Irobot Roomba Review Vs. Mint Automatic Floor Cleaner

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Evolution Robotics introduced a new robotic floor cleaner at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It was identified rather quickly as new competition for products by iRobot, specifically the iRobot Roomba and Scooba robots. Obviously, these products from both companies are robots, operate autonomously, and are designed to clean floors. While they are competing products, there are a great number of notable differences. In this article we’ll explore what is different and what is the same.

Shape and Size
Beauty is only skin deep, as they say, and both of these products have a different look. The Mint automatic cleaner is square with a rectangular pad in the front. The iRobot Roomba is round. Both are short, which makes them able to vacuum under furniture.

In their literature, iRobot notes that the round shape of its robots aids in navigation and keeps them from getting stuck. The vacuum cleaners turn in place around an axis in their center, so when they get in a corner, they just rotate in one direction or the other and drive away. The Mint has a square shape, and so it will have to back out of a corner before turning. If you watch movies of either robot in operation, you will notice this difference in behavior. Mint claims that their square shape makes sure that the robot can clean into corners. This is admittedly a weakness in the Roomba, which is equipped with a spinning brush to sweep debris out of corners, but which can’t actually vacuum into them.

The Mint cleaner is smaller than a Roomba, clocking in at just 10 inches wide. So one would expect that it will be able to get into nooks and crannies better than a Roomba.

How They Get Around
The Roomba robots have two main wheels that it uses to navigate, and as mentioned above, they can swivel in place. Roombas have a third wheel for support. These robot vacuums use behavioral algorithms to get around rooms. Depending on a number of factors, a robot may circle, turn, follow a wall, or go in a straight line. The vacuuming pattern ends up looking random, and the robot covers the entire floor surface by going over it in different places over and over.

The Evolution Mint has two wheels for drive, and the rest of the weight of the robot rests on the cleaning pad. The Mint uses a device called a NorthStar to help it navigate. In the most basic terms, the NorthStar module shines a beacon on the ceiling and the Mint uses that beacon to triangulate its position. Evolution compares the NorthStar system to GPS. Thus the Mint automatic robot actually sweeps the room in an orderly fashion, working in rows from one side of the floor to the other. The room is cleaned more quickly and also less battery is used to cover the same area of floor.

How They Clean
When it comes to how they clean, these two competing robots are completely different.

The Mint cleaner is mostly a sweeper. You attach any one of several kinds of cleaning cloth to the front pad of the robot, and it uses the cloth to clean the floor. The cloths are microfiber and thus pick up dirt and hairs, so you’re not just pushing a pile of dirt around, but the device has no suction and no dust bin. The Mint also has a wet mode, where you can use a wet cloth. In this mode, the robot moves side to side and backwards and forwards in what Evolution describes as a “scrubbing motion.”

The Roomba acts more like a vacuum. First, it has a side brush which sweeps debris into the path of the vacuum. Next, counter-rotating brushes pick up larger debris. Finally, a vacuum sucks up smaller particles.

While the Mint is more of a sophisticated sweeper, the Roomba is more like a conventional upright vacuum cleaner. While the Roomba has the advantage of being more “active” about moving dirt, the Mint has less fuss and muss. There are no bins to empty. Just pull off the cleaning cloth and go.

Other Differences
Roombas have virtual walls to keep them out of places and many Roomba models can also self-charge. This doesn’t seem to be the case with the Mint. In the favor of the Mint cleaner, it is completely silent, and thus it isn’t so unpleasant to be around while it’s working.

An entry-level iRobot Roomba, the 400 series, will set you back $129. The least expensive 500 series, the Roomba 510 is $279. Pricing isn’t official for the Mint cleaner, but they are expected to be under $250.

Update: I’ve included a great review by a reader of ours.

I just purchased a mint Floor Cleaner and would say I am pleased thus far but it is not the perfect solution for everyone. Our house is about 4500 sq feet. Most of the floors are hardwood and tile with area rugs in the dinning and living rooms. The mint seems to navigate pretty well but being a first time robot owner, I must say that it does not take the cleaning paths I would but I don’t think that is a realistic expectation anyway. The overall cleaning is good (better with swiffer pads than the micro pads that come with it) and if used on a regular basis for dusting WILL provide you with cleaner floors (no dust bunnies). Do not expect it to clean all your floors an hour before company comes over…that will simply not happen.

