There’s only one chore I actually like doing, and that’s the vacuum cleaning. I’ll scour the skirting boards for the last fleck of dust, doing my best “Bill Murray in Ghostbusters” impression all the while. So of all the jobs I’d happily give over to a robot helper, vacuum cleaning isn’t at the top of my list. And in the past, the performance of robot vacuum cleaners has been so poor as to not worry my professional vacuum cleaning aspirations.
But then Dyson comes along with its Dyson 360 Eye robot vacuum cleaner, and the bloody thing manages to give even a clean freak like me a run for my money. For once, here’s a robot vacuum cleaner that can actually do the job it’s supposed to do. It’s a pity then that its app-connected bells and whistles let the whole package down considerably.
What Is It?
A programmable robot vacuum cleaner.
Who Is It For?
The Jabba the Hutt of clean freaks, lazy and insistent on having a droid do the housework. George and Jane Jetson. People of the FUTURE.
The Dyson 360 Eye looks great. Circular like a cake tin, its mixture of grey and transparent plastics make it a dead ringer for the kind of bots you’d expect a Jawa to be hawking, which came as an obvious delight to this Star Wars fan. Weighing 2.44kg and measuring (in millimeters) H 120 x L 240 x W 230, it’s relatively compact, given what’s tucked away inside, but it’s still easy to pop out the dust bin, filter or to remove the cleaning bar when those elements need inspecting.
Much of the technology you’d find in a standard Dyson vacuum cleaner has been squeezed into the 360 Eye. There’s a V2 digital motor generating suction power that Dyson claims is twice as powerful as any rival robot, Radial Root Cyclones for increased airflow to capture microscopic particles and a filtration system that pushes out clean air free of allergens.
But it’s the new smart systems and engineering solutions that show off the Dyson design teams skills. First off, the top-mounted “hackproof” camera that gives the cleaner its name. Giving a 360 degree view of the robot’s surroundings, it’s this along with a selection of drop and proximity sensors that allow the 360 Eye to navigate relatively painlessly around your home – even while you may be walking around it.
Then there are the tank treads on the underside, which make the 360 Eye capable of taking on uneven surfaces such as rugs or doorway lips where conventional wheels would struggle. And finally, there’s a full length brush bar (complete with both tough nylon bristles for ground-in dirt and anti-static carbon fibre filaments for pulling in fine particles) that gives as wide a cleaning coverage as possible with every pass.
Setting up the Dyson 360 Eye is easy. It comes with a thin white charging base that folds open like a book, with the part that sits on the floor housing charging pins that connect to the underside of the robot, and the part that rests against the wall featuring a square pattern that the robot’s camera can identify as its home point from which to orientate itself and return to for automatic charging. Place it on there, let it charge, and then you’re good to go with a press of its “On / Start Cleaning” button on top. You then also have the option of connecting it to the Dyson Link app for iOS and Android (which we’ll got onto in a second).
Once running, the Dyson 360 Eye can more or less be left to do its own thing. Like a game of Snake on an old Nokia, it’ll work its way around your home in a concentric grid pattern. This is a slow process (there’s no spot-cleaning option for taking on smaller jobs), but it ensures no accessible area is missed. It takes between two and three hours for the 360 Eye to clean the mixture of wood flooring, rugs, carpets and kitchen lino in my modest two bedroom flat – that’s including battery charge top ups between 45 minute cleaning runs. It’s about as noisy as a regular vacuum cleaner, but as it’ll likely be running for longer than your manual cleaning sweep, it’s probably best to leave it on while you’re out, as it’s quite distracting.
With its camera spotting obstacles and its tank treads letting it take on small inclines (such as a deep shaggy rug), the 360 Eye is able to navigate well, its front bumper suspension mitigating the impact of the small bumps it does make. It only got stuck once, though it’s worth noting that its camera system requires rooms be well lit in order for the robot to traverse them successfully.
While it’s not a match for a conventional upright, it’s hard to fault the cleaning quality of the Dyson 360 Eye when compared to rival robot cleaners. I was genuinely shocked to see how quickly its little bin filled with dust sucked from what I thought were relatively clean floors. Its methodical approach to cleaning really proves superb. Best suited to fine debris (leaves fallen from potted plants were regularly missed, though dried mud was handled with ease), you can comfortably expect the Dyson 360 Eye to pick up 90 per cent of visible mess, and far more dust from carpets than the eye can see. I’d go as far as to say it performs best on carpets, though a thicker pile can slow the tank treads considerably.
