After having reviewed the top-of-the-line Miele vacuum cleaners over the past couple of years, our attention now turns to what might arguably be the most sophisticated autonomous vacuum cleaner in the world: the Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision. This robot vacuum cleaner has just been released onto the Australian market.
Have a look as we put this roving robot to the test as it scouts and scoots around a house that was definitely not built very robot-friendly!
So how did it go?
I have been interested in robotics ever since I handled sales of robotic systems at IBM in Europe some 35 years ago. The growth of anything that can be automated has been astounding over the last few decades.
Miele has always been in the forefront of many floorcare innovations but robovacs until recently really had their limitations. See our first robot cleaner review back in 2011.
Miele did bring out their first Scout, the RX1, 4 years ago. For an encore in the highly competitive robovac market Miele had to ensure that the RX2 would be an absolute game changer. No floorcare appliance manufacturer would see a robotic vacuum as a replacement for a “normal” vacuum cleaner but more as a reasonably autonomous device to keep the dust levels down so that the big guns don’t have to be wheeled out as often.
After all, we’ve become pretty used to appliances doing most of the hard or tedious jobs around the house and I still have to meet someone who really delights in vacuuming...
So, what would the Miele Scout RX2 have to be to deserve our highest commendation?
1. We’re looking for excellent cleaning results
2. Capable of handling difficult “terrain”
3. Good Value for Money (our all-important VfM factor)
Let’s describe these criteria a bit more.
Without really good cleaning a robovac is just a toy that could scare the cat and the kids. We don’t care how long it takes for the unit to get results as it is autonomous and ideally doing its job when we’re away from the house. But cutting corners is not on. I’m pretty good at that myself, thank you!
Any robovac can do showroom layouts: straight and easy going without obstacles, tricky rugs, cables and recesses. The typical house presents a different scenario and our house is probably the worst terrain for a robot vac to negotiate: it’s a rabbit warren with different levels, rugs with fringes, cables galore and crowded with furniture. If the RX2 can handle this, there’s a very good chance it can tackle just about anything.
Finally, your new RX2 has to be good value for the money you’ll spend on it.
Miele is never cheap. But with excellent products the value for your investment can be very good. A lot of folks can’t afford the premium price of a top quality appliance and that’s OK. But if time is precious to you and you hate domestic cleaning duties a robotic vacuum cleaner may well be a good investment.
Design and Features
Miele’s designs never fail to impress. There’s a solid elegance to appliances that are going to have a long working life. Very reassuring. The RX2 looks slightly aggressive with the big eyes up front which house the cameras that give the Scout 3D vision. Every aspect of this unit is well thought out and function dictates form. For instance: the two big wheels underneath are not aligned parallel so that it can climb onto thick carpets, for instance.
Anything up to nearly 2cm can be scaled.
The suction segment, the heart of the system, is typical Miele. It’s the smallest possible unit with the greatest possible suction and features even a HEPA+ filter. It’s a four stage approach to sweeping up and cleaning. People at Miele claim that the RX2 has a threefold increase in dust pickup compared with the previous model.
Dust and detritus is collected in a reasonably large dust box and you’ll be surprised how much is gathered even when you think your carpets are clean... See Test 1 below.
The articulated side brushes are quite innovative: they are large and can retract when encountering obstacles. Bit like when the tentacles of a snail come across something solid!
This leads us to the exceptional collision avoidance on this vacuum.
Earlier and cheaper models depend on a big rubber bumper that can retract somewhat to “avoid collateral damage” to your furniture. The principle is the same as on the Volvos I used to drive before parking sensors were common. The RX2 has an array of 7 (seven!) infra-red sensors on the front and a few more underneath to detect sudden drop-offs. And that’s also in addition to the cameras on board. The unit maps your rooms and knows what’s where and more importantly, it knows where it has been when cleaning. That makes it super-efficient as the first robot we reviewed had a most haphazard approach to covering a room. Only if it had done the rooms on several occasions could you assume that most of the floor would have been covered...
Not so with the RX2. It approaches cleaning with a thorough German methodology and charts where it has been. And you can follow that on the app.
To top off obstacle avoidance this unit also sports a gyro sensor which measures rotations in collaboration with other sensors so that it can reliably navigate even in pitch-black darkness! The manual issues a caution with operating in the dark: the cleaning may be less thorough since the unit needs navigation cameras for optimum results. I can relate to that: I get around a bit slower too when navigating my own house when the lights are out...
The RX2 Home Vision model.
There are actually two models of the RX2.
Both are web-enabled through the app where you can see the current status, start the appliance or set the timer. And there’s even a certain amount of manual control possible.
The Home Vision model can present us with a live image of what’s happening in your home from the Scout’s perspective.
Wondering if the dog is behaving? Did you leave the back door open? You can direct the RX2 to any area and check if everything is OK.
Having this facility raises the all-important privacy issue: how much of this data could possibly be intercepted? Here’s the bad news: everything connected with the internet can be hacked, including the airliner you fly in.
The good news is that Miele has done everything to prevent a possible hacking scenario. All data is protected as images are encrypted before they are sent and only decrypted on arrival (end-to-end encryption).
No video recording takes place – just sending images to your device.
But even Miele recognises that some people may not want to take that risk and there are instructions in the manual to remove the Wi-Fi module completely. I like that transparency from a manufacturer!
Enough of features.
Let’s go Testing!
Just one more thing - before we let it roll and rumble it needs to be fully charged which takes 2 ½ -3 hours depending on the model for a 60 to 120 minute cleaning session.
