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A robotic vacuum.

Best Robotic Vacuums for Under the Tree

With much improved cleaning power, today's models appeal to more than just gadget geeks

It wasn’t so long ago that a robotic vacuum you might have given as a gift would quickly end up collecting dust instead of sucking it up. That’s because while robotic vacuums were fun to watch, they were often lousy at keeping floors clean.

The latest robotics have come a long way, however, thanks to stronger suction, better edge-cleaning capabilities, and improved programming. They’re still not ready to replace a full-sized upright or canister vacuum, but for daily cleaning of surface debris, a robotic vacuum can work wonders—if you choose one of our top-rated models.

One notable exception from this roundup: the new Dyson 360 Eye, $1,000. We had high hopes for the machine, especially after the Dyson V8 Absolute crushed it in our latest stick-vacuum tests. But the Dyson robotic was undone by so-so carpet cleaning and ease of use, which are all the harder to accept given its steep price.

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Best in Class
Samsung POWERbot SR20H9051 Series

Samsung POWERbot SR20H9051 Series

This sleek little sucker soared to the top of our ratings because of its superb cleaning of carpets and bare floors. A couple of key design details helped make the difference. First, the Samsung’s ability to clean along walls is enhanced by well-designed edge brushes, which emerge and rotate only when needed. Second, the robot’s squared-off front enables it to clean corners better than its more rounded counterparts. As for power, the Samsung was able to suck embedded pet hair and fine grains of sand from carpets better than much of the competition. 

    Time Tested
    Roomba 880

    Roomba 880

    iRobot has been building robotic vacuums since the early 2000s. The Roomba 880 had been our top-rated robotic until the Samsung came along. But this is still one darn good machine, delivering super cleaning across bare floors and carpets. Standing 4 inches tall, it’s a bit shorter than the Samsung, so it will have an easier time getting under sofas and other obstacles. For the savviest gadget lover on your gift list, you might also consider the Roomba 960, $770, a smartphone-controlled robotic vacuum that should perform similarly to the Roomba 880.

      Value Added
      iClebo Arte YCR-M05

      iClebo Arte YCR-M05

      Though there are a handful of cheaper robotics on the market, the iClebo is by far the best bargain on our winners’ list. Cleaning across bare floors was superb, and it performed capably on carpets. At 3.5 inches, it has the best clearance of all our top picks, and its average run time of 119 minutes was tops among all tested robotic vacuums. 

        Ecovacs Deebot D79

        Ecovacs Deebot D79

        In addition to solid cleaning performance on carpets and bare floors, this robotic vacuum has two features you won’t find on other models. First, after tooling around your home sucking up debris, the Deebot is designed to empty itself into a receptacle built into the docking station. Second, the Deebot also converts into a handheld canister vacuum, complete with hoses, brush rolls, and other accessories. Novelties aside, the Deebot cleans well across bare floors and carpets.

          Budget Buy
          Bissell SmartClean 1605

          Bissell SmartClean 1605

          The Bissell misses our recommended list by a few overall points. But if it’s going to be deployed in a home with all bare floors, its very competitive price makes it hard to pass up. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles—no remote control or extended run time, for example—but we found it easy to program. Also, the Bissell’s dual side brushes delivered exceptional edge cleaning in our tests.

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            Daniel DiClerico

            I've written about remodeling and home products for 17 years. When I'm not covering the subjects for work, I’m putting the knowledge to use on the renovation of a Brooklyn brownstone, where I live with my wife and kids. You can also find me most weeks on the soccer field.