well, we already know what the robot offers us in terms of software, functions, and applications, so let’s get to the point, and never better said. When it comes to vacuuming, the device more than fulfils its mission. In balanced mode, it sucks up breadcrumbs, hair, coffee, sugar, and even small nuts like peanuts or almonds. If you have long hair, keep in mind that in the long run those that fall out will become tangled in the central brush and you will have to remove them manually.
The robot also scrubs and, personally, I like how the function is thought from the design. The water tank is placed in the rear area and is always on, it is not necessary to modify the upper tank as it happened, for example, in the Conga 3490 Elite . To scrub and “release the water” simply put the mop in the lower area and press “Clean”. Scrubbing is automatic.
The capacity of the tank is enough to scrub my house completely without running out. The mop, on the other hand, since it is removable, can be cleaned manually after each pass to leave it as new and prepare it for another session. When you have the mop on, the robot travel is the same as when you don’t have it, that is, it is based on very close long straight lines, so it really does several passes, although I admit that I like the movement of scrubbing of the Conga.
Now that we mention the route, as can be seen in the video above, the robot always does the same thing: it reaches a room, goes over the edges, and then makes straight lines, always using the longest trajectory. For example, if you have a rectangular room measuring 4×2 meters, the robot will make several long strokes across the width instead of many shorter strokes up high. It makes more sense since unnecessary turns are avoided and it takes less time.
The challenges you have overcome, and the ones you haven’t
As for the performance of the robot on a day-to-day basis, few complaints can be made. At home, we do not use rugs or have pets, so I cannot judge how it behaves with animal hair (although if it swallows an almond I do not think that the hair will be a major problem).
To see how it behaves with the rugs, I put some blankets on the floor to see how it responded, and, as expected, it passes them without any problem. The device detects the carpet and increases the power, ergo the noise. When you’re done with the carpet, the power returns to the standard level. Come on, if you have rugs at home you don’t have to worry, clean them anyway. The same does not happen with the towel for the feet of the bathroom that, in my case, was carried in front of me.
Another point that I really liked is the ability to get back to base. When the cleaning is finished, the robot sends a notification to the mobile and, through the loudspeaker, warns that it has finished, and it returns only to the charging base. I have put it in a corner of the living room under an armchair and, despite the fact that the base is right between its legs, the Roborock S5 Max enters without problems and starts to charge itself. It makes a direct and not erratic tour and, frankly, it is the most curious to see.
Location of the robot through the app.
And now that we talk about the loudspeaker, something funny, if I may be allowed the expression, is that through the app you can locate the robot by voice. If you press the button, the robot says “Hello, I’m here”. It has not been the case that it has been stuck anywhere, but it is a function that users who have a large house with several rooms will surely appreciate it.
The noise difference between “Balanced” and “Turbo” mode.
The robot noise is correct. When we use it in the “Balanced” mode, it makes noise, but it is not so loud that it is unpleasant. Another thing is that we put it in the “Maximum” mode, but it is something that I have not needed to do under any circumstances and to which, except on exceptional occasions, we will not have to resort.
It seems that so far everything is positive, but the Roborock S5 Max also has some negative points that deserve to be highlighted. In addition to the problem with the curtains, which are interpreted as a wall, the robot has the same problem as all devices of this type: cables and shoelaces. Unless you want to spend a little while looking for where your boots have gone, my recommendation is that, before putting the robot to clean, make sure that there are no cables and objects that could be vacuumed on the floor.
On the other hand, and although the comparisons are odious, personally I like the scrubbing system of the Cecotec Congas more, which makes that movement straight> diagonal left> backwards> diagonal right> straight ( scrubbing, they call it). This helps to make the cleaning more complete, but in the Roborock S5 Max, the movement that is made both by sweeping and scrubbing is the same.
Finally, and although we will now talk about the app, the configuration can only be done while connected to the 2.4 GHz band of the router. It is not something drastic, since it is only for the initial configuration (then you can give orders using the app and mobile data without problems, for example), but it would be appreciated if the 5 GHz band were also implemented.
This is how the Roborock S5 Max app works
Considering the performance of the device, let’s talk about the application through which we control it: Roborock. It can also be integrated with the Mi Home app, but on a daily basis, I have found it more useful to use the dedicated app, since I do not have other Xiaomi products in my house. In short, you can use the one you like the most, since, for practical purposes, they serve the same purpose.
When we open it, the app shows us the robot that we have configured and its status (online or offline). In order to control it, it is important that it appears online. On the left, we have the notifications (cleaning started, cleaning finished, etc.) and on the right our profile. What we will use the most is what is shown when we click on the robot image.
By doing so, we will be shown the map of our house and the summary of the last cleaning we have done. It is a very clean, simple interface, without great excesses but fully functional. On the left, we have the button that tells us if the robot is charged (and that changes when it is working to return it to the base) and the one that activates the cleaning. Just above are the modes and, on the map, the two icons that allow us to adjust the map or configure the power and water level.
When the robot is cleaning, its icon is updated in real-time and allows you to see the route it is taking at all times, including the path. Thanks to this we can see how the cleaning is carried out and if we have a good eye, even the route that it has followed through the different rooms, each represented with a color.
If we click on the three upper dots we will access the settings, where we will find:
- Vacuum cleaner settings: to change the name, activate the carpet mode or set the “Do not disturb” mode.
- Schedule: to schedule cleaning.
- Voice and volume: to change the language and volume of the announcements.
- Destination point cleaning: to send the robot to a specific location.
- Update firmware.
- Cleaning history: to see all the routines, where you have been, and how much you have cleaned.
- Maintenance: to know how much useful life is left for components such as the brush or mop. When it’s time to change them, you can reset their statistics so that it starts counting from zero.
- Contact customer service.
- Find my robot.
- Eliminate the robot.
He has no more. The application is very simple and easy to use, although it has some other drawbacks. The first is that it does not work with the 5 GHz band of WiFi. The second is that it does not allow the robot to be integrated with Alexa or Google Assistant. The third that the process to recover the password in case of loss is very, very, very slow and the fourth that, for now, different maps of different houses cannot be saved
Roborock S5 Max: Our opinion
At this point, we can only summarize the experience we have had with the Roborock S5 Max with two words: very good. The device does its job, which is none other than vacuuming and scrubbing. We really liked the customization options for the cleaning modes, the autonomy, and how intuitive the application is.
That different maps cannot be saved and that the default app does not allow integrating the robot with Alexa or Google Assistant can be a handicap for some specific users, but nothing too important for those who only have a house and do not usually use virtual assistants.
The overall experience is very satisfying and the product more than meets its purpose
Be that as it may, the robot does its job. It serves to keep the dirt in the house at bay, although it is not a substitute for manual deep cleaning (neither this nor any). Proof of this is that it does not go under the tables or beds if there is some kind of obstacle, no matter how slight, or what we have said about the curtains. It would be ideal for the robot to move forward slightly (it has a protection to avoid greater damage to the front), check that it can pass without problem and pass.
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