jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

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jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby jdong » March 24th, 2016, 7:51 pm

(Vic7767 also has a thread about this robot. I decided to make a separate thread so that the conversation didn't get too confusing: viewtopic.php?f=21&t=19186 )

Long Story Short:

If you are familiar with Swiffer dry sweepers and Swiffer WetJets, and are satisfied with that level of cleanup, this is a robot that accomplishes those tasks a little better than the manual alternative. If on the other hand you're looking for a heavy duty scrubbing robot like a Scooba, this is probably not the right choice.

As far as pads, getting the dry pads is a must. I'd recommend the damp mopping pads over the wet mopping pads.



My background / needs:

As most of you probably have read, I've had a long history with robot vacuums, and lately have found the Roomba 980 to be my robot vacuum of choice. I have daily cleaning cycles scheduled, and the robot gets lost/stuck less than 1 in 50 full runs. Long story short, I'm living the dream as far as carpet cleaning goes. But, I do have a laminate entry way and tile bathrooms. They maybe add up to 300 sq ft in total, but they actually pose the biggest cleaning challenge for me, since the Roomba can only pick up surface dust. After trying a lot of manual solutions for those areas, until now my weapon of choice is the Swiffer WetJet. However, I do have a lot of problems with it, and think the Braava Jet fits the bill for me. Bathrooms are gross to clean, and I'd rather be able to watch TV (or clean the countertops) while having the robot deal with the grunt work of cleaning the floors and whatever stuff has dried on the tiles.

Initial Impressions / Unboxing


- The Braava Jet is really small. I've seen the Scooba and Braava units in store before, and expected this robot to be that size... but nope, it is really small and pictures don't do it justice. When I first unpacked it, my feelings were mixed: On one hand, it looked like it would easily fit between my toilet and wall. On the other hand, the robot seemed so small and the pads seemed so small that I was worried it wouldn't clean well. In the end, those fears were put to rest, but that's for later on!
- As with iRobot's other products, the packaging was straightforward and setup was simple. There were two pieces of foam taped in by yellow tabs for protecting the bumper, and that was the only setup required on the robot. The battery was a small, flashlight-sized cartridge and charges uses a wall charger.
- Officially, the instructions say to charge the battery before use. I was able to dry and wet sweep a bathroom before the battery died, so you can probably cheat if you're impatient. But based off future runs, I'd say the initial runtime out of the box was maybe 50% shorter than the true cleaning capacity.
- The handle is a great way to carry the robot. Whether it's empty or has water in it, the robot feels well balanced and it was easy to move the robot from place to place using the handle.

Cleaning Pads and their performance:

(I did not test the reusable wet pads, because they do not fit my needs. I'll defer to vic7767 to review those pads!)

