The LG HOM-BOT (image: LG)

Robots Rule

How can a working woman have breakfast, write and clean up the rooms – – all at the same time? The high tech answer is not a clone but the Robot. Mine’s named Alfred. He’s a red Korean, not from North Korea and the clutches of Kim Jong-Un, but a hip South Korean from the LG Group.

I am talking about the LG Hom-Bot. OK, so they don’t score full marks on the name front. But at least they do put in effort for their R&D. According to LG, the little house-cleaning robot is one of the best sellers for the Korean firm that rolls out white goods and tech toys like mobiles and smartwatches.

The LG HOM-BOT (image: LG)
The LG HOM-BOT (image: LG)

Robotic home cleaners aren’t new (LG’s little guy made its first public showing at CES – Consumer and Electronics Show – in 2013)  and there quite a few options on the market (like the Roomba, Neato, iClebo – somehow they ALL have name issues as you can see *sigh* ).

After much research – including messing up the demo area of an electronics store since there was no one around to tell me about the different cleaning bots – the vote of one went to the LG Hom-Bot. Despite the guilt, I didn’t purchase one from the store especially since they were pushing the (then) Mother’s Day special which included flowers and a basket of Crabtree & Evelyn scents, which incidentally the consumer does pay for.  With even more research, the Hom-Bot was purchased online from AUTOVACSTORE. It’s a small outfit with no store front, but delivery was fast, to the home, and with a demo thrown in. Best of all, it was way cheaper than what the big stores offer (and it was new from Korea) with an extra discount thrown in if one pays by cash or cheque.

I will also admit that the video on the robotic cleaner, with its dark humour, earned some extra brownie points.

Where the Hom-Bot scores top marks in, is its simplicity. Since my Alfred was a direct import from Korea, the remote control and the bot’s sensor control cover were in Korean – nothing a copier, scissors and sticky tape couldn’t fix. Once that was overcome, a clean home was just a touch away. Most days, my big toe will hark back to the days of ballet to gracefully touch the sensor top to set the cleaner in action.

With sensors and cameras on the  side as well as bottom of the device, there is no danger of the square robotic cleaner falling off the top of a staircase or a step-down of a room. Being 340mm tall, the cleaner gets under beds to get rid of the dustballs that we never seem to reach, as well as hidden corners. It doesn’t make a huge noise, but you wouldn’t want to run it before you go to bed. The sensors on the robot cleaner don’t detect too well skinny legs and objects under a (middle) finger in height (think speaker stands and dining room chairs). Cables and dangling wires are also at risk of being chewed up, along with stray underwear, socks… you get the idea. But it will steer away from cupboards, boxes after a gentle bump.

There are two versions – the one with more ‘eyes’, has a schedule function (so you can set it to start cleaning everyday at a certain time) and with a ‘wet mop’ function is the red model VR6270LVMB. If you want something to just zip around and clean up, the grey VR6340LV is just as good, albeit a slightly older model.

Honestly, I hardly use the mop function as it’s a tiny piece of cloth (the size of a folded kitchen paper napkin that you tear off a roll) that can’t be too wet, and attached to an extra plastic bit that has to be fit under the cleaner. It could take care of small room. But roll up any carpets. Speaking of which, the robot cleaner will sense the difference before a hard floor and carpet, going into turbo mode when it detects pile.

The Hom-Bot has a few cleaning modes, spiral (goes round the same spot of a major mess), cell-by-cell (it divides the space into blocks and will go up and down, left and right to cover each block or cell) and zig-zag mode (which is similar to cell-by-cell but a little more flexible, and faster.

All the dust (and you will be surprised at how much it will collect) goes into a small bin that is easily detachable to empty – which the robot cleaner will always remind you at the start of its job.

What is most endearing (yes, I do love my tech) of Alfred the Hom-Bot is that it is able to find its way back to its (small and discreet) home station where it gets charged, and when it makes the connection, it lights up with a HI. Cute.