A few of things I will note that I would like to see improved. First, even though the battery lasts for up to 3 hours in dusting mode, the “logical” paths it takes are many times not very efficient. It will often clean areas twice in an effort to get to a new area. More cleaning could be done if it actually took a direct path to areas it knows it has not touched. Second, the room edge cleaning mode it is supposed to do at the end of a cleaning cycle really does not happen in my experience. Unless you have perfectly smooth or straight floor boards without any shoe molding etc that may jet out, it will hit a corner back up and reroute but NOT resume its edge cleaning. Areas such as kitchens that may have fancy floor cabinets, etc will completely confuse the thing when trying to do edge cleaning. The program logic needs to be improved in this case…which brings me to my final dislike. There is no USB port so you can connect to you PC for possible bios updates. Basically, if the Mint company makes any logic improvements…you are stuck with buying a new machine.

All in all, I like the device. If used regularly it will keep your hard surface floors very clean. if I could give this thing a 1 out of 10 rating, I would give it a 7.

42 Comments

  1. Had the Roomba. When it first came out.IIt worked good for cleaning my carpets but it wasn’t long before it just stopped picking up so I Put it up and now I Got a Diyson.I hate it gets no sucking power.Im planning on trying the mint for cleaning my title. Has anyone cleaned title?

  2. I bought my wife a broom, mop and bucket. She does a better job than both of these robots. Now she can get up off of her fat ass and get some exercise instead of watching tv all day!!!!

  3. I am single Man + 2 childrem under 4 years old and with three small dogs. So I have a Roomba 550. I am very happy what its has done for me. Its vaccum my carpert and my title floor very well. However on hard floor, Roomba 550 leave weels scratches marks on the it very badly! Also It visible by scratches when it was spinning around. So I am thinking seriously to buy a Mint for my hard wook floor. i have a rug 7×10 on my hard wooh floor unde the dinner table.

    Question.

    Do i need to remove the Rug when operating Mint? Any one knows or experienced the same problem?

  4. Keep in mind, these are to make life and work around the house easier; not perfect. Pick the one for your needs and write your review later.

  5. RoseAnn DeVito July 17, 2011

    I just bought my mint Robot

    I have a 4000 SQ foot home and 4 children and I have a hard time keeping up with everything that is why I bought the mint it really works well and gets into most corners. and under the bed,tables, chairs, and goes down the hall way. It goes around throw rugs not over them. MY kids like to hide things and the mint pushes it out to the floor so I can pick it up.
    I also have 3 cats and a collie and I love the mint. I HAVE RUGS UPSTAIRS SO I ALSO NEED SOMETHING THAT DOES RUG.

  6. Roombas are great – when they work. I have had three different ones, each lasting a shorter time before needing repair. At the 1 year mark, they are pretty much finished and that is when the warranty runs out. Roomba has no recycling program, so these vacuums become junk for the landfill unless you can find someone who will use them for parts. Also, the company does not allow returns for nib products after 90 days even if they are still selling the exact same model from their website. I,m finished with Roombas.

  7. I have a Roomba and just bought a Mint floor cleaner. I thought the Mint would be great for mopping, which it is, but the bonus is the sweeper. The microfiber pad collects dirt like crazy, the magnetic pad that the cleaning bonnet attaches to changes angles nicely and it has rear suspension that allows it to stay level over every kind of flooring surface. I use the sweeper first and then let it mop with the wet microfiber pad and my floor looks turn out perfect. I have hardwood and tile and will not longer be needing my roomba, even though it is ok, it cannot wet mop.

  8. I have had the Mint for several months. It is a duster not a vacumm cleaner. For the most part I like it. Works great on hardwood floors in picking up dust and pet hair. Short battery charge, I can only clean 2 rooms before recharging. Recharging takes a long time. Mopping feature is okay for a room that doesn’t really need mopping. Tends to get confused if the area to be cleaned is not square. Would be great for someone with small floor area, no kids, and a cat.

  9. Deborah C May 23, 2011

    Affter much research, I bought the Mint. Friends with roombas had problems. I Love LOVE LOVE! The Mint! It does Exactly what the company says it will. It fully sweeps my hickory wood floors, it is almost silent, gets all the corners, avoids getting stuck, sweeps up all the cat fur, does a great job on collecting gunk brought in via our 12 little Shi Tzu paws (3 dogs), and after sweeping I attach the damp mopping cloth and like magic my floors are spotless. I will not use the disposable swiffer pads since I do not wish to add more plastic waste to the land fill. The negatives are all really small. It does require a long charging period. If for some reason I want it to do a second clean, it will always run another cycle even if the red charging light remains lit. It turns blue only at full charge, which takes hours. Orin the Mint each morning, and once in a while after dinner. Evey day or 2 I use the damp mop feature. Once a week I drag out the Dyson and the Hoover floor Mate and do a deep clean… But for the first time in forever…MY FLOORS ARE ALWAYS CLEAN!!!! THANK YOU MINT!!!

  10. diane May 5, 2011

    Can the mint go up and down one step to another room?