- The Braava Jet comes with 2 samples of 3 types of cleaning pads: Dry, Damp, and Wet. I also bought some extra Damp and Wet pads, but in retrospect I should've bought dry pads too, and not with the original robot purchase. I will not repeat what the manual/support resources say about each of these pad types, but will briefly comment on my observations:
- All the pads look surprisingly small. It's maybe 1/3 the size of a Swiffer WetJet pad! But they are much better constructed and as a result, and a single Braava pad ends up cleaning better than the WetJet pad. I could not believe it, and had to go as far as breaking out the WetJet and comparing the pads side by side for a while to believe this conclusion. Fact of the matter is, the WetJet pads are severely cost-reduced, and their scrubbing surface is not very effective, even with human elbow grease. And once they cake on enough surface dirt, the WetJet pad stops being absorbent. That doesn't seem to happen with the Braava pads.
- The Dry Pad: I thought this pad would be the pointless one. I had a dry swiffer mop before, and threw it away because it was so useless. So I didn't even think I wanted dry pads. But after using one of the sample dry pads, I came away impressed. It was able to hold on to an incredible amount of hair and towel lint without redepositing it. And the Braava Jet is especially silent and fast when using the dry pads. This is a great pad for touch-up cleaning and de-dusting. Even on surfaces that my Roomba had already cleaned, the dry pad was able to pick up more dust and gray stuff thanks to its static cling. It also leaves a pleasant, faint smell, and it's especially effective for making bathrooms smell fresher.
- Damp Pad / Wet Pad: Other than one being orange and the other being blue, quite honestly, I did not see much of a difference in the physical construction of these pads. Physically, they are made of a outer skin consisting of woven color nylon-like fibers wrapped around a cotton/gauze absorbent interior. The rough outer texture helps with scrubbing, while the inner material is seemingly unique compared to what Swiffer uses. Swiffer's material can be at best described as a really thin baby diaper. But the Braava Jet pad filling looks more like those medical first-aid pads that are used to stop/absorb bleeding. In the end, I was actually able to clean almost twice the rated square footage with one wet pad, and it still seemed to perform acceptably (e.g. was not dripping wet or leaving streak marks). The detergent seems effective, and dries to a smooth streak-free shine. It got dried wine and OJ and all sorts of bathroom junk (toothpaste, splatter, etc) out. It also has a very gentle scent compared to the Swiffer WetJet detergent, which IMO is overpoweringly scented.
- I prefer the damp pad over the wet pad. The wet pad's 3-stroke cleaning pattern takes longer to cover an area, and left the floor slightly wetter, but honestly I did not notice an appreciably better ability to clean. Seems like you can approximate its behavior by just running the damp pad on the same area twice. The damp pad also seems to clean a much larger area.
- Like any damp cleaning system (whether it be a mop, Swiffer WetJet, or Braava damp/wet mopping pad), if you do not preclean excessive dust/hair, wet-mopping produces gross little clumpy hairballs that don't get picked up. I would highly recommend using Braava Dry Pads to pre-clean... pre-cleaning with a Roomba or vacuum or broom sounds tempting, but because those things don't fit into small spaces like the Braava, the Braava can still find more dust and mop them into hairballs!
- Bottom line is, for initial cleaning, the Braava Jet is as good as or better than a Swiffer dry sweeping mop and a Swiffer WetJet. I've even bought some expensive Shark Steaming Mops and to be honest they did not do any better of a job cleaning. And I expect that the true power of the Braava Jet will be in its convenience leading you to run it more frequently than you would manually mop. Mopping is worse than vacuuming in terms of laboriousness and grossness.
- My recommendation is to purchase Dry Pads and Damp Pads. Maybe I just don't have the right use cases for wet pads, but so far I've not found it as essential as the dry and damp pads. Also, registering your Braava Jet gives you a one-time discount on pads! So maybe hold off on pad purchase until afterwards!
- Oh yeah, pad reuse. It's not just for penny-pinching... Some of us have a lot of really small areas separated by carpet, and need to treat one cleaning as multiple cycles. Whether or not that's practical depends on the pad:
- Wet Mopping pad: ABSOLUTELY NOT. The cleaning cycle sprays a lot of water at the beginning of the cycle (as if to wet the pad), then sprays less water. Even if you only clean a 50 sq ft area the first time, using the same wet pad and restarting the cycle is guaranteed to leave you with a sopping wet floor. Probably not what you want.
- Damp Mopping Pad: Maybe. The same observation as above applies, the unit sprays more water at the start than at the end. But I've been able to use the same damp pad for two bathrooms, though the second bathroom ends up being slightly more damp than the first, though not unreasonably so.
- Dry Pads: Reusable until it's too dirty for your comfort.... There's nothing that prevents these pads from working across multiple cycles, apart from it being totally saturated with dust. My first dry pad was a mess by the time I was done, since it did the initial cleaning of two bathrooms and a kitchen. But my subsequent dry pad looks a lot better after fully cleaning all of my hard surfaces, and I was able to use it again a second time with acceptable results.

Robot Navigation / Operation:


