Review: Dyson 360 Eye Robot Vacuum

February 2, 2017 - Written By Nick Sutrich

Highlight – The best suction in the business meets a super efficient design

Dyson made its name years ago when introducing a brand new look to the generally boring world of vacuum design, but it wasn’t just the look that got people’s attention back then. Dyson’s vacuums performed incredibly well, even with pet hair and full bins, and attracted folks who felt that the actual suction power of the vacuum was more important than any other feature. Along with this patented cyclone suction system came an equally exclusive price, and Dyson instantly became the premium brand that households worldwide wanted in their closets. Now Dyson is taking that same approach and methodology to the robot vacuum sector, promising twice the suction power of any other robot vacuum on the market, and a design that’s both unique and impressive at the same time. Here too is that high price tag; retailing at $999 there’s no mistaking this for the cream-of-the-crop among premium products, but is the $100 price difference between the Dyson 360 Eye and its biggest competitor, the iRobot Roomba 980, warranted?  Let’s take a look.

Hardware and Design

Dyson’s product design is absolutely unmistakable no matter what market it puts itself in. You instantly know a Dyson product by the plastic materials and colors used, as well as that iconic look to its suction systems, curves and lines on its products. In addition to looking uniquely like a Dyson product, the Dyson 360 Eye features a design that isn’t shared by another robot vacuum on the market, something that’s imply not commonplace to find. Most robot vacuums follow the hockey puck design language that iRobot popularized, with a few like Neato or LG going against the grain by making a square robot. Dyson kept the design round, but instead of being wide and flat, the Dyson 360 Eye features a significantly smaller footprint and a tall body. In fact when placed next to other robot vacuums, the Dyson 360 Eye feels absolutely tiny.

In addition to this different overall shape, the Dyson 360 Eye doesn’t feature a rotating side brush of any kind, rather it relies fully on the large single roller brush under its frame to do all the work. Unlike most other robot vacuums on the market, the 360 Eye’s roller brush extends almost completely to the left and right edges of the vacuum, giving this one a greater chance of sucking particles up without having to use a side brush to pull them in or scatter them across the floor. Also completely unique in the robot vacuum world are the large Tank Tracks, as Dyson actually calls them, in the back instead of wheels. This gives the vacuum less range of movement than other robot vacuums, however it also gives it more flexibility for different floor types and heights. There’s a small rotating wheel in the very back that helps the vacuum steer, which also extends an inch to help keep the back level with the front.

Dyson’s suction and filtration is wholly unique among robotic vacuums, and not only gives this one a unique look but also unique functionality. The cyclonic suction system resides in the round dust bin located up front, which features a unique conic design and a “fin” at the top. This front bin is removable via a simple push button and slides straight forward, revealing the suction system and an additional removable filter before moving to the back. Around the back you’ll find another larger, removable filter that also hides the removable battery as well as the USB port for offline upgrades of firmware and other features. Up top you’ll find the camera, which has a large fisheye lens that protrudes about half an inch above the top of the vacuum, protected by the fin mentioned earlier on top of the dustbin. There’s also a large, round silver button with various color LED circulated around it, giving information on battery level, error codes and an easy way to start and pause the vacuum with a single press.

Navigation

The Dyson 360 Eye utilizes the Simultaneous Location and Mapping (SLAM) algorithm to map your home as it cleans, as most robot vacuums do around this price point. What’s very different about Dyson’s method of navigation isn’t the algorithm used to map the dwelling, rather the way the vacuum sees the area around it. The Dyson 360 Eye is named so because it uses a single camera with a fisheye lens at the center of the top of the vacuum, enabling it to see the entire 360-degree plane around the vacuum, as well as 180-degrees in a vertical dome shape. In addition to this Dyson has outfitted the front of the vacuum with sets of sensors that see in front of the vacuum, facing down at a 45-degree angle.

Because of the design of the Tank Tracks treads the vacuum has, coupled with the vision system, the Dyson 360 Eye literally moves like a tank around the house. This means the vacuum always moves forward, and any other navigational movement always begins with the vacuum stopping in its tracks, followed by it swiveling around to the designated location and moving forward again. This is very different from many other robot vacuums and means the Dyson 360 Eye’s movement patterns will always be made in straight lines instead of curved ones. Also because of the additional time it takes to stop, swivel, move forward, etc., the Dyson 360 Eye will clean the house considerably slower than some other robot vacuums will too.

