The Xiaomi Mi robot (also called MIJIA) is the new autonomous vacuum cleaner from China that claims to offer bigger suction power and longer battery life for a fraction of the price of its competitors. It was created by Rockrobo (a code name for the Xiaomi startup), and developed under Xiaomi’s Mi Ecosystem programme, which searches third-party consumer electronics companies to partner with Xiaomi in order to create premium home and lifestyle products outside of company’s main product lines: smartphones, smart TVs and routers. I’ve been reviewing robot vacuum cleaners for a while now, and when I heard that GearBest.com will be sending me a brand new Xiaomi Mi bot for testing purposes, my expectations were very high. So, if you’ll stick around for just a couple of minutes, you’re going to find out:
- if this product managed to please me
- what are it’s full specs
- whether it’s good for your home
- how it compares with other premium or low budget robots
- from where you can get it fast and cheap
Design & Looks
Here’s a gallery with some pictures of Xiaomi Mi’s robot:
and here’s my video review:
Specs & features
Suction & cleaning power
Xiaomi Mi claim they are producing a robot vacuum which can suck with an air pressure of 1,800 Pa. This is an impressive value, but as you probably saw in my video, in the paper and cornflour trials, the suction is not everything. Agitation also plays an important role. For example, in my SeeBest C561 review I showed you how efficient is a large suction inlet can be. In Xiaomi’s defense, all my video tests were carried out with the motor set on the Standard suction mode. If I’d have used the Power mode, things would have been a bit different. By the way, you can see the 3 power modes in the left pic. These can be switched in the Mi Home app, but I will discuss this in a few paragraphs. For now, suffice to say that I find the Standard mode the most convenient. When running on this mode, the bot produces around 64db and stills cleans like a champ. The suction power comes from a $10 ultra-quiet and yet powerful Nidec brushless motor. Nidec is also producing other essential parts of this robot vacuum, such as controllers, fans and so on. If I were to make a comparison, I’d say this unit has a cleaning power which is similar to the one delivered by iLife A4, iRobot Roomba 980 or even the SeeBest I was talking about.
The MIJIA Robot comes with a 5200mAh (14.4V / 74.88Wh) lithium ion battery that is good for up to two and half hours of continuous cleaning, after which it will automatically return to its base for recharging. This is impressive, compared to almost any other robotic vacuum cleaner out there. 150 minute of autonomy can only be seen in some iLife products (such as the V5 PRO or the V7S). Of course, this is probably measured with the robot working in the Standard mode. This equates to around 2700 sq ft (250 sq m) of floor space covered on a single battery charge, covering the needs of almost all small and medium sized homes. Bigger homes can also use this gizmo, because after it recharges, it will remember its last location and return to that exact point to continue its cleaning cycle, rather than start again and potentially neglect certain areas.
It can store a volume of dirt of 14 oz (0.42 liters), which is actually slightly smaller than the Roomba’s or Neato’s bigger bins. The bin however is easily accessible, and the process of empty it doesn’t imply a complete change of clothes. A nice touch is the bin sensor, which lets you know when the robot needs emptying.
The airflow is completely sealed, so the smaller dust particles end up in the large HEPA filter, which is also located on the dirt recipient. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with extra filters, and these parts are not usually washable. The good news is that you should be able to get replacements relatively cheap (I recommend you to purchase them together with the unit).
The Xiaomi MIJIA Robot offers more sensors and computation power than most robot vacuums out there. It uses no less than 12 different sensors to navigate your home, including an ultrasonic radar sensor, a cliff sensor, a gyroscope and an accelerometer, as well as three dedicated processors for the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) movement algorithm. There’s also a speedometer and an electronic compass. But perhaps the most impressive is the laser distance sensor, which is the small disc you can see spinning on top of the device, which is similar to the ones used by Neato. This little helper is capable of scanning horizontally its surroundings in full 360 degrees up to 1,800 times a second. There are even 4 cliff sensors that prevent the vacuum from falling down the stairs.
Most of these work together to allow the robot to map the floor plan of your house and decide on the most efficient path. Sensor fusion has always been a hard thing to accomplish in any type of robotic device, so witnessing this process on the Xiaomi robot left me speechless. According to Xiaomi’s co-founder and vice president, Mr. Liu De, the robot plans the optimal cleaning route minutes ahead. Rather than bouncing randomly around the floor space using sensors to avoid obstacles, this robovac has a well defined strategy, just like we see in the premium models from all the other competitors.
Dimensions and Design
At the moment, the Xiaomi MIJIA Robot only comes in white, but the overall design is modern, stylish, futuristic and very pleasing to the eye. I could say it has the “Apple appeal”, but maybe I’m just a bit subjective. The vacuum has a circular shape, with a diameter of just 13.5 inches (34.29 cm), and a height of 3.8 inches (9.65 cm). In a few words, it’s small enough to be effective without getting in the way. It weights around 8.4 lbs (3.8 kg).
