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Dyson 360 Vis Nav review: A great, powerful robot vacuum but with some caveats

Dyson 360 Vis Nav review: A great, powerful robot vacuum but with some caveats

The Dyson 360 Vis Nav's design and colour make it stands out from the competition.

I've had my fair share of experiences with robot vacuums. Yet, the Dyson 360 Vis Nav robot vacuum stood out as a unique contender in this uber competitive market. Dyson's reputation for quality and innovation had set a high bar, and my curiosity was piqued: could this vacuum live up to the hype?

Upon first glance, the 360 Vis Nav caught my eye with its distinctive Dyson design. The matte blue finish, the striped roller, and its overall shape made it clear that this wasn't just another smart home device; it was also a statement piece. Dyson is known for its aesthetics, and they didn't disappoint. However, the absence of bumpers raised an eyebrow – this design choice, while sleek, seemed to invite scratches and scuffs, which indeed became evident during my testing.

Interestingly, the robot vacuum identifies its docking station by the two checkered markers.

Unlike the docking stations from other brands and models, the Dyson's is remarkably small - although you don't get any self-cleaning features.

The build of the 360 Vis Nav diverged from the typical disc shape of its competitors – consider the recently tested Roborock Q Revo as an example. It was flat-fronted, with a broad brush bar that spans its entire width (and actually bigger than the one on the V12 Detect Slim) and is versatile enough to navigate both carpets and hard flooring. This was a welcome departure from the usual spinning sweepers, as it promised a thorough clean right up to walls and into corners. Dyson also claims the brush bar design does not kick up dust as much as vacuums with spinning sweepers do, which kind of makes sense if you think about it. The side duct, a novel addition, was Dyson's solution to edge cleaning, diverting some suction power to ensure no nook was left unattended.

A notable high-tech feature was the full-colour touchscreen atop the vacuum. It displayed current actions and detailed troubleshooting information – so you don’t have to second-guess what to do if the machine stops working for whatever reason. The easy-access filter and bin, both removable from the top, added to the user-friendly experience. The cylindrical bin, complete with a carry handle, can be opened through a slider.

Below the camera lens is the full-colour touch-screen (it's not turned on here).

Let there be light.

Peppered around the 360 Vis Nav are sensors that look like this.

The Dyson 360 Vis Nav set itself apart from its competitors primarily through its embedded fish-eye camera lens, offering a 360-degree field of vision. This marked an interesting shift from the laser-based navigation systems I had seen in models from other brands. The camera-centric approach was undoubtedly innovative, but not without its flaws. For instance, in less illuminated spaces, the vacuum had to rely on a light ring to navigate, which seemed like a step back in terms of autonomous navigation.

Complementing this camera system was the vacuum's impressive array of 26 sensors, including time-of-flight and drop sensors, designed to enhance the vacuum's navigational capabilities. These sensors are tasked with detecting and maneuvering around obstacles and preventing the machine from tumbling down stairs or ledges. However, the real-world performance of these sensors didn't always meet expectations. The reliance on the camera in dim lighting conditions appeared to undermine the sensors' effectiveness, necessitating the use of the light ring for navigation. This dependency, coupled with the vacuum's cautious approach – likely influenced by its sensor feedback – led to what I felt were slower than usual cleaning rounds.

The 360 Vis Nav's broad brush is actually wider and longer than the one used on the V12 Detect Slim / Submarine.

The extending side duct is a very clever and effective engineering feature by Dyson, in my opinion.

The 360 Vis Nav's hesitancy was particularly noticeable around low objects and cables, where it often struggled, occasionally leading to clumsy and gut-wrenching ‘bumping’ encounters with furniture and household items left on the ground. My test unit seems to have occasional appetite for swallowing up power cords or floor mats, or toppling poster frames that I placed on the floor.

Battery life was another concern. Dyson's claim of a 65-minute runtime felt optimistic. In my testing, a 25-minute clean in Auto mode consumed more than two-thirds of the battery. For larger homes, this meant the vacuum requires more than one recharge to complete an entire sweep of the house.

But to be fair, as far as cleaning performance is concerned, the 360 Vis Nav is unparalleled in my opinion. Its edge cleaning capabilities were impressive, sucking up dirt and dust in areas that not many, if any, other vacuums can reach. On carpets, it performed exceptionally well, picking up dirt and debris with ease. I get the sense that part of the reason why the battery consumption is so high is due to the impressive 65W of suction power. The HEPA filtration system was another plus, ensuring that dust and allergens were effectively trapped – great for those with sensitive noses.

Dyson ought to make a cleaning tool that allows users to clean their vacuums' bin more effectively.

However, one does not simply buy a robot vacuum for its cleaning ability, but also its autonomy and ease of use. In this regard, the 360 Vis Nav was a mixed bag. The frequent recalibrations, the imperfect mapping, and the multiple recharge (the vacuum requires two recharge to complete sweeping my 5-room apartment) all detracted from the overall user experience. For a product positioned at a premium price point of S$1,649, these shortcomings can be hard to overlook for some. You also don’t get mopping with hot water or self-cleaning of mop pads and the docking station does not even come with a central disposable dust bag – all these features are supported by most other brands in way or another and cost less.

Although admittedly they don’t vacuum that well nor as efficiently as the Dyson machine. So what do I make of the 360 Vis Nav?

I think for those in the market for a high-end robot vacuum, the 360 Vis Nav offers a unique blend of style and performance, but with caveats that, while cannot be ignored, could be tolerated in my opinion. As with any premium product, the decision ultimately comes down to weighing the pros and cons and deciding what matters most in your home cleaning routine. If you’re in the hunt for a robot vacuum that looks good and is the best at what it does, then the Dyson 360 Vis Nav is a clear winner here. But if you want more, then you’re better off looking elsewhere.

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