VAVA Robot Vacuum Review: Sometimes Less Is Plenty

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If you don't need a do-it-all vacuum, then you do need the VAVA Robot Vaccum

When it comes to robot vacuums, price is usually a good indicator of quality. There are of course exceptions to the rule although generally speaking, the more you spend, the more you get. VAVA and its "VAVA Robot Vacuum" is looking to capitalize on the opposite way of thinking where you can in fact, benefit from getting less, for less.

While this initially might sound a little counter-intuitive and not much of a selling point, it will be for some people. Yes, you can find a robot vacuum that syncs with your smartphone, your home network, your Google Home, Amazon Echo, or probably your toaster, but do you really need all or any of that? Does your current vacuum do all of that?

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If not, and if you simply are looking for a robot vacuum that does what it sets out to do, and with little cost involved, then the VAVA Robot Vacuum at $169 in the US is a solid option.

Start as you mean to go on

Considering the vacuum does not come with much in the way of connectivity options or device support, setting the unit up is fairly simply and certainly if compared to more advanced options. In reality, there's nothing really to do or program when you get started. Other than charging the battery for the first time, for a longer period than usual, you can literally take it out of the box, turn the power on, and hit the clean button and the VAVA Robot Vacuum will start to do its thing.

The same level of simplicity is in effect with the controls as the main unit largely only consists of three main buttons. The 'start cleaning' button, one to cycle through the limited number of cleaning modes, and a third to send the unit back to its charging station. A small display sits atop the buttons which shows the time, error messages or a brief summary of the status.

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While there are no app-based controls on offer, the vacuum does come with its own remote control. This is of a decent size and offers full functionality without having to physically interact with the main unit. In fact, the remote control will easily become the preferred method of control as it comes with more buttons including dedicated buttons for each mode making it quicker to instruct the unit to do what you want it to do.

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Speaking of the modes, the unit primarily will either clean in straight lines via the zig-zag mode, in a cyclone pattern during "spot" mode, or in a perimeter fashion where the unit follows the outline of a room when in "edge" mode. Each other different benefits although the straight line mode works best as the go-to option for the greatest coverage and best all-round clean.

Adding to the mode options, the vacuum does also come with a schedule option allowing you to set when it start to clean automatically. However, as the unit lacks any connectivity options the vacuum needs to permanently remain powered on so that it remains aware of the time. Also, because there's no connectivity, you do have to manually set the time when initially setting up the device. Not significant issues but some which do highlight what even basic connectivity offers.

Durability might be a bit questionable

One of the big benefits with more expensive solutions is the various number of sensors and technologies that are included. For reference, the VAVA Robot Vacuum comes with some, such as anti-collision and drop sensors, and of course, the ability to know where 'home' is and navigate there when needed.

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Generally, the sensors work reasonably well, but they are far from excellent. For example, the anti-collision sensor is able to sense its surroundings fine, but it does seem to have a tendency to bump a little hard into things and probably more often than it should. It will certainly knock over lighter objects that are found to be in its path.

Over time this became a bit more of an issue as it quickly became clear the unit was prone to scuffing. This did not affect the performance, but obviously it does reduce the aesthetics of the unit, and some of the scuffing was a little sharper than expected so you might need to be a little careful when picking up the vacuum.

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The same sensitivity could be said for the unit's ability to find its way back to the charging station. As the vacuum does require a fair amount of time to genuinely figure out where to go and to get there. The company does point out that you need to place the charging unit in a relatively open space and this is very true. The more space, the better as the unit will struggle even more to find its way back home when low on battery and there are objects en route.

Another issue was the base station itself. This is a pretty light station and due to the unit's tendency to knock over lighter objects on the floor, the vacuum would almost on every clean cycle dislodge the station from its position. On most occasions this was not just a slight moving but a complete reorientation of the base station which not only results in the user having to preposition the unit each time, but affects the vacuum's ability to 'go home' when it needs to charge. This proved to be one of the greater annoyances with owning the VAVA Robot Vaccum.

Tends to like the same room

This vacuum does not particularly like to venture into the wilderness. While some units will almost make it their priority to learn every nook and cranny of the home, the VAVA Robot Vacuum seems far more comfortable in its immediate surroundings. Therefore, to really clean multiple rooms you are best off helping the VAVA Robot Vacuum out a little by pointing it in the right direction, in the right room. Otherwise you might find over the week the room it is stationed in is much cleaner than others.

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One of the likely reasons for this same-room preference is the battery life. The company claims about 100 minutes on a charge and while that is achievable it was felt 80 minutes was likely to be a more reliable measure. Even less if you were to just focus on the actual time it spends cleaning – factoring out the time wasted while trying to avoid obstacles.

The takeaway here is the VAVA Robot Vacuum is certainly not the ideal option for larger homes as it simply will not get around to cleaning the property equally. Likewise, with the absence of any resume technology, the vacuum will not know where it finished off and therefore even if it could automatically return to cleaning after self-charging (some can), it would likely just start cleaning the same area again.

Charge time takes a little long and so you should account for a few hours in between cleaning cycles.

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In spite of the lack of an adventurous nature, the VAVA Robot Vacuum cleans very well which should really be the only thing that matters. The vacuum is thorough in this respect and was able to make light work of a floors that required a lot of of cleaning. In particular, the unit was more than capable of dealing with pet hairs making it an ideal option for anyone with a cat or a dog, as well as those homes with multiple pets.

There were also no particular issues noted with cross-floor-type cleaning with the vacuum performing equally well on hard floors as it did on carpets.

The same could be said for having to clean the actual unit as well. Some of the lower-cost options have a tendency to "error" more often than they should with the vacuum's brushes getting blocked, resulting in the unit coming to a complete standstill and the user having to routinely decipher what's going on and clear the blockage – if there is even one to begin with.

While that would occasionally happen with the VAVA Robot Vacuum, it was seldom and usually due to actually having picked up too much debris from a heavier clean, or awkward-shaped debris that has gotten stuck. In other words, the error false positives are less with this unit than with others.

Clumsy, but easy to maintain

The vacuum is also extremely easy to clean in terms of its trash can. It is simply just a matter of gently pulling out the bin, emptying it, and reinserting it again. If there was to be a complaint about this aspect than it would probably be the trash can felt a little light in capacity. Officially it is rated as 300ml which makes it comparable to other robot vacuums but it was felt it needed to be emptied a little too often to remain in an optimal state. A minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, but one that will be all the more relevant to homes with pets.

Some of the other aspects the company would probably want you to know about is that VAVA considers this to be a quiet vacuum (it is relatively speaking quiet, though still loud enough) and that its suction power is rated as 1300 Pa (pascals). Which again, for the price, makes it a comparably high-powered option.

It has issues but it's worth the asking price

Yes, there are some definite limitations to this robot vacuum and certainly more than what the product pages list, but the price does need to be kept in mind here and on that point the value on offer with the VAVA Robot Vacuum greatly outweighs the limitations.

If you are already well-versed in robot vacuums, then this one is not for you. Likewise, if you are looking for one that connects to everything and can do everything, then this is certainly not the one for you. However, if you are looking for a unit that simply vacuums, and is reliable (albeit a bit clumsy), then at this price the VAVA Robot Vacuum is hard to not recommend.

VAVA Robot Vacuum (Amazon)