Vacuum, Dry Mop, Security Guard, Super Hero
While LG is well known for their appliances worldwide, they may not be the first name people think of when considering a robot vacuum. LG’s HomBot line is working hard to change this though, and the HomBot Turbo+ CR5765GD is the latest in the line of smart robot vacuums from the company. Featuring dual cameras on the front, a dry mopping option for hard floors, and an advanced app that allows it to work like your own personal home security guard, the HomBot Turbo+ is packed with more features than the average robot vacuum. Does the HomBot Turbo+ have what it takes to differentiate itself from the pack? Let’s take a look.
In the Box
You’ll be like a kid on Christmas when opening the box for the HomBot Turbo+; everything but the kitchen sink is in here, and it’s hard to tell what LG might not have added to this package. The incredible value seen here covers the gamut; two replaceable side brushes, one replaceable main roller brush, one replaceable filter, magnetic stripping for laying down barriers, a remote control with batteries, a dry mopping accessory with two washable pads, and even a pair of cleaning brushes and tools are all fit alongside the vacuum, wall charging dock and a set of manuals and warranty pamphlets. This is good since the vacuum retails for $999, making it one of the most expensive consumer-grade robot vacuums on the market.
Hardware and Design
From the moment you remove the HomBot Turbo+ from its box, you’ll note the quality of the craftsmanship put into the product. Our review unit is the metallic gold finish, and it looked and felt every bit as luxury as you might expect. The body is crafted with plastic, but features a faux metallic finish on top. Because of this, the top is particularly gorgeous looking, and sports a set of 4 capacitive touch buttons along the top; Turbo, Mode, Home and Start/Stop. Above these buttons sits a display that’s very reminiscent of an old school digital alarm clock, complete with red sectioned lettering and all. This display still ends up looking great though, as it not only sits just underneath the shiny coating on top, but is transparent in all but the letters, making it seem as though the vacuum is ethereally giving you information.
This top hatch features a push to release latch underneath the hood, keeping the entirety of the top smooth and flat. This helps in particular when squeezing under furniture, as the HomBot Turbo+ is shorter (thinner in the smartphone world) than any other robot vacuum we’ve reviewed. This allowed it to easily fit under objects that others either wouldn’t at all, or would get stuck under. Underneath this hood you’ll find the dustbin, which at 600mL is right in line with what Roomba's best offers, and larger than the average robot vacuum. LG has placed a nice little cleaning tool on top of the dustbin, designed to specifically clean out the filters and other crevices in this part of the vacuum. The dustbin pulls straight out via a brightly lime green colored handle, and the bin itself opens in a number of different ways. The door along the top has a hinge on one side and a latch mechanism on the other, keeping it secure while lifting up, but still allowing for easy removal when needed.
Along the back you’ll find another door used to remove the filters, and it’s here that LG went the extra mile to ensure better maintenance cycles for end users. There’s not only a permanent grid-like filter to trap large particles inside the bin first, but there’s also a blue sponge filter that helps trap as many smaller particles as it can fill. This sponge filter is fully washable, like the plastic dustbin, and keeps the disposable EPA11-grade paper filter on the back from needing to be changed as often. Finishing up the top is a large camera that looks straight off a smartphone, if it weren’t for the sheer size of the lens. This module juts out of the top just a bit, a feature that both houses the camera module itself and protects it from damage.
Along the front sits a pair of cameras, which work in tandem like eyes, to see the world in real 3D space. Two LED headlights sit just toward the far edge of the cameras, while a series of sensors are located around the sides to help the vacuum bump into as few obstacles as possible. Along the back you’ll find the exhaust vent and the main power switch, which is protected from dust by a transparent soft cover. The underside of the vacuum hosts even more parts than the top, and make up the bulk of the cleaning system itself. Two large rubber wheels sit on the left and right sides of the vacuum, right at the midpoint, while a third smaller wheel is positioned right in the middle of the back. Up front is a wheel that rotates 360-degrees and helps steer the vacuum around.
Flanking both sides of this wheel are the nice, wide charging plates, and just outside of those towards each edge are rotating side brushes, which stick out a little over 2-inches from the corners of the vacuum. Next to the brushes are a pair of edge detection sensors to keep the vacuum from falling down stairs or other precarious places. Right behind the rotational wheel is the roller brush system, held in place by a removable plate. This roller brush can of course be pulled out and cleaned off, as can the side brushes, however the side brushes require a Phillips screw to remove. Further to the back you’ll find the rechargeable battery, which is also removable via Phillips screws, as well as the place to lock in the mopping accessory. Also back here is the floor sensing camera, which can detect what type of floor the vacuum is working on and help it adjust suction.