- The robot is fairly quiet and you can coexist in the same room as it working. In dry sweeping mode it is virtually silent except when it bumps into surfaces. In the wet/damp modes, the vibrating mopping head does produce a buzzing/humming noise that reminds me of an aquarium air bubbler. But compared to the noise level of a robot vacuum, it's not even close. If I shut the door then I can't hear it at all.
- Battery life seems more than acceptable. Seems to last at least 2 mopping pad switches, which is as much as I've tested in one go. I would guess most people will not find a need to buy an extra battery.
- Overall, the navigation works as advertised, and pleasantly surprised me. Unlike most other coherently navigating robots, the Braava Jet one does not have any fancy sensors. It has a bumper, wheel odometers, and gyro, presumably for determining when it gets stuck or pushes itself out of alignment on an obstacle. This makes me wonder if it's possible to make a cost reduced Roomba 980 that doesn't have the camera, but still retains semi-intelligent navigation.
- Unlike most navigating robots, it is sensitive to the starting placement! The manual explains it well: Place it in the left corner about a foot away from walls. The robot first cleans to the right before looking for other areas, and finishes by backtracking to the far left. My rule of thumb is to line up the robot against the back left, then use the robot as a guide: Move it one robot width up, and one robot width to the right. If you do not follow these instructions, the cleaning pattern is less efficient and more time consuming, but it still ends up succeeding. But if you are cleaning a large area that stresses the robot to its limits, every bit of efficiency counts
- As far as navigation effectiveness, the Braava Jet reminds me of the Roomba 980. It will first attempt to clean all the wide open areas, and reacts to obstacles by realigning itself to a straight line and continuing to clean. Afterwards, it spends more time circling obstacles, hugging walls, etc, before returning to the starting spot.
- While it only covers open areas with a single cleaning pass (or the 3-pass pattern for the wet pad), it will circle obstacles and edges multiple times (I counted up to 3 times). I believe this is intentional for thoroughness. But it leads me to recommend, consider removing all obstacles from the floor if you want to maximize cleaning efficiency.
- If the robot runs out of battery, it will still return to the starting position. I've found that it sometimes does not wipe up its last squirt of water in this scenario.
- You cannot pause or restart cleaning cycles, which is a major difference compared to most other robots. If the cycle is interrupted (e.g. you press the Clean button to pause it, it runs out of battery, you pick it up, it throws an error), the robot essentially turns off and you must start a new cleaning cycle.
- I've yet to see the Braava Jet get stuck in my relatively simple environment, which is good because it would be very inconvenient (since the robot cannot resume after you free it). I've read from other reviews that it could drive over ventilation grills and get stuck there, so you might want to be careful or robot-proof those. So far it seems fairly impervious to pinch traps, toe-kick areas under cupboards, and tight spaces like behind toilets. Often times when trying to negotiate those obstacles
- As far as rugs and carpet transitions: The cleaning pad is somewhat connected to the bumper, such that a lot of friction on the cleaning pad will trigger the bumper. Also, most rugs and raised transitions hit the front of the thick pad and register as an obstacle. This works for all of my carpet transitions and most of my floor rugs, and I don't need a virtual wall for most of those areas. However, I do have one rug that is low-profile, and occasionally when the Braava tries to wall-hug it, it ends up climbing on to the rug. I deploy the virtual wall at the rug and start from that end of the room.
- Also, not requiring navigation cubes (versus the Braava 380t) suits this robot well. It makes it a lot more convenient to move from one area to another.
- Negative: When first finding an obstacle, it bangs into it pretty hard sometimes. But the robot doesn't seem to damage itself or any of my surfaces... it's just one of the noises you can hear from it running that can feel disconcerting. Once it bangs into something once, it will remember where it is, and will slow down before crossing that line on all future passes.
- Another negative: The Virtual Wall mechanism feels somewhat limited. Basically, you can only set a single virtual wall, that says "don't go behind where you started", and the robot basically draws an infinite-length virtual line at the dashes it shows on its body. This works for rooms that have one entry way, but does not work for marking multiple entry ways or for blocking off single items. It also doesn't work for blocking off a challenging obstacle like a thin rectangular rug island in the center of a larger room.

Conclusions:

I think it's important to realize that the Braava Jet's designed for cleaning bathrooms and small kitchen/hallway spaces, especially to complement people who already have a Roomba/Neato for cleaning their carpeted surfaces. As long as you use the robot under these kinds of conditions, I think the robot will fit your needs and you'll be happy with its performance. However, I don't think this fits the bill if you have a lot (e.g. more than 500 sq ft) of surfaces to clean, or complex layouts, etc. I would have to believe that iRobot is working on a bigger robot for these situations. Also, the Braava is quite different from the Roomba in that the Roomba can be programmed to run fully unattended for whole-house cleaning, while the Braava Jet requires your intervention to set it up, start it, and then come back later and move it to a different area.

