When it comes to household chores, windows cleaning ranks right up there with, well, window cleaning. There's a reason many people who clean homes for a living tell you they don't do windows, and if they do, you can expect to pay extra for the work.
Enter the brand-new Winbot W710 ($350) and Winbot W730 ($400). These 4.5-pound robots are supposed to let you "clean your windows, glass doors, mirrors and more with just the touch of a button." In one pass, the Winbots run a pad dampened with cleaning solution over glass, squeegee it, and then dry it. The devices hold on by suction and use two antislip treads to move around. You can direct the devices with a remote control. The W710 is designed to work on only framed surfaces; the W730 is designed to handle framed and frameless.
During our tests*, we ran the Winbots on windows of different sizes, on a frameless glass door, on a whiteboard where we'd drawn a grid, and on tilted windows that mimicked a skylight.
Bottom line. The Winbots do windows, but not perfectly. Although they cleaned fingerprints, dust, and streaks, they didn't handle heavy stains, and they sometimes missed a spot. The Winbots don't work on nonvertical surfaces, such as glass tables and skylights. Bear in mind that if you have frameless glass, you'll want the W730, which cleaned those edges well.
The Winbots will save you work but not necessarily time: These robots averaged nearly 30 seconds per square foot of window cleaned; it took us about 8 seconds with a little elbow grease.
If you're a gadget junkie or if you have high windows that are hard to clean safely, a Winbot could make sense. Otherwise grab some window cleaner and paper towels.
*At the time, the Winbots were not available at retail, so we bought them directly from the manufacturer, Ecovacs.