Milagrow AguaBot 5.0: Sweep and swab away

The last time I had a robot vacuum cleaner in for review, my household help felt threatened. But when my wife gave her a demonstration of what it could do, she felt at ease. "You still need someone for pocha (swabbing)," she said triumphantly. Well, when I started reviewing Milagrow's AguaBot 5.0 (Rs 31,990), I could offer her no such solace. This vacuum cleaner, as the gentleman who came to demonstrate the product said, could do both jhadoo and pocha (sweeping and swabbing) of floors.

The AguaBot, with its metallic colour, looked classy and sedate - definitely better than the deep red last robot vacuum cleaner I had reviewed from Milagrow years ago. This one also felt lighter. Setting it for charging, I retired for the night.

The next morning, I went for football practice. It had rained the night before and there was slush all around. As a result, I got home leaving a trail of mud - from the front door to the chair. Then I spotted the AguaBot sitting serenely. Filling its water tank, I proceeded to let the bot do its job.

I switched to turbo mode to clean up the mess; it seemed to be doing a good job, but the racket it was making led to my wife rushing out to investigate. "What did you do?" she demanded. Thankfully, my "sins" had been wiped clean by then. Nothing, I was just testing this new product, I explained.

After my wife left, I bent down to have a look at the floor. It had been cleaned all right, but there was just a faint outline of the mud. A second bout of cleaning in normal mode and it was gone. Then, I scheduled the AguaBot to clean the living room every morning at 6. Programming it was a cinch using the remote. I did miss the "virtual wall" its predecessor had; that way I could be sure it wouldn't wander into the kitchen. I closed the door to the kitchen that night and went to sleep.

The next morning I woke up to an angry wife. "I had to jump out of bed, thanks to the racket this bot was making," she complained. Really? It wasn't making that kind of noise during the demonstration, I countered. "Yes, but you didn't factor in the wires, did you?" my wife complained.

Yes, I'd completely forgotten about the wires - which run from the TV to the speakers, from the phone to the router, from the dish to the DTH, and other sundry gadgets I have hooked up. Here was one more robot vacuum cleaner that had tripped over the wires and got itself trapped. Unable to do much, the trapped bot managed to make enough noise to wake my wife up. Chastened, I immediately moved the bot to a room without wires.

To make amends, that afternoon, I collected a few floor mats and proceeded to get them cleaned. The last bot from the company had an UV light to get rid of germs; this time, besides the water, there was a HEPA filter to take care of the germs. Soon, I was done and dusted. The next day, I tried using it on the balcony and then "allowed" the bot to climb into the room later; it worked well, though thanks to the constant deposit of dirt, I preferred using the dry option in open spaces such as the balcony. One issue I faced after an extended bout of dusting was cleaning the dust compartment, which is very easy to remove, multiple times.

The Milagrow AguaBot 5.0, at Rs 31,990, is a step up from the cleaning bots I have reviewed earlier. But be prepared for some recurring expenses, such as for the HEPA filter.


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