Samsung Powerbot R7070
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The Samsung Powerbot R7070 is a connected robot vacuum that gets a lot of things right, but middling battery life and some connectivity issues hold it back.
When buying robot vacuums, you want to know two things: How well does it clean, and can you leave it alone and trust it to do the job? The Samsung Powerbot R7070 fares well on both counts, with powerful suction and an intelligent camera-based navigation system. It automatically adjusts suction power based on flooring, deftly maneuvers around objects, and easily traverses various surface types. That’s not a bad deal at $699.99, especially when you consider Samsung’s top-of-the-line model, the Powerbot Turbo R9350, is a whopping $1,200. The only drawback is its Wi-Fi feature set is of limited usefulness because of Samsung’s buggy Smart Home app. And while you can technically control the vac with Amazon Alexa, it’s hit-or-miss in practice. Still, despite the connectivity hiccups, the Powerbot is an efficient cleaner, though the iRobot Roomba 960 remains our Editors’ Choice in this price range.
Design and Accessories
The Powerbot isn’t the sleekest robot vac in town. That’s partly due to its functional aesthetics and bulky form factor. It measures 3.8 by 13.4 by 13.7 inches (HWD), and weighs a hefty 9.5 pounds. That’s tall, but not so tall that it can’t slip under some lower profile furniture. It should be able to clean under most beds, though it might struggle with couches and coffee tables. Meanwhile, bulkier robots like the Dyson 360 Eye and Bobsweep PetHair Plus stand taller at 4.7 and 4.5 inches respectively.
While most robot vacuums are circular, the Powerbot is an elongated D-shape. Its front bumper is a straight edge, which helps it clean corners and get right up against walls. On top, you’ll find the camera in a recess behind the bumper. Below that you’ll find the top-loading dustbin and release latch. And at the rear is the touch display with a cleaning mode button, play/pause button, and a docking button. If you flip the Powerbot over, you’ll find a self-cleaning roller, drop sensors, charging contacts, two main wheels, one rear wheel, and an On/Off switch. SEE ALSO: The Best Robot Vacuums of 2018
As for accessories, the Powerbot comes with your standard charging dock, an extra filter, and a remote control. Instead of a battery-powered virtual wall, you get a roll of magnetic tape that you can use to cordon off areas you don’t want the bot to clean.
Setup, App, and Alexa Integration
Out of the box, the Powerbot doesn’t require much setup. There are no side brushes or batteries to install, so it’s just a matter of plugging in the dock and letting the bot charge up. While you’re waiting, you can slide two AA batteries into the remote, or mark off problem areas (e.g., rooms with lots of cords, clutter, fragile items) with the magnetic tape so the Powerbot doesn’t enter those areas.
Once the vacuum is fully charged, you can press the Play/Pause button on the bot or remote to get started right away. Or, you can download the Samsung Smart Things or Samsung Smart Home app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. You’ll want the former if you have the SmartThings Hub, otherwise, you should download the latter. If you have the Hub, you can add the Powerbot to existing routines or schedules. For example, you can add the Powerbot to your “away” routine so that it cleans whenever you’re not at home. In either case, you’ll have to create a Samsung account, but after that the app will walk you through a relatively simple process to get the Powerbot hooked up to your Wi-Fi network.
The Smart Home app is simple to use, if a bit buggy. After adding the Powerbot, you can view a log of previous notifications or view the main robot vacuum control screen. From there you can steer the vacuum using the directional pad, start Auto Cean mode, or initiate Spot Clean mode. If you scroll down, you can see how much battery life remains, choose the suction power level, schedule cleans, toggle repeat cleans, or view history logs.
While it’s easier to schedule cleans through the app, just about everything else you can do from the included remote control. It looks like your average TV remote, complete with a directional pad and a big Pause/Play button in the center. Below the directional pad, there are six buttons: Clock, Remote, Repeat, Schedule, Spot, and Sound. Most of these buttons—like Clock, Schedule—are self-explanatory. Spot will initiate Spot Cleaning mode, while Repeat will make the Powerbot clean a room multiple times until the battery is low. Sound can be used to turn on or off sound effects, while Remote turns Wi-Fi on or off. At the top left you have the power button, and on the top right is the recharge button, which sends the robot back to its dock. Above the directional pad is a row of three buttons that you can use to toggle suction power.
When it comes to steering the bot, I actually preferred the physical remote. It’s intuitive, fits easily in your hand, and doesn’t rely on Wi-Fi. Conversely, the directional commands on the app screen didn’t always register in my tests. Plus, I noticed that the app frequently lost connection to the server, or crashed soon after opening.
Like iRobot’s Wi-Fi Roombas, you can control the Powerbot with Amazon Alexa. To do that, you just have to enable both the Samsung Smart Home (Basic) and Samsung Smart Home (Complete) skills in the Alexa app and link your Samsung account. Once you’ve done that, you should be able to start a clean, tell the bot to change to Max Power mode, or return to its dock for charging. Emphasis on should.