Part of the sensory panel on the front of the vacuum includes cliff detection sensors to keep the vacuum from running off the edge of stairs, foyer areas or any other part of your house where the vacuum could easily fall to its doom. These sensors are IR based and are not reliant on available light in order to see. The camera up top, however, is unfortunately reliant on available light to operate at peak efficiency. While it’s not likely you’ll be vacuuming at night, it’s entirely possible that the Dyson 360 Eye could find its way into a darker room and have a harder time navigating around.

Something that’s also very different from other robot vacuums out there is the lack of any sort of bump mechanism on the outside of the vacuum itself. Most robot vacuums have a push panel on the front that helps keep the vacuum from running full force into an object, and generally helps map out the dwelling by using physical touch in addition to visual navigation. The engineering team at Dyson clearly was proud of the achievements they’d made in visual mapping though, and the accuracy of the vacuum’s movement around the house proves their pride isn’t unmerited. The Dyson 360 Eye comes within millimeters of walls and other objects, more often than not hugging these surfaces rather than bumping or rubbing against them. It’s impressive to see how well the vacuum can navigate on sight alone without hitting things, even in dimly lit rooms.

The Dyson 360 Eye ships with a sleek looking base to charge the vacuum on, one that includes some excellent cable management and a very Apple-like design language. Instead of having beacons or some sort of IR beacon to help the vacuum find the charger, however, Dyson has placed a checker board pattern at the top left and right of the charger’s face, allowing the 360 Eye’s camera to visually identify where the charger is and line up the charging pins. Like other robot vacuums, the Dyson 360 Eye always returns to its base to charge when it needs to, however you’ll need to keep in mind that it has to start at this base in order to find it again.

Many other robot vacuums either ship with virtual barriers, or a way to buy them after the fact. Unfortunately Dyson’s team seems to have completely overlooked this feature, and as of this writing there is no way to block off parts of your dwelling via magnetic strips or other non-physical barriers like every other major competitor in this space allows. This is a huge let-down as it makes blocking off areas more difficult than it needs to be, requiring doors be shut or other physical barriers be placed in front of things like pet food bowls or other sensitive areas where calamity might ensue if the vacuum reached said area.

Since the Dyson 360 Eye is a tall vacuum rather than a short, wide one, you’ll find the vacuum doesn’t normally get stuck under furniture. Unlike other robot vacuums on the market that are usually small enough to get under a couch but not small enough to get back out, the Dyson 360 Eye simply will not even try. Other furniture that’s a little higher off the ground will certainly be cleaned under, however the fin at the top of the vacuum’s dustbin on the front keeps it from ever entering areas where it’s sure to be too small to adequately fit. As a result I never found the vacuum getting stuck under anything during the past few months of testing.

While it never got stuck under objects, I never actually had the vacuum finish an entire cleaning of my house during the last 2 months of testing. The majority of the time the vacuum would get stuck on something, be it a physical object or an ethereal one, and would never actually complete an entire sweep of my house. The largest area it was able to complete was around 900 square feet, or about half of my house before getting stuck. In all the robot vacuums reviews we’ve conducted here at Android Headlines there was never a vacuum that wasn’t able to complete the whole home at least once; that is until the Dyson 360 Eye came along.

This is easily the most disappointing aspect of the vacuum, and despite plenty of strengths and a few weaknesses you’ll find in this review, this was easily the biggest problem of all. On average the vacuum would make it around 300 square feet or less before it seemingly found something to get hung up on, whether it was the corner of a rug or seemingly nothing at all. There were a number of times that I got home only to find it had turned itself off in the middle of the floor and never made it back to the charging station. Whether or not this was an issue with the navigation system or a problem with the vacuum in some other place isn’t quite clear, however the vacuum constantly seemed to have one issue or another when trying to finish cleaning the house, and the errors were never consistent enough to find a pattern. Regardless it seems like Dyson’s navigational routines as a whole need a little work.

Cleaning Process

One of Dyson’s biggest claims to fame has always been about suction. There’s a whole back story about this and how the company’s suction designs are regularly superior to other competitors out there, and the Dyson 360 Eye’s case isn’t any different. Dyson rates the 360 Eye at twice the suction of other robot vacuums, and while that’s a little difficult to quantify in real-world testing, the Dyson 360 Eye regularly came back with a full or near-full bin. It also seemed to pick up more debris and dirt within carpets than the other vacuums we’ve tested, as again it regularly came back with quite a bit more hair and other particles in its bin than the others.

