Miele are renowned for making products encompassing longevity, with caring customer service as standard. To be frank, we were a little startled to see that they were entering into the robotic vacuum cleaning market - and in typical Miele style they want to shake it up by releasing one core model with claims of non-stop power and optimum cleaning performance. The Miele Scout RX1 Robot vacuum cleaner was an interesting one to test.
We have both the top of the line iRobot Roomba 880 and Miele Scout RX1 wandering around our studio cleaning its floors. Telling the two apart at a quick glance is tricky, really only distinguishedby the fact that the Miele features a grey outlined honeycomb pattern entirely covering the top. Otherwise the primary aesthetics, like the circular shape, bumpers along the edges and even the placement of the rear bin entry, are nearly identical.
If we flip the Scout RX1 over and play spot the difference, we see suspiciously similar springy heavily textured wheels to that of the Roomba. Yet there is a contrasting method of cleaning floors, with the Scout featuring a brush bar; something iRobot have replaced with their new maintenance free AeroForce roller styled cleaning system. Another distinction are the 2 rotating sweeper arms; usually these robovacs just have the one for tracking debris into their path. A downside in the present design is something we really would like to see, and that is for Miele to incorporate a handle - the iRobot’s is so convenient for transporting upstairs and to different buildings. Without it, the whole carrying process of the 2.9kg cleaner feels a bit clumsy. Nevertheless, we admire the end resulting design of the Scout RX1 as it strikes a perfect balance of friendly and contemporary for a cleaning appliance that will certainly be seen.
Setting Up & Modes
Don’t worry, you won’t need to map out all the rooms within your home to setup the Scout RX1. It gets to know rooms and their obstacles all on its ownsome. In fact, the most tricky part of the setup is having to equip the 2 spinning side brushes, which takes only seconds to do. After this a flick of the side switch and the cleaner will illuminate its display with 2 touch sensitive buttons, one for toggling the four modes and the other selects or pauses the mode. The four modes are as follows: auto mode (cleans in lines mostly, with sporadic phases), turbo cleaning mode (increased performance & similar to the first mode with less overlapping), corner cleaning mode and spot clean mode. If we designed this cleaner though, we would have skipped the on/off switch - it doesn't seem necessary, a prolonged hold down on the stop/go button would have been more user friendly to awaken it.
Adding another layer of options is a remote control that allows the cleaner to be steered in any direction and be ordered to go to the base, but more usefully this is where we can program scheduled times for initiating cleaning - handy when out of the house routinely. All the other primary functions are selectable from the remote too.
Where Miele are heavily betting to be different in the robotic cleaner market is with navigation. Their programmed cleaning algorithms that harness the support of 10 sensors and a camera on top, all looking for obstructions, is truly brilliant! It won't fall down stairs and rarely physically touches furniture as it knows with pin precision where it is within rooms, which is why visually the cleaner obtains around 10% of the wipeable scuffs that the Roomba 880 does. This can be attributed to the fact that the Miele has excellent distance to object awareness, slowing down a good second within around 2 centimetres of obstacles, with the spinning sweepers fetching out dirt against skirting and solid furniture bottoms.
Additionally the Scout RX1 has a large memory in an applicable mode, logging details of where walls, obstacles and seemingly the entry points to rooms are to a fine art. Its memory is lost upon turning the cleaner off, but rediscovering all these intricate details is only a part of the cleaning session anyway, so we don’t begrudge this. But what don’t we like? Well, we think the sensors make the Miele air on the side of being too cautious sometimes. For example, it just refuses to attempt to squeeze through small entrances to areas that are 2-3cm wider than itself, proving algorithms can be flawed by their own wit.
Battery Life & Charging
Interestingly the lithium-ion battery within the Scout RX1 edges ahead of the Roomba 880, to last around 2 hours, or in cleaning terms roughly 140m²-150m². (Whereas the Roomba 880 achieves a consistent 120m² of cleaning area before returning to the base.) Miele are achieving this more impressive number by sheer Germanic efficiency, as the cleaner is less sporadic than the iRobot method of darting about everywhere in what we’re told is a logical process. A base is incorporated as the charging method. You’re probably wondering if it strays from getting back to the base once it has finished cleaning or needs a charge to resume the task in hand? On occasion it does fail to get back when cleaning 4-5 rooms, but interestingly and slightly showily, it will go back and align itself identically to where it began cleaning if started somewhere other than the dock. However, pleasingly 90% of the time we don’t have problems.
