Evolution Robotics started out with a mission to deliver an appliance grade, automatic floor cleaner that could truly clean hard surface floors.
Manual and automatic vacuums work on carpets, but tend to spread dust and dirt around on hard surfaces. And traditional manual methods of sweeping and mopping are effective at cleaning, but are hard, time consuming work. Consumers could choose convenience or choose clean floors, but not both.
Evolution Robotics set out to change all that with the Evolution Mint. Did they succeed? Let's find out!
Un-boxing the Mint:
It came in a box with Hammacher on the side. There was a dent in the outside box (Shown), and when I opened it up, it was nestled in another box with Mint on the label. Once I opened up that box, I was finally greeted with the actual Mint box. With all of this packaging used it was secure from any harm done. Thank goodness the outside box took the brunt force and didn't damage the contents.
Enclosed is the Mint robot, NorthStar Navigation Cube, Owner's Manual, Quick start guide, charger, 2-pack "C" batteries, and a pkg of reusable cleaning cloths (Wet and dry).
Owner’s Manual/Quick Start Guide:
The Quick start guide assists the user in how to start charging the Mint (States to charge the Mint overnight), how to put on a wet or dry cleaning cloth, how to place the navigation cube, and how to start the Mint to clean.
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The Mint Dimensions: 9.6”W x 8.5”D x 3.1”H
When in dry cleaning mode, the Mint can cover up to 1,000 square feet in a single cleaning cycle. While in the mopping mode, Mint cleans up to 250 square feet.
NorthStar Navigation Cube:
This is part of the 'brains' of the system. The NorthStar Cube communicates with the Mint robotic floor cleaner to assist in creating a map of the environment. It requries 2 "C" batteries to operate. There is a power button, and a LED light. The LED light first flashes stating that it's waiting for the Minto to connect to the Mint. Once they connect, the LED light turns solid. You need to position the cube to where it has view of the ceiling right above it. Also, place it on top of a counter so the Mint won't bump into it. You also need to position it to where the LED light is facing toward the center of the room.
Cube up close:
Cube turned on showing one of the infrared lights on pointing towards the ceiling:
Operating the buttons on the Mint:
Operating the Mint is pretty self explanatory. You need to press the power button, and either press the Dry sweep button (Picture of a broom), or the mop button (Picture of a water drop). It plays a happy tune, and starts off cleaning. Depending on which selection you choose the Mint will operate in a different fashion.
Navigating the floor:
The Mint uses the Northstar cube to navigate the floor. It emits a beacon on the ceiling in which the Mint tracks and creates a map of the environment. The Mint has 2 different algorithms it uses. One is the dry sweep function, and the other one is the dry mop function.
Here is the 2 different modes the Mint will follow:
Scooba vs Mint:
I decided to split my kitchen floor in 1/2. One half the Scooba will clean, while the other side the Mint will clean. I didn't clean my floor for a while to let it get grungy and nasty! Those days were tough not cleaning the floor. Since the Mint is limited due to the cleaning pad, I filled the Scooba tank 1/2 and with very little solution. I started both and they ran for about 35 minutes. They stopped pretty close to each other. The Mint stopped first, and then the Scooba stopped.
The results are in the pictures. Both areas are about the same in cleanliness. While I was cleaning up the Scooba and Mint, I was walking all over the floor with my bare feet. Once I finished cleaning up, I noticed the side where the Mint cleaned started to track dirt with my feet. The side of the Roomba showed no signs of debris. I was able to capture this with my camera. The wet cleaning wipes I used were the generic swiffer wet wipes. The Mint is easier to set up compared to the Scooba, but I prefer the Scooba that it actually scrubs the floor and grout lines.
First picture is my kitchen broken up in 1/2:
This area will be cleaned by Scooba (5800):
This area is what Mint will clean:
Both are working on getting floor clean:
Mint's area cleaned:
Mint area collecting debris after clean (Residue left on floor):
A member wanted me to answer a few questions which I will include in my review:
Q. How 'Smart' is the Mint compared to neato. Mint claims to be able to cover the whole floor using the Northstar system.
A. The manual states that it does clean methodically. In dry mode, it shows that it moves methodically, which it did in my short trial. In Mop Mode, it drives forward to one side. It then backs up and goes forward to the other side. I'm sure it can cover the whole floor, but I'm sure it would need to be broken up in sections due to the limited cleaning of the cloth.
