Top GPS Mop: iRobot Braava 380t Mopping Robot Review
Whay at all do we need a GPS Mop ? While we all love having a clean home, there’s one thing no one likes about it: actually cleaning it. Granted, there are some people that find some sort of elusive solace in mere cleaning of all things, but for most of us that just isn’t true. We all want a clean house but we don’t want to go through the hassle of actually cleaning it ourselves. Of course, there has been an answer to this for quite some time: automated cleaning systems that do the work for us.
But while we have had those types of machines available for quite some time, they haven’t always been the most reliable tools around. They often fail to get the job done to a satisfactory level, and then we wonder why we even spent money on them in the first place. Either they suck up everything and anything, leading to clogs or malfunctions, or they fail to clean the house to an acceptable level that would actually satisfy us, thanks to their randomized nature or general lack of efficiency.
But with today’s technology, rectifying these by now classic issues is a simple matter, and in fact, it’s already been done. You’ve probably heard of GPS auto mops and vacuums by now, but there’s always one that stands out above the rest, and this is just as true with an automatic floor mop as it is with anything else. The iRobot Braava 380t Mopping Robot is head and shoulders above other auto mops, for various reasons that this review will look to identify for the interested buyer.
Not Just an Auto Mop
Alright, so we established that the Braava is the top GPS mop, but not why. Ironically, one of the top reasons happens to be because the Braava is not just a mopping machine for the home. It actually has two modes, one which is the aforementioned damp mopping mode, and another which is a dry sweeping mode. In this sweeping mode is systematically tackles every hard surface on the floor it’s working on and sucks up dust, dirt, and other particles, so even though it’s called ‘sweeping mode’ it’s really more of a vacuum. Either way, it’s definitely a large bonus to consider, because why settle for an automatic floor mop when you can have a GPS mop that is also a vacuum?
GPS managed movement ensures full coverage
If you’ve ever purchased an automated cleaning unit in the past, you’ve probably experienced this problem already: they aren’t very precise. You come home and your little Roomba has missed certain parts of the house, or cleaned only haphazard swaths through each room. That’s because many older automated cleaning units use randomized paths to move throughout the house, and with such a large margin for error, it’s easy to see why they don’t always get the job done.
That’s why the Braava doesn’t use such methods to move throughout the house. It’s a GPS mop, meaning that, rather than randomly generate its next direction in the cleaning process, it actually keeps track of where it has already been, allowing it to determine where it still needs to go. This makes the Braava a far superior mopping machine for the home, because it’s guaranteed to cover every inch of the floor it can reach. It only finishes the job when it has cleaned everything it can. It actually builds a map of the house as it goes, designating drop-offs and obstacles as it goes, making it highly efficient.
And though it is standard fare for automatic floor mops these days, the Braava is capable of deactivating itself and returning to its starting position, ensuring that you will be able to find it after every sweep of the house. It’s to be expected of course, but at least the engineers met the expectation.
Turbo Charge Battery Station
While it’s unlikely that you will be using an auto mop more than once a day in your household, you never know when an emergency situation may arise and another round of cleaning is needed. For that purpose, it doesn’t take long for the Braava battery to recharge at all. I fact, with its Turbo Charge Cradle, the Braava battery can be completely, totally recharged in just two hours. Obviously having such a short recovery period improves the value of a mopping machine for the home, so you can use it in any unexpected situation that arises.
Multiple Cloth Options
When you buy the Braava, it will come with microfiber cloths for both mopping and sweeping operations that can be reused hundreds of times. But when they finally wear themselves out, you aren’t necessarily required to purchase more Braava specific microfiber cloths to keep using your Braava GPS mop. In fact, while the quality of the micro fiber clothes is undoubtedly unquestionable, you can use regular Swiffer brand products with the Braava as well. It’s just one more option you have when you need to start replacing those clothes after several dozen uses.
Extra Quiet Operation
One of the perks of a mopping machine for the home is that you don’t have to do it, and since you don’t have to do it, you’ll probably be enjoying your newfound free time in other ways, like perhaps sleeping. That being the case, it would be highly unfortunate if the Braava were a noisy machine that you couldn’t possible sleep through. Thankfully it is no such thing, managing to do its job not only efficiently but also quietly, so it won’t be a bother throughout the day, other than stepping out of its way every once in a while as you cross paths with it.
