Updated August 2021: For a couple of months now now we’ve been testing the very neat 2nd generation Xiaomi Mijia 1S Robot Vacuum Cleaner – I’ve provided a Banggood link here but I should say immediately that I’ve recently been told that Banggood cannot sell Xiaomi in the USA – so any USA-based subscribers might want to avert their eyes – or not – the link still has plenty of English-language resources and links for a good range of expendables). Here in Spain the current Banggood price is around €228 and bear in mind that covers tax.
The good news is that the vacuum WORKS – it has personality – Maureen loves it and immediately started calling it “Robbie”. I started off with a bad attitude because I THOUGHT the vacuum they sent spoke Chinese only – despite having the latest update to the Xiaomi Home APP – the APP could not even FIND this model, never mind allow me to control it. I searched the web and found nothing helpful at first. The only bit I did understand was “Chinese blah” WiFi – which prompted me to look for a new access point appearing on my mobile phone – it did – but visiting 188.8.131.52 on the phone – did nothing.
THEN a very helpful reader piped up and told me to set “China” region in the APP – I did that and the APP immediately found the vacuum. The APP remained in English language – and I found a menu item to set the voice to English – SO my initial pessimism was unfounded after all!
And now there’s an English manual in the APP and the latter maintains a complete visual map of all the work it has done so far around the house. I won’t just repeat all the tech info you will find in the link above – but I must tell you that the 1S features both laser and visual sensors to build a map of your room(s) and to aid in positional accuracy. This is a FAR cry from the old HOOVER.
I plugged the charger stand into the mains at floor level and made sure the power (220v) was turned on – any excess cable can be neatly wrapped inside the base. After initially failing to understand a word when the Mijia 1S began to talk – and having failed to understand the Chinese-only instructions at first – I was ready to “throw in the towel”. There is a button on the vacuum which I pressed (after removing anything that looked like packaging) and with an attitude of “what do we have to lose” – I watched as the 1S came to life. It wandered around our (mixed carpet and stone as well as various obstacles such as our three cats, the odd chair, various cat bowls and stairs both up and down) living room floor with ease, cleaning up everything from dust to cat hairs.
This didn’t last very long as, out of the box, the internal batteries did not have a lot of charge. After strutting around the living room for a while, Robbie magically (completely automomously) found it’s way back to the charging base and plugged itself in.
We left Robbie alone for a while so we could watch some TV then pressed the button on the vacuum to start it running. It really is quite uncanny if you’ve never had one of these before – and for the best part of an hour, we could do nothing but stand back and watch as the machine continued, seemingly with purpose, wandering around the room, cleaning up, surprisingly well.
Regular readers will know I’m no stranger to smart devices – I’ve used them, designed them, broken them, improved them and yet here I was, standing in amazement as the machine went about it’s business – ducking under chairs and cupboards and emerging in every case without assistance. Several times it approached stairs and succeeded in cleaning right up to the edge without falling down or tripping up. It DID manage to curl up the corner of one small carpet but no more than I do every day when the damned carpet gets in the way of my feet.
Meanwhile, the unexpected happened – my ex-teacher, not-particularly gadget-friendly wife absolutely loves this and has already informed people that it is one of the best gadgets I’ve brought home to date.
The best I can do for now is point you back to the Banggood link at the top of this page which has all the technical info in English and show you the video I took as Robbie was first cleaning the living room.
Ah, no – I can also show you the video I made for you of it’s second living room cleanup (once we figured out how to open the filter) – and this photo of the results – clumps of cat hairs and all sorts of stuff – needless to say my recently reviewed air duster made short work of that mess and dry-cleaned the non-washable filter A TREAT.
Just look at that stuff on the right – YECHHH. That came off our living room FLOOR, for heaven’s sake – and this was just a quick half-hour clean. Since then we regularlygo off to our local lake for a swim, leaving the robot to get on with it for as long as it takes (it has to go off and recharge after maybe 2.5 hours of use).
I honestly did NOT expect these results at all – had it not been for my patient wife, I’d initially have put Robbie in a dark cupboard for punishment. I’m so glad we persevered as now we have an English-speaking device with HOURS of fun built in – not to mention actually being a useful labour-saving vacuum. I even have spare parts yet 2 months later, Robbie is nowhere NEAR requiring replacement parts. Will stairs send it off to it’s doom? NO. We did discover that flimsy doormats tend to curl up – but then, they do that with any vacuum.
And here is the video…
Is that a map of our living room and my office we see below?
The Robot has has developed a full map of the living room/kitchen area (blue), the hallway (yellow) and also my office in orange.
It isn’t that long ago that, in that prequel to ALIEN – Prometheus, this cave-scanning stuff was science fantasy – and now it’s in my living room – our home in Spain is a “cave-home” and could pass as a series of connected caves – just as in the movie.
See the map on the right (built up in the App, unassisted, by the robot itself) – top right of the blue living room section is Robbie on charge, You can see various obstacles near the centre such as the solid table – one chair only shows up vaguely, that’s because it’s structure allows Robbie to go underneath – what you are looking at is a map at ground level – not what is ABOVE the robot’s height as that is irrelevant.
The vacuum figured out that it’s area of operation is two rooms separated by a hallway – hence the three colours. I can manually create no-go zones as well as schedules or just leave it to get on with the job unattended. See that red line on the right – a temporary “barrier” – I could have just selected a room to clean (in the APP) but I like playing.
I generally use red lines as you see on the right to created a no-go zone for the office as I usually have phone charger cables hanging down to the floor.
What happens if you have more than one floor? Well, the 1S unit doesn’t keep multiple floor maps though you can clean as much as you like minus the maps. If you move floors you must take the charger with you and start and stop operations at the charger. Right now we’re sticking with the one floor.
And what are those lines on the living room? Answer: the path Robbie took this morning when cleaning – quite thorough and methodical after a while.
You just know what’s coming next… another model with auto-empty bin into a hopper? A water tank?Hopefully.
Meanwhile we’ve spent more time watching Robbie than we used to spend DOING the vacuuming… the cats are still wary but we love our automated vacuum. I’ve also made an extended 4K version of my short video about the 1S.
If I were to simply select the living room, I’d hear “Starting targetted room cleaning..” – right – (orange) hallway only. If I query where Robbie is, a voice says “I’m here” – reminiscent of my wife responding “it’ll be where you left it” when I ask where something is 🙂
Ok, so enough of the gushing. I can target individual rooms and even partial rooms with the no-go zones – but one thing I would like is a “put extra work into this small region” feature. Let’s say there are some PARTICULARLY stubborn marks… a human would stop what they are doing, get a cloth and give those marks some special treatment – Robbie has no such skills – but maybe I’m being picky considering we’ve not had to vacuum for over a couple of months (the robot vacuums pretty much every day as our cats are very messy). Also the vacuum has 4 different cleaning modes from silent to ultra-enthusiastic so I guess if I used mode 4 that would take care of most stubborn dirt.
Did I honestly expect continuous, flawless operation? NO. Are we getting it? YES. For the past couple of weeks it has been way too warm here for much physical work but the robot doesn’t care.