Review: Hobot-298 – a robotic window cleaner
When I look for smart home devices, I’ve got a few hard-and-fast rules, one of which is: Do I hate doing this chore? If yes, it’s a prime option to replace it with some automation, whether that’s with a robot or with some AI.
Now, there’s no home robot for doing the dishes or even for filling the dishwasher (yet – but I live in hope), but many other household tasks can be handed off to robots. I’ve got robot vacuums, automated lights, and now, a replacement for my second-most-hated task, washing the windows.
Yes, now I’ve got a robot to clean my windows and I couldn’t be happier. Let’s take a look at the window cleaning robot that has me grinning like a loon, the $529 Hobot-298.
So, what’s it all about?
Okay, so window-cleaning robots come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but this time around it’s a square that’s just under 10 inches on each side. Perfect for cleaning huge windows or glass doors, not so great for the top panes in most home windows, as it needs to be used on surfaces larger than 16 inches square.
The robot weighs just over two pounds and holds onto the surface being cleaned by suction. Unlike many window-cleaning robots, the Hobot-298 is mains-powered, with a 16.4 ft total reach on the cord. The 40 ml water tank can be used with either water or Hobot’s special cleaning detergent, and it’s automatically sprayed ultrasonically when the robot needs it.
It has an anti-falling AI, that checks the suction levels and will stop the robot if it detects a loss of suction, and it also has a manual tether with a safety rope that you have to attach to above your window before you start cleaning. That’s a good thing, as nobody wants their robot to fall off and hurt someone walking underneath.
It also has a 20-minute battery backup, so in case it pulls the cord out of the wall, it won’t automatically fall off the wall. You don’t have to charge this up before you start, as it will charge while cleaning.
Is it any good?
Starting cleaning with the Hobot-298 is simple, although depending on your windows, it might be more labor-intensive than just washing them with a cloth by hand. It needs to go over each window twice, once dry to get off the dust, then once with the spray function on to clean off the dirty spots.
You can start it by pressing the start button on the robot, or with the remote control, or with the Hobot smart app once you’ve connected it to WiFi. That makes it easy to switch between dry and spray cleans, without having to go back to the robot.
The app also lets you change the speed, although that might change the cleaning effectiveness so you have to play around with it a little bit to find the sweet spot for your windows.
You know what, I wasn’t sure about this robot before using it, especially knowing how long it’s been since the last time I cleaned my windows. Turns out, it did a pretty darn good job, only failing with a couple of spots that have probably been on the windows since we moved in. I can’t wait until we move into our new house in the new year, so the Hobot 298 can keep our brand-new windows looking brand-new.
The only annoyance for me is that it can’t transfer itself to your next window, so you have to manually unhook the tether, move the Hobot, and reattach it to your next window when you’re cleaning. That’s fine if you’ve got lots of patio doors or floor-to-ceiling panes of glass to clean, so if your home is full of glass or if you’re in an office with lots of glass walls, the need to move the robot between windows is less annoying than going up on a ladder to clean each window manually.
If you’re brave, you can also use the Hobot to clean the outside of your windows, but the lack of ease of tethering it four floors up had me pause on testing that, except for the couple of windows that open onto our deck. Oh, and it’s not just for windows, the Hobot-298 can clean marble walls, mirrors, or any other sufficiently flat and smooth surface.
So, should I buy a Hobot-298 ?
If like me, you hate cleaning windows, the Hobot-298 might be exactly what you need to make chore day more enjoyable. Yes, it’s $529, but so is any good robovac, and you didn’t think twice about buying that robot to clean your floors, did you?
There are no worries about battery life as it tethers to a wall plug, and there are no worries about it falling off and hitting someone or breaking, as it has a 20-minute battery backup and a tether strap.
The only thing I’d caution is that if you have smaller windows only, setting it up for each pane is probably going to be more work than washing them by hand.
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