The Dyson 360 Eye gives a good account of itself when it comes to cleaning then, but even Dyson itself is up front about it not being a full replacement for a conventional vacuum cleaner. For starters, it can’t go down stairs (though its drop sensors perfectly avoided any fatal falls), its size means it won’t fit under most sofas, between chair legs or into tight corners, and it doesn’t have the ability to clean raised area like skirting boards or cobweb-infested ceilings.
It’s also not smart enough to avoid shoelaces and thin cables, nor can it discern important small items like an item of jewellery from worthless knick knacks like a Hula Hoop, so you’re going to have to prep a safe cleaning space for the robot before letting it get to work. As such, the extent of the 360 Eye’s use is really to top up on your own more thorough cleaning sessions rather than for it be fully autonomous, and Dyson has done well to weather expectations in this regard. Don’t throw out the trusty dumb vacuum cleaner just yet, but with the 360 Eye on patrol you can certainly expect to have to get off your arse significantly fewer times each week.
Connect the Dyson 360 Eye to its accompanying iOS and Android app and you can (in theory at least) gain even more control over the ‘bot. Here, you’ll be able to programme a timed cleaning schedule for the robot, give it a name (I went for butler-y ‘Codsworth’), check the instruction manual (which also offers advice for fixing the most common faults with the 360 Eye) and to check out a floor plan of your home as your robot sees it, complete with all the accessible areas it’s been able to clean. Except, that would have been the case if I could have got the app to work consistently. Which leads me on to...
This review would have been published several weeks earlier, were it not for the absolute mare of a time I’ve had with the robot’s accompanying Dyson Link app. Dyson’s pitching this app as the centre of its increasingly-connected product range – the Dyson Pure Cool Link air purifier / fan can also be controlled by it too, for instance. But I’ve had repeated issues with the app, to the point where I’ve had two Dyson engineers visit my home in an attempt to troubleshoot the issue.
A press shot of the app, used for illustrative purposes only.
The Android app seems to be more flakey than the iOS one, with the initial fault on Android being down to an unidentified Wi-Fi caching bug that prevented the app from connecting to the vacuum cleaner successfully. But even when both apps did manage to connect initially to the Dyson 360 Eye, each would then fail to trigger the majority of scheduled cleans, preventing me from getting the more granular cleaning and mapping data that the app provides.
The 360 Eye can work without the app – simply push its hardware “On” button atop the cleaning unit itself and off it rolls. But for those hoping to remotely control the robot, brace yourself for some potential issues.
It’s worth noting that Dyson will send an engineer to your home to set up the robot for you for free upon purchase. I’d definitely take them up on this offer, as that way you’ll quickly be able to report any issues similar to those that I came up against.
It really does clean well, sucking up loads of dust and dirt from carpets, far more than any competing robot vacuum cleaner. It’s enough to take a good chunk of the vacuuming load off of your hands.
I may well be an isolated case, but the app simply has too many problems to recommend. And though it’s a thorough cleaner in action, it takes a very long time to do the job, so isn’t best suited for switching on while you’re also indoors. A spot cleaning option would have been great, too, as would a larger dust bin.
Should You Buy It?
Having read other critics’ reviews of the Dyson 360 Eye, it seems few have had quite as testing a time with the app as I have had. If my experience proves to be an unlucky fluke, I’d be able to recommend the robot vacuum cleaner more whole heartedly.
As it stands for me though, the Dyson 360 Eye can certainly hold the title of being the best robot vacuum cleaner by some margin. But the same can’t be said for its performance as a connected device. With an asking price just a penny shy of £800, this is very much a premium, megabucks purchase. And for that I’d expect the app side of the product to be completely hassle free. Should a firmware update or similar improve the situation I’ll review my verdict, but for now I’d hold fire unless you’re totally flush with cash – and patience.
Dyson 360 Eye Robot Vacuum Cleaner Specs:
Size: 120mm x 240mm x 230mm
Charge time: 2.45 hrs
Run time: 45 mins
Connectivity: Compatible with 2.4GHz Wi-Fi