Like other Dyson vacuums, the 360 Eye sports a cyclonic suction system, dubbed “Radial Root Cyclone Technology.” Most robot vacuums have a pretty simple suction system in which the debris is picked up from the bottom, sucked into a dust chamber and subsequently sucked out the back through an air filter. Dyson’s cyclonic technology doesn’t just eschew this method of suction, it also provides a multi-step system that keeps air and other particles trapped inside the bin until it passes through a total of three different types of filters. First it’s sucked into the cyclonic chamber and filtered out using a rigid, non-replaceable mesh filter in the center. After this the air is funneled into a removable bag-like filter in the back, and then it again passes through the vacuum and out of the removable HEPA filter in the back. This multi-stage process doesn’t just ensure that debris keep the suction from being affected, it means cleaner air at the end of the day.

The Dyson 360 Eye offers two suction modes: high performance and eco modes. By default the vacuum is on high performance, but can be switched to eco mode if you need it to be quieter during operation. By default the vacuum is fairly loud and certainly sounds like it has premium-level suction abilities. There are no other modes outside of these two, however, and there’s no automatic suction adjustment as the iRobot Roomba 980 has. Because there’s no side-brush on this vacuum, I found that corners and edges of the walls didn’t always get completely clean the way some other robot vacuums would. The design here is that the elongated sweeper brush underneath would cover the whole area, however since the vacuum can’t always get itself into corners it’s not always able to actually grab these excess particles.

The Tank Tracks at the bottom seem to do a better job with smaller, less stationary rugs than other robot vacuums do, and that’s all thanks to the fact that the brush and suction is located at the back of the vacuum instead of the front as well. Since the tank tracks spread out the force of pulling the vacuum forward over a long traction belt, the vacuum doesn’t have to pull itself quite as hard at a single point, and often times you’ll find area rugs don’t move more than an inch or so. Other robot vacuums tend to bunch up these rugs and can easily get stuck on them because of it. Also worth noting is that since the rubber tank tracks are located in the same area as the roller brush, rugs won’t necessarily get sucked into the system because they are being better held in place.

There’s no spot clean mode as most other robot vacuums have, which is a disappointment to say the least. The team at Dyson has clearly engineered this vacuum to cover most of the floor space in your home on a regular basis, but not cover all the bases or try to replace a full-fledged vacuum the way some other robot vacuums attempt to. Not having a spot clean mode is a huge missed feature without a doubt, but it’s likely something the team at Dyson can easily add later as part of a firmware update.

App

Like Xiaomi does for its Mi Robot Vacuum, Dyson utilizes a single app for all its connected products. Dyson Link can be found in the Google Play Store, and is an easy way to check on the status and health of any connected Dyson product you might own. Setup was quite confusing in the beginning, as the wording on the app is a bit strange in this section. When adding a new Dyson 360 Eye to the app, the app instructs you “To connect, enter the product code in your manual.”  This is an 8-digit alphanumeric code, which just so happens to be the same length as the product code that’s both displayed on the box as well as at the top of the app when connecting to your vacuum. What’s not clear here is that there’s a silver sticker on the back of the included manual that spells out the WiFi code, which is a very different code than the product code. Just to ensure I wasn’t losing my mind I showed the setup to a number of people, and without any instructions from me these individuals made the same mistake I did in the beginning. This definitely needs to be reworded.

Once you make it past this arduous journey of pairing the vacuum with the app, things are smooth sailing from here. In the setup process you register the vacuum to your account for easy access to its functions on other devices, as well as give it a name, configure alerts and automatic firmware updates, and of course the all-important time zone. This last piece in particular comes in handy for the scheduling feature, which allows users to schedule cleanings of their home throughout the week. The main screen presents a large battery status indicator circle, as well as a quick way to toggle between maximum suction and eco mode. This is also where you’ll find any errors, as well as a way to clear these errors and troubleshoot any problems.

Dyson’s documentation on the vacuum is second to none, and there are not only instructional videos for every little thing you’d ever need to do in order to fix and maintain your vacuum, but also helpful hints on how to keep your house in order to ensure maximum cleaning potential. Moving down to the activity section will show all the most recent cleanings, including a blueprint-style map of every place the vacuum was able to cover. This blueprint clearly shows the pathway that was taken through the home, including any areas that might have been missed in the process. I found the accuracy of the map to be less than impressive though, often time skewing walls and other objects locations and making the layout of my house look just a little off. This makes it less easy to understand where the vacuum has cleaned, and maybe where it got stuck or had problems in the past.

