iLife A4s Robot Vacuum Cleaner Review
While robot vacuums are more expensive than their traditional counterparts, the iLife A4s is a simple, no-frills cleaner that busts dust for a relatively reasonable $249.99. You don't get advanced features like Wi-Fi connectivity, but you do get a compact design with solid performance and very good battery life. It's an excellent choice if you're shopping on a budget, but the similarly priced Eufy Robovac 11 remains our Editors' Choice for its slightly better navigation abilities.
The iLife A4s is notably smaller than many robot vacuums we review. It's a petite 12.2 inches in diameter, and stands 3 inches tall. That makes it ideal for low-clearance furniture, and relatively easy to carry around. The Eufy Robovac 11 is slightly larger at 13 inches.
Otherwise, the A4s is fairly nondescript. It's dark gray in color, with a single Auto button to start cleaning up top. The front bumper houses infrared sensors, and on the other end you'll find the surprisingly large dustbin. Between these is the power switch and a charging port.You Can Trust Our ReviewsSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)
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Underneath, you'll find two spin brushes, a swivel wheel, two treads, drop sensors, charging contacts, and the main brush. In the box you get the usual array of spare parts and accessories, a charging dock, and a remote control.
The remote control is the only way to schedule cleans, steer the vacuum, or switch modes. It has three directional buttons: forward, left, and right. Where you would normally find a back button, there is instead a Max button, for deeper cleaning on carpets. In the center, a blue Clean button is to start cleaning. Plan and Clock buttons are for scheduling cleans and setting the time, respectively. Finally, there are buttons for spot cleaning (for contained areas), edge cleaning (along the wall), and small rooms.
The A4s cleans randomly, meaning unless you select a specific cleaning mode, it will ping-pong across the room as it cleans. Sometimes vacuums like this can be a tad overzealous when it comes to furniture. The iRobot Roomba 690, for instance, mowed down two of my dining room chairs. I didn't have this issue with the A4s. It did bump into some furniture from time to time, but it was more like a gentle tap.
More importantly, the A4s is capable of handling many different floor types. It traversed my hardwood floors, rugs, and tile without issue. It did struggle a bit with some raised flooring outside my kitchen, but I attribute that more to its small size than anything else. And it was still able to enter the kitchen without human intervention, so it's not much of an issue. It should be noted the A4s uses infrared sensors, and the company warns it may not be suitable for very dark flooring. That's a common issue, as drop sensors will sometimes register dark floors as cliffs. I didn't experience any issues with a dark charcoal rug in my room, but it's something to keep in mind.
As for suction, the A4s was able to pick up a good deal of dust bunnies, hair, and a disturbing amount of food bits from my floors and rugs. And as mentioned earlier, the dustbin is large enough that you don't have to worry about emptying it before a cleaning session has finished.
Battery life is where the iLife A4s really distinguishes itself. It has an estimated battery life of 140 minutes, and in testing I got about 120 minutes with mixed mode use. That's well over the typical 60 to 90 minutes I typically see with robot vacuums, and a plus if you have a large home that requires more cleaning time.
The A4s struggled with returning reliably returning to its charging dock, which isn't uncommon among vacuums that lack mapping abilities. Essentially, the dock acts as a large tractor beam to guide the robot home. But if it starts running low on battery in a room with lots of obstacles, or it's relatively far from the dock, you often end up with a lost and confused (or dead) vacuum.
While no vacuum is truly quiet, the A4s isn't as loud as some other robot models we've tested. If it's in another room, you probably won't hear it.
Conclusions and Comparisons
The iLife A4s isn't the most advanced robot vacuum on the market, but it delivers solid performance for a reasonable price. It's also smaller and has longer battery life than the Eufy Robovac 11, which lasted about 100 minutes in cleaning. But the Robovac 11 is quieter, better at navigating across raised flooring, and has less trouble finding its way back to the charging dock, making it a better choice for most people. Really though, it's a matter of what features suit your home best. Also keep in mind, if you're willing to expand your budget, the Roomba 690 gets you more advanced features like app control and Amazon Alexa compatibility, so you can start cleaning from your phone or with voice commands.
iLife A4s Robot Vacuum Cleaner4.0See It$109.00 at WalmartMSRP $249.99
The Bottom Line
The iLife A4s is a compact, no-frills robot vacuum cleaner that sucks up dirt and debris without emptying your wallet.
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