AEG RX9.2 review: A robot vacuum that cleans like a dream
Robot vacuum cleaners have a habit of looking like they’ve all rolled off the same production line, regardless of who has stuck their branding on the box. That isn’t the case with the AEG RX9.2, which has a unique, rounded triangle shape that will leave you wondering why all robot vacuums don’t look like this.
In fact, AEG has gone out of its way to improve upon the bog standard robot vacuum cleaner, with a range of better-than-average features that come together to make a cleaner that’s more capable than most of cleaning your carpets and hard floors.
AEG RX9.2 review: What do you get for the money?
Compared with most robot vacuum cleaners, the content of the AEG RX9.2’s box is sparse. All you get is the robot unit itself, a compact charging station that’s barely any larger than the robot itself, a single corner brush to clip onto it, and a few basic instruction pamphlets. It’s enough to get you started but AEG hasn’t wasted any resources on peripheral paraphernalia.
The most obviously unique thing about the robot is its shape. In a world where almost every robot vacuum cleaner we’ve seen follows the same basic hockey-puck shape, AEG’s engineers have tossed the rulebook aside and come up with their own design. And very clever it is, too.
One of the biggest problems with circular robots is that they aren’t particularly good at getting into corners. This is because they position the main brush between the drive wheels, leaving a pretty big gap between the sides of the vacuum and the cleaning brush. With a circular shape, the corner brushes also struggle to reach into corners.
AEG changes all this, carving off the superfluous plastic to create a much more practical shape, positioning the main brush forward of the wheels so it’s able to span more of the width of the robot, and the sweeping brush right in corner so it can get to places most robots simply can’t reach.
There’s another benefit to the straight-sided design. It has allowed AEG to build the obstacle detection equipment into the flat front bumper of the robot. The robot uses both a camera and two stereoscopic laser eyes to build a 3D picture of what’s ahead of it, all of which are mounted on the front.
With most rival robots position their advanced sensors on top of the unit, adding to the height, this is a clear advantage for AEG RX9.2. Measuring a mere 85mm in height, it’s able to squeeze under all the low furniture in my house, including the TV stand and coffee table shelf, items that cause bulkier cleaners problems.
Another brilliant touch is its collection bin, which sits in the centre of the device. In robot terms it’s huge, with a capacity of 0.7 litres; most rivals top out at 0.6 litres. Emptying involves pushing the button on the top of the robot; this unclips and slightly raises the bin so you can lift it out. The lid lifts off on a hinge and it’s easy to tip the contents straight into a dustbin. There are two filters – a mesh to catch fluff and a paper filter to collect finer particles – and it can all be rinsed under a tap.
The underside of the robot looks more familiar. There are two large wheels to handle traction and steering, and a couple of tiny coasters to stabilise the rear end. The 205mm intake port is right at the front, and houses a roller brush that uses both bristles and rubber fins.
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AEG RX9.2 review: What is it like to use?
The AEG RX9.2 is controlled using a smartphone app. Annoyingly, it’s not the AEG RX9 app, which is what the instructions on the packaging tell you to download. Instead, its functions have been amalgamated into the AEG Wellbeing app, which you can also use to control other smart devices, such as the firm’s connected air purifiers. If you download the RX9 app, you’re simply told to switch to the Wellbeing app during setup.
Initial configuration of the robot is straightforward. The base station is compact and discreet, adding no more than a couple of centimetres to the width and depth of the robot when it’s parked. The station plugs into a wall socket and should be positioned against a wall, with 0.5m of clearance on each side and 1.5m of clearance at the front. I tried it with less, but it really does seem to need the space to avoid parking issues.
When it’s on the base, a full charge takes around 2.5 hours, which is at least half an hour quicker than most rival robots. That’s just as well as I found the battery couldn’t complete a full clean of a 57m2 floor plan in its standard Smart cleaning mode taking a break to top up the battery. There are also Power and Quiet modes that use more and less battery power respectively.
Connecting the robot to your Wi-Fi network is also painless and most of the difficult elements are done automatically by taking a photo of the label on the vacuum’s base. Connection to Wi-Fi has to be to a 2.4GHz channel, so beware if you have a mesh system that blends 2.4 and 5GHz networks under one name. Your robot will still connect to the 2.4GHz channel, but if your phone quietly connects to the 5GHz alternative, the two may not be able to communicate.
The app then introduces features to you as it works. Initially, the only option is to Clean everything, which lets you set your robot off on its first mission. As it cleans it, builds a map of your floor; when it’s finished, in theory at least, it will have explored the entire area and have built up a map that can be saved. From here, you can set no-go zones (around delicate furniture, for example) and send it to rooms or areas that need a bit more attention than others. You can also set up schedules and perform spot cleans.
AEG RX9.2 review: Is it good at finding its way around?
During testing, I had a bit of a problem with the AEG RX9.2’s map making. Although I could create maps of small areas, my challenging 57m2 space had the robot confused and it stubbornly refused to cross the slightly raised threshold of the utility room when doing a full clean. I eventually got the robot to add the room to the map on the app, but only by closing other doors along its route to stop it getting distracted.
