I recently tried to revive our robotic vacuums*, and, in doing so, reviewed the records relating to when we bought them and for how much. They had stopped working within the last couple of years.

It turns out that in the process of purchasing them, we had to exchange the first ones we bought, but eventually landed on functioning units. A little more than five years ago we bought a Neato XV-14 and although it was less expensive than the leading competitor, Roomba, it was still expensive at several hundred dollars.

And now it doesn’t even function well as a doorstop (due to the wheels, and shape, and the fact that it’s a robot).

Now, we bought it at Costco, so technically we could take it back because we are definitely unsatisfied with the purchase, but I don’t want to be that guy.

In investigating replacements, I find that they are no less expensive. While new models from various manufacturers get positive reviews, they can’t answer the question I have: “how long will it last?” Because two or three years is not enough for a vacuum. Compared to hiring a maid they’re less expensive, but that’s not the point. They are supposed to make my life easier and cleaner and instead I end up running the regular vacuum every week or two.

So, sorry, robot vacuum companies. Your allure has faded due to the fact that your products cannot be considered reliable. I know it is your strategy to release differerent model numbers frequently so it is difficult to track long term performance. But I’m not going to play that game until some gigantic revolution in AI (and/or product reliability) comes along.

* I only bought one but I convinced a family member to purchase one as well.