If you’d written off robotic vacuums long ago as a toy for the tech-obsessed, it might be time for another look. Though it’s true that many early models offered lackluster cleaning and complicated programming, that’s not the case anymore. The best models now seriously save time by offering solid cleaning performance in an easy-to-program package. But it won’t come cheap. It’s hard to spend less than $500 on a good robotic vacuum, and two models in particular—the Samsung Powerbot and Dyson 360 Eye—can each set you back $1,000.

Though it would be easy to assume that those premium prices guarantee stellar performance, Consumer Reports’ tests revealed that 27 points separate these two models, with one earning the top spot in our robotic vacuum test and the other bested by models that cost half as much. Read on to see which robotic vacuum reigns supreme.  


Along with the Dyson and Samsung, we've tested robotic vacuums from Bissell, Ecovacs, iClebo, Miele, Neato, and Roomba. Check our robotic vacuum ratings to get the full story.
 

Cleaning

Both the Samsung Powerbot and Dyson 360 Eye performed admirably on solid flooring, but on carpet and in corners, the Samsung really struts its stuff. The squared-off shape is unique on the Powerbot, helping it clean rooms corner to corner, something most round models struggle with. Plus it hugs baseboards and walls closely, deploying special edge brushes when it senses that they’re needed.

The Dyson failed to get as close to baseboards. In the end, the Samsung did a superior job cleaning, thanks in part to its 99-minute cleaning cycle. The Dyson admirably attempted to save energy by docking after 15 minutes in our carpeted room—roughly after it had made a single pass over the whole area, though it did miss spots. That left behind enough debris that you’d need to send it out for subsequent passes.  

Clearance and Maneuverability

At 4.5 inches tall, the Dyson sits a full inch shorter than the Samsung. Although both struggled to get beneath the lowest clearance levels in our test, the Dyson gets the edge here. The Dyson has another distinct feature: track-style wheels—like those on a tank—helping it power over higher saddles and thresholds. But it’s the shape of the Dyson that really makes it different—narrow and oblong, almost like a football with the corners lopped off. That helps it wiggle its way between furniture and other obstacles, letting it clean in spots that might be missed by other models.  

Programming

Both the Samsung Powerbot and Dyson 360 Eye have some neat programming features. Dyson lets you control the 360 Eye with the Dyson link app on your smartphone—no remote is included. The app can schedule cleanings and maintenance, show you the vacuum’s coverage area, and even troubleshoot remotely.

The Powerbot features four program settings—Auto, Spot, Max, and Manual—all of which are controlled with the included remote control. In Spot mode you can shine a spotlight from the remote onto the floor, showing the robot areas you’d like it to target.  

And the Winner Is . . .

In the end, Samsung wins the battle of the cleaning bots. The Powerbot’s performance as a vacuum is exceptionally strong, and it offers clever solutions—such as edge brushes and a square design—to resolve common shortcomings found on most robotic vacuums. The Powerbot might not be ready to replace a full-sized vacuum, but it can seriously cut down on how much you’ll need to use a bulkier canister or upright. That alone makes it worth consideration.