We’re not quite in the Jetsons robot housekeeper era yet, but there are a host of house cleaning robots out there that can automate some of you most dreaded chores. Don’t do windows? The Hobot 198 window cleaning robot may be able to help you.
I recently had a chance to test out the Hobot 198 in my home to see how it works.
What is Hobot?
Hobot 198 a relatively small robot scrubber, designed to adhere to windows and scrub them clean, either inside or out. The robot has two scrubber wheels that come with soft microfibre cleaning pads. There’s a long power cord and a tether to keep the Hobot from plummeting to its doom.
Setting up Hobot 198 window cleaning robot
Getting going with this robot is pretty easy. You’ll hook up the AC power cable, and add the scrubbing cloths to the wheels if they aren’t already on there. They do affix easily.
If you’re using the Hobot outside or over a drop (think apartment balcony or second floor window) tie the safety tether onto something sturdy. Then, press the Hobot flat up against the window and flip the switch on. In a second, the robot will turn on its suction powers and hold itself against the glass. At this point you can let go.
How do I use the Hobot app?
Using the included remote control or the Hobot app, you can set a cleaning mode. The modes are… weird and not very intuitive. There’s three options (photo at left): Up then Down, Left then Down, and Right then Down. Each is denoted by an arrow and two rings.
To me, none of these says “Clean my whole window” and frankly, I don’t really care whether it goes left or right first. The robot is smart enough to sense the window frame and edges, so it shouldn’t matter which direction it cleans in since it’s going to clean the whole window anyhow, right?
As it turns out, these cleaning modes seem to need you to start them in a certain area of the window:
Up then Down Start it in the bottom right of the window.
Left then Down: Place Hobot in top right corner
Right then Down Place the robot in the top left corner of the window
How well does Hobot clean windows?
With that said, this device does do a great job of cleaning the entire window. It senses the left and right edges and the top and bottom, and cleans it quite thoroughly. I was quite impressed with the cleaning coverage. I didn’t even need to use the arrow buttons, which will move the robot around at your request.
Does Hobot have any limitations?
Because this robot is corded and AC powered, it’s rather limited in what and where it can clean. I’d love to clean the rear outside windows at my house, but since there’s no AC plug anywhere nearby, they’re off limits, unless I could connect a long extension cord, I suppose.
I think this robot should be battery powered and wireless to make it more versatile, but as I’m not an engineer, I don’t know how realistic that is. That’s just the observation of an average user.
What cleaners and sprays to use with Hobot?
Hobot’s manufacturer recommends you clean with windows with Hobot’s help using the same cleaners you’d use at home.
I chose to use Windex; I sprayed cleaner on the top of the window and let it drip down. The Hobot was pretty good at wiping it up and it left a streak-free finish. I found on larger windows, sometimes the cleaner would dry before the Hobot got to it, so in a few cases, I followed it along, and spritzed more cleaner in front of it. That seemed to help.
Can I use Hobot indoors and outdoors?
I used this device both indoors and outdoors and found no problems with either, save for the need to locate an AC plug, which was harder outside than in. Also, since my outside windows were dirtier than the inside, I did notice the scrubbing cloths got much dirtier. Which brings me to the question of how to clean the cloths…
Can Hobot cloths be cleaned?
Fortunately the Hobot’s microfibre cleaning cloths are washable and reusable. Hobot suggests you wash them in water under 40 degrees C (104F) and leave them to air dry.
Hobot does floors and surfaces too?!
A handy feature of the robot is that you can use it on floors, surfaces and even textured glass too, according to Home Robot Inc.
I tested it out on a glass coffee table. The first pass I tried it did great; it sensed the edges of the glass top and stayed on course. Second time around, the Hobot fell off the table and onto the floor. Good thing the drop wasn’t far. Third pass was fine too.
While this is a neat feature, I guess, I would have had the table cleaned in about 10 seconds using paper towel and glass cleaner; instead, the Hobot took almost two minutes. Maybe it saved me labour, but I don’t think it was very efficient.
Next up I tested the floor cleaning abilities.
I’ll say this; make sure your floors have been swept up, or all the crumbs are going to get caught up in the cloths.
Hobot does some rather random patterns when it comes to scrubbing the floors; it’s not nearly as linear or as efficient. That said, it did do a pretty thorough job on the parts that it did clean.
The other odd thing I found with floor cleaning is that it did about three passes, or three rows from side to side, then told me the job was done. I had to turn it off and on a couple of times to get a wider area done, then I gave up. I’m not sure what settings may need to be tweaked to get a whole floor cleaned, but it didn’t complete my kitchen for me.
What happens if Hobot loses power?
A legitimate issue is what happens to the robot if the power cord ever got kicked loose or you had an outage. Fortunately, the device has a battery backup that will hold it on the window for up to 30 minutes. Despite what you may think, this doesn’t mean you can pull out the AC power cord and use the Hobot wirelessly; there’s a failsafe to prevent this. If you try it will just stick to the window and beep at you.
Overall review: HOBOT 198 window cleaning robot
I found this device surprisingly helpful. It does a really good job at sticking to the windows and cleaning them too, both inside and out. I experienced no falls, and the windows got clean every time.
If there’s a downside, it’s that Hobot needs to be constantly connected to AC power, and you basically need to supervise the cleaning, so I recommend doing the windows at the same time as you’re doing some other chores nearby. I also thought the control or cleaning buttons weren’t intuitive; the app (and remote) could use a bit of tweaking, in my opinion.
The fact that the cloths are washable is nice, plus you can use it on other surfaces, though it didn’t seem to have the easiest time with tables or floors. Even so, the Hobot 198 is a surprisingly versatile and useful device.
Hobot 198 sells for about $449USD and is available on Hobot’s website.