It's not the easiest product to buy right now, but Roborock S6 is the new King of the Cleaning Droids. It's both narrowly better and a lot cheaper than its main rival – iRobot's i7 – and leaves the likes of the older Dyson vacuum, the 360 Eye, for dead.
The S6 boasts navigation and suction better than any other robot I've tried. The only thing that comes close is the aforementioned iRobot but that is more than double the price of the S6. In fact, the only issue I have with the S6, other than a slightly pointless 'mopping' mode, is that it is weirdly hard to buy outside of the EU. It's not on Amazon or at John Lewis, but you can buy it from Gearbest – the only official UK retail partner, for now – and, unofficially, from eBay. They're import models but so long as they are from the EU they will work fine in the UK if you replace the cable or use an adaptor.
In the USA, the S6 is also on sale at eBay, from an official Roborock rep, so you don't need to worry about being sent a Chinese model there.
The word is that the S6 will soon be more widely available in the UK and US, through Amazon – most previous Roborock vacs can be found there. We'll have more of an 'official' review when that happens, too. It's too bad that the S6 arrived just too late to scoop the T3 Award for Robot Vacs, and also looks unlikely to be on sale at Amazon in time for Amazon Prime Day. However, we do know that its similarly excellent predecessor the Roborock S5 will be on sale on July 15 – we'll have details ASAP.
Robot vacs need to be able to do two things well: navigate around, and suck stuff up. Well, Roborock S6 is probably both the most intelligent navigator I've seen, and the best sucker up of stuff. It gets past obstacles that other robots cannot, and it moves in a fast, intelligent manner that is actually quite impressive to watch.
It cleans room by room, first finding the outer edges of the room and then 'filling in' floor space in a highly efficient, pleasingly rapid manner. Even the best robot vacs I've used previously – Neato's Connected vacs, iRobot's i7+ – have been highly annoying to watch, although they did eventually get the job done (best just to leave them to get on with it, basically) but this is poetry in motion by comparison.
Once you've used the S6 a few times, as with the Neato and iRobot vacs, it constructs a map of your home that is so accurate, you can start sending it to specific rooms. There's also the option to 'draw' a zone on to the map and have it clean that. It manages both without fuss. You can also draw an exclusion zone around areas, from entire rooms, to delicate bits of furniture, to sleeping dogs. This also works pretty well.
The cleaning power of the S6 is also highly impressive. There are 5 power modes from 'Quiet' to 'Max' but unless you want to sleep while it cleans, I don't really see any reason to ever use anything other than Max. The best option, as a rule, is to have it clean while you're out, in which case noise levels become irrelevant and anyway, even on Max, the S6 is not unbearably loud, by any means.
One reason you might want to consider using a lower power setting is to preserve battery. On many rival bots, that would be a wise move in fact, but the S6 is so fast, and so intelligent that it can whip around my 3 bedrooms, lounge, kitchen and 2 bathrooms on Max Power and get back to base with 50% battery life left.
It's hard to directly compare how well these things clean carpets and hard floors but I'd say this definitely doesn't clean any worse than iRobot's brilliant, but vastly more expensive i7, and arguably, it actually cleans better. Previous Roborocks were quite poor at doing the edges of rooms but again, the S6 is as good as any robot I've seen, in that department.
The S6 comes with a mop attachment for cleaning hard floors. This is by no means amazing, but it at least offers that option, unlike rivals that cost a lot more. Since you're not paying a premium for the mopping function, the fact that it is a bit crap doesn't really bother me.
The navigation of the S6 is not perfect and it does occasionally get stuck, but much less often than previous robots. With the S6, my expectations have changed. Previously I would think, 'I'll put the robot on and it might get around; at least it'll do some cleaning before getting stuck.’ That has now changed to: 'I'll put the robot on and return to clean floors'. It's genuinely disappointing on the rare occasions it messages to say, ’I'm stuck.’
To be fair, I first started to feel this way when I was using the iRobot Roomba i7+ as my personal puck buddy, but as noted, that was slower and cost far more.
Conceivably, build quality corners may have been cut to achieve the S6’s very affordable price (by robot standards) – that will only become apparent over time. It certainly looks well made, however. Right now, Roborock S6 seems like a game changer for the robot vacuum cleaner market. Hopefully you'll actually be able to buy it in normal shops very soon.