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Powerful suction and a remote control app sets a new standard for budget robot vacuums, but European users miss out on Alexa integration thanks to GDPR.
The Roborock Xiaowa E20 is quite a mouthful, but it’s a solid robot vacuum. It’s feature packed, with Alexa support, app control, room mapping, a wet mop, and the most powerful suction on the budget robovac market.
It’s available now from GeekBuying.com for $260 with our exclusive coupon code: makeuse5 (normally $289).
What’s in the Box?
Apart from the robot itself, you’ll find:
- Charging dock with 1m power cable
- Mopping attachment with spare pad and filters
- Spare vacuum filter and cleaning brush
Notably absent is a physical remote control. There are controls on top of the Xiaowa E20, but once connected to Wi-Fi, you can also use the Mi Home mobile app to control it from anywhere in the world.
The Xiaowa E20 weighs around 6.6lbs (3kg), and measures 13.9 inches (35cm) diameter x 3.6 inches (9cm) height. A 2600mAh battery provides ample power, and the device will amble back to base automatically when 30% power remains, ensuring it doesn’t get stuck.
On top of the device are three buttons, for spot cleaning, standard cleaning, and charge.
A large flap lifts up to reveal the dust box, with a capacity of 640ml.
Underneath is an array of sensors, the roller blade, and some large wheels. In my experience, it had no issues getting onto deep pile rugs.
Mi Home, not Mi|Home
It took me a good while to find the app on the UK iTunes store, as searching for MiHome doesn’t work. There is no QR code or download link in the manual. In fact, the manual doesn’t even mention to the existence of an app, despite Wi-Fi being listed in the specifications. For a product that doesn’t include a physical remote, you’d think that would be given a little more emphasis.
I’ll save you the trouble:
For UK users, the app is titled in Chinese characters, but don’t worry, the interface is entirely English. The problem stems from the fact that another UK company called Energenie already owns the MiHome trademark for it’s own line of smart home devices. To be clear, the two companies are entirely unrelated.
The good news is that once you’ve got the correct app, setting it up and controlling your device is simple. A little worrying is the fact that the app requests microphone access, but you can deny that permission.
You can initiate cleaning and send the robot home from anywhere in the world. To fully remote control the Xiaowa, as in with a directional touchpad, you’ll need to be on the same local network though.
Most useful is the ability to see scheduled cleaning times, and you have a wide array of options here. With multiple schedules and weekday or weekend repeat, it should be easy to set a schedule that suits your home.
On the off chance that you do lose the Xiaowa somewhere in your home, a locate function will play a loud “Hello, I’m over here” voice message, so you can see where she got to. I say “she” because the voice is female.
Also optional by enabled by default are notifications, which let you know when the cleaning session starts and finishes. These are presumably very useful if you like to plan your life around the goings-on of a robot vacuum, but can thankfully be disabled.
During, or after a clean up, you can click the map button to see a visual representation of where the Xiaowa has vacuumed. It’s very low resolution, and there’s no functionality beyond simply displaying the map as a report. You can’t click on a specific area, for instance, nor will it be used to be help navigation on future cleans. The map is regenerated each time the cleaning is initiated.
Alexa, GDPR, Roborock and You
As well as app control, the Xiaowa E20 also offers basic Alexa integration: start and stop. It’s certainly basic, but it covers 95% of the interaction you’ll do with your vacuum, and the rest can be done via the app.
For US residents who’d like to use Alexa to control their device, you’ll need to add the Roborock skill to your Amazon account. In addition, you’ll need to ensure your robot is running on the Singapore server. If you chose the US server during setup, delete the device from your MiHome account and add it again.
For European residents who’d like to use Alexa: sorry, not happening. The Roborock skill isn’t available on EU stores, and Geekbuying support told us it was due to GDPR. This doesn’t appear to a temporary issue. Roborock have simply decided that compliance with GDPR isn’t worth the effort.
How Well Does It Clean?
Really, this is the most important aspect of a robot vacuum cleaner. With a maximum suction power of 1800pa, the Xiaowa E20 eclipses other budget devices on the market. You can set it on a lower power if you want. There’s also the option to automatically detect carpets, so it uses a lower power for tiled floors and max power on carpets only.
In addition to the powerful motor, the Xiaowa E20 used a hybrid brush and rubber blade system. This gives it the best of both worlds, making it an effective all-rounder on carpet and hard floors.
In a head to head spot cleaning test against the iLife V8S (a model designed specifically for hard floors), the Xiaowa performed admirably. The iLife left a little dust behind and tended to push it outward.
To be clear, both do the daily job of cleaning a whole room well. In practice, you aren’t going to spill a tub of coffee grinds on the floor and do a spot cleaning, but it does the job to illustrate power differences.
The Xiaowa E20 includes a wet mop feature, though the tank reserve is quite small. The tank slides simply onto the underside of the device, with no other modules needing to be swapped out. You can either disable the vacuum power entirely, or use it in addition to the vacuum feature, which is neat.
Like all robot vacuums that offer a wet mop feature, it feels a little like an afterthought. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, the mopping isn’t going to clear up stains or spills, and is of little utility in a country like England. In countries where dry dust and sand is more of a problem, you might find it more useful.
Should You Buy the Roborock Xiaowa E20?
As one of the most powerful budget robot vacuums on the market, the Xiaowa E20 does well on both carpets and hard floors. It’s not the cheapest robovac out there, but it’s great value for the power and features it offers.
Of course, like all robot vacuums, it still has some inherent limitations. It can’t clean your stairs, black surfaces don’t work either as they mess with the drop sensors, you’ll need to tidy up cables and shoelaces beforehand, and it’s not going to replace a full size upright vacuum for most people. If you have pets and carpets, you’ll still need the occasional deep clean with an upright vacuum. But it can help immensely with a quick daily clean to pick up surface dust.
Courtesy of GeekBuying.com, we’ve got one Xiaowa E20 to giveaway. Enter the competition below, or if you can’t wait, use our exclusive coupon code makeuse5 to grab one now for $260 ($30 off the usual price).