Later, it refused to add a second map of another floor, without moving the base station (so it could dock at the end and effectively register the job as finished). This is quite a palava and investing in a secondary base station to make it less of a pain will set you back another £37.
Once you’ve got a map or two installed on the app, you can section it off manually into rooms, or any other cleanable area, such as around a dining table or breakfast bar, and add in no-go areas that you’d prefer the robot left alone, such as a nest of wires behind a TV. Setting these up is fiddly, but perseverance will win the day, as it does with the mapping. You can also use these areas or the maps as a whole to set a regular cleaning schedule, and that can be as simple or complicated as you like.
In all honesty, the app is disappointing. With all the effort AEG has put into the robot, the app adds a level of clunkiness that just doesn’t sit right. However, I can forgive it because those invested in the product will get there with it in the end.
When actually moving around, I was mostly impressed with the RX9.2. Its camera and lasers keep it aware of its surroundings and, while minor obstacles such as table and chair legs don’t necessarily make it onto the map, the robot is a master of avoidance. When it approaches something, it usually stops before making contact and will reverse slightly and have a look around before deciding how to proceed. It’s not perfect and it still needs its spring-loaded bumper to detect collisions on the periphery of its vision system – and to prevent it hitting objects too hard – but it remains one of the most aware robots we’ve tested to date. Compared with the bumpy navigation of the iRobot Roomba i3+ it’s a revelation.
It’s not as good at avoiding getting stuck, which happens occasionally, but it usually manages to sort itself out even when it does. And it’s slow, which might frustrate those wanting a clean in a hurry. With a charge in the middle, it took over three hours to clean our 57m2 floor, where other robots, such as the Ecovacs Deebot N8+, can cover the same space in an hour. It’s thorough, however, cleaning rooms in blocks, tracing out a small perimeter, then methodically cleaning the space in the middle.
The biggest annoyance I found is its resistance to crossing the threshold between doorways, if they have a raised sill. It struggled similarly with rugs and thick mats, which it tends to work around, compartmentalising them and tackling them separately. This makes sense in some cases, but slows the robot right down when it’s dealing with something relatively small, such as a doormat, which ties it in knots of decisions about how to tackle the problem. Again, it always gets there in the end, but it can slow the process to a crawl.
AEG RX9.2 review: How well does it clean?
We haven’t talked about the AEG RX9.2’s cleaning prowess yet but it’s here that the vacuum comes into its own. It’s simply superb at vacuuming stuff up. AEG doesn’t quote the suction power of its device, but it did a great job in our tests.
Its spot cleaning tool has been superbly programmed. You can’t steer the robot to a spot but you can pick it up and place it down in front of the mess you want clearing. Press the spot clean button on the top and, instead of charging in and scattering whatever has been spilled with its corner brush, it does an on-the-spot turn 90 degrees to the right, moving the sweeper brush well out of the way. It then goes around the perimeter of an area about 1m2 in an anti-clockwise direction, keeping the brush on the outside while it collects the debris below it. It’s a simple but effective cleaning algorithm.
I performed our standard tests, spilling measured amounts of rice and flour on both carpet and hard floor, and measuring how much was collected. Its ability to pick up rice is near flawless. On hard floor it collected a full 50g of a 50g spillage. I counted only three grains that went awry, along with a smattering that strayed out of the bin as I was emptying it, all of which amounted to less than a gram. On carpet it was nearly as good, collecting 49g out of 50g.
Flour is a tough test for a robot vacuum but the RX9.2’s prowess impressed here, too. Of a 50g spill, it collected 48g from carpet and 45g from the hard floor. Even in the latter case, there was little more than a dusting left behind.
For reference, this makes it the second best performance a robot vacuum has ever achieved in our tests, with only the Dyson Heurist bettering it. Even then, the Dyson isn’t better across the board, with AEG able to pick up more rice in the carpet test.
Add to this the fact that its shape is very good at getting into corners and sweeping surface dirt from edges, and the AEG’s cleans up in the performance stakes.
AEG RX9.2 review: Should I buy it?
The AEG RX9.2 has enormous promise and is easily the best robot vacuum cleaner we’ve seen for the price when it comes to cleaning. What a shame, then, that the app you use to control it is so cumbersome. I found it hard work to create a map, fiddly to create zones in it, and annoying that you have to move the dock if you want to switch floors.
However, despite these app-related foibles, we can’t fault the RX9.2 for design and cleaning power, which is so far up the scale it still earns our recommended award. Just be prepared to be patient with its foibles.
To indeed, to beat its cleaning ability, you have to look to the Dyson 360 Heurist, but it’s going to cost you around £150 more. For only a little bit more, you could get a robot that cleans almost as well as this and empties its own collection bin. The iRobot Roomba i3+ costs £699, isn’t quite as good at cleaning, and certainly isn’t as gentle on your furniture, but it’s faster and less fussy about thresholds.
Those who don’t want to spend this much on a robot vacuum cleaner should look to the Eufy RoboVac G30 Edge. It doesn’t have the cleaning chops of its pricier competitors, but it’s a great value option for £339.