Short Stature, Increased Access
Obviously the issue with cleaning floors manually or through an auto mop is the same no matter what: furniture gets in the way. While it won’t be able to get under absolutely everything, the Braava GPS mop is only about three inches tall, allowing it to clean under most of the furniture it will encounter during its clean sweep of the house. The more floor that gets cleaned the better, because dust under furniture likes to make itself far more prominent when the rest of the floor has been cleaned. It’s just a super unfortunate fact of life.
Features and Specifications
- Northstar Navigation system allows on the fly mapping of a floor to guarantee the Braava cleans everything it possibly can
- Dry sweeping and damp mopping modes allow you to choose what type of cleaning you want performed
- Turbo Charge Cradle recharges the Braava battery in just two short hours
- Extra quiet operation will allow you to go about your daily business without interruption or inconvenience from the Braava’s work
- Micro fiber cleaning cloths are not only super-efficient and easy to clean, but can be reused dozens of times before replacement
- Can function with both Braava micro fiber cloths and standard Swiffer products
Customer Reviews and Scores
When it comes to buying a product online, you unfortunately can’t hold it in your hands and judge it personally to determine if it is as good as certain people claim it to be. Your only way of knowing how reliable the product will be is to look at what other people have to say about it: as they say, the majority is rarely wrong, at least when it comes to factual matters. Thankfully we have plenty of reviews on Amazon.com to see what the general client consensus is for the Braava.
That said, the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Of the 1,195 reviews available for the product, eighty three percent of them are three stars and above, leaving only the bottom seventeen percent in the negative category. Overall, it’s been given an average rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars.
Of course that means there is still nearly twenty percent of unsatisfied customers, at least as far as these reviews are concerned, but we’ll find out why they are so displeased with the purchase after assessing why so many more were happy with it.
The most lauded aspect of the Braava seems to be its level of efficiency when cleaning, which really doesn’t come as a surprise. However, one of the top reviews also states something very important: “…while his AI is quite impressive at times, it is still an appliance. This is not entirely a set it and forget it robot.”
Despite the Braava being mostly self-operating, it certainly does do to remember this statement. The Braava GPS mop is an appliance, and just like your dishwasher and your washing machine, it still requires human involvement in its operation from time to time. It will still be up to you to set the machine, replace its clothes occasionally, and make its job easier by moving things out of the way. Those who go into this purchase while understanding that it is not one hundred percent automatic to the core will be the most satisfied with it.
Even so, if you have that reasonable expectation set in place already, most people seem to be very pleased with the Braava’s cleaning performance. “As it is now, the Braava gets places I’d never get with a broom. Under the couches, under the book case…it’s great.
“It’s quiet enough to let run while we’re cooking, eating, watching TV etc…”
“The methodical way in which it cleans was a surprise and is sometimes even fun to watch. They way it reacts to corners, walls, and furniture legs is impressive and it diligently works around them to cover every inch it can get to.”
Still, there is that unfortunately large percentile of disgruntled customers, so what problems did they encounter? One major issue seems to stem from customer service problems. One reviewer stated that, while replacement parts were covered under the iRobot warranty when they were needed, the company mistakenly sent him a replacement unit without a battery. Obviously a good reason to be miffed, but such an incident could have simply been a rare mistake on the company’s part.
That said, other complaints go to the lack of an extended warranty option, so it seems that the majority of displeasure with the Braava goes not to the machine itself, but to the customer service at iRobot when something does go wrong. Of course, being a highly complex and sophisticated system, there is always a chance that something could go wrong with the Braava after several months of use or physical damage, in which case customer service would need to be reliable. But considering the small percentage of unsatisfied customers and the large number of happy ones, it seems likely that customer service is reliable more often than not.
In the long run, there’s no such thing as a perfect product. As much as we wish for one, every product ever made now and in the future will have some flaws, because nothing can have it all, and unfortunately the Braave is no exception. Still, we can have products that have far more boons than disadvantages, and thankfully the Braava falls into this category. While it is true that the Braava is a complex computerized machine, and therefore a delicate one that can suffer major issues if something goes wrong, iRobot customer service takes care of the issue nine times out of ten.
On the other hand, the Braava does the job it was designed to, and it does it very well. With its Northstar navigation it effectively cleans every nook and cranny it can reasonably reach, even under furniture. It’s easy to use, simple in operation, and convenient for keeping the house clean while you do other things. And considering the ratio of happy customers to displeased ones, that number being four to one, it seems fairly obvious that the Braava performs admirably far more often than it fails.