Q. What will happen to the mint if the northstar is in the living room and the mint wanders off to the room beside the living room? Is it able to return to its original start position? Do we need any constraints to confine it?
A. I couldn't test this in my home. I am only going off what the manual states. If the Mint wanders off out of range of the cube it may occasionally drive back towards the cube to confirm its position before finishing up cleaning. Once finished, or if the battery is too low, the Mint will return to where it was started. You will need to break up your home if it has a lot of hard floors to make sure it cleans it thouroughly. You can also add cubes to extend your cleaning section.
Q. What is the battery life span & charging time?
A. It is undetermined as of now what the battery life span is. The charging time is roughly 2-3 hours. The first charge should be 16 hours, regardless of power light color.
Q. Is the mopping feature really useful?
A. I find that the mopping feature is more useful than the dry feature. But, the dry feature allows you 3 hours of cleaning whereas the wet feature allows only 2 hours of cleaning.
Q. Would you recommend a spare battery for long term use?
A. I wouldn't purchase a new battery right away. I would wait until you start seeing a decrease of time cleaning in your home. The battery is a rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride battery.
Q. What is the working range of the NorthStar Navigation Cube?
A. That range is not documented in the Owner's Manual. The Mint has 3 blue dots underneath the power button which lets you know the signal strength to the Cube. When you first start the Mint one of the lights blink waiting to sync up to the Cube. The Cube light will also flash. Once they are synched up, the cube light will turn solid and you should see all 3 lights on the Mint lit up.
Q. Is there any maintenance that needs to be done during cleaning runs?
A. From what I have read, keep the Mint cleaner plugged in all of the time, stand on its end (Off of the wheels), and use a dry cloth to keep the Mint clean. If you want to store the Mint for longer periods of time, remove the batteries out of the NorthStar Cube, and remove the rechargable battery out of the Mint. It states to store the Mint on end in its original packaging.
Q. What is the life expencanty of the North star batteries?
A. It's not stated how long the 2 "C" batteries will last. I'm sure this would be dependant in how much you run the Mint, and what kind of batteries you use. You could use alkaline batteries, or use rechargable batteries.
Q. What if a person or object gets into Mint's path while running. What happens?
A. The Mint has a bumper sensor and if it detects an object, it will back up and move in a different location. The Mint also has cliff sensors which will back off away from the stairs. It will also detect area rugs and raised transitions to carpet so it can avoid driving onto them.
Q. Have you seen any "Bugs"?
A. So far, I haven't run into any bugs. All of the buttons work and it worked like its supposed to.
I liked how easy it was to use the Mint. It doesn't take a long time to get it running. Very easy cleanup after it runs. The navigation system is like the one Rovio uses, which is because Evolution Robotics is the company that designed it. It cleaned up the section of my kitchen pretty good, despite how dirty it was. Unfortunately it left a residue which attracted debris very quickly, but that is not Mint's fault. That is mainly caused by the brand of wet cleaning pad that I used. Using the Mint without the NaviStar Cube did not fare so well in my small bathroom. This could be due to the cleaning cloth, but it was brand new. I think due to the small size, the Mint didn't spend much time cleaning it. Overall, the Mint performed well. But, if I were to use the Mint on a regular basis my grout lines would start getting dirty. I am spoiled that my Scooba scrubs the grout lines as well. For me, the Mint doesn't stand up to the Scooba (In my home). The Mint should work great in some environments (Hard floors that can't get wet). Running the scooba for over 2 years, I'm very satisified with my Scooba and have no plans of replacing it with the Mint in my home. I know there are a lot of different floor types, and I believe that the Mint should perform very well in some homes, including tile. I just prefer the deeper clean.
EDIT: My apologies for rushing this review a little bit more faster than usual. I have some personal items needing to take care of, thus me rushing.
I do want to add that the Mint would be an excellent choice for homes that have hard floors that can't be mopped with a bucket, or cleaned with a Scooba. Since you can use the Mint with a dry or wet cloth, this makes it much easier for someone to keep their floors clean without fear of ruining their warranty/floor. On homes that have tile, I would suggest sticking with the Scooba, due to the fact that it actually scrubs the grout. But, if you have hard, smooth floors, the Mint will suffice in cleaning the floors. Leaving the residue after it has cleaned won't change, unless you try a different cleaning cloth.
You can also find further discussion about this topic in this thread.