Monday, 30th October 2017

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Making a clean sweep

iRobot’s cleaners will keep your house spick and span but they aren’t cheap, says Tushar Kanwar

  • Published 10.01.16

iRobot is a hugely popular and iconic brand in the robotic cleaner market, and with good reason — they’ve been in the space for over a decade, making some of the best robotic vacuums around. With their official entry into India, is it time to say bye-bye to your bai and pick up one of these for your home cleaning needs? I get my hands dirty (quite literally!) with the Roomba 880 and the Braava 380T to find out!


Roomba 880

The Roomba 880 is the top of the range vacuum cleaning robot in India, which means they work on the same principle as vacuum cleaners. It certainly doesn’t look like a vacuum cleaner though, with its round disc-like shape. Set-up is incredibly easy, and you can schedule it to clean several rooms (in a moderately sized house) on one charge. It will return to its base when it’s done… or if it’s low on battery. All this, even when you’ve stepped out the house. You can even contain the Roomba 880 from going all over the house with ‘virtual walls’, small jar-sized devices that restrict or guide the robot from room to room.

In use, the 880 uses one of four cleaning modes to cover the room and I have to say, it does a good job reaching most of the spots the maid doesn’t even bother to touch! 

It attacks dust, hair and even larger bits of rubbish without a grumble, either. Of course, steps and low-height furniture can pose an issue, but the virtual walls and the included remote control come in handy at those times. Personally though, I’d have liked iRobot to include WiFi/smartphone connectivity at this price point so that the little guy could let 
us know if it had gotten stuck.


Braava 380T

The Braava 380T is completely different — the floor mopping robot has no vacuuming capabilities and no bin to collect rubbish. Instead, the Braava does mopping duties, both wet and dry — all you have to do is insert the correct cleaning head and cloths and set it down where you want it to mop. Wiping in straight rows in dry mode and circular arcs in wet mode, the Braava does a much better job in wet mode than in dry, and that’s because it lacks the vacuum suction to clean up the dirt. You have to collect the accumulated debris by hand later… and anything that’s not absorbed by the cloth simply gets shovelled around.

Now while I liked the wet mop-ping capabilities, the Braava lacks the scheduled cleaning and the return-to-dock-to-charge capabilities of the Roomba series, which means altogether too much manual intervention, not to mention the 880’s vacuuming does a better job of cleaning on the whole.


While the 880 is clearly the most superior Roomba around, it’s undeniably pricey, and iRobot has chea-per options you could consider for far less.
♦ Rating: 8/10
♦ Price: Rs 69,900
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♦ Rating: 7/10
♦ Price: Rs 27,900
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Power player

Name a phone ‘Yutopia’ and arm it with a “the most powerful phone on the planet” tagline, and you’re bound to be subject to scrutiny. With the Yutopia, Yu Televentures (the online-only sub-brand of Micromax) seems to have gotten the flagship ingredients right, but does it come together as well as it looks on paper?

Design-wise, the all-metal chassis feels premium though the look is a tad understated. The rear camera hump is a bit jarring, but thanks to Yu not slapping on a giant screen on this, the size is manageable and Yutopia fits very well in the hand. The screen is a gorgeous 5.2-inch quad-HD (1,440 x 2,560 pixel) display, with excellent contrast and viewing angles but it does take a hit on legibility in direct sunlight.

Under the hood, Yu has packed in the kitchen sink and more in terms of core components — a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 810 chip, 4GB of memory, 32GB of storage (expandable to 128 via microSD) and a 3,000mAh battery with fast charging support. It runs the massively customisable Cyanogen OS 12.1, which is based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, pretty snappily. There’s even the new Around Yu location-based service that I think is a solid step in the right direction — just the kind of relevant, India-specific software customisations that Indian brands should be pursuing. The camera turns out good detailed images, though the focusing system is a little slow in low light.

A utopian phone then? There are two glaring issues — the fingerprint sensor is a bit of hit-and-miss affair (to the point of frustration) and the phone runs a little on the warmer side of comfort, as many Snapdragon 810-based phones are wont to do. Both these issues are but a software update away if Yu really gets down to it. Overall, a pretty impressive first-time flagship.
♦ Rating: 8/10
♦ Price: Rs 24,999
♦ URL:; follow me on twitter @2shar