Lastly we'll look at the remote, something which is normally shipped with non-connected vacuums, however LG saw it fit to include this remote for additional functionality without needing to be paired to an app. The buttons here are numerous: Power, Home, Mode, Turbo, Repeat, My Space, Mute, Diagnosis, Clock and Schedule, among a directional pad and a start/stop button too. Aside from granting control over most functionality of the vacuum without pairing with a smartphone, the remote might be the easiest way of manually controlling the vacuum for cleanup around the house. LG's charging dock has a nice slot for the remote to sit in too, so there's little worry about it getting lost. Two AAA batteries power the remote and are included in the box.
Navigation in robot vacuums is almost always different between models. Some use laser guided systems, while others utilize cameras to get the job done. LG has opted for cameras, and has put more than ever before on the 2017 HomBot Turbo+ model, with two on the front, one up top and even one on the bottom, giving it a true sense of what's around at all times. Some vacuums that operate using cameras can have a hard time in the dark, so to combat this problem LG has outfitted the HomBot Turbo+ with two LED headlights up front, giving the robot the ability to light up the areas its moving through even when it's dark. These headlights turn on and off automatically, so you'll never have to worry about them.
The rounded square shape of the vacuum means that it has to behave slightly differently from a round or D-shaped vacuum, and normally it's quite a nimble little thing when it comes to movement. You'll hear the motors clicking and humming as it goes along, snaking its way through corridors and rooms to clean every inch it can find. LG has opted for three different cleaning modes for the vacuum, all user selectable: Zigzag, Cell-by-cell, or Spiral Spot. Zigzag is the default mode, which takes the vacuum through the room in a navigation style similar to an Ecovacs Deebot vacuum. This means it moves forward until it gets near a wall, then turns around and moves back the other way until it reaches another wall or object.
Rooms aren't handled individually in this mode, rather it just covers as much as it can until it needs to turn around again. I found this mode covers more ground in a shorter time span, but it's less likely to clean every single spot in a room in a single pass. Cell-by-cell is similar to how Xiaomi's vacuum operates, as the HomBot Turbo+ breaks the room into squares (cells) and fully cleans each cell before moving on. This was the most efficient mode, as it completes an entire room before moving onto the next. Spiral spot is similar to the spot cleaning mode found on other robot vacuums, and will move around in a 4.5ft diameter circle until the area is clean. This last mode will not continue to clean the whole house, as it's just designed for a single spot cleaning.
In general the vacuum does a good job of treating walls and larger objects with care, as it often will never even touch a wall when moving through the room. Often times it'll stop just short of the wall, maybe an inch or less from the edge, and then turn around to do its thing. The problems I had were twofold though; often times the vacuum would clip corners as it turned, a side effect of acting like a circular vacuum even though it's actually a rounded square. These more squared off sides, when compared to a circular vacuum, mean that there are points that get in the way and scrape up against corners, doors and other obstacles.
The second issue involved the chair legs for most of the furniture in my home. Most of my furniture features a Victorian style curve to the leg, and the vacuum would ride up on these legs as if it couldn't see the extended foot at the bottom. In fact my wife wasn't particularly happy with this, as it resulted in a few scratches to the chair legs that needed to be fixed. If the scuffs on my chairs and tables aren’t enough to prove the point, looking at the body of the HomBot Turbo+ after just a few uses seals the deal here. It’s pretty obvious that, even though the vacuum exudes great care when moving around floors, it has a hard time seeing some smaller objects, and as a result is far too rough with furniture for my liking. This really is a shame too because the shorter build of the vacuum meant that it got under smaller end tables that no other robot vacuum has thus far been able to.
The HomBot Turbo+ keeps a super accurate map of its surroundings, and even allows playback in the app. These super accurate maps also give it the ability to navigate back to places after getting moved. In fact this is the only vacuum we’ve reviewed that was able to successfully make its way back to the base station to charge after getting stuck during the cleaning process; something most vacuums have a hard time with because they rely solely on map data and don’t have a visual way to find the charging station in the house. In most cases when a robot vacuum gets stuck or needs to be moved around the house in any fashion, even a foot or so from the spot it was stuck on, it won’t be able to make its way back to the charging station because the original navigation spot was moved. This translates to regular cleaning too, and even when the HomBot needed to be moved, it was able to finish off the room without needing to completely redo everything.