This screen will also show you a historical set of plans of where and when the vacuum cleaned, as well as how much square footage, how long it took to clean the area shown and how many times it had to recharge during this period. This last piece in particular could help you decode whether or not putting the vacuum on eco mode makes more sense, as that will keep the vacuum running for considerably longer than the default max suction mode.  All this comes together to show this is an app that’s not just worth using, it’s one that becomes integral in the use and maintenance of the vacuum throughout its lifetime.

Maintenance and Battery Life

Dyson’s filter design is second to none, and it’s clear where Dyson’s pedigree comes from. As described in the cleaning process section, debris and air pass through three filtered areas in the vacuum.  The first is the chamber itself, which filters larger particles with its permanent mesh construction. Air is the pushed into the pre-filter, which is a bag-like filter that can be removed and washed. Dyson recommends this be washed once per month, and the filter is allowed 24 hours to dry before returning it to its place. On the back is a post-filter which is also washable with the same monthly recommendations and 24 hour drying periods.

What’s impressive here is that, unlike practically every other robot vacuum on the market, the dust bin’s design itself helps immensely in the filtering process. This means the filters themselves seemingly never have to be replaced, or at least there’s no obvious recommendation of replacement in Dyson’s documentation for these filters, just a monthly wash and return. The post-filter on the back shows little to no sign of use in my home, even after using the vacuum for the last 2 months. This shows just how well Dyson’s dust bin and pre-filter technology works, and how clean the air coming out of the vacuum truly is. What’s also impressive is the near lack of any scuff marks or real usage wear and tear on the vacuum at all. There are a few scuffs here and there, but far less than other robot vacuums we’ve reviewed by far.

The only parts that seem to really get dirty at all are the dustbin, pre-filter and the rollers underneath. I didn’t find any hair or other particles stuck in the wheels or tracks, rather everything seemed to be neatly confined to the brush and dustbins as intended. On one occasion the vacuum stopped in the middle of the carpet because it had sucked up enough strings and hair to jam the roller brush, but removing the roller and cleaning off the hair fixed this immediately. Removing the roller brush is a bit odd, as you actually have to get a coin or other flat object and unscrew it from its placement inside the shaft located on the left side of the vacuum. It’s easy enough though and requires little effort to clean it off. This roller is made entirely of bristles instead of a silicone wiper material, with an alternating pattern of two different types of bristles.  The red bristles are hard and sparsely laid, while the black bristles are soft and densely laid. This alternating pattern helps break up particles and sweep them into the suction chamber.

Battery life as a whole leaves a bit to be desired, as it seems the maximum suction setting only allows for about 350 square feet of cleaning before needing to recharge. On occasion I would see this last longer, in upwards of 500-600 square feet, but never longer than that on a single charge. Turning the vacuum on eco mode provides nearly double the battery life, or around 600-800 square feet on average of cleaning before returning to charge.  If you’re looking for a quick clean before guests come over, eco mode is the way to go, as it’ll cover the most ground in the shortest amount of time since it doesn’t have to return to the dock to recharge at all. Charging times average well over an hour to and hour and a half before being able to return to vacuum again.

Final Thoughts

Dyson has put together a great product, but it’s got some big flaws that might seriously affect whether or not you purchase it. For starters it has the highest price tag among consumer-grade robot vacuums, putting it $100 higher than the iRobot Roomba 980 and quite a few hundred dollars above the rest of the competition in the space. Secondly there seem to be some big issues with the navigation on board, and the vacuum regularly gets stuck in ways that make little sense to the consumer. There’s also no way to block off areas virtually, even though the Dyson Link app does a pretty good job of showing the map made of the home. Reading through other consumer reviews confirms this is a larger issue, and it’s unfortunate to see it struggle in areas where other robot vacuums do not.

With these negatives in mind it’s important to take the positive factors into effect too, which could seriously help Dyson’s standing in the robot vacuum world. It’s clear that the Dyson 360 Eye has better suction than its competitors, and on top of that it requires less maintenance and cleaning, and no filters to constantly clean with every single use. On top of this the filters only need to be washed, not replaced every few months, and result in cleaner overall floors and cleaner air as a result. Is it worth the extra money for Dyson’s product? Only if you need serious suction power because of pets or other reasons, because other robot vacuums perform better in most other categories. Check out Amazon’s product listing below if you want to take the dive!

Buy The Dyson 360 Eye Robot Vacuum