For a long time, it seemed like the Roomba line from iRobot was the only game in town when it came to robot vacuum cleaners. As the underlying technology has been further developed and explored, however, plenty of other brands have been throwing their hats into the ring—and many of them are doing it for a lot less than what you’d spend for the Roomba’s name recognition.
If you’re looking a robot vacuum on a budget, you’ll definitely want to consider this model. It uses the same slender, circular construction as better-known Robot vacuums, giving you the same level of maneuverability and close edge-cleaning capabilities. As you’ll see from reading this iLife A4s robot vacuum cleaner review, this model may be missing some of the more advanced features you’ll find on high-end Roombas, but it still more than qualifies for the title of best-valued robot vacuum on the market considering everything you get for the price.
iLife A4s Review
Pros and cons
What we like about iLife a4s:
- Costs right around $200 after the Amazon discount ($249.99 standard retail)
- Sleek design cleans under furniture and along room edges
- Easy to use and maintain
- Up to 140 minutes of cleaning time per charge
- Automatically returns to base when it’s low on power
- Sophisticated sensors prevent falls and collisions
What we didn’t like:
- Doesn’t work well on thick or dark-colored carpet
- No Wi-Fi compatibility for use with smart home systems
- Doesn’t automatically start cleaning again after recharging
The A4s from iLife uses a 3-stage cleaning process. Dirt is first funneled underneath the vacuum then pulled up into the dustbin, allowing it to capture more on each pass for a more efficient clean. The dual side brushes also make sure it cleans right up to the edge of the room, while the low 3-inch profile lets it fit easily under furniture.
Battery life is always a concern when you’re looking at robot vacuums, especially if you have a larger home. The A4s uses a lithium-ion battery for maximum life per charge. It also offers two different cleaning modes, General and Max. On the lowest power setting, you can get as much as 140 minutes of cleaning from a single charge, plenty for even large rooms.
The A4s has similar limitations to other robot vacuums. The round design does have some difficulty with corners. It’s also not equally effective on all types of surface. It’s perfect for hard floors of all styles, and can even clean delicate hardwoods without scratching or scuffing. When it comes to carpet, though, it’s a bit more limited. It works beautifully on low-pile carpets, but simply doesn’t have the power to clean high-pile or long-fiber carpet; even navigating on these floors can be tricky for the A4s considering its light weight and small wheels. The sensors can also have difficulty detecting dirt on darker surfaces.
The suction power on the A4s is impressive given its size, though, and aside from the minor limitations above you can count on it for a thorough clean. The brush head uses a proprietary tangle-free design that can handle even long pet hair no problem. This translates to less maintenance, letting you set the vacuum to clean when you’re not there without worrying about what you’ll find when you get home.
Automation and scheduling
The A4s comes with a remote, which you can use to change cleaning modes, direct the vacuum to specific areas, or program a schedule for it to follow. You’ll find that it’s easy to program the vacuum to run in certain areas at certain times using the remote. The vacuum also comes with a charging dock and is designed to return to its dock automatically whenever it runs low on power.
The scheduling and automatic recharge features are by and large reliable, but again it will have a few more limitations than costlier models. If your home layout is especially complex, you may need to manually return your vacuum to its charger from time to time. It also doesn’t have the “recharge and resume” feature. You can schedule cleaning sessions, but it won’t pick up where it left off after a charging session.
Still, while it might not be the absolute smartest vacuum out there, the A4s has fairly advanced AI in play. Its suite of sensors effectively prevents it from tumbling down the stairs or running into walls and furniture. The on-board navigation is also fairly sophisticated, using an efficient path to clean your home in less time.
All-told, the A4s from iLife is a steal for the price, easily out-competing robot vacuums that cost twice as much or more.