Compare Auto Floor Cleaners - Castle Products

Compare Auto Floor Cleaners

We live in a world full of fabulous idle distractions - a million TV channels, videogames at our fingertips, the world's greatest literature just a few menu selections away. Yet still we're stuck cleaning the same floors more or less the same way our forefathers did, despite the fact that they had a lot less fun stuff they could be doing instead. The $249 Mint Automatic Floor Cleaner is another attempt to free us from that burdensome task and, like the, it is quite clinical and comprehensive in the way that it does things. However, while this one is likewise a heck of a lot smarter than a Roomba, for some it'll be of rather more limited usefulness. Why? Read on to find out.

Gallery | 20 Photos

Mint Automatic Floor Cleaner

Mint

Automatic Floor Cleaner

Pros

  • Blissfully quiet
  • Quite comprehensive in its cleaning
  • Sweeps or mops

Cons

  • Gets hung up on floor transitions
  • No way to restrict its path
  • Requires a lot of manual help
Hardware
When we reviewed the Neato XV-11 we told you the sorry story of Geeves, our tired old Roomba 560 who's been doing faithful duty around the house for many years now, with the battle scars to prove it. Brownish gash on the front? Got stuck under a hand-me-down hutch with a tricky base. Scratches on top? Curious puppy who got spooked.

We figure Geeves was understandably uncomfortable around the XV-11, with its room-sweeping radar array perched on top. The Mint, though, why that's not even a vacuum! It's a robot sweeper, effectively a self-propelled version of those Swiffer mops (and their various generic imitators) that fill the cleaning aisle at the grocery store. Indeed, it even accepts Swiffer pads.

This is a little cube (powered by a pair of C cell batteries) that beams an IR pattern onto the ceiling. The Mint, meanwhile, has a camera on its top and can use that pattern to steer itself around. Mind you, the Mint is quite good at determining the size of a given room without navigation, but it'll limit itself to cleaning about 350 square feet of dirty floor if it has no backup. It'll do about 1000 if that cube is in sights - though that drops to 250 if you put it in wet mopping mode, where it does an extra thorough job of scrubbing to get things spic-and-span.

Testing

We used the bot around the house for a number of days on various floor surfaces. Naturally it's useless on carpet, and indeed it'll actively avoid the stuff if its front pressure sensor thinks that it's rolling up onto it. That worked fine, but the robot's sensors weren't always so keen. We have one section of flooring where hardwood transitions to linoleum. The Mint had no qualms about going up from hardwood to the fake tile, but absolutely refused to go back onto the hardwood.

We spoke with folks at Mint about this, who indicated that the bot thought it was perched precariously close to falling off a cliff, instead of simply sitting at the edge of an eighth-inch transition. The bot is smart enough to figure out the shape and size of the room, and so it knew it was supposed to be going back to finish its job on the other side. However, since it refused to go over the transition, it couldn't find a way back. It'd spend about five minutes going back and forth along that transition, beeping and blinking confusedly, hopelessly, before finally giving up. Roomba Geeves, meanwhile, clunks right over that little divider without thinking twice - or, perhaps, even once. Since there are no virtual walls or any way to tell the Mint to stay out of a given area, we simply were unable to use it in that room.

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Popular Q&A

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How to Compare Steam Cleaners for Tile Floors

Compare the size of vapour cleaning machines. (See reference 1.) Some machines are quite small yet can deliver the same amount of steam cleaning power for your tile floors as larger models. Consider the weight of the machine loaded with water as well as the dimensions. Keep in mind the amount of space you need to clean as well as any obstructions you clean around. If possible, ask to see a demonstration of a floor model.

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