360 S9 vacuum hands-on: A powerful two-in-one robot, but the app has flaws

The 360 S9 is a stylish looking robot vacuum with a whole host of extra features. More and more two-in-one sweeping and mopping robot vacuums are appearing in the market and it is often hard for vendors to find that differentiating feature. The 360 has some nice design extras.

Like many top-end robot vacuums, the 360 S9 uses LIDAR to give a 360-degree view of the room so that it can mop or sweep most efficiently. The robot saves up to 10-floor plans, so if you have several floors in the house, it will use its stored map to clean in the most efficient way.

The robot will sweep, mop, or do both at the same time for up to three hours. You can specify no-go areas or no-mop areas, and you can configure specific areas to be cleaned at different times. For example, you could clean one area in the morning, and another area a few hours later.

You can place boundaries in the app where the robot will not go — even though it can see them through the LIDAR sweep.

The S9 is the first robot I have seen that has its water reservoir inside of the housing — not underneath. Lift the lid, and both the 420ml dust bin and 200ml water flow tank are next to each other underneath the lift-up lid.

You do not need to swap containers around or fit extra containers to the unit. It’s an efficient way to house both containers. Of course, this means that you do need to empty the dust bin more often — especially if you have pets and carpeted areas where pet hairs collect.

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If you want to use the sweeping and mopping function together, you do need to clip the mopping bracket onto the bottom of the S9. To get the best results, pre-wet the mopping cloth before clipping to the unit to get an even mopping stripe when the robot is in action.

This is a mopping feature for lightly soiled floors that need a superficial clean — not a scrub. If your floors are heavily soiled, you might need to scrub them first before using the robot’s mopping functionality.

The charging dock is another nice innovation. Most robots I try have ‘L’ shaped docking stations, with a base-plate containing the terminals that sit on the floor.

The 360 robot docking station has the back unit only, which sits snugly against the wall. There are two metal bumpers (electrode strips) on the front wall of the unit. The 360 robot also has bumpers on the front of the robot which, once connected, start charging. This is stylish and works well.

Another innovation is the under-body roller. If it runs over a power cable or other trailing lead, the rollers will reverse to dis-entangle itself. Manufacturers of similarly priced robot vacuums, such as the Ecovacs Deebot OZMO and Roborock S6 MaxV should take note. This innovation is especially useful if you have a lot of tech cables around.

Now onto the app. The 360 S9 is the 20th robot vacuum I have reviewed for ZDNet, and most of these vacuums come with apps. Some apps — like the Cybovac E31 — connect quickly and easily.

Hands on with the 360 S9 robot vacuum a powerful two-in-one robot - but the app has flaws zdnet
Eileen Brown

It took me two hours and three different phone models before I could successfully connect to the 360 app. As most of the other robot vacuums have connected successfully, and I have two other vacuums on trial at the moment, I  know that the issue is not with my router — or my mobile phone.

When I first registered the app with my .co.uk email address, the connection failed, citing network connection errors. As I have had this issue in the past with a different vacuum, I uninstalled the app, installed again, and registered with my outlook.com email address to get a successful connection.

Then, every time I started the app and started the S9 on its path, my phone stopped connecting to my recently installed Wi-Fi mesh system. Furthermore, the mesh system status indicated that it was disabled — even though it was available on my other phone. The only way I could continue to use my phone for data was by turning the Wi-Fi off and on to get ‘proper’ connectivity.

Hands on with the 360 S9 robot vacuum a powerful two-in-one robot - but the app has flaws zdnet
Eileen Brown

It seems like the initial Wi-Fi connection to the robot had precedence over access to any other Wi-Fi points I connected to, and hogged the connection whenever it could.

Fortunately, once I had configured the no-go and no-mop zones and screen-grabbed the cleaning path for this post, I did not need to connect to the app again — and my Wi-Fi connection to my mobile device worked just fine.

I am bothered about the Wi-Fi hogging by the app. Hopefully, 360 app upgrades will address this issue.

Apart from my app issues, I really liked the 360 S9.

The sweeping and mopping are good, the robot is not fazed by higher room thresholds, and it never got stuck — unlike some other robots I have reviewed.

The app — once connected — has many features and is easy to use.

All-in-all, for $600 (with a $140-off coupon that’s good through Aug. 21), the 360 S9 delivers everything that other top of the range robot vacuums should do — and delivers a really good sweeping and mopping experience for its owner. 

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