LG ships the vacuum with magnetic stripping that can be laid down to keep it out of areas, and of course if that fails you can always close a door or put another physical object in its way to keep from getting into a place it shouldn’t be. Magnetic stripping usually works well enough, although the vacuum can find ways to push it out of the way if it turns just right. The HomBot Turbo+ will let you know what it’s doing every step of the way via clear audible voice messages. Depending on the country you select when setting up the app, you'll be greeted with a number of supported languages, all of which have corresponding voices for status messages. Clear and concise commands like "Starting cleaning," or "remote connection established" will be said out loud, leaving no room for confusion as some other vacuums might.
Cleaning Process and Performance
By default the HomBot has a repeat function enabled that allows it to go over sections more than once if it needs to. A camera on the back works to detect different types of surfaces, as well as extra dirty spots, and you'll find the vacuum works to get these spots clean by making multiple passes. This repeat functionality can be turned off if you find it spending too much time in one room or area and not enough in another before heading back for a charge up.
The HomBot will toggle the Turbo mode when a carpet or extra dirt are detected as well, shown both on the LED display on top of the vacuum, as well as in the app. Watching these toggles move by themselves is downright cool, and it helps prove that the HomBot knows what it's doing while cleaning. LG has outfitted the HomBot Turbo+ with a frictionless magnetic motor it calls the Smart Inverter Motor. Noise level in normal mode is very quiet at around 60dB, and while it's not the absolute quietest vacuum on the market, it's much quieter than many. Turbo mode of course ramps that up a bit to about 68dB, but it's not a high volume level by any means.
In fact it's pretty easy to keep the vacuum running while doing things around the house, having conversations, or even watching movies. The only time I had to pause the vacuum was during a particularly quiet part of one movie, all while it was moving over an area rug while in turbo mode; a testament to how quiet the vacuum really is. At the same time the vacuum managed to almost completely fill the bin with dog hair (from a Golden Retriever) while moving over this large 11ft x 13ft area rug, showing that loud motors aren't necessarily the ones that'll get the most debris.
Part of this excellent performance is because of the extra stiff bristles LG uses in its roller brush. When compared to the other robot vacuums we've got in house, the HomBot's bristles were considerably thicker and more stiff, helping to pull up hair from surfaces like carpet. This also meant though that hair and carpet strands would get more easily stuck inside the bristles, requiring more cleaning and maintenance than some others would. Still this means more hair in the vacuum instead of on your floors; the ultimate goal of any good vacuum.
Performance on hard surfaces wasn't as good as some other robot vacuums though, and I found that during our dirt test, the HomBot took quite some time to pick up most of the dirt, and even then picked up slightly less than the other two vacuums we used during the same test. Still it sucked up around 85-90% of the debris on the ground, which means you'll have a cleaner home than before. The two side brushes, which are mounted at the front left and front right corners, spin opposite ways from each other, pushing debris toward the middle of the vacuum where the suction motor resides.
These brushes do an amazing job of grabbing particles, getting pieces sucked up instead of flinging them around the room. Also well worth noting is the fact that the HomBot is shorter than the majority of other robot vacuums, and is able to get into places they cannot. Most of my end tables, the nightstands and even the armoire in my bedroom don't have enough room under them for any other robot vacuum to get under without getting stuck. The HomBot Turbo+, however, easily navigated under these spots; places that hair and other things normally like to congregate around, and it resulted in a room that felt even cleaner than expected.
This particular model HomBot comes with a dry sweeping pad, similar to a dry Swiffer. This microfiber cloth attaches to a tray via velcro straps, which then slides into the back of the vacuum. The pad is designed to help collect any remaining dust that might not be caught by the suction motor, but is only designed for use on hard floors like wood or tile. The lip at the edge of the tray will catch on any carpets, either area rugs or carpeted rooms, and should keep the vacuum out of these areas when the tray is attached. It's possible that this tray could either get erroneously caught on a large transition strip between hard flooring types, or even a smaller, smooth transition between hard floor and carpet might be passed over, but in general this did a good job of keeping the vacuum off carpeted areas in my home.
Manual Control, My Space and Home Guard
While many robot vacuums offer some sort of manual control methods, LG's method works better than most. This is for a variety of reasons; first of which is the ultra responsive nature of the included remote, which has very little latency between pressing the directional button on the remote and the time it takes for the vacuum to actually move. Most vacuums with manual control require use of the smartphone app, which introduces latency due to the fact that the press of the virtual button has to go to a server, and then get to the vacuum before it can even respond.
