Review: iRobot Braava 380t cleans and mops your floors

While most of you are familiar with iRobot's Roomba product range, you may not be away of their range of Mopping home robots. The Bravava 380t for example, is a robot that you can put to work to clean your hard surfaces, like tile, hardwood, vinyl and laminate. While the company and the industry is the same, the technology is different and the way the robot navigates your home is very different, internal GPS.

The 380t comes with 2 microfibre cloths which attach to plastic base plates that connect to the robot with magnets, making it easy to remove and machine wash when they get dirty. Even in the cleanest of homes, dust is an issue, but as we go about living our lives as humans, we often spill, or drop things that need to be cleaned. Some spills need to be mopped and let's be honest, nobody enjoys that process, so why not let the robots do it?


Bold, colourful, delightfully confident

The iRobot Braava 380t is relatively small in size, just 24x22cm and only 8cm high. This efficient design means that Braava can slide under small spaces like floating vanities in bathrooms. This ensures that all the cleaning gets done, not just what's easily seen.

Compared to a full-sized Roomba, the 380t is tiny, but it's the difference in volume that is the more significant. With baby in the house now, the volume of the robots running around our homes matter. Regardless of how the robot performs, if it wakes your sleeping baby, the reception won't be a welcome one. Thankfully iRobot have done a great job at reducing the volume, with no spinning brushes and no suction, the Braava is impressively quiet.

In terms of the exterior, the 380t only comes in one colour, black, matte around the sides and glossy on top. The two microfibre cloths included are blue and white. The white makes it very easy to see how effective the cleaning job was, but I would have liked to see a black cloth to match the device body.


How well does it clean?

The 380t works by placing either the dry or wet cloths on magnetic base plates. Leveraging a 2,000 mAh the Brava 380t can power through larger homes, rated for around 3.5hrs on sweeping and 2.5hrs for mopping.

When reviewing the Braava, I used it both on tiles in our bathrooms and laundry, as well as on our timber laminate that runs throughout the house (bedrooms excluded).

To look at our floors, generally they appear clean, but after sending in the robot, then looking at the cloth afterwards, it's clear the Braava found plenty of dust and dirt. When the job's complete, then remove the dirty cloth, throw it in the wash, the 380t on the inductive charging base and it'll be ready again in no time.


You want options?

The Braava 380t uses a navigation system called iAdapt 2.0. This works by placing the Navigation Cube near the center of your room, then bouncing the internal GPS off the roof and down to the Braava. This allows it to build a map of the objects in the space and to keep track or where it’s been and where it needs to go.

In terms of scale, the Braava 380t sweeps up to 92m2 or mops up to 32min a single cleaning cycle. I often don't think about my house in terms of these sizes (you may not know yours), but for most average Australian houses would be fine.

If you have an extraordinary home, you can extend the cleaning range by adding an additional NorthStar cube.

When it comes to cleaning technique, the Braava 380t sweeps in straight lines, back and forth to efficiently pick up dust, dirt and hair. If needed, it'll use a triple-pass mopping action and damp cleaning cloths clean every dirt and grime.

When using the 380t in wet mopping mode, all you have to do is add tap water as a cleaning solution. iRobot specifically mention that you should avoid using harsh cleaners, not just for concern for your floors, but they can be hard on Braava’s internal parts. Soapy solutions may also cause wheels to slip while cleaning or clog the wick on the Reservoir Pad.


Room for improvement

For the most part, the Braava 380t works as advertised, although the biggest complaint I have is the lack of on-board sensors means it can't detect the object that it's running into. When coming in contact with our rug, it spent a fair bit of time trying to get under it, rather than colliding and moving on.

It's not a big thing, but a fair bit of time and battery life was wasted in this challenge.

The only other problem I have is around the cloth plates. The blue one (wet) attaches easily, just by velcro, making attaching it quick and easy after a wash.

The white one (dry) attaches to the dry plate, but to attach this, you have to precisely insert the ends of the cloth between the plastic braces. It would seem the same amount of force would be applied on both cloths, so I don't understand the difference in attachment design, this seems needlessly complex.


How much and when can you get one ?

The iRobot Braava 380t is available now and will cost you A$599.00. There are replacement 3x packs of the microfibre cleaning cloths, which will set you back between $33.00 and $40.00 depending on your choices.


Final thoughts

I love the concept of having robots clean our houses and the need to mop, not just sweep is definitely a reality. While it's certainly possible to let the Braava 380t run through your whole house, I think it's much more practical to leave it on the charger most of the time, then pickup and drop it as required.

Spills in the kitchen or water on the floor in the bathroom are the perfect tasks the 380t will suck up.

If you're house contains hard surfaced areas separated by carpet, then you'll need to move the robot manually (unless you plan on buying multiple, but that gets expensive fast.

While I'm happy with the small design, the quiet operation, I feel the decision to add a handle to the charging side of the device was a mistake. I also wish they leveraged the same automatic recharging found in their Roomba series, so the robot could do it's job on a schedule and have a sensor to let you know when the cloth needs washing.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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