There Are Robot Window Cleaners Now – Should You Get One?
Hate grimy glass panels and windows, but dread the chore of cleaning them? The Hobot 268 Robot Window Cleaner might just be the perfect cleaning tool for the job - only if you aren't too fussy about things...
- Convenient for those who find it physically hard to clean windows
- Thoroughly gets into hard-to-reach areas
- Cleans windows relatively well – in the right conditions, that is.
- Great if you’re looking for a general wipe down throughout the whole house
- Saves you the time and effort of cleaning your windows yourself.
- Remote control not very sensitive, making it hard to manoeuvre.
- The device has to be plugged into a power source at all times, making it restricted by its cable length.
- Power cable and the carabiner can get tangled easily
- Don't expect sparkly, spotlessly clean windows - there are still some marks left behind.
- You can’t entirely leave it alone - you'll need to watch the device to make sure it doesn't tangle, drop and that it moves in the right direction.
Elderly or physically handicapped homeowners, busy working professionals, unfussy individuals who are fine with basic maintenance.
Whether you’re a neat freak or messy individual, one thing’s for certain – nothing’s more satisfying than wiping a dirty glass window till its spotlessly clean! While the classic newspaper + Windex combination never fails – our arms unfortunately might. Window cleaning can be tiring and laborious, and that’s not considering the hours spent cleaning pane after pane (or tipping off ladders just to reach that impossible spot).
No surprise then, that somebody actually came up with a machine to take this load of work off our shoulders! We’ve got robot vacuums, robot mops – so why not a robot window cleaner? Enter the Hobot 268, a suction-based, automated robot window cleaner that promises pristine windows at little to no effort. A tempting idea, but is the device as good as it sounds? We decided to test it on our dusty, glass-encased office to find out:
Opening the Box
The Hobot 268 is as fuss-free as you can get – packed in a relatively compact box, the package consists of all the necessary basics:
- The robot window cleaner unit with carabiner (for securing the unit in case it falls off a surface)
- power cable and adaptor
- microfiber dry and wet cleaning pad refills (3 each)
- a remote control with batteries
- an instruction manual.
Truth be told, there are all sorts of window cleaners available on the market, though most of them are handheld versions that use strong magnets to wedge (and clean both sides of a window pane) with.
That being said, the Hobot 268 uses a different type of technology to keep it up. Namely – air suction. The window cleaning robot features a vacuum motor beneath that enables it to stick to glass tightly, with two caterpillar wheels on its sides help it to move. Only major catch? That also means the Hobot can only clean one side of the surface at one time.
Meanwhile, the Hobot’s square shape makes it easy to reach into a window’s sharp corners. It also helps that the machine has an in-built pressure and laser sensor that ensures no air-leakage or undetected edges that might cause the gadget to fall out.
Pretty easy, thanks to the instruction manual which lists step by step how to get it up and running. Thankfully, there are no complicated configuration processes to go through, nor is there a need to connect your Hobot to a synced device like a smartphone or smart assistant. Just plug in the machine to the power source, secure it to a sturdy pole or furniture piece, turn on the power switch on its body – voila! As for controlling the device – there’s the remote control with easy-to-understand buttons.
Using the Hobot 268
Relatively idiot-proof. Simply prop it against a glass surface, turn on the switch and wait a couple of seconds for the suction to set in before you can let go. The device does not move on its own - you’ll need to select a cleaning path on the remote control. Users can opt from 3 ‘Auto Modes’ (basically allowing the Hobot to intelligently clean a surface starting Up, Left or Right), or manually control the gadget through directional buttons.
The auto mode works great for general cleaning of an entire window pane – as the Hobot’s AI feature enables it to calculate a path and avoid frames or obstacles. It also follows a systematic path (left to right, then up to down and vice versa) – doing the process consistently until stopped. The manual mode? Better for cleaning specific spots – though it can feel as if you’re playing some sort of video game trying to press multiple buttons just to get to the right area.
Some concerns? One is the remote control sensor, which is unfortunately located at the base of the machine. You would have to aim the remote directly at its base in order to get a response, which can prove annoying from a distance. Likewise, the Hobot has to be connected to a power source which causes it to be restricted to cleaning areas as long as its power cord length (about 5m). Not so good if you have really high ceilings or are planning to reach a window pane that’s pretty far away from a power source.
Lastly, there's also the risk of tripping as well – with such lengthy cables constantly shifting as the Hobot moves – walking about a space whilst it is working can prove challenging. Granted, most robot window cleaners suffer from the same problem, so hopefully this issue can be eradicated in future models.
The Hobot 268 features a two-step window cleaning process. Firstly, a dry cleaning mode that gets rid of surface dust, and secondly, a wet cleaning mode using a microfiber polishing cloth that takes out glass stains or oily spots. While we expected a thoroughly cleaned, spotless glass panel – the reality was (somewhat) otherwise.
Its first cleaning step does the job well of getting rid of floating dust mites. As seen above, there was significantly less specks in the cleaned glass surfaced compared to before. However, the wet cleaning mode leaves much to be desired. As the Hobot isn’t fast enough to wipe water sprays in time, unsightly water stains are left as it swipes across the surface. And despite moving multiple times over the glass pane, the Hobot seems unable to get rid of the dried-up water stain completely. What’s left are faint swipe marks – traces of where the Hobot has moved.
Which comes the big question – does a robot window cleaner do the job better than manual labour? To be honest, not exactly. Yes, it gets rid of dust effectively, but for your windows glimmer and shine, its slow moving pace makes it a burden that a quick hand is better off handling.
So, is it worth the buy?
It depends. If you’re physically unable (or just lazy) to maintain your windows – the idea of an automated robot cleaner like the Hobot 268 might prove practical. Likewise, a robot window cleaner is good for cleaning areas that are hard-to-reach, like tall ceilings or corners. Just make sure a power socket or an extension cord is around the corner.
Also, if you aren’t particularly fussy about spotless windows (good to have, but not necessary), the Hobot 268 will save you a ton of effort. But not time – while the Hobot does provide a hands-free experience, you’ll still need to pay attention and watch the device to control its movements, stop cleaning and make sure it doesn’t accidentally unplug itself.
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