LG offers this sort of control too if you prefer, and while the latency here is much longer than the remote, the ability to see through the vacuum's front-facing cameras means that this method of controlling may actually be preferred for accuracy. It's also possible to manually vacuum parts of your home that you normally can't see without stooping down or crawling, such as under a bed or lower piece of furniture, once again made possible by the shorter nature of the vacuum itself. This is truly the best manual control on the market for many reasons.
My Space isn't just an old social network, it's also the name of the spot cleaning mode LG has introduced on the HomBot. This mode has a user move the vacuum around using manual controls, which draws a perimeter around an area. After this perimeter is drawn, the vacuum will clean within the virtual walls of that perimeter and then head back home. A standard spot clean is also available for when a quick spot cleaning is needed, and will travel in a spiral fashion outward, followed by moving back inward after.
Home Guard is quite possibly the coolest functionality of the entire process though, and represents some incredibly forward thinking on LG's part. While most robot vacuums just focus on being a vacuum, LG's HomBot Turbo+ can be used like a personal security guard inside your home. Setting up the Home Guard can be done either via the remote or the app, although it's much more simple in the app. The robot can be set to pace around a small area consisting of a few square feet, and will send you an alert if it notices any movement in the home. This mode is great when not at home, and can be easily activated via LG's great SmartThinQ app, covered below.
This mode gave me peace of mind while I was on vacation for nearly a week, and having the knowledge that the HomBot would send me an alert if it noticed someone in my home was simply amazing. Even if I was feeling particularly paranoid, or maybe just wanted to see what the weather was outside, it was easy enough to pick up my phone, navigate to the app and see the house through that vacuum's eyes. Being able to drive it around remotely and see things is nothing short of amazing too, and puts the HomBot in a wholly different category than just a robot vacuum.
LG's SmartThinQ app works for its entire range of smart connected appliances, and setup couldn't be easier. LG provides multiple ways to log into the app and create an account, including Google and Facebook account sign-ins. Creating an account makes a single place for all your devices to reside, allowing multiple people to control them at once (everyone in your household for instance), or just simply giving you the ability to switch phones without re-pairing with the vacuum or other appliances. LG uses an excellent security feature with the HomBot Turbo+, which audibly says when a remote device has connected to the vacuum. This same thing is done when the connection has ended, and should help assuage the fears of those who are worried about being spied on through their vacuum.
The main interface is separated into two tabs: Dashboard (devices), and Mode. All your connected devices, as well as a small status screen (battery level, WiFi connectivity and status for the HomBot) are shown here. Swiping over to Mode brings up the various easy, programmable smart functions for all of LG's appliances, which by default include categories for Home, Vacation, Away, Pleasant and Sleep. Each of these modes have a default functionality that applied to each appliance, which in the case of the HomBot Turbo+ means going back to the dock when Home or Sleep is selected, starting Home Guard mode when Vacation is selected, and starting a cleaning cycle when Away is selected. There is no functionality for the "Pleasant" mode regarding the HomBot.
Clicking into the HomBot itself will bring up the vacuums dashboard, which shows the current status and battery indicator for the vacuum, allows you to look through the camera on the front, and gives quick access to starting Home Guard, Cleaning or returning home while cleaning. Alerts from the vacuum can be viewed via the bell icon, and you'll find the Schedule Cleaning, Cleaning Diary, Smart Diagnosis and Settings functions in the top right menu. Most device settings are found within individual functions, not the settings menu, but in this menu you can choose to receive push alerts through the app, give the vacuum and name and hook it up to a different network, as well as view the firmware version.
Smart Diagnosis is LG's way of helping customers get information they might need to fix a problem. The diagnosis will check for issues in the vacuum, including any maintenance cycles that might need to be run, as well as bigger problems, and automatically connect with customer service if need be. Up in the menu you'll also find Cleaning Diary, which gives you a historical look at how well the vacuum has cleaned in each of its jobs. While many robot vacuums do this, the HomBot Turbo+ does something most don't; you can play back the entirety of the cleaning cycle through the app. This not only gives you a map as many other robot vacuums do now, it lets you see where the robot was in your home at any given point in the cleaning cycle, plus identify rooms that it might have more trouble moving through (or are extra dirty).
