iLife V8s: The Best Budget Robot Cleaner Just Got Better
For hard floors, it's the best budget robot cleaner we've tried yet, with a large dust box and smarter navigation. There are better models for carpets though, and the utility of the mopping feature will depend on your circumstances.
Everyone hates chores. We’ve nailed washing dishes, but it’s only recently that tasks like vacuuming and mopping have become viable for automation. The iLife V8s is effective, affordable, and the best robot cleaner for hard floors that iLife has made yet. I’d call it a must buy for any household.
iLife V8s Design and Specifications
- Capacity: 0.75L dust box and 0.3L water tank
- Size: 12 inches (330 mm) diameter x 3 inches (81 mm) height
- Weight: 5.9 pounds (2.7 kg)
- Color: Grey and black
- Cleaning time: 80-120 minutes
- Charging time: 200-350 minutes
- Battery size: 2600 mAh
- Sensors: Anti-drop, wall detection, and bumper
In the box, in addition to the actual robot vacuum and removable dust box, you’ll find:
- Spare set of side brushes
- 2 mopping cloths
- Remote control
- Charging home base and power adpater
- Cleaning tool
- Spare HEPA filter
On the underside of the device and as is common to these models in the iLife range, you’ll see there’s no carpet beater bar. These models are designed primarily for hard flooring. There’s nothing to stop you using it on carpet of course, and it’ll still pick up bits and pieces, but won’t be as effective as the A-series.
There’s two spinning brushes on either side of the robot that push dirty into the central area.
The wheels are nice, chunky and bouncy. This means in theory that it should be able to navigate over thicker rugs and larger gaps with ease, as well as small inclines. Unfortunately, we found it had problems getting onto a 10mm thick playmat in the kitchen, unless it tackled it head on.
The V and X range from iLife (our iLife X5 review ) have typically featured a wet mopping function, and the V8s is no different. On previous models, this was achieved with a simple gravity drip water tank. The V8s water tank module houses an actual pump, giving it greater control over the amount of water released onto the mop. We’ll address this particular feature in more detail later.
Superficially there’s not a huge amount that’s changed with the V8s compared to any of the previous models. It looks much the same as previous device, in a sleek black, grey, and silver color scheme.
It now has a more readable LCD display and a few more buttons on the unit itself. The remote is identical, and can be used interchangeably with other robots in the iLife series. The charging station design is identical, following the mantra of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
However, under the hood, there’s some small but subtle improvements that make the user experience just that little bit better.
Bigger Dust Box
One interesting change is that the vacuum motor has been moved into the dust box itself. In other models, this was built into the main shell of the device. The dust box is therefore physically large than previous models, and now features a set of 4 electrical contacts on the side that provide power and signals the motor. The has led to some space efficiencies, so despite now housing the vacuum motor too, the overall dust box capacity is increased. There’s no notification that the dust box is full, so you’ll still need to empty it after each cleaning, but at least it’ll be able to pick up more.
Smarter Timer Settings
After setting the time and day, you’ll now be able to set a cleaning schedule per day of the week. So you can have a unique daily schedule, but can still only program in one schedule per day (not morning and night, for instance). Previously, you could only set it at the same time, every day. It’s a very minor update, but one that makes it a little smarter. There’s still no Wi-Fi or “smart” IoT features, but I’m not sure anyone really needs a vacuum that can talk to Alexa anyway. You could always learn the IR signal with a Harmony Remote if you really wanted.
Smarter Cleaning Pattern
My past experience with these budget vacuum robots has been that their navigational abilities amount to going in a random direction until they hit something, then repeating ad nauseam until they run out of battery and must attempt to find the IR signal of the charging base. Even the camera on the Jisiwei didn’t help it move around in any logical manner. This is inefficient, as some areas of the floor are cleaned multiple times, while some can on rare occasions be missed entirely.
The V8s got a whole lot smarter, and to be honest I’m not sure how. Instead of picking a random direction, it navigates methodically around the edges, then back and forth across the floor. There’s no apparent camera, so this appears to all just be a software algorithm rather than the result of additional sensors. Be sure to check out the review video embedded at the start of this review to see the new navigation in action.
Max Mode Preference
Again, another subtle but welcome change: the user preference for Max cleaning mode is now remembered. Previously, Low power mode was the default for every cleaning session, and if you wanted to ramp it up to Max, you needed to manually switch modes every time. Obviously, this wasn’t possible if it was a scheduled cleaning and you weren’t at home. Now you can simply switch it over to Max mode, and it stays there.
iLife V8s Cleaning Tests
Clearly, the actual vacuuming ability is a key part of this device. Our testing involved both real world usage over the course of a week, as well as heavy spot testing with used coffee grounds.
On hard flooring for which it was designed, the V8s is simply the best iLife vacuum we’ve tested yet, performing admirably with picking up the coffee grounds and daily mess. The larger dust box means it maintains peak suction for longer, picking more up.
Spot cleaning mode–pictured below–has always been problematic. While it cleaned the central area well, the mode only works on a very small diameter circle, and tends to push a lot of the mess outwards if it wasn’t concentrated precisely at the centre. Basically, you’re better of just telling the V8s to do a standard clean.
The V8s is essentially useless on deep carpets, but after a few passes of the coffee grounds and pet hairs, it still cleaned the short hallway carpet reasonably well.
On Max mode, we got about an hour out of the V8s before it would head home automatically. On low power mode, you can expect closer to two hours.
I should also note that even in daily use, our older iLife vacuum is still holding its charge well, so I expect the same of the V8s.
After attaching a cloth securely to the base of the water tank and filling it up, the V8s transforms into a mopping machine. The tank itself contains an integrated pump to control the flow of water, which iLife has delightfully named the “i-dropping system”. Rather than blindly dripping water all the time by gravity, this ensures water only gets released when it should. iLife touts this as great for avoiding “power strip issues”, which is a little worrying. Were previous models found to be an electrical hazard?
In reality though, we’ve never used the mopping function of previous models beyond the testing period for the review, and the new model hasn’t really changed that. Stubborn or caked in stains just aren’t going to be cleaned with a simple wipe of a wet cloth. If the stains were that easy to remove, you probably would have just wiped them up with a bit of kitchen paper in the first place, not gone through the rigmarole of filling up the water tank and swapping out the dust box.
That said: bear in mind that I live in the UK. It rains most of the time, so there’s very little dust and sand floating around. In drier climates the utility of this basic mopping function is likely much greater. You should make your own value judgement on this feature.
Should You Buy the iLife V8s?
For hard flooring, you should absolutely consider the V8s: it’s the best budget robot cleaner iLife has made yet. It vacuums fantastically, and if wiping a damp cloth over the floor is something you find useful, this will save you time and backache. On carpets it’s less useful due to the lack of beater bar, but still does a reasonable job.
As ever, set your expectations appropriately: no robot vacuum can match the suction power of a manual upright model. If you have specific allergy needs, a robot vacuum isn’t going to cut it. But if you’re sick of picking up pet hairs on hard flooring, this device will change your life.
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