Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra: Hands-On Impressions

Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra (Photo: Alex Kidman)

At Roborock’s Australian launch for the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra, I had the opportunity to see the company’s latest flagship robot vacuum in action — as well as a few other new vacuum devices.

Roborock announced Australian availability for the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra a few weeks ago — I wrote it up here — and today it held its official Australian launch for the new robot vacuum in Cairns.

Disclaimer: I travelled to Cairns as a guest of Roborock. Many publications omit this kind of detail, or throw it in at the end, but that’s not my style. Make of that what you will.

While there’s a certain “sameness” to many robot vacuum cleaner models — mostly circular , generally either black or white — the devil of whether they’re any good really rests a lot on the details and on how well they work in reality.

For the launch, Roborock demonstrated the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra in a simulated home environment, though you’d have to be on the smaller side for it to be your entire living area.

Still it was enough to give me some impressions of where Roborock’s particular take on premium robot vacuums might excel — and where it might fall short. Naturally I’ll have to hold off on a full appraisal until I can test out the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra in my own home test environment. Stay tuned on that score.

Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra: The very early upsides

Reasonably smart detection and movement: One of the banes of my life when testing robot vacuum cleaners is when they get stuck on surfaces or objects.

From the demonstrations given — and keeping in mind these were planned demos, not real world live tests per se — the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra made its way around different surfaces and heights fairly intelligently.

I could easily see the mopping plate lifting to its full 20mm height, giving it scope for protection for thicker carpets, too. The claim — and I really want to test this out in the wild — is that it can detect everything from socks to errant cables left on the floor and intelligently avoid them.

Having had to disentangle both from way too many review robovacs over the years, that’s a feature I’d love to have.

Pet searching and photographing Look, I work mostly from a home office, so I pretty much know where my cats are most of the time. They’re either sleeping, or they’re complaining at me that it’s dinner time about three hours too early, with no state in-between.

But I do also know a lot of pet owners who do stress about their furry friends when they’re off at work, and the prospect of turning the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra into a remote pet finder has some appeal.

Roborock’s demo of this was just with a toy dog — I do get it, a real one may not have stayed in place to be “found” — but it does seem to work.

Decent cleaning Again, this should be expected if Roborock wants $2,999 of anyone’s money, and again, this is off a very small and controlled sample size.

But so far, so good with cleaning up wet spills or cereal on floors. The front-based design for vacuum bags and wet mess clearing also seems like smart design, at least from the perspective of making it easy to keep the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra ticking along.

Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra: The very early downsides

Voice control might be a little hit-and-miss The Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra works with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri, but Roborock’s also built in its own voice assistant, Rocky.

It’s not the first to market with its own assistant… but I’m yet to see one I’m really impressed with, and at least from the demonstration, I’m not sure that Rocky is all that much better.

The issue here is pretty simple. If you’re using voice commands, you don’t want a robot vacuum cleaner to be a petulant child; you want it to be a willing servant that catches your command first time, every time. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m not sure that Rocky is quite there yet.

Clearly this needs more testing and time to properly evaluate, though I will note in its favour that Rocky can also work in an offline configuration, something that you won’t see out of the Apple/Amazon/Google assistants to any great degree.

I’m not sold on voice calling through my robot vacuum The Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra has cameras, and it has speakers, and it has a microphone. So, sure, building in the facility to make a call through the Roborock app seems like it’d be moderately simple to manage… but this feels like a feature that’s just there because it’s there, not because it needs to be.

You 100% don’t have to spend $2,999 to get a smart speaker than can do this exact task, after all — and I’m left wondering how many baby sitters or elderly relatives are likely to be freaked out when the robot vacuum cleaner starts talking to them.

As noted, this was a launch event, not a full-on-review frenzy, so I couldn’t do a lot of my own personal testing in environments I’m wholly familiar with. I’m interested to see how well the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra stands up to more rigours testing — which hopefully I’ll be able to do quite soon.

Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra (Photo: Alex Kidman) Buy The Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra! Buy On Amazon

But wait, there’s more!

Roborock Flexi Pro Vacuum Mop (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Roborock also used the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra launch event to talk up a couple of its other models.

If the asking price of the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra ($2999) is a little rich for your blood, there’s the slightly trimmed down $2199 QRevo MaxV, which shares much of the same feature set of its bigger sibling, with the same robotic FlexiArm system providing a claimed 98.8% edge coverage and mopping up to 1.85mm from the edge.

Suction is dialled down a little to 7,000Pa suction, it doesn’t wash the mop quite as hot as the MaxV at 45 degrees and the mop head only lifts to 10mm to avoid carpets where the MaxV bounces up 20mm. You do still get the same pet detection and video calling features, however.

If robots aren’t your particular bag, there’s also the $999 Roborock Flexi Pro and $699 Roborock Flexi Lite vacuum mops to consider.

These won’t hit The Australian market until the 31st of May 2024, with the pricier model offering up better edge cleaning, mechanically assisted rolling wheels and a front light over the Lite model. Yes, that’s right, the Lite model… doesn’t have a light.

I did get a brief bit of hands-on time with the Flexi Pro, and it handles pretty well over the single surface I could test it with, though by the time I was able to do so, it had been pretty well scrubbed clean anyway. Again, I’d need to put it firmly to the test to come to a more definitive conclusion than that. Stay tuned.

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