The downside here is that you can't view the map while the vacuum is working, but you can view the status and location of the vacuum by looking through the camera. This view not only gives you a live look into the vacuum's world by viewing the image from the cameras, but also lets you toggle options like turbo, repeat and headlights, and even manually control the vacuum. You'll even be able to change the cleaning mode from Zigzag, Cell by Cell or Spiral Spot too, giving you full and complete control over the vacuum. Even if the vacuum gets stuck, you can attempt to manually free it using these controls if you're not able to physically help the vacuum; something that's not possible on most other robot vacuums.
Maintenance and Battery Life
Battery life on the HomBot Turbo+ is astounding to say the least. After a full cleaning of my 1200 square foot home, the vacuum still had at least half a charge left when returning to the base station. As mentioned in the navigation section, the HomBot Turbo+ is the only robot vacuum we've tested that's actually able to roam around the house and find its base charging station, even if it lost the location due to being moved or being redirected in some way.
Charging speed is pretty quick, about 3 hours in total, although it was never much of a consideration since I didn't have to wait for the vacuum to charge up in order to finish a cleaning. If you'd like to have the robot clean until the battery is 100% drained, turning on repeat mode will have the vacuum go back over its steps as many times as needed to complete this. Cleaning speed was quick too, with 1200 square feet being cleaned in just under an hour and a half on average.
The manual included in the box is probably the most useful manual of all time. No hyperbole here, as this manual goes over every single nook and cranny, every detail and every little thing you could possibly need to know about the vacuum, remote or even the app. As it should be, the entire maintenance schedule is found in this manual, as well as how to thoroughly clean the vacuum and keep it running at peak efficiency. It's also worth noting that LG doesn't just include the usual 1 year parts and labor warranty on the whole vacuum, but takes that a step further by providing a 10 year parts and labor warranty on the motor itself; an unprecedented move among OEMs.
The dustbin should be emptied after each cleaning cycle at the very least, which will ensure there's plenty of room for debris to fill it up the next go around. The permanent grid pre-filter does a good job of keeping most larger particles out of the two other filters, and the sponge filter keeps most smaller debris from entering the regular filter at the end. This EPA11-rated filter is meant to catch the finest of particles, and won't need cleaning as often as the other components. Both the sponge filter and dustbin can be washed for easy cleaning, and of course should be allowed to dry before using the vacuum again.
The large roller brush should be checked regularly to ensure it's not getting clogged with hair or other debris like strings, especially if you own pets. The coarse bristles on this brush tend to trap hair better than the bristles on other robot vacuums, but that also means that you'll need to clean them off more often if you have pets who shed a lot. The included brush cleaning tool will help remove these hairs, but extra stuck ones will need to be cut off. The side brushes can be easily maintained too, as over time their bristles will spread out and become less effective. Soaking them in hot water for a few seconds, followed by pinching them, will help re-mold them to their proper shape.
The dry mopping pad is fully washable and made of fabric, so it's designed to last a long time through regular use. The biggest problem I had with maintenance concerned the scratches and paint the vacuum developed on the outside, due to scratching against walls and furniture throughout my home. As discussed previously, the vacuum is a tad on the aggressive side at times, and seems to not realize the size of its squared off corners while turning. This resulted in quite a few scratches over the past month, to say the least, and plenty that simply will never come off because they are quite deep.
Tons of accessories and extras in the box
Tons of navigation options, including manual control
Can get under more furniture than other robot vacuums
Roller brush grabs hair better than most
App and remote control support
App is chock full of options
Doubles as a home security tool
Phenomenal battery life
Status messages are clear and concise
Easy to clean and maintain
Quiet operation, yet powerful suction
Washable microfiber pad for dust collection
10 year motor warranty
Rough with certain kinds of furniture
Can get scratched easily
Sometimes has a hard time with sucking up larger particles on hard surfaces
Simply put, this is one of the most robust, well designed robot vacuums on the market. With options for pretty much everything, ranging from being a vacuum, mop, security guard and maybe even a super hero on weeknights, the HomBot Turbo+ (CR5765GD) does its best to meet the expectations that come with spending $999 on a robot vacuum. It's this price that's the biggest negative of the whole package, and one that'll surely keep it out of the hands of many folks out there. Does it offer better functionality for the price? You bet it does. Does it clean better in the end? In some cases sure, but at this price point you're paying more for the features than anything else, and in that respect the HomBot Turbo+ absolutely delivers above and beyond any expectations we had going into the review. This is an awesome vacuum, and one that's surely at the top of its game in most areas.