By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
The Mint Plus ($299) floor cleaner from Evolution Robotics is a neat surface cleaning robot that uses dry (for dust collection) and wet (for cleaning, scrubbing) paper wipes to clean most hard surfaces. It even has its own GPS unit that maps its path so it covers the entire area it needs to clean.
The idea that we can employ robotic devices to take care of necessary but time consuming household chores is quite attractive. Our lives are busy enough as they are, who really wants to take a few hours to scrub floors.
Much like the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, the Mint Plus is a two-trick device. It cleans dry and cleans wet. We test how well it does these tasks.
Extremely easy to use and deploy, you can select a to use a dry wipe (for picking up dust and dirt) or a wet Swiffer-type wipe for scrubbing and shining. Put these wipes on the magnetic receptacle, position the device where you want it to start and select the mode and you're good to go.
We first used the Mint Pro without the GPS Cube. Our apartment has a small area that is not carpeted. Basically it covers our entire kitchen, a bathroom and our foyer. Aside from the tiled bathroom, the entire area is made out or rubber flooring.
The Mint Plus does a good job picking up dust, dirt and pet fur with the dry wipe. It seems to be studying the cleaning area and makes it a point to clean the area end to end. When it senses a chance in surface (or a precipitous edge), it simply backs up and avoids that area.
A full battery charge is good for 4 hours of cleaning which is way more time than most scenarios would require. Leave the Mint plus to do its work and it goes about its business quietly and successfully covers around 60 percent of the area that it needs to clean.
We did find that while it did a fairly decent job of gathering dust and dirt, it had some difficulty navigating in certian areas where it would constantly be re-orienting itself and bump into a wall back and forth.
The Mint Plus is supposed to learn as it goes so we figure it should memorize its path after a few uses.
Even on floors that were previously vacuumed and which we thought were pretty clean, the Mint Plus managed to pick up a lot of dust and dirt.
I was more impressed by the wet cleaning function. I popped in a Swiffer wipe pressed the setting and let the device do its thing. The Mint Plus has a different motion for wet cleaning and is pretty thorough in cleaning. The light weight of the device and the fact that it can't really sense areas that need more of a scrub or a back and forth to clean means that it will miss cleaning some spots thoroughly but these are areas that humans would need to apply a lot of elbow grease to remove.
The Mint Plus comes with its own reservoir which means users can use their own cleaning agents rather than the disposable wipes which is convenient.
The GPS NorthStar Navigation System works like an indoor GPS that helps Mint keep track of where it has been and where it needs to go. Specifically, the NorthStar Cube projects a signal that Mint uses to determine its location. Then as Mint starts cleaning, it builds a map of the area as it goes, marking walls, obstacles and drop offs as it encounters them.
In our small space, it really didn't add much to the experience although we could see where the cube, or even multiple cubes can be effective in larger, multi-room areas with hard floors.
The amount of hard floor space is really the prime consideration for someone thinking about getting the Mint Plus. If your home is mostly carpet, it won't make much sense but if you have hardwood floors, marble, linoleum or concrete then this device will save you a lot of time and keep things clean provided you have a steady supply of dry and wet wipes, which should be considered when calculating the long term expense and cost of ownership.
We were concerned by a few things. First of all there were two instances where the wet Swiffer wipes got dislodged and the Mint Plus continued on.
It doesn't know when the wipes are gone! Which means that should this happen, there is a chance that it will continue to scrape away and possibly scratch the surface it is supposed to be cleaning.
For the most part, however, we enjoyed seeing the Mint Plus work and do the work for us which freed up time for us to go and write this review as well as enjoy our free-time.
The best thing about the Mint Pro is its ease of use and the quiet way it goes about its business. If we could improve the Evolution Robotics Mint we would build in a sensor that knows when the wipes have been dislodged or are to grungy and dry to effectively continue cleaning, we would also make it possible to schedule cleaning and allow the device to dock itself a la Roomba.
But for the price of $200 to $299 Mint and Mint Pluls floor cleaning robots already offer a lot for busy homeowners with hard floors.
Rating: 4 out of 5