(Pocket-lint) – Robot vacuum cleaners are proving to be an increasingly popular member of the smart home – and Miele wants in on the action.
The company’s latest flagship vac – the Miele Scout RX3 Home Vision HD – comes with the novelty feature of a live image feed and the promise of long-lasting, powerful cleaning.
However, it also features a very lofty asking price.
With the market currently dominated by efficient and well-priced options from Roborock, iRobot and other dedicated companies, then, where does this Miele offering fit in?
We’ve been testing in order to find out.
Let down by inadequate mapping and an app that is less than useful, the Miele Scout RX3 Home Vision HD struggles to offer competitive navigation around the home, hampering the experience offered.
Ultimately, if it can’t make it around the home without disruption, and is unable to make a reliable map to complete the cleaning task, then a robot vacuum cleaner isn’t worth having.
The cleaning is always completed to a superior standard, which is a notable victory. However, after months of running the Miele Scout RX3 Home Vision, we’re never sure where it will end up or how much of the job will get finished. At this price, it’s better to consider other models.
Miele Scout RX3 Home Vision HD
- Great cleaning performance
- Good battery life
- Terrible mapping
- Poor docking
- Spot cleaning or exclusion zones fiddly to use
- Home Vision seems pretty pointless
- Poor app
- Four-stage cleaning system
- Quality internal construction
- Twin corner brushes
- Multiple bumper zones
The Miele Scout RX3 Home Vision is recognisable by those two eyes on the front. There’s a pair of cameras on the leading edge of the cleaner, set into the attractive copper-coloured trim on the top of the device.
As robot vacuums go, the Miele is attractive. It looks like a high-quality product, and that matches the elevated price that Miele is asking for it – not that such devices are really designed to line up in a robotic beauty pageant, of course.
There is a digital display on the top of the RX3, along with some touch controls, meaning you can glance at it to see the status, or tap to get it to do something differently – or just to start and stop cleaning without having to reach for the included remote or the smartphone app.
The dimensions are more or less standard for this type of device, so it can easily fit under the sofa for cleaning, allowing it to reach places that a standard vacuum cleaner finds a little more difficult.
It’s also worth mentioning the internal quality and the solidity with which the RX3 fits together – there are even different brushes you can attach to suit the type of floor that you’re cleaning. In that sense, you get more out of the box than you might do with some rivals – and the internal dustbins and filters feel better designed and secured.
As with other robot vacuums, there are various bumper panels that will detect object contact and help it move around obstructions, with the device softly making contact with furniture rather than ramming right into it.
So, it’s a positive start for the Miele: from a hardware point of view, the company has designed a cleaner that looks great and feels pretty solid, with higher quality for the internal configuration.
Setup and control
The setup of the RX3 is a little more fiddly than some, and we found that linking it to the Miele Scout app took a few more attempts than we’d like. To get the most out of this cleaner, it needs to be connected to your network, and, with the app, that will enable full functionality.
Otherwise, it’s a case of basically attaching the correct brushes for your surface type and putting the charger in place. The RX3 will need a good charge before it wants to get cleaning, and there’s a pretty big 5200mAh battery inside, which is good for 120 minutes of cleaning at the most powerful setting – which Miele says is the equivalent of 120m2 of floor space.
Of course, the charger needs to be plugged into a wall somewhere and permanently sited in that location. That allows the Miele Scout RX3 to find its way back to its starting point once cleaning is finished. However, be warned that the mapping is sub-standard on this robot vacuum, and it’s prone to confusion and failure, which we’ll talk about below.
The app, once connected, is where you can view the maps that the RX3 learns as it navigates your home, but this seems to be done from movement memory, rather than the more advanced laser-based mapping systems you’ll find elsewhere.
The app also provides access to the cleaning options – some of which are also accessed via touch controls on the top of the cleaner itself – as well as letting you access things like spot cleaning or exclusion zones, although good luck with those functions.
