Saturday, March 18, 2006

Consumer Reports gives thumbs down for Scooba

Updated 4/16: Bummer. But like I said, we gotta face the music, even't when it ain't pretty.
Consumer Reports gave a thumbs down to Scooba -- the first major publication to do so. (Link includes Scooba video report from CBS4 in Boston). The station talked to a Consumer Reports tester who tried varies dried-on stains and reported that it didn't always get the stains up, particularly in corners (duh!) or around toilets (double duh!)

"So at this point, Consumer Reports says stick with a mop and bucket. For hundreds less, you'll get your floors a lot cleaner -- including the corners.

The Scooba is made by the iRobot company who told NewsChannel 4 the Consumer Reports tests didn't reflect the intent of the machine. It said Scooba was never really designed to be a robotic paper-towel cleaning dried up spills--it's designed to keep your floor clean through continuous worry-free operation."

Another Consumer Reports-TV link here adds this caveat to the negative review:

"Consumer Reports says the Scooba does do a decent job of cleaning lightly-soiled floors while you sit back and relax. It will take about 45 minutes for a mid-size kitchen, but when it's done, you do have to clean the Scooba brush, filter and tank."

UPDATED: The Consumer Reports Scooba Review is also now available for free at its home page.

I love Consumer Reports, particularly for their reviews of automobiles, but I can't help but thinking that they are hopelessly slow to embrace new technologies. The higher the technology, the harder the time CR has evaluating it. (Their reviews of computers are simply awful, for example).

I also love how CR uses the old "for hundreds less" argument about mops and buckets. You can get your dishes clean "for hundreds less" by hand washing them too. It's about having a Robot do the work FOR YOU. Is that so hard to understand?

UPDATED: Positive Scooba reviews have since come out from the Chicago Tribune, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, and the Boston Herald.

FYI, the best deal on Scooba currently is $275 with free shipping.

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Anonymous said...

Scooba has cleaned up lots of dried spills on my floors. And as for corners & beside toilets, I can heft my hoover floormate beside toilets; but it'll never get corners either, it doesn't clean as well as scooba, & its tanks need servicing twice as often. I guess irobot could make a tiny scooba for corners, but then its tank would have to be too small to make sense.

thorn_stevens said...

I couldn't agree more.

I think they missed the boat on this one. Instead of saying "wow, here's the first consumer product that actually mops your floors automatically for you, while you relax in the other room," they used typical snarky response reminiscent of reactions to the first computers, as in "save $2,000 and keep your old IBM Selectric -- those dot matrix printers look awful."

And then there is the time savings. You mop it yourself and it's a mess, it takes a good long while if you have a lot of hard floors, and you end up not doing it as often as you should because it's such a pain.

Scooba isn't perfect, but what more can you really ask of a $399 robot? A robot sophisticated enough to have attachments (arms, sensors, etc.) to wipe corners, behind toilets, etc., would cost thousands more.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention, it takes 5 minutes to do the edges or around toilets. I have a lot of wooden floor and it saves me hours.

I also dont slop dirty water back on to the floor unlike the 'hundreds less' mop and bucket.

thorn_stevens said...

Scooba Math:

Say right now you mop once a month. It takes you an hour to do it well. Say your time is worth $25 an hour. Mopping costs you $250 a year opportunity cost that you could be spending doing something else.

Buy Scooba for $399. It pays for itself in less than two years. And instead of mopping once a month, you can mop once or twice a week. Your home is cleaner.

The savings are even more if you can replace your housekeeper (or lessen how often she/he comes).

Funny aside: Consumer Reports just admitted it screwed up in its charts on the value of buying hybrid cars, once again underestimating the savings.

pantrygirl said...

Thorn_Stevens, thanks for info regarding pricing. From reviews I've received, if I use it as a maintenance tool it will do the job.

I'm going to keep my eyes on those sites and prices you gave me.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Slightly flawed math. You didn't carry the one for Scooba Clorox cleaner and life expectancy of the battery.

Anonymous said...

These are the same people who (when I was looking at buying a Mustang in 97) said that they couldn't understand why the car was Rear Wheel Drive :-o

They are buffoons, and should only be allowed to test toasters.

thorn_stevens said...

Scooba math has been updated in the Scooba math post. It still pays for itself in less than two years, even if you assume $50 a year for Scooba juice, batteries, etc.

Thaed said...

The big thing for me is that the Scooba is doing the work. Just like a dishwasher. I can wash dishes faster too. I set the Scooba up and it does the labor. Sure I have to clean it, but you have to empty a mop bucket too.

Anonymous said...

You cost declines dramatically if you substitute 2 ounces of white vinegar for the "scooba juice." It works just as well but a gallon is a few dollars.

I have SEVERE allergies to scented products and almost got physically ill trying to use the scooba juice. I tried to run scooba with just my tap water but we are on an aquifer system and my water is too pure. The vinegar allows the proper amount of chemical reaction for the scooba to sense it and run.

Scooba is probably a better buy than my roomba. As a homeschool mom of 5 kids, it is really hard to get to the mopping during the day. Now, I can turn on scooba in my kitchen and walk away day or night. It was worth the price!

Anonymous said...

I thought it was laughable that CR decided that if the machine could not access an area the size of a business envelope behind the toilet, that you might as well mop the whole floor yourself. Clearly, their testers do not actually DO the cleaning in their homes. Takes me two seconds to get the area behind the toilet. My biggest joy is that Scooba (and its nutty brother Roomba) fit under my old clawfoot bathtub. Used to be the job I hated WORST in the whole house and it showed! Now you could literally eat off the floor under the tub. If you could fit.

thorn_stevens said...

Great story, and yet another reason why Consumer Reports just doesn't get it. I suggest we all send them our comments and maybe they will reconsider.

This is their contact page.

Click on "Send us an email" and let 'em have it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the input. I received one for Mom's day, but returned it because I couldn't believe it could do a "decent" job (I'm not picky, and hate to mop my tile kitchen. I guess I'm heading back to BedBath&Beyond in Houston and using thier 20% discount off of the $300 price. Sounds like a deal to me.

Anonymous said...

I got my Scuba at Hammacher Sclemmer as advised. It does an admirable, if not altogether perfect job. My unit is light blue with a dark blue bumper and has no model number. Is it a 5800? Hammacher Schlemmer didn't want to discuss model numbers when I asked them. Either way, I'm happy with my $299 purchase, but I'd like to know if they are charging more for the 58000 because there's a lifetime warranty.

thorn_stevens said...

Hammacher only sells the Scooba 5900. The 5900 has a list price of $399; the 5800 has a list of $299.