  11. sorry Mint I will stay with Roomba it actually cleans and takes away all of the dirt
    I do not need a sweeper

  12. I am sticking with my Roomba and Scooba after reading these reviews, the roomba actually takes the dirt out of your carpet so when you lift it up there is absolutely no dirt or dust under it. I am looking for something that actually cleans not sweeps so thank you Roomba sorry Mint

  13. Does anyone know if either product work on ceramic tile floors? My floors tiles are 10 x10 square so a lot if indentations. Is the Mint good with cat hair?
    Thanks for all comments and insights.

  14. Looking forward to trying the mint, but I am cheap so we will see. The Scooba was horrible. Small tank, couldn’t even clean my kitchen well before needing to change again. Roomba is nice, but the batteries on it die easy. We’re buying our third battery for the 500 series one.

  15. I saw where you can buy a kit to covert the roomba to a wet mop using a wet swifter type cloth. Has anyone done this? If so, how did it work?

  16. I don’t believe either work. Get off your lazy asses and use the $UCK1ng Mop and your $UCk1ng Vacuum. And you wonder why you all are obese. So how do I get 1?

  17. Sorry I bought a roomba 610

  18. My wife and I own a dance studio. My wife teaches and I clean. In fact my nickname is Mr.Mop. I bought a Roomba from Sams but even though it did a good job of sweeping it stopped working after a few miutes in the large studio’s. I thought the Roomba was faulty so I bought a top of the line Roomba for about $500 online much to my wife’s chagrin. This one also quit in the big studio’s aftera few minutes.

    Apparently Roomba’s wont clean big empty spaces with no furniture a real defect. However it sweeps really well in smaller area’s like office changeroom lunch room etc. Also the 560 has a 2 year warranty.

    I had been eyeing the mint for a while and bought one 2 months ago from bb and beyond witha 20% off coupon. abou $170.00 I am tremendously impressed it works like a charm using wet swiffers in sweep mode wet mode takes to long. I watch it and it cleans in an orderly and intelligent way.

    The only problem is the long charging time and it does not dock but besides this it does a perfect job on hard floors in fact I am going to buy another mint. The item feels well made and sturdy and there is very little to break.

    I would like to buy an extended warranty but was not available. I love both items but the roomba needs to have that issue sorted out

  19. anthony mcdonough February 4, 2011

    mint clesner is awsome it works anywere only problem is that the rugs slow it down so watch ouyt for rugs ☺☻☺☻☺☻

  20. Great robot, very efficient and doesn’t get stuck.

  21. K Neuland January 19, 2011

    I got my Roomba and Scooba at Hammacher Schlemmer and they are guaranteed for life. I was purchasing one every two years as they didn’t last. Now I just keep my paperwork send it back and they send me a new one. Worth paying a little more at Hammacher Schlemmer Love my Roomba and so do my cats.

  22. Wow, just have been trying out the Mint for 4 days and I am surprised that is seems to be much more effective than our Roomba. Love how logically Mint cleans, it is whisper quiet, and there is no maintence (messy dust bins or brushes that need a knife to cut hair/strings, etc.). All my floors are tile and hardwood. Mint even wipes down my baseboards with the inch or so of swiffer that hangs off the side!!

  23. We had a IRobot and it did ok but pet hair would get pulled in through the wheel axles into the gearing and start making an awful sound. I had to disassemble and completely clean out gearing…..Too much trouble…Took it back to store.
    I have purchased a MINT and have used three times and it is still quiet and does a good job also. So far I am happy with the MINT.

  24. I purchased a Roomba 560 and it came with electronics that made real sense. Lighthouses that allowed the unit to clean one room, move to the next and then clean the next room. I needed another to make life simpler, so I purchase another unit …but the manufacturer “Dumbed Down” the model 560 and did not include the “lighthouses” that made life simpler! They made a lame decision …AFTER releasing the model 560, to leave out an important function. After contacting “Roomba” I was informed that they did this so they could market the higher end models that weren’t selling. STUPID DECISION …You should improve the product, not make it less functional. Now I am left with having to return the dumbed down version and pay for shipping, re-packaging the unit and purchasing an older model that hasn’t been “dumbed down”.

    Obviously, a bad situation for any consumer! Hands down on poor product model decisions. They should have simply renamed the model and market it as a different dumbed down model. Yet they confuse the consumer by leaving the same model that is functionally different than the previous …and not in a good way, it should have improved. Hopefully, my comments will be left here for others to view. If not, expect me to flood the consumer review sites with this information. So much for a good product getting destroyed by poor marketing.