As this unit is available from wholesalers based in China, you will have specific warranty terms, depending from where you get it. GearBest i.e. offers 1 year of warranty, 45 days of money back guarantee, 3 days on a dead on arrival notification and lifetime technical support. This is in line with almost any other warranty offer by other wholesalers for a gadget such as this.
At this chapter, the units doesn’t score much. There’s nothing in the package besides the manual, the charging dock with an adapter and a plastic brush good for untangling hair.
It has 1 side brush that directs dirt and dust to the suction inlet, which then hoovers it up into the cleaner. The robot maintains a 1 cm distance from walls and furniture to allow the side brush to clean right into the corners of the room. Another standout feature of Xiaomi’s robot is the adjustable height. It can raise or lower its brushroll height mechanically, depending on the surface it is cleaning, optimizing its efficiency on both smooth and carpeted surfaces.
Because it has no remote control (just like Neato’s Botvac), I found it difficult to interact with it. You can only command it using the 2 buttons on the case, or by installing the Mi Home app, available on both Android and IOS. The process of installing the app and linking to the robot through it is so complex, I’ve made a special section below, just to talk about it in detail. There are no virtual walls available, and the sound produced is relatively high, reaching 68-70 db in Power mode, 64 db in Standard mode and 61 db in Quiet mode. On the other hand, thanks to the bristle/rubber mix we have in the brushroll, the robot works very well on all kinds of surfaces, from low pile and medium pile carpets to hard floors. The wheels have independent suspensions, and the robot can climb slopes up to 15 degrees.
The recharging process is dependable, because the unit actually knows where to return to juice up. The slowly back-gliding movement to the charging pins is adorable. Emptying the bin is also easy, especially with the full-bin sensor in place.
Mi Home App
The cleaner can be operated through Xiaomi’s Mi Home app, with which you can command it remotely. You can toggle it on and off, set the cleaning schedules, monitor progress, and switch between the three cleaning modes; all you need is an internet connection. The Mi Home app controls a wide range of wireless devices from Xiaomi, including their purifiers light fittings and others. It should however be noted that the MiHome app is very new and the user reviews on the app so far are very mixed, many reporting problems with several features, updates creating problems with connected devices and so on.
Above all, the app is in Chinese and from my understanding, the producer won’t release an English version any time soon. That being said, I’m here to help you out with a translation from Chinese to English, for the robot vacuum software module, and with the whole connection process.
- Step 1. The first thing you have to do is to download the Mi Home App, to install it on your smartphone and to make an account with Xiaomi.
- Step 2. After the app is installed, turn on the robot vacuum, open the wireless settings on your phone and search for the Wifi spot produced by the robot. It should be something with the word “robot” inside. Connect to this network.
- Step 3. Open the app and search among the Xiaomi product for the robot vacuum. Tap it and wait for the software to connect.
- Step 4. Insert the WIFI settings from your own home router which is connected to the internet.
- Step 5. Disconnect from the robot WIFI and connect instead to you home WIFI, which has internet. Your device should appear online.
The menu will be in Chinese, but I’ve already translated the Chinese options:
Although many tech blogs advertise this unit at $250, if you live outside China, the price is in fact a bit higher. One of the places which offers this product even as a giveaway from time to time is GearBest.com, so make sure you check them out and use the discount code XIAOMIVAC to get a nice bonus.
Xiaomi Mi vs iLife A4 vs iRobot Roomba 980 vs Neato Botvac Connected vs Dyson 360 Eye
The main selling point of the Xiaomi MIJIA Robot is the affordable price, as compared to similar models. It also has an appealing design, a relatively better battery, a good suction motor and HEPA filtration. Most users will fall in love with the intelligent home mapping and planning system.
Unfortunately, there are no virtual walls available. The main drawbacks of the device are the questionable app performance, the limited global availability and lack of long term user feedback to judge reliability and performance. Accessories are non-existent, and the sound levels are a bit high.
Conclusion and VGMrv
This cleaner is now available worldwide thanks to online shopping malls such as GearBest. Western markets will have to wait a while for full language support, but if you’re willing to take the chance and get one, you now have that option. The Xiaomi Mi vacuum cleaner seems to be yet another example of the Chinese approach to provide a better value for the money than their rivals, by offering premium-level features at an affordable price.
Here’s my VGMrv:
VGMrv table for Xiaomi Mi robot
|Weight and Dimensions||9|
( Mark for robo-vacs)
So, what do you think about this new piece? Would you get a Xiaomi Mi robot to help you out with your cleaning chores? Please comment.