Wyze Robot Vacuum hands-on: Great price and features. Too dumb for my houseMarch 12, 2021
When a robot vacuum works well, it’s a thing of beauty. When it doesn’t, it’s funny, then sad, then frustrating. Take the Wyze Robot Vacuum, which in my tests failed miserably at one key task: Returning to its charging dock. It would slowly make its approach, turn 180 degrees to snug its two charging plates against the dock — and not quite get there. Then it would roll away for another attempt. After a few more unsuccessful tries, it would come in at an angle, as if confused about where the dock actually was.
The Wyze Robot Vacuum ($250 plus shipping at Wyze,) also displayed an uncanny knack for getting stuck under furniture — despite a lidar-powered guidance system that, in theory, should keep it from venturing into such low-slung places in the first place.
Make no mistake, I really wanted to like this sweeper. Wyze has a great track record with smart home and other devices; I’m a big fan of the $20 Wyze Cam v2, $30 Wyze Doorbell and. But there have been a few misfires, including the and now, unfortunately, the Wyze Robot Vacuum.
I’m not sure if the problems lie in firmware or hardware, but my issues started right away. After an initial clean (complete with getting stuck under a console table) produced a virtual map of my first floor, I had no trouble defining specific rooms within the generally excellent Wyze app. From there I could add virtual walls — effectively keeping the vac away from trouble spots — and select individual rooms to clean.
But when I instructed the robot to sweep just the family room, it rolled off in the wrong direction and never made it there. (It couldn’t find its way back to the dock, either.) Eventually I decided to remap the house, and so far it’s been OK at cleaning where instructed.
Unfortunately, it still won’t dock correctly — probably because that happens on carpet, which apparently makes for more challenging alignment of the charging plates. But that’s where I need it to live, and other vacs I’ve tried don’t have this issue. Indeed, I recently set a Roborock S5 loose on the same floors; it didn’t get stuck under the same furniture that caught the Wyze, and it had no trouble redocking on carpet. I tried the latter in a different room with thinner carpet; same unfortunate result.
The Wyze vac is also quite loud, especially on the “strong” suction-level setting, but also when set to “quiet.” If you’re hoping to let it run while you’re at home working, I suspect you’ll find it distractingly noisy.
All this is not to say you shouldn’t consider the Wyze Robot Vacuum, which is about as user-friendly as they come and a good value at $250. The virtual walls can help with furniture issues, and a hard-floor home for the dock resolves the charging problem.
It’s just not a good fit for my house.
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