In advance of the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” on Dec. 15, Samsung rolled out two limited-edition Star Wars-themed Powerbot robotic vacuums: a Stormtrooper model and a Darth Vader version.

Consumer Reports bought these two robotic vacuums to see how they perform.

The white stormtrooper Powerbot, $600, sports a mask and plays the main Star Wars theme as it backs away from its dock and starts cleaning.

More on Robotic Vacuums

The black Darth Vader Powerbot, $800, spins around to the Star Wars “Imperial March,” utters a few choice James Earl Jones lines, and even makes the iconic heavy mechanical breathing noises as it cleans.

The added cost of the Darth Vader Powerbot gets you a seven-part digital display; WiFi connectivity that allows you to control the robot from Google Home, Alexa, or your smartphone; and a remote control.

According to some of my colleagues, the Darth Vader Powerbot looks a lot cooler than the Stormtrooper Powerbot.

And, says Frank Rizzi, who conducts Consumer Reports’ vacuum tests, “It’s fun to hear the Darth Vader robotic vac make lightsaber noises when you try to pick it up off the floor—because you’re getting in the way of its cleaning.”

Details on the Star Wars Robotic Vacs

We had wondered whether Samsung simply put a Star Wars-themed skin on one of its existing Powerbot models. But the Star Wars vacuums are designed differently from the other three Samsung Powerbots we’ve tested:

• The top-performing Samsung Powerbot SR20H9051 Series, $1,000.
• The Samsung Powerbot R7065 VR2AM7065WS/AA, $600, which performed almost as well as the SR20H9051.
• The Samsung Powerbot R9350, $1,000, which was only so-so at cleaning carpet but excellent at bare floors.

Check back to see whether these robotic vacuums are top performers or are nothing more than pricey novelty items with a mask and a few amusing sound effects.

We’ll also let you know whether these robotic vacuums are worthy of the fabled Star Wars franchise. The Darth Vader toaster we tested two years ago was not.


How We Test RoboVacs

Each robotic vacuum CR tests is evaluated on how well it removes surface debris on a low-pile carpet and on bare floors; whether it can get into tight corners created by walls and furniture; and the exact time it takes to clean a designated area. That’s right: Our test engineers sit and watch each robot perform a full cycle, carefully tracking every minute of its obsessive odyssey.

For these tests, roughly a half-gram of Maine Coon cat fur, 85 Cheerios, and 2 teaspoons of rice are distributed on the floor of a test area that resembles the typical layout of a bedroom or living room. Then our engineers record what the robot detects and cleans, and what it misses or simply redistributes.

As Yoda says, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”