The Roborock Q8 Max is a mid-range robot vacuum from Roborock, a brand which has made its mark in the cleaning automation scene with other Chinese compatriots like Dreame and Deebot.
Robot vacuums today feature reliable navigation, as well as obstacle and wire avoidance even in mainstream models. Gone are times when you must wearily clear all movable furniture so the robot does not trip up.
The cost to be part of the club, however, has steadily risen with premium features. Top-of-line models with docks that automatically clean mop pads after mopping every room, and subsequently drain the dirty water on its own can push S$2,000.
Like mid-ranged smartphones, the S$569 Q8 Max is here to answer the call of that broad middle market – a reliable workhorse from a proven brand to handle the basics.
Design and features
There is little to comment on for the design department. Like every robot vacuum, the Q8 Max is round. It is a 13.9-inch diameter cylinder that is 3.8-inches tall, coming in just above one’s ankles.
Flipping the vacuum over to its underbelly, a pair of orangey-black bristleless brushes stare back at you dead centre. They provide a good 5,500 pascals (or Pa) of suction power.
The bristleless design is a godsend for maintenance. I carry one too many unpleasant core memories prying tangled hair and filth out of bristles with bare hands – it’s not something you want to do often.
A pair of rubber wheels help the robot run around, as well as up and down kerbs. The Q8 Max made it through drops separating kitchens, service yards and bathrooms in my tests.
It tumbled a little when getting through a terraced 50mm + 25mm drop, due to the overlaying of corridor tiles adjacent to the toilet, but got back up perfectly fine.
Speaking of navigation, the Q8 Max has a pair of infrared (IR) Reactive Tech sensors at the front of its trunk, to scan for and avoid objects around the floor, such as toys, shoes, and bags.
The IR sensors complement the LiDAR sensors standing in a raised orb on the top of the vacuum. They help the robot to build a three-dimensional understanding of the space it operates and cleans.
The Q8 Max has a frosted transparent rectangular module that holds both the dust compartment and a water tank. The module is easy enough to eject from the robot’s frontal trunk without lifting the robot.
The Q8 Max’s mopping complement is comparatively basic, comprising a static, clip-on semi-circular module of cloth that occupied the bottom fifth of the device’s belly.
The good: Reliable vacuuming, every time
The Q8 Max uses the same Roborock app as its more costly brethren. When the robot vacuum is started for the first time, the app helps its user connect the Q8 Max to the home Wi-Fi network, and pair the robot vacuum to the app.
After the above is done, the vacuum uses its LiDAR and IR sensors to build a basic map of the compound, and the user is free to begin a cleaning cycle after.
The map will then be refined in subsequent runs, and the Q8 Max will flag the obstacles it encounters while going about its housekeeping business.
The interface is relatively intuitive, and one can easily mark out rooms, add no-go zones, plonk in floor surfaces and carpets, all after the LiDAR has a chance to map the space.
In action, I found the Q8 Max very reliable in navigating and vacuuming. It got around bags placed on the floor and table legs without knocking them over or damaging them.
It is nimble enough to clean the surfaces around the multiple legs of a computer chair, while knowing which parts it missed and attempt another approach to reach it.
On the edges, the IR sensor makes the Q8 Max careful. I deliberately put some powder along the edge of a corridor, and the deepest edges are not fully cleaned. From the pictures though, you can tell the robot is already 90 per cent there, which is more than good enough.
There are four vacuum speeds, with a fifth turbo for spot cleaning. The robot reliably got the job done on the third speed with one pass. The floor felt less sandy to step on after the Q8 Max is done, every time, over the two weeks I tried the vacuum.
The less-good: Beware the cables and carpets
I faced two issues. The first was with the power cable of a Omnidesk standing desk. While the Q8 Max played nice with phone charging cables, it gnawed its way through the Omnidesk’s power cable while trying to work around it.
Perhaps the cable was too irregular for the IR sensor to pick up and avoid, yet too thick to pass underneath. I had to hang this up, and you should too with cables of medium thickness.
The Q8 Max also did not play nice with the textured Ikea carpet outside the toilets, pushing it everywhere instead of lifting itself above. Admittedly, they are tall, so carpet selection will be a point of consideration for those who want to use the Q8 Max daily.
I find the mopping function rather ho-hum. It does not feature spinning mops, nor does it have heated water functions.
You may finely control the amount of water used for mopping, though, and there are as many as 30 levels to pick from here. An automation dock, which the costlier Q8 Max+ features, is able to empty the dust compartment on its own, but not clean the mop pad.
In essence, the mopping function is a small static rag that can reliably do what it says on the box, but you would need to manually turn it over, remove it, wash it, dry it, and put it back.
This is not the fault of the Q8 Max, it is an issue common to all robot vacuums with earlier-generation mopping capabilities. Perhaps the more advanced mopping features will filter down in time.
The Roborock Q8 Max is likeable. It navigates and vacuums reliably, as expected of a Roborock with two sets of sensors.
Two bristleless brushes simplify maintenance, while offering improved cleaning capabilities than if there was only one brush. The app does what it has to without crashing.
The owner of a Q8 Max is getting a decent vacuum experience at a third of the price of flagships. I would not use it for mopping often, and there are trade-offs in how it handles cables and carpets the first time you run it around your place.
However, it gets the vacuum job done without fuss, every time. The Q8 Max is a great vacuum cleaning companion at a good price.