Hands-on review: Proscenic 850T robot vacuum cleaner
Image credit: Proscenic
Your domestic robot pal for light home-cleaning duties.
As with most new and disruptive technology, the price of entry always starts out high, but eventually falls to the mass-market level.
Since the Roomba first revolutionised the robotic home appliance market, the idea of having a robot vacuum cleaner roaming one's house has gradually become less of an expensive and curious luxury.
The concept is more accessible than ever now, with me-too vac-a-likeys popping up with clockwork regularity – and the prices tumbling accordingly.
The Proscenic 850T self-charging robot vacuum cleaner (and mop!) is one example from an increasingly crowded field. We've had this model on test for a couple of months and it has converted us to the easy-living charms of automated home assistance vac-bots – of which there are now many.
A little browse on Amazon (other online retailers are available) will reveal a plethora of me-too products, many of which look decidedly similar in terms of form and function, both in their design and operation. This is where we are today. One Chinese factory's good idea soon becomes many other factories' competing product.
That said, there is a finite number of forms that a robo-vac can take and the 'scuttling trilobite' style of free-roaming discus has become well established. What other kind of shape could your cat comfortably sit on?
As with its handheld vacuum cleaner range, the Proscenic 850T is just one of the company's robo-vac models, each with its own luxe charms to a greater or lesser degree. The 850T sits in the middle of Proscenic's robo range, which is where you'll often find the most rewarding intersection of features and value.
The 850T powers along with 3,000pa of suction from its brushless motor, with three levels of adjustable suction available for different cleaning needs, surface types and cleaning schedules.
On daily duties for dust, pet hair and light dirt, the 850T is ideal and can be programmed to perform regular routines, e.g. a full floor clean or just around the edges.
With its IPNAS 2.0 intelligent positioning system, the 850T systematically maps the floorplan of the home as it cleans, optimising its route for the most efficient cleaning path. Other robo-vacs are known to be a bit more erratic in their rolling perambulations. With the 850T, it always seemed like it knew exactly what it was doing and where it was heading: it cleaned with purpose.
Its low-profile height of just 7.3cm (2.8in) means it can slip underneath most furniture to get to even the most recalcitrant of dust bunnies. You can also store the 850T out of sight in the same way, with its charging station stowed neatly underneath a sofa or credenza.
The 805T also has app control, so you can remotely operate it, should you feel the need to clean the house while you're away. There's also Alexa and Google Home voice commands, so you can shout at the vacuum cleaner to get on with its work while you get on with yours, even if yours is actually eating biscuits and watching telly.
There's a stated maximum runtime of 120 minutes per full charge from the enclosed 2600mAh Li-ion battery, which should be more than enough time to clean a single-storey dwelling or even both floors of a house. Obviously, it doesn't do stairs, so you'll have to carry it between levels, but the 850T is equipped with cliff sensors to recognise stair edges and back off, so it won't suddenly come flying down to smash into a thousand pieces in your hallway. When it's running low on charge – and providing it can safely reach it – the 850T will automatically return to its charging base for a little regenerative nap.
Further automatic action comes into play as the 850T transitions between surfaces, increasing suction power when it moves from tiles or wooden floorboards and detects thicker carpets and rugs. We found that it managed these transitions well, although the thicker, curled edges of some heavy rugs did cause it some initial hesitation. Eventually, it found its way on and continued its good work.
The 850T also ships with magnetic boundary strips that can be laid on the floor, across which the 850T will not go. This is useful if, for some reason, you specifically want the 850T not to go into that area. The robo-vac does do a little bit of bumping around as it finds its way, so there may be certain items of furniture or other objet d'art that you want to protect.
There's also a mop option, with its electronically controlled two-in-one water tank and dustbin included. You can control the water level dispersal according to your needs – small, medium or large – although it's still not really a mop for those really messy jobs when you definitely need a mop. For those types of jobs, you'll be better off with an actual mop. The 850T's idea of 'mopping' is a light cleansing or spritzing of a modest mark or spill. The addition of a little moisture to the daily clean naturally helps the 850T pick up dust and particles more easily.
This is where expectations should be set about the 850T. There are unquestionably more powerful vacuum cleaners available, with greater suction power and more voluminous dust tanks. When you've got a serious amount of dirt and dust – or a spill involving a lot of large, hard particles – you might want to get the bulk of the work done with a traditional hose or nozzle-based vacuum cleaner.
It's also, by design, a vacuum cleaner intended more for the modern minimalist home. If you have a lot of floor clutter, or untidy cables running hither and thither, the 850T's performance will be inhibited by this environment. This is really your fault, not the 850T's, as it can't move your shoes for you or lift up that pile of old magazines. All it can do is clean the areas of flooring that are available to it. Whenever it can, it does a fine job.
Where the 850T shines is in maintaining a clean home. With the space in good condition already, the 850T will happily patrol the area, taking in whatever light daily dirt ingress it finds. The 850T requires zero supervision once it's doing its thing, so all in all this is one more load off your toad, leaving you genuinely free to do something else. That's what home assistant robots are intended for, right? Great! What's next?
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