first_imgI first heard about iRobot’s Scooba 230 back around the time of CES and, being a Roomba user, I was pretty excited. After all, the Scooba floor washing robot was the logical next step for me and any number of Roomba owners, but with it being too big to clean the bathroom, it didn’t make much sense. The Scooba 230, measuring just 6-inches across, solved that problem and promised for a bot that could quietly clean the small spaces that I’d much rather steer clear of.A few weeks ago I did a quick unboxing of the Scooba 230 and discussed some of the basic features of the product. Check out that article for some quick background material if you’d like to get up to speed on iRobot’s cutest product.Essentially the Scooba 230 is a tiny floor washing robot built for getting in hard-to-reach areas. It’s compact and designed to operate in confined spaces (like on the sides of your toilet), while being just as smart as a full-sized Roomba/Scooba. It has all the sensors you’d expect, the most up-to-date iAdapt algorithms (the same found on the Roomba 700), it’s just smaller, and lacks a few features.As for those features it’s missing, they are all logical ones given the circumstances–it doesn’t do scheduling and there is no charging dock. These both have to do with the simple fact that this robot holds a quantity of water. Because it can only run for two cleaning cycles without being refilled there is no reason to have it running on a schedule, and because there is water involved a charging dock could present problems.In addition to these changes, the Scooba also uses a removable battery that is designed to minimize the possibility of water making its way to the connection area. You’d think sealing the battery deep inside would be the best but I’ve talked to iRobot and they are confident this is the right solution. Users just need to really jam the battery into place as it’s a very tight fit.The basic process is that users need to open up both seals of the Scooba (water in and water out), put in some of the iRobot enzymatic cleaner, fill it with water, seal the ends, and start up the bot. Clean, soapy water runs through the bot, cleans the floor, and it then picked up and held in a second chamber. This means you are only cleaning with pure water, not cycling dirty water through the robot. On the bottom the Scooba has no moving parts (aka beater bars) it just has a replaceable bristle plate that scrubs the floor for extra cleaning as well as a squeegee to pick up the water.The cleaning process works well so long as you give the Scooba time to do its job. The water will dissolve away any grime on the floor and the bristles will loosen anything dried on, but anything stuck on might need to be picked up manually. The good news is that the 230 does a surprisingly good job with pet hair so long as you are somewhat diligent about your sweeping (and cleaning the bottom of the device). And of course it has no problems with tight places or finding those bathroom nooks. The issues it has are with large debris.The Scooba takes about 20 minutes to clean a small bathroom (60 sq ft) and 40 for a larger one (120 sq ft). When its done you simply hold it over a drain, let out the dirty water, and the refill the other side. Because you’ll want to do this after every long cycle or two short ones the Scooba has no need for a dock or scheduling.Most bathrooms are small enough that originally I couldn’t see the appeal of the Scooba at first. It’s slow, can’t be scheduled, needs attendance after almost every use, and it’s not cheap. After using it I feel the same way, but could see it being OK for high traffic kitchens, people who are meticulous about their light tiles, and those with larger bathrooms. It’ll work with sealed hardwood floors too, but I’d guess most rooms with hardwood are big enough for a full-sized Scooba. Keep in mind, because there are no moving parts or harsh chemicals, the Scooba can’t clean grout, it can only clean off the surface between your tiles.While aspects of the Scooba 230 are very impressive I do have reservations about it. At $300 it’s not inexpensive so I’d like to see more power and more features, but those were lost in favor of the small size. The 230 needs to be used in combination with a vacuum to be as effective as possible, the battery takes a long time to charge (over 8 hours from what I’ve seen), it requires a lot of user interaction, the battery life is limited, and because there are no moving parts on the bottom debris can collect there and limit the cleaning power. Plus it’s recommended that you use iRobot’s $12 jug of cleaning fluid.The Scooba 230 can handle small room maintenance cleaning but ultimately it seems like a niche product to me. I’m confident that one day iRobot will put out an effective, tiny cleaning robot but the Scooba 230 is a good first try, at best. I love the concept but for now I’d recommend a mop and putting the rest of you money towards a full-sized Roomba to do the sweeping for you.IMG_0970IMG_0970IMG_0969IMG_0967IMG_0964IMG_0963IMG_0962IMG_0961This loaner unit was provided by iRobot.last_img read more