But at its price, I think it's a compelling product and will probably do well on the market. I think it has two major weaknesses:
1. It doesn't handle large spaces, and I expect a lot of people to try to use it for a bigger job than its intent, and become dissatisfied. However, I also feel that some of the earlier Braava/Scooba products tried too hard to address the large-space problem and ended up doing a mediocre job in big and small spaces alike.
2. The pricing model for the cleaning pads seems a little steep. If you do the math and compare it to using official Swiffer products and maintaining a Swiffer WetJet with detergent and dry sweeping model, you'll find that it's maybe 10-20cents more expensive per cleaning, which doesn't feel too bad. However, I think at the very least, the dry sweeping pads should be sold at a lower price, and it would be great to be able to buy these pads in a bulk or subscription model to lower the price. Otherwise, it leads customers to run these machines frugally, and that is the downfall of robotic cleaning appliances: They really shine (no pun intended) at incremental cleaning, and often don't achieve human expectations for deep cleaning a gross environment that went a year without cleaning.

So far, 24 hours into testing it, I still recommend it. I don't think it's a supreme flagship product like the Roomba 980, but it's also not priced that way. And quite honestly, there's a lot of people like me with too little hardfloor area to justify spending more money on a premium flagship mopping robot. There's a market for one, but a smaller market compared to vacuuming robots.
Last edited by jdong on March 28th, 2016, 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby susantx3 » March 24th, 2016, 9:34 pm

Outstanding Review
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby vic7767 » March 24th, 2016, 10:51 pm

Excellent summary jdong You've given me an idea that possibly the moist cleaning pad might work in the larger tiled bathroom 20' x 30'.
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby third_deg » March 24th, 2016, 11:08 pm

I'm impressed that it cleans that well given its weight! They must have put some pretty serious engineering time into the pads as you say.

As to navigation I expect it has (2) optical trackers located the rear pointing towards the floor to assist with error reduction.
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby jdong » March 24th, 2016, 11:19 pm

third_deg wrote:I'm impressed that it cleans that well given its weight! They must have put some pretty serious engineering time into the pads as you say.

As to navigation I expect it has (2) optical trackers located the rear pointing towards the floor to assist with error reduction.


Yeah I think the pads are a huge part of it. Especially the damp and wet pads, it must be a combination of the detergent, the abrasive coating, and the vibrating motion of the head.

I'll take a closer look at the bottom sensor-wise. It has a few optical sensors but I assumed they were cliff sensors.


I'm interested in hearing how it works for others too. In my experience navigation tends to be a very hit or miss per-home thing, but I've also noticed lately that iRobot seems to release products that show signs of polish and thorough testing.
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby jdong » March 24th, 2016, 11:43 pm

I took some pictures of the wet, damp, and dry pads as well as the packaging for the former two. It has a little more info that isn't found on the website.

ImageUploadedByTapatalk1458877398.766850.jpg
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1458877389.560028.jpg
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1458877379.493864.jpg
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1458877372.011143.jpg
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1458877353.512064.jpg
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1458877340.708736.jpg
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jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby jdong » March 24th, 2016, 11:46 pm

I put the Braava Jet on top of my Roomba 980 for size comparison purposes.

ImageUploadedByTapatalk1458877577.455916.jpg


Also, I've recorded two videos of the little guy wet mopping my bathroom... It's not edited intentionally because I found it difficult to understand how it works in realtime when researching because all the videos out there were edited. I think it's easier to see from this video that wet mopping seems a bit overkill -- I think it mainly just takes twice as long as damp mopping, and I have hard time believing that anything that wouldn't get removed in one pass is worth another one of these passes versus just waiting till the next day's cleaning.

First one is some straightforward open space: https://youtu.be/kjcIj-NP2oI

Next, negotiating around my toilet, and some wall following. You can see that it follows the wall twice. https://youtu.be/HnwyU2oOQzU
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby vic7767 » March 25th, 2016, 7:46 pm

Busy, busy, busy.... Kinda effective though, I like it.
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby Kazy » March 26th, 2016, 10:17 am

jdong - It appears your bathroom has a tile floor. In your opinion, does the unit clean the grout or just pass over it?