In practice, enabling the skills was easy, but I was never able to get my Amazon Echo Dot to reliably interact with the robot. Mostly, Alexa asked me to try again or said she couldn’t find the Powerbot. I had better luck when I asked Alexa to “open Samsung” or “ask Samsung for help” and responded to her prompts. To be fair, using Alexa to control smart home products always has some quirks. However, I could do a lot more with iRobot’s Roombas with fewer errors overall.
The Powerbot is pretty smart, as robot vacuums with cameras usually are. Instead of randomly pinballing around a room, the Powerbot uses its camera to clean more methodically, weaving back and forth in a snake-like pattern. And because of its flat edge, it does a better job of getting up right into a corner or against a wall. You can also set it to make multiple passes at a room in case it misses something the first time around.
I ran three separate cleans at my apartment, and was pleased that the Powerbot was able to easily navigate across different floor types. It handled the raised transition between my hallway and kitchen with aplomb. The vacuum also performed well on darker flooring. My living room rug has tripped up many a robovac due to its black border and dark geometric patterns—including the Roomba 690, Bissell SmartClean 1974, and the Bobsweep Bobi Pet. However, the Powerbot cleaned it just fine. Not only that, I noticed it automatically increased suction power on the rug and lowered it when it moved to hardwood.
Another benefit of camera-based navigation is that the Powerbot, while powerful, didn’t bang up my furniture or move things where they don’t belong. In most cases, it gently navigated around obstacles, though I did have to rescue it once or twice from between chair legs. Conversely, random cleaners will sometimes push objects into another room, like the Roomba 690, or mow down an innocent dining room chair, like the Bobi Pet. Also, when it comes to automatic docking, the Powerbot was always able to find its way home without any needing any help. If you properly prep your apartment, you should have no qualms about letting the bot run while you go about your business.
The vacuum also gets points for its top-loading cyclone dustbin and washable filter. It’s very easy to remove, and washing the filter makes maintenance more cost-effective. However, while the Powerbot is a powerful cleaner, its dustbin doesn’t hold a whole lot of dirt. If you need a heavy clean or have hairy pets, you should be prepared to empty the bin more frequently. While pricier, the Dyson 360 Eye can suck up more dirt, dust, and hair at a go.
Another minor issue: Scheduling options with the Powerbot are more limited than average. While you can set a one-time or daily clean, you can’t customize it by day of the week like you can with most other connected robovacs, including the Roomba 690, Roomba 960, and Dyson 360 Eye. For instance, if you only want it to clean on its own on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm, you’re out of luck.
Battery life on the Powerbot is middling. In Quiet mode you can get about 90 minutes, which is decent for a robot vacuum. On Normal mode, however, you’ll only see about an hour of cleaning. And if you want to clean on the Turbo setting, you get a dismal 30 minutes—that’s worse than the Dyson 360 Eye’s 45 minutes on the equivalent setting. In testing, I averaged somewhere between 60 and 70 minutes using a mix of modes. That’s not horrible, but ideally we like to see closer to 90 minutes of clean time. You might be tempted to use Quiet mode to get the longest runtime possible, and that should suffice if you already have relatively clean floors and minimal carpeting. However, if you do have carpets, pets, or persistent dust bunnies, you’ll want to at least keep it on Normal.
No vacuum, let alone a robot vacuum, is truly quiet. That being said, the Powerbot on Quiet mode is about as close as you can get to unnoticeable. Even in a small apartment, I had to strain to hear it in another room. The only vacuum I’ve tested that’s quieter is the Eufy RoboVac 11. On Normal mode, it’s about as loud as any other bot, while of course, Max mode is about as loud as your traditional stick vacuum.
The Samsung Powerbot R7070 is a solid robot vacuum. It navigates well, is a superb cleaner, and is easily controlled via remote. The only issue is that its Wi-Fi features aren’t fully there yet. The Samsung Smart Home app frequently loses connection to the server, and Alexa integration is a bit clunky in practice.
For the same price, the iRobot Roomba 960 delivers a similar performance and many of the same Wi-Fi features, but also a painless user experience. Plus, you get maps of areas cleaned, more scheduling options, and you can control it with both Alexa and Google Assistant. When it comes down to it, the Roomba 960 makes better use of its connected features, which is why it remains our Editors’ Choice pick for high-end robovacs. That being said, the Powerbot might be a better choice if you have a lot of tight corners or are already invested in Samsung’s smart home ecosystem. This is especially true if you use the Smart Things Hub to automate your daily routines and schedules.
If you’re not looking to spend the big bucks, you should consider the iRobot Roomba 690 for an affordably priced Wi-Fi-enabled bot. And if you don’t need Wi-Fi, it’s hard to beat the Eufy RoboVac 11, our Editors’ Choice for budget robot vacuums.
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About the Author
Victoria SongAnalyst, Hardware
Victoria Song is an analyst on the Hardware team at PCMag. Since graduating from Temple University’s Japan Campus in 2010, she’s been found reporting and editing in every corner of the newsroom at The ACCJ Journal, The Japan News, and New York bureau of The Yomiuri Shimbun. In her spare time, she bankrupts herself going to theater, buying expansions to board games, and cleaning out the stacks at The Strand. Someday, she hopes Liverpool FC will win the league, but she isn’t holding her breath. See Full Bio
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