This gives us time to flick through the manual and install the app. Of course there’s an app for this thing! You can create a Miele account but you then have to give your address details and other particulars. Not recommended.
You can also skip this and access the status page and navigate your Scout from there, using the Home Vision video. Handy is also the map of where the Scout has already been in a room.
This is a bit of a sneaky test: we first cleaned our lounge room with the Miele C3 which we reviewed a few years ago. It has a motorised brush with bright LED headlights and the room is spotless when we’re done. Or is it?
I hope the RX2 finds nothing substantial so that we can just happily watch it on Auto mode for an hour whilst relaxing with a cuppa and see how it avoids the many obstacles.
First impression: how quiet it is! We left it on the default Auto mode or “lawnmower” mode to see if it covers every bit of the reachable areas. And it did but it did get stuck a couple of times on the same spot between a rug and the couch.
It should have manoeuvred itself out of that because when I put it in Base mode, it just did that nicely... By the way, it needs a clearance of 87mm to get under furniture.
After about 45 minutes of watching every area of the room was done with some areas even 2 or 3 times.
Surprisingly, the battery indicated less than 50% of the 2 hours endurance after just 40 mins. We’ll see how that improves on the next tests. Most importantly, have a look at the dust container: nearly full with fluff from the rug! I was not really surprised as that rug sheds its wool quite quickly.
The hard floors in the kitchen and hall areas should present no problem and we kept the machine in Auto mode.
The big side brushes did a great job sweeping up underneath the kitchen cabinet doors which are a bit hard to reach with a normal vacuum.
After about 30 minutes the Scout thought it was done and returned to base. The map that was drawn on the app confirmed that this was indeed the case more or less. The Home Vision video was also engaged but it’s not exactly hi-def imagery which is probably a good thing for privacy reasons.
Here we check out how the Scout covers the carpeted bedrooms.
We expect these rooms to be fairly clean as the carpets are new so we put the robot into Turbo mode, giving a faster clean. It achieves a 50% faster run by applying the same principle as I do when using my ride-on mower: on easy terrain I use a smaller overlap.
If there’s an area that needs extra attention you can engage the Spot mode. It runs around in circles with nowhere to go... But the area with a radius of about 2m gets really clean!
The dust box was quickly filled with fluff from the new carpets. In fact, some new carpets do shed a lot of wool and using any motorised brush is not recommended for quite some weeks. So, this test is not representative for the overall results. On older carpets the results are very good. A robot vacuum is actually the best appliance to keep the dust levels down under beds.
Here we’re checking (after we’ve cleaned a small area thoroughly with a barrel vacuum) how much the Scout can pick up of a known quantity of “dirt”.
So we scattered 10g of tea leaves on the floor. A pickup efficiency at least 90% would be rated as good. 95% or higher is excellent.
We also did this with 10g of sugar and 10g of oats.
Tea pickup: 98%.
Sugar pickup: 94%
Oats pickup: 99%
These are excellent results! The pickup rate would be near 100% if you let the Scout go around for a second time.
Findings and Recommendation
You’ll be disappointed if you expect the Scout RX2 or any other robot vacuum to be the only floorcare appliance that you’ll need. They may handle the corners quite well and the RX2 is exceptional in that but because of their round shape (354 x 354 x 85 mm) it cannot get into nooks and crannies smaller than those dimensions.
You might get away with a robovac plus one of the handy 2-in-1 cordless stick vacs, like those in the Bissell range that we have reviewed plenty of.
Dust canister capacity will also be somewhat limited because of the small form factor. Frequent emptying is recommended and easy to do. There’s actually a strange feeling of satisfaction to see how much the unit collects after each use!
We were pleased to see how the Scout handles fringes on rugs. They’ll be messed up but the robovac doesn’t get stuck in them, unlike the motorised brush of its bigger sibling, the C3 barrel vac.
A 1 metre magnetic strip can block areas where you don’t want the robot to go. It works but if you don’t use any adhesive the robot will nudge and displace it. I’d like to see a better way of blocking off areas, like through drawing on a map on the app, for instance.
So How Did the Miele Scout RX2 Score on our Criteria?
1 We were looking for excellent cleaning results.
The Scout RX2 is a Miele product. Do we need to explain? The controlled tests have clearly proven the excellent pickup percentages of common kitchen spills.
2 Important too was the ability to work in most domestic scenarios. We presented the RX2 with some very challenging terrain.
The Auto mode is probably the best way to navigate around and to make sure the whole area is cleaned. The coverage maps helps to get a visual on how the RX2 does this. It will have no problem in any modern home.
3 Lastly, does the Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision give good value for money? That is mainly determined by the results of the criteria above.
In addition, the Miele Scout RX2 scores extra points on built quality, intelligence and styling.
In our opinion: the Scout series is good Value for Money and these models are certainly not the most expensive robovacs around. However, they will not be for everyone or for every household.
So in conclusion, we can highly recommend the Miele Scout RX2 Series and especially the Home Vision model as tested.
For best results your home should ideally be uncluttered with hard floors or carpeted rooms. We tested the Scout in a much more challenging environment so that we can be confident of our recommendation.
The Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision can be seen and purchased in stores like JB HiFi, Betta and Bing Lee. The RRP is $1699 but some stores advertise them for $1499. Warranty is 2 years.
The standard model RX2 is very similar but does not have the live image mode and the endurance is just one hour before needing to be recharged again. This model can be bought from the Miele shop for AUD1399.