- 3D Smart navigation
- Virtual mapping with exclusion zones
As you’ll have gathered from reading this far, there’s something up with the mapping on the Miele Scout RX3 Home Vision HD. Indeed, the mapping is poor, and a far cry from the two-year-old Roborock S6 we tested it alongside, which outperforms it in terms of mapping by every measure.
The biggest problem is that the cleaner doesn’t really know where it is in the room, so the map essentially becomes useless. If it loses track of how it’s moved within that space, it then has no idea what the room looks like and starts adding phantom areas to the map. As you can see from the screenshot above, the RX3 believes it’s outside the bounds of the map.
This is common, for example, if the RX3 is moved from its location. Even a small movement – perhaps picking it up because it’s stuck on a cable you left on the floor – will see it head off in a different direction, clearing lost within its own map. Consequently, it might then never get back to dock to recharge. We’ve also seen it think that the map is 90 degrees to its actual orientation, so it can think it’s sitting on one wall of a room while it’s actually docked on the adjacent side.
There also seems to be no logic to its cleaning pattern. Many such devices will cover the edges of an area before cleaning it in a logical pattern, back and forth, which is what you sort of expect a robot to do.
The Miele Scout RX3, on the other hand, stumbles around like a drunk, staggering from one area to another in what appears to be a random pattern. That makes it difficult to know where it’s going next, which is really irritating if you’re, for example, trying to cook and it’s meandering all over your kitchen doing a bit here and then a there.
Despite the randomness of its approach, it will generally clean all areas, so it’s not specifically a problem. If you’re out of the house when it’s cleaning, it makes no difference what route it takes. However, even then, it still gets easily stranded, loses track of what’s going on and gives up, so you’ll likely get a notification that there’s a problem and come home to find the Miele just sitting in the middle of the room.
Again, it’s let down by the low quality of the map that’s produced and the app’s interactions with those maps. Trying to mark an area for exclusion (in our case, pet feeding areas) seems to be fiendishly difficult, as is telling the RX3 to clean a particular area, as you’re tasked with dropping a variable size box over a map that’s inaccurate.
It just feels as if the whole mapping and app system needs to be rethought. As it is, it’s a bad experience.
- Works on all floors
- 17mm wheel lift
- 120-minute cleaning time
Fortunately, the Miele Scout RX3 saves itself with its cleaning performance, which is excellent. Yes, it’s quite the contrast from the mapping performance, but you can really tell that Miele has a huge heritage in cleaning.
The powerful suction, bottom beater bar and peripheral brushes do a really good job of getting surfaces clean. Having a spinning brush on both front corners of the device means it can really get into all areas as it staggers into them. Certainly, those brushes do a good job of getting under the edges of things – like your cooker or fridge – to get rid of more dirt than rivals.
It also handles the change in surfaces pretty well, not stumbling when it comes into contact with different level surfaces or a change from hard to the carpeted floor for example. The elevating wheels also help it deal with large level changes, and competently so.
Add to that the superior internal quality of things like the dust bin, and emptying the Miele is a pleasure – you know what you spent your money on in those circumstances.
One of the additional features of the Miele Scout RX3 Home Vision is that Home Vision element – the two cameras on the front. According to Miele’s details on this robot cleaner, these are used to provide 3D object detection. That might be the case, but it’s hard to see that this delivers any advantage.
What these cameras can do, however, is give you a view around your house. You can, via the app, hit the Home Vision button, get a live view through the cameras and use the controls to drive your RX3 around your home.
There’s potential for this to be a security feature, but, when we tried to connect when out of the home, we were presented with a message saying that we needed to be on the same Wi-Fi network. That sort of makes the entire thing pointless. If you can only use it at home, it narrows down the use cases considerably.
As it is, the video quality is surprisingly poor compared to the images you might get from a wireless security camera, so it feels like something of a novelty that never really delivers.
The Miele Scout RX3 is a good cleaner let down by terrible mapping – it has no idea where it is, it can’t handle the slightest change in location and it’s fiddly to enact anything that involves that map. At this price, the performance needs to be much better.
Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Conor Allison.