  25. I received the Roomba as a gift last year and LOVE it. I do not have indoor pets but I do have a husband who works construction and a 10 month old. My Roomba cleans the floors to my satisfaction and even picks up cheerios! I don’t think the mint would be able to do that. I have hardwood floors and before the Roomba I would sweep, vacuum up my pile, swiffer to get the dust and then mop. Now I just hit a button and then mop when it’s done. I’ve never had issues with corners and if you have it sweep often enough (once a week!) it really does keep the floors spotless.

  26. I’ve had the roombas and scoobas and they are frustrating when they have issues and require a lot of tlc. i am seriously thinking of trying the mint with the idea that is a nice “assist” during the week to keep things tidy, not as a replacement to weekly deep cleaning. i like the idea that my living room floor can be dustmopped and dust bunnies found and removed under couches and furniture. without the expectation that it is a substitute but rather a helpmate, i would welcome an easy to use, no frills “dustmop” that I don’t have to clean, empty, troubleshoot or listen to in between regular cleaning. i’ll repost after i try it.

  27. We just received the Mint as a gift and it worked great! We have hardwood floors and it picked up all of the hair from our dog and cat. When I leave in the morning, I turn it on and when I come home at night, my floors are clean! Brilliant!

  28. I’ve had a Roomba 560 for 7 months. It does a great job on carpet for all accumulated dirt including pet hair. Bare floors – not so much. On hardwoods the spinning brushes very often blow pet hair out of the way of the cleaning path. If there are heavier particles on bare floors it does pick those up but not pet hair. The profile is too high to pick up lightweight dust bunnies/pet hair on hardwoods. I’m ordering a Mint Cleaner for my bare floors. Concept makes sense to me.

  29. @Dick

    Roomba’s do have suction.

  30. FYI – There is a mini usb port on the mint. It’s on the left side of the mint, directly in line where the charger cord plugs in. Its covered by a small rubber cover (similar to other electronic devices that cover holes.) No drivers yet but the Mint will beep when you plug it in to a computer!

  31. roomba works well but after awhile the plastic gears strip out and unit will not pick up anymore I have had 3 roombas and the same thing happened to all 3, I havent tried the mint

  32. I got the irobot roomba for gift,its the best present ever! It saves me two hours sweeping everyday,I have brick floors and hardwood floors,gets them both spotless.I have 5 small dogs ,it really gets all the pet hair and anything from pennys to popcorn,and fine dust.cheaper on hsn irobots web site.if i had the other one using swifter pads,i would be following it around all day replacing pads,and buying them for ever,no thanks,the roomba will change you life!

  33. I have hard floors everywhere, and I run my Roomba each day. Each day Roomba collects a hand full of dust. I cannot imagine the Mint collecting all this dust with it’s mop. It will probably just relocate major part of it, but not collect it. But then again, we have kids, and they generate a lot of dust :) If you are single, and have a small apartment, maybe the Mint will do for you.

    Also, I’m sticking a wet microfiber cloth behind the Roomba, so it does mopping as well! :)

  34. S.Falls August 19, 2010

    Seems to me that the mint will leave larger dirt bits around that don’t stick to the pad. I think it is a mistake not to have a vacuum.

    As for the Roomba, I think I’d like to see a suck-before-brush feature – heh – so that less human and pet hair gets caught on the brushes.

  35. Shoppas July 9, 2010

    Both look like interesting items for cleaning the home.

  36. Travis June 18, 2010

    Actually Dick all Roombas (except the Dirt Dog) have vacuums in them. Its built into the dirt tray. It sucks air through the filter which traps the dust and then blows out the vent in the back..

  37. From the information given and the demonstration videos I’ve seen from both robots, I think the Mint robot passed. The robot is silent, it uses less power so I’ve heard, it would reach almost every spot to sweep out the dust or hair guaranteed due to its Northstar navigation technology, the cloth technology as the statement said, its shape, and size. The robot also washes the floor with a wet cloth. Now think about it, one robot can do two roles with a cheap price of supposedly under $250, the Roomba cannot, even if it is kinda cheap. If you live in a house where there’s usually flat surfaces and such, I’d recommend the Mint, even if your house would have some carpets, just vacuum those carpets, its no big deal. Otherwise, just buy the Roomba if you only have carpets.

  38. So…the Mint is actually just a robotisized dustmop.

  39. Roomba actually has brushes and a vacuum.

  40. I have a Roomba and it’s not really a vacuum either. The brushes sweep material into the bin. There is no actual suction other than what might be created by the spinning brushes.

  41. Sounds like the Mint is limited to only cleaning bare floors. This could be an issue for people who have rugs/area rugs.

  42. Jovan Washington January 20, 2010

    I have yet to try any of these products but I am not sure I would like the Mint. Not only because it is an odd shape I can’t seem to get over, but for the fact that it sweeps rather than vacuums. Both pretty cool though.

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