Samsung Navibot S SR8950 review

Although Samsung is well known for its TV sets, mobile phones and tablets, most people are surprised to hear that they are in the robot business as well. Since the Samsung floor cleaning robot was introduced in 2004, the company has been busy improving the product line, introducing a new generation every year for the past three years. A fifth generation model, dubbed the Navibot S SR8950, was one of our helpers at home for the past four weeks.

Design and Technology

I don’t want to go into details about Samsung’s strategy to take over the different market segments, but there is one thing I must note here: the South Korean company has accepted and understood, more than any other Asian company, that design is one of the most important elements of a product. Their flat screen televisions and mobile phones look awesome, as do their floor cleaning robots. The new Navibot S line especially includes some of the best-looking floor cleaning robots on the market.

(from left to right, top to bottom) Ecovacs Deepoo D56, Neato XV-11, LG Roboking VR5901KL and Samsung Navibot S SR8950

Of course this is subject to personal taste, but in my opinion the Chinese robots look like toys. The Roombas and Neatos look like industrial machinery compared to the new Navibot S series. The glossy cover with the gradient makes the clean, rounded shape look even better.

Samsung Navibot S SR8950

The 35 cm (13.8 in) diameter of the disk-shaped robot is the same as that of its predecessor, but the height has been reduced by 1.3 cm (over 0.5 in), making the Samsung Navibot S line the slimmest of the full-featured vacuum cleaning robots. Unlike the bumpers of most robots, this part of the SR8950 is fixed; it doesn’t move closer to the main body of the robot in a collision. These events are detected solely by built-in accelerometers, but the robot tries to avoid hitting the walls and furniture. The distances of objects from the front, sides, and bottom of the robot are measured with infrared sensors; therefore, the robot is aware of most of the walls, furniture and drops in the house. In case of a collision, the rubber coating on the front and sides prevents potential damage to valuables.

Rubber coated, fix bumper

The SR8950 has a simple, but mostly informative, user interface. The touch sensitive area holds three active areas: mode selector button, start/stop button and dock button. These three buttons would not be enough to control such a feature-rich robot as this; therefore, the robot comes with a well-designed IR remote control. The display part of the user interface can be confusing at first, but it isn’t as bad as it might seem. The largest part is taken up by the four digits that are used to display the time, the error codes, and, with a running line, the battery loading process. Above these digits are the days (abbreviated) for scheduling. Only scheduled days are visible on the display; inactive days don’t clutter the area. The three cleaning mode icons line up below the digits: Auto, Spot and Max. (More about these modes on the next page.) To the left of the digits, a 3-stage battery symbol provides feedback about the battery charge level, while the other two icons indicate whether the Turbo mode or the dust detection are on or off.

Touch sensitive user interface

The camera in front of the user interface serves as a navigation aid. It constantly monitors the ceiling above the device, and provides feedback about the movements and turns of the robot. I used to be enthusiastic about these cameras, but their role is not as important as the manufacturers would like us to believe. It seems to be necessary in this device, as I will detail on the next page, but problems could certainly be solved without the camera as well.

The built in camera of the Visionary Mapping Plus System

The robot has no handle like the Roomba or Neato robots; therefore, two hands are needed to lift the device.

Dustbin located at the backThe inner wall folds downDust and debris goes to larger part
Large particle filterHEPA filterFlip-up door to keep debris in the bin when it is removed

The dust bin of the Navibot S SR8950 is located on the back. The shape and location of the bin is very similar to the ones in the Roomba robots, but the technology is very different. While the vacuum motor of the Roomba is built into the dust bin itself, Samsung has built this part into the main body of the robot. This gives some freedom of design to the engineers and allows them to build a larger dust bin, but makes design errors harder to change once the robot is on the market. The debris and the dusty air enters the bin from the main brush and is collected in the lower part of the 0.3 litre (10.1 fl oz) container. The upper part is separated by a washable large particle filter that prevents clogging of the much finer HEPA filter. The air suction is provided through the inlet on the upper part of the bin connection.

Interestingly enough, the SR8950 has no exhaust outlet, whereby the sucked air is pushed back into the room. The air going into the robot must exit somewhere, but there is no obvious opening for that. I will reveal the answer to that on the next page.

Connector with no publicly known function

Behind the dust bin, a five-pin connector is hidden by a sliding door. The function of this connector is not yet known.

Bottom of the Samsung Navibot S SR8950
front wheeldriven wheel extendeddriven wheel in normal position

The bottom of the robot is pretty mundane. The robot is moved by two larger wheels, the difference in their speed determines how the robot turns. A third wheel revolves around a vertical axis as well, but does not have a feedback function like the front wheels of the Roomba. The self-contained driven wheels are easily removed and replaced in case of malfunction, which makes this device fairly easy to service.

self contained driving wheelhousing cover removed

The cleaning unit is also removable and cleanable, even by the owner. The robot has a single cleaning bar with bristle lines and rubber blades on the rod. This bar is driven by a belt that is visible from the side through a transparent window. The belt can be inspected without removing the entire cleaning unit, so the amount of dust or hair entering into that area can be monitored. The brush bar is 4 cm (1.6 in) longer than in its predecessor, making the cleaning path 20 cm (7.9 in) wide.

well covered bearings on the driven siderubber coating on the bearing on the other sidetransparent window for easy monitoring of the belt
Cleaning unit removedBelt behind the transparent windowEasy to clean mechanism

The brushes on each side widen this cleaning path even more on hard floors and along walls and furniture. The quickly rotating brushes divert dust and debris towards the middle of the robot where the vacuum power and the main brush can take care of them.

three, slightly tilted armsthat rubber piece cleans the end of the brushesalmost reaches into the corner

Interestingly, one of the arms on the side brush was already broken on the (almost) new robot when I received it.

broken side brush of the Samsung Navibot S SR8950

The Samsung Navibot S SR8950 is powered by a 14.4 V Li-ion battery that is also user replaceable. The battery compartment also hides a USB port that is most likely used for servicing.

Lithium-ion battery of the SR8950

The small spike on the front of the robot is the IR window which receives the IR signals of the virtual walls. The commands of the remote control are read by two receivers on the back and one on the front.

The Navibot S SR8950 comes with a compact docking station that provides automatic charging for the device. The small plate on the ground holds the two charging contacts (as in the case of the Roombas) that charge the robot through the contact on the bottom of the main unit. The excess cables of the dock can be stored out of view on the back. The top of the dock sports a power light and a charging light to provide feedback. (These are very bright, so they could be disturbing at night.)

The IR remote control hasn’t changed a lot since the last generation; only the number of available functions has increased. Most of the buttons are straightforward, the only tricky one was the Timer/Weekly. A normal press provides access to a timer function where the robot can be set to start at a given time. To get to the weekly scheduling, the button has to be pressed for at least three seconds.

The two virtual walls that came with the robot have a new, slimmer design, and require two size “D” batteries. (The previous model used size “C” batteries.) The little optical tower on the top doubles as a power button.

The review is not over yet!

Next page: In practice

Next page »
  1. Introduction
  2. Design and Technology
  3. In practice
  4. Conclusion

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