The idea of owning a robot vacuum had been on my mind for a while now, so when Lefant approached me to try the M201 (probably best categorised as an “entry level” robot vacuum) I jumped at the chance.
Priced at around €200 on Amazon the Lefant M201 is definitely set at a comparatively low price point. That said, first impressions from the unboxing are of a good quality product. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first robot vacuum, but the M201 is quite heavy and seemingly well put together. I really like the all black unibody design, set off nicely with the red collection tray inside, subtle logo, silver power button and big chunky wheels that grip really well on most surfaces in my home. In the documentation it promises to work on a wide variety of surfaces such as parquet, carpets, ceramic tiles or marble floors.
Touted at 15% smaller than the competition the Lefant M201 easily gets into the awkward corners and under most furniture. True 360 ° technology in space detection, together with its minimum height of 7cm means the vacuum can detect different heights of potential obstacles to find the best access and in theory, effortlessly continue with its work. I literally have zero previous experience with other robot vacuums however watching it work its way around a room is pretty fascinating. One thing to note is that the vacuum doesn’t appear to remember where it has been, it always bashes my cat’s water bowl spilling water everywhere. It would be great if it had a memory of where I had intervened during it’s scheduled clean but I suspect that these features probably exist in higher price bracket models.
From zero percent charge it will take about 4.5 hours to full and when full the spec sheet tells us to expect around 90 minutes of autonomy. My apartment is quite small and on average the robot will automatically return to the charging base when it thinks it’s finished with about 50-60% capacity remaining.
There are an interesting variety of cleaning modes : auto/smart, spiral, wall follow and user controlled. I have found smart mode ideal for cleaning the entire floor area quickly. I don’t tend to use wall follow as i have lots of obstacles that either get in the way or get knocked over by the robot leaving a wave of disaster. Manual control is quite fun, if you spot something on the floor you can easily load the app and use the control pad to navigate to the offending debris. I’m not even sure how spiral mode could be useful as the starting point is generally against a wall.
Initial setup of the robot was hassle free, taking less than 5 mins to get into the settings. The Lefantlife application available for iOS and Android is well designed and quite intuitive. You use the app to choose the cleaning mode and to schedule the active working hours. As a bonus for Amazon Alexa users you can tell it to get to work by using a simple Alexa command. I’m still trying to work out how I can get it to work with Google Home.
As with any budget or entry level device you experience a few compromises. The lack of a water tank means there is no “mop” feature for both cleaning and sucking up the spills from the cat’s water bowl.
Over my time with the Lefant M201 I’ve also noticed that the return to home sequence can take a LONG time, sometimes longer than the clean cycle. I’m not quite sure how the robot communicates with the charging base but I assume it’s infrared. or radio. Occasionally the robot just seems to get lost and I have to pick it up to point it in the right direction. The M201 doesn’t support 5G wifi however I’m not sure that this is a huge disadvantage as there is very little communication that will require that extra speed.
Overall I’d say this is a good fun gadget at a pretty reasonable price for what you get. The actual effectiveness of the cleaning it offers is good and it’s small enough not to impose too much in a room. If you set up routines you can make sure it is doing the job while you are out or if you are like me, you’ll just sit at the laptop while it buzzes away round your feet. I can’t help feel that sometimes it would be quicker and easier just got get the regular vacuum out though. What you are essentially buying into here is the set it up and walk away solution for debris free floors and essentially that’s what you get.
Admittedly, I have only had to use my regular vacuum a handful of times since welcoming the M201 into the house which kind of speaks for itself. I only wish I didn’t have to babysit it as often as I do. Rescuing it if stuck, cleaning up after a wrecking session or mopping up a water bowl incident. Poor cat.
If you love gadgets you are going to love these robot vacuum cleaners. And at this entry level price I’d say it’s an easy punt to take. If I had to boil it down to marks out of 10 i’d give it:
- Design : 9 / 10
- Suction power : 8 / 10 (I’ve only had to clean up a few larger pieces that it missed)
- Noise level : 5 / 10 (It’s not that noisy at all compared to regular vacuums)
- Value for money : 8 / 10 (just for the fun factor alone)