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In advance of the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Samsung rolled out two limited-edition Star Wars-themed Powerbot robotic vacuums: a Stormtrooper model and a Darth Vader version.
Consumer Reports bought these two robotic vacuums to see how they perform. (And since then, these bots have made their way through our vacuum lab—members can see the results below, as well as how they stack up against the rest of the gang in our vacuum ratings.)
The white Stormtrooper Powerbot, $700, sports a mask and plays the main Star Wars theme as it backs away from its dock and starts cleaning.
The black Darth Vader Powerbot, $800, spins around to the Star Wars “Imperial March,” utters a few choice James Earl Jones lines, and even makes the iconic heavy mechanical breathing noises as it cleans.
The added cost of the Darth Vader Powerbot gets you a seven-part digital display; WiFi connectivity that allows you to control the robot from Google Home, Alexa, or your smartphone; and a remote control.
Some of CR's staffers think that the Darth Vader Powerbot looks a lot cooler than the Stormtrooper Powerbot.
And, says Frank Rizzi, who conducts Consumer Reports’ vacuum tests, “It’s fun to hear the Darth Vader robotic vac make lightsaber noises when you try to pick it up off the floor—because you’re getting in the way of its cleaning.”
The Return of the Bot Tests
We had wondered whether Samsung simply put a Star Wars-themed skin on one of its existing Powerbot models. But the Star Wars vacuums are designed differently from the other Samsung Powerbots currently in our robotic vacuum ratings:
Below, how these two droids fared in our robotic vacuum tests:
How We Test RoboVacs
Each robotic vacuum CR tests is evaluated on how well it removes surface debris on a low-pile carpet and on bare floors; whether it can get into tight corners created by walls and furniture; and the exact time it takes to clean a designated area. That’s right: Our test engineers sit and watch each robot perform a full cycle, carefully tracking every minute of its obsessive odyssey.
For these tests, roughly a half-gram of Maine Coon cat fur, 85 Cheerios, and 2 teaspoons of rice are distributed on the floor of a test area that resembles the typical layout of a bedroom or living room. Then our engineers record what the robot detects and cleans, and what it misses or simply redistributes.
As Yoda says, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
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