Bin & Filter
Getting hands on with the cleaning process starts again here with the filter (2 extras included in the box) which unclips from a plastic casing and needs to be ‘changed’ every 3 months. The filters cost £17.99/$24.99 for a pack of 4. The filter is actually located within the lid of the bin which just pops apart to reveal a 0.6L capacity for dirt. It's easy to toss the waste away due to the wide opening, which is something we now realise is actually somewhat tricky to achieve on the Roomba 880 due to its obstructive hinged lid.
Slightly faster cleaning over the flagship top of the line iRobot Roomba 880, adds one of Germany's greatest attributes - efficiency. This robot cleaner is slightly unusual in that it doesn't pace around in a manner that you can't quite figure out how it knows just what it’s doing. Instead it takes a humanly logical approach to cleaning, which to most people will be a comforting revelation. It also climbs a little, with the leverage to lift itself onto surfaces 2cm higher than the level it is placed on. For reference, we enabled turbo mode to tackle our test conditions seen within our photos below. This method cleans in the style of cutting a lawn, back and forth in lines. Auto mode is similar but overlaps lines more frequently.
Hard Floors: We have real wooden floors in our studio which accumulate dust, hair and crumbs rapidly and not all vacuum cleaners can rid the finer dust from within the natural grain. So for the past few weeks the Miele Scout RX1 has been cleaning the floors by itself daily and we are happy with the results as a build up of dirt has not occurred and the bin was welcomely full after just 3 days. The floors felt clean, with the Scout RX1 proving crumbs, hair, loose cereal and even some cut cabbage (which we’re still a little puzzled about), is no task too much. The finer dust that loves to stick within the corners and in between the gaps of each floorboard was mostly visibly dislodged by the combination of spinning sweeper arms and brush bar, yet patches of dust could be spotted if we inspected close enough: a fair evaluation of why a more traditional cleaner is still occasionally necessary, whilst this remains a handy complementary regular solution. Our test photographed below shows just how well it copes with severe fine dust and large debris:
Carpets: Man-made and natural woollen carpets are present at the studio and the Miele has been over all of them. The results are uncomplicated: when the brush bar is clean from tangled hair and fibres it’s an impressive carpet vac. As an example trial, we whisked our upright Dyson over the carpets after being cleaned by the Miele and it captured only a thin layer of dirt, nearly all of which was exceptionally fine static dust. When that brush bar becomes tangled however, it’s pretty useless and can’t reach deeply into carpets for an embedded clean. Thankfully the brush bar is easy to remove but cleaning these is always a begrudging and uncomfortably unhygienic task. However, if we disregard when it gets tangled up, which takes around 2-3 weeks with daily cleaning of 140m², it will clean deeply, removing pet hair and fine dust and doesn't struggle with the larger items like tree bark, scraps of paper and grit. So it does a visibly nice job on carpets, but where everything falls a bit flat is when it comes across a rug whilst cleaning a hard floor; for some reason suction and overall cleaning power is just not quite the same on these. In our tests laying flour down on a small rug, the cleaner could not capture even 50% of it; and this was a near identical result for the iRobot Roomba 880. To complete our trials, we conducted the same test on a man-made carpet as we did on hard floors to demonstrate how it handles fine dust and large waste:
Whilst the Miele Scout RX1 may be quieter and more orderly in navigational terms as a robot cleaner than its American competitor, these robotic cleaners are a complementary vacuum cleaning method to your more traditional manual cleaner. Nevertheless, it is one that is reliably convenient for cleaning floors to the satisfaction of visible cleanliness - taking most of the daily routine cleaning off your to-do list. With the same price and roughly the same cleaning performance on hard floors and carpets as the top of the line iRobot, it really is a toss-up between an American robotic ideology of cleaning sporadically (often more effective) or Germanic spacial methodological awareness that optimises how far the battery can go.