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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby jdong » March 26th, 2016, 11:56 am

Kazy wrote:jdong - It appears your bathroom has a tile floor. In your opinion, does the unit clean the grout or just pass over it?

Kaz


I would not say it thoroughly cleans grout but at the same time I've also not seen it leave any visible dirt/grime as it passes over grout....

In my experience nothing really cleans grout like getting down on the ground with a brush and scrubbing, so I'm not sure what to expect.
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby piokrza » March 26th, 2016, 2:59 pm

jdong wrote:In my experience nothing really cleans grout like getting down on the ground with a brush and scrubbing, so I'm not sure what to expect.



Let's try Scooba 3xx
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby jdong » March 26th, 2016, 6:56 pm

piokrza wrote:
jdong wrote:In my experience nothing really cleans grout like getting down on the ground with a brush and scrubbing, so I'm not sure what to expect.



Let's try Scooba 3xx


I'd love to try a scrubbing robot some day, but I think it's fair to say that the Braava Jet is meant to be a downsized Braava 380t, not a Scooba 3xx/4xx replacement.
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby third_deg » March 26th, 2016, 7:54 pm

It's true.... Consistant use of 3XX series Scoobas would see steady improvement of grout lines.

Not really true of any of the others in iRobot's line.
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby jdong » March 26th, 2016, 9:09 pm

That's pretty awesome! It's too bad that iRobot didn't continue down that path for heavy duty floor scrubbing robots. My parents have a lot of hard floor surfaces and would benefit from something like that.
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby piokrza » March 27th, 2016, 7:45 am

My old 385 always get grout look like new. I miss it. I've tried Braava 320, but it's a useless 'toy' in compare to Scooba 3xx on tiles. Does nothing beside light damping the floor. No thorough scrub action at all.
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby jdong » March 28th, 2016, 2:30 pm

Added one more observation to the original review that came over time:
- Oh yeah, pad reuse. It's not just for penny-pinching... Some of us have a lot of really small areas separated by carpet, and need to treat one cleaning as multiple cycles. Whether or not that's practical depends on the pad:
- Wet Mopping pad: ABSOLUTELY NOT. The cleaning cycle sprays a lot of water at the beginning of the cycle (as if to wet the pad), then sprays less water. Even if you only clean a 50 sq ft area the first time, using the same wet pad and restarting the cycle is guaranteed to leave you with a sopping wet floor. Probably not what you want.
- Damp Mopping Pad: Maybe. The same observation as above applies, the unit sprays more water at the start than at the end. But I've been able to use the same damp pad for two bathrooms, though the second bathroom ends up being slightly more damp than the first, though not unreasonably so.
- Dry Pads: Reusable until it's too dirty for your comfort.... There's nothing that prevents these pads from working across multiple cycles, apart from it being totally saturated with dust. My first dry pad was a mess by the time I was done, since it did the initial cleaning of two bathrooms and a kitchen. But my subsequent dry pad looks a lot better after fully cleaning all of my hard surfaces, and I was able to use it again a second time with acceptable results.


All in all, I started out thinking the wet mopping pad would be a winner, but it really is not for me. It seems like dry pad + damp pad is the best combo unless you have the means to use the reusable pads.
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby vic7767 » March 28th, 2016, 5:33 pm

jdong wrote:like dry pad + damp pad is the best combo unless you have the means to use the reusable pads.


Agreed, I did order the reusable wet pads but it will be a waste of money to order the regular wet mop pads.
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby Kazy » March 31st, 2016, 9:55 am

Still can't decide if I want to pull the trigger and get one or not. Except for the ability to get into smaller, tighter areas, does the Braava Jet 200 clean any better than using the old Mint, Braava with a "swiffer" wet pad?
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby vic7767 » March 31st, 2016, 11:52 am

About the same. The smaller footprint is the main difference but also the Lithium pack is a plus.
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Re: jdong's initial Braava Jet 200 impressions

Postby jdong » March 31st, 2016, 12:22 pm

Agreed. I feel like this probably won't be compelling if you already have a mopping robot of some sort. It's more for people who have been on the fence or not considering one. The combination of the lower price tag and specific optimization to cleaning bathrooms and other small areas I think appeals to people like me who otherwise would not think they need a mopping robot at all.
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