Robot vacuums have come a long way since their inception. Besides the usual vacuuming function, they are now equipped with many other features, making them the ultimate home-cleaning assistant. And you don’t have to look far for one, with the recently released Roborock S8 Pro Ultra being one such device.
The Roborock S8 Pro Ultra combines vacuuming capabilities with the ability to mop. But that’s just the surface of its list of features. It also brings a dock system to help with self-cleaning and an intelligent navigation and obstacle avoidance system, among others.
But those features come at a cost; it is a very expensive robot vacuum device. For a robot vacuum newbie like me, the price can be a tough sell. Still, I was keen to check out whether all of its bells and whistles were worth the price tag.
For the robot vacuum itself, the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra is similarly sized to other robot vacuums. We have a Roborock S7 at the office, which is basically identical to it, at least in dimensions. If you are used to having a device of this size, this new Roborock shouldn’t need any adjustments from your end.
However, the docking system is a different matter. It is a hefty beast, measuring 42.6 x 51.4 x 45 cm, taking up a sizable portion of space. It’s something to take into consideration, especially if your home is on the smaller side.
While size may be an issue, the dock is at least functionally simple to use. Right at the top is a dustbin that collects debris, a water tank for clean water, and another for dirty water. Each is easily distinguishable and doesn’t take much effort to remove and insert back into the dock, with a handle implemented to aid with carrying the tanks around. Even the most technologically illiterate folks should have little trouble handling it.
That being said, I’m slightly annoyed by the small opening for the clean water tank. It isn’t a serious problem, but I’ve found that it makes the water top-up process just a tad messier than needed.
Set up of the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra is also relatively fuss-free. I was able to get the device up and running in about five minutes with the help of the dedicated app.
Using robot vacuum cleaners always begins with mapping the house, and the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra is eerily accurate in that regard.
Having set it up within our studio unit, which functions as a pseudo-home-living environment, the robot vacuum was able to track where the furniture was placed, distinguish separate rooms (in our case, the bathroom), and identify objects within the space — highlighting it all as such in the app.
Interestingly enough, the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra also adapts to changes made to the room. The studio space sees the furnishings being moved around a lot, and the robot vacuum can detect the differences, updating it accordingly in the app. All of this is done whenever you run a cleaning routine, so there is no need to manually have it map things out again. From here, you can manually edit the map and set up specific room designations or no-go zones if needed.
Speaking of cleaning routines, the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra offers a good variety of options on that front. The default clean mode is the simultaneous vacuum and mop mode, but you can customise it to have it vacuum the room first and then mop, or just do the vacuuming and mopping individually. The intensity of the suction and scrubbing can also be chosen before running the routine, and you can schedule it to run however often you like. Just set it up once, and you don’t have to think about it again.
That’s a decent amount of customizability for the cleaning, but users also get a lot of flexibility on where to do the cleaning as well. While you can choose for the usual full cleaning, which cleans the whole mapped-out area, you can also opt to have it clean specific rooms or even designated zones, which users can map out in the app.
In terms of following what you’ve customised, however, the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra doesn’t function as well as it should. I tried specifying a zone for the robot vacuum to do the mopping in the studio space, and while it did clean that area, it also went ahead and mopped other parts that were not designated.
That wasn’t the only strange behaviour I witnessed in the robot vacuum. From one of its scheduled cleaning routines late at night, the device incorrectly stated that the cleaning was done, but the map indicated that it only did a small area in front of the dock. It was confusing as it seemed to go in a circle around an obstacle when this happened.
Another less-than-amusing occurrence was that the device somehow went through my designated invisible wall and got stuck, mistakenly thinking that a wall was blocking it. I had to manually move the wall within the map settings for it to get out.
In terms of cleaning performance, the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra is a remarkable assistant. Given that the vacuum has a powerful 6,000 Pa suction power, it has picked up most of the dirt and dust from the space and is typically pretty thorough with its coverage. It also has a Carpet Boost+ feature that increases its suction power on rugs and carpets, allowing it to pick up stuff like hair and crumbs better.
Much of the same applies to the mopping performance as well. I was pretty sceptical about how good it would be able to clean, considering how the mop is just a simple flat pad. But the robot vacuum’s VibraRise 2.0 Mopping feature does pretty well in removing stains from spills.
Of course, using just water to mop your home’s floors isn’t exactly ideal. However, Roborock does not recommend mixing in any third-party cleaning agents with the water to ensure that the parts aren’t damaged. You can purchase their own cleaning solution, but it seems that is the only safe option if you insist on using a cleaning solution.
I would say that the robot vacuum device is usually pretty decent in terms of navigating around while cleaning. It isn’t perfect though. Sometimes it’ll force itself through a small space and have a tough time trying to get out. There’s also been an instance where it has gotten stuck against something. But these occurrences aren’t particularly common.
By default, the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra can climb over carpets, even thicker variants, without getting stuck. Occasionally it may flip over the edges of such carpets, but it isn’t a common problem. One thing that does concern me is the fact that the mop attachment might come into contact with rugs. While Roborock does say that the mop can be lifted 5mm during vacuuming, it still does touch furry carpets.
Since it can identify carpets, users can have the device avoid carpets instead. Still, I’ve noticed that by enabling this option, the vacuum seems to give a wider berth of space than necessary, which means the other areas get missed out during cleaning.
We have quite a big space in the studio — with about 110 square metres of cleanable area, according to the app — and the robot vacuum takes a time of around 2 hours and 20 minutes on average to finish cleaning with the simultaneous vacuum and mop mode. Part of the reason for the long cleaning time is that the device usually needs to recharge halfway before resuming. If your house has a similarly big area, it is recommended that you have the S8 Pro Ultra do its cleaning routine while you are asleep to mitigate any wait.
The big tagline that Roborock has for the S8 Pro Ultra is “Forget About Cleaning, Really”. It doesn’t quite ring entirely true, but the statement does come extremely close.
There is very little you need to do to maintain the device. After vacuuming, the robot automatically deposits the dirt into the dustbin within the doc, so there is no need to manually empty it. The filter for the dock dustbin is also pretty big and lasts for a few months before a user needs to change it. Similarly, the clean water tank doesn’t require manual intervention very often and nets around three to four cycles of mopping before needing a refill, at least for the large studio space on which we tested the device.
It also comes with an automatic mop-washing function which helps remove dirt from the mop cloth and does so several times during the mopping routine to ensure that your floors are getting cleaned with a “fresh” cloth. When it docks, there is also a heater to dry off the cloth to prevent smells from developing.
Both features work decently enough from a visual point of view, though I could still catch a wisp of the stale smell from the cloth — I would still recommend you wash it semi-frequently for peace of mind.
All in all, the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra does feel like it has the potential to be the be-all-end-all cleaning assistant for your home. The cleaning performance all around is pretty fantastic, and the minimal maintenance needed means that you don’t have to worry too much about having to go through the usual laborious tasks.
However, it comes with the caveat that you must train the device before you can simply set it up and forget. There may be unforeseen issues that get the S8 Pro Ultra stuck or weird behaviours that you may need to address first before the device runs to your tune — something that requires several cycles of cleaning to iron out.
If you have the patience to accommodate the device’s learning period, you will get an excellent robot vacuum, particularly for big homes. For those with smaller houses though, the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra’s quirks are not something you necessarily need, especially given the high price.
Photos by Brendan Tan and Leo Chia of the DANAMIC Team.