Finding an affordable robot vacuum that actually works can be difficult. iLife burst onto the robotic vacuum scene in 2016 with their line of products becoming bestsellers on Amazon. They have improved upon the highly lauded A6 model with their new and improved iLife A8.
When it comes to robotic vacuums there has long been a price discrepancy between quality and affordability. Consumers were either stuck paying upwards of $500 for a Roomba, or Neato, or they chose to pay less and in turn received a low-quality machine. iLife has done a good job filling that gap with their line of offerings.
The A8 is another robotic step (or roll) in the right direction.
One of the iLife A8’s unique selling points is its stunning display. It is often the case that the cheaper a product is, the cheaper it looks, but at the affordable price point of roughly $300, the iLife A8 comes with a sleek, piano black, glass top panel.
This robot certainly does not look cheap.
There are a few other design choices that I am quite fond of with this machine. For one, the machine is quite thin, standing at a mere 72mm (2.83 inches). At this height, the A8 can easily fit under most pieces of furniture without getting stuck.
The A8 also does not suffer from the industry-wide issue of having too many buttons. There is a single ‘auto’ button on the top cover that either starts the robot or returns it to its home. The button will also shine green when fully charge or in use, red when there is an issue, or orange whilst charging. The remaining functions can be achieved by using the remote, which is simple and easy to use. The remote has buttons to set the time, set a schedule for the robot, and also buttons to switch amongst the A8’s different modes: Auto, Max Suction, Edge Cleaning, and Spot Cleaning.
The large RoadRover wheels help keep the A8 stabilized across raised surfaces and to avoid obstacles. This is especially helpful when the A8 is cleaning a room with carpets or rugs.
The A8 also comes with two side brushes and one interchangeable motorized brush. The motorized brush can be switched between iLife’s “double-v”, tangle-free, rubber brush, or a traditional bristle brush. These brushes are good for different things; the rubber brush is most effective on hardwood or flat surfaces, whilst the bristle brush is great on carpet.
A full list of the A8’s specifications, accessories, and what’s included in the box can be found on iLife’s website here.
In terms of its visual design, the A8 is almost identical to its predecessor, the iLife A6 model. The only real difference, visually, between the A6 and A8 is that the A8 has a built-in camera which provides the machine with a 360-degree model of its surroundings. This camera is where the A8 really shows its value.
With the A8 and its built-in camera, iLife has implemented an entirely new navigation algorithm which is more predictable than most robotic vacuums. By using its camera, 3 onboard processors, and the CV-SLAM graphics algorithm, the A8 creates a panoramic vision of the room and then computes a cleaning pattern that avoids redoing or skipping any areas.
This is a relief to many that have always wished that robotic vacuums followed a systematic back and forth sweep of a room, just as you might if using a traditional vacuum.
Another intelligent and useful feature is the ability to auto charge and resume. This means that if the A8 runs low on battery in the middle of a clean, it will return to the charger and then resume on the previous path when it has recharged.
The A8 is quite clever at responding to surroundings, with the built-in camera and sensors doing their part to help the robot in avoiding furniture, obstacles, stairs, and pretty much anything else that might do damage to the machine.
As mentioned, the robot has four modes, can be set up on a schedule, and can be fully operated with the remote. It also operates relatively quietly, allowing for TV or music to be heard while it is in operation.
Additionally, new to the A8 is iVoice assistance which dictates what the machine is doing, or if it needs assistance.
Now, all these features are nice, but as a consumer, the most important question when it comes to buying a robotic vacuum is usually – How well does it perform?
The A8 is a solid, and useful robotic vacuum.
On one charge it can achieve 90 minutes of cleaning, which while good, does not stand out from many other models on the market.
The Gen 3 CyclonePower cleaning system uses the side brushes, the motorized brush, and the suction together to achieve a decently thorough clean. Users have reported that two cleans, or operations, are usually needed for a satisfactory clean.
The high-performance filter keeps the dust, mites, and debris trapped in the dustbin.
When it comes to performance, the iLife A8 is a useful alternative to having to vacuum every day or every other day. However, one cannot rely on the A8 to be a standalone vacuuming product for their home.
An issue that must be acknowledged when it comes to iLife’s A8 is the discrepancy in user reviews. While most users have been generally happy with it, some have expressed serious concerns.
Some of the concerns include:
- The robot having difficulty aligning sensors on the charging pad
- The robot having trouble returning to the charging pad
- The voice speaker is loud, annoying, startling, and goes off too often
- The robot getting stuck, and draining battery
- No way to locate a stuck unit if you miss the iVoice assistant asking for help
- Parts stopping working after a few months of operation
- No phone app, or Google Home/Alexa support
These concerns can be troubling to a potential buyer. They indicate that perhaps not every iLife A8 is made equally. While most buyers seem to be happy with their purchase, some seem to be stuck with units that do not operate quite properly.
All in all, the iLife A8 is definitely a solid option for a robotic vacuum at this price point. It looks great and it has many useful features. Not to mention, it is affordable, and when it works, it works well.
However, the robotic vacuum market continues to grow, and competitors continually enter with newer, and better offerings. Due to the few shortcomings of the iLife A8, and the issues that may exist from unit to unit, it may make more sense to look for an alternative in the same price range.
An all-out tech enthusiast who is deeply passionate about what the future holds for us in terms of technology and smart homes.