Part of the journey when building GadgetSyrup out of nothing was to find brands that I can build a relationship with, makes good products and that I hopefully genuinely enjoy using. Relationships with Microsoft and Motorola, for example, have been two of the larger partnerships I have formed and being a fan of those products beforehand made it easy to review their products. Along the way, I have found other companies that, despite not having the notoriety of a Microsoft or Motorola, still manage to check the boxes for me. Up until recently, I would lump BlitzWolf into that category but now I am starting to have some doubts.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the company and they have been great to work with, but I am the most recent BltzWolf product to come across my desk, the BW-VC1 Robot Vacuum cleaner has been by far one of the most frustrating products I have reviewed.
First, let me be clear, I have used only one other vacuum in my home for the last 12 years. The Dyson, DC-15 Animal. I’m not switching vacuums every year or anything like that. I love my Dyson, they have been great support wise and until it no longer does the job, I won’t be replacing it.
Now, let’s dive into the review
What’s In The Box
- BlitzWolf BW-VC1 Robot Vacuum
- 5,200 mAh Battery
- Dust Bin
- BlitzWolf Charging Station
● 5200mAh Battery provides up to 3 hours of cleaning
● Powerful 2200Pa Strong Suction, attention to details cleaning, no leakage
● LDS Laser Navigation, 360° scanning, SLAM algorithm for drawing accurate maps, multi-sensor collaborative obstacle avoidance
● APP remote control, get the status of cleaning progress in time, control and set the prohibited area through your mobile phone
● High-efficiency HEPA filter screen, blocking 99 percent of dust impurities, avoiding secondary pollution of indoor air
● Self-protection, built-in 360° anti-collision & anti-drop sensor, will not fall from a height
● Automatic Recharging, continue to clean the house and then sweep, will not get lost
What I Liked
I have three kids (soon to be 5 with Twins coming in early 2020), two Golden Retrievers, and until recently a black long-haired cat. Why do I tell you this? To paint the picture that it is commonplace to see tumbleweeds of dog fur or excessive amounts of crumbs scattered across the floor of my house regardless of how many consecutive days I vacuum or sweep. It is just the reality of having kids and pets. The VC1 was set to a schedule to come out of hiding every other day during the week and on both Saturday and Sunday around noon and do its thing. This schedule I found lead to the majority of those day-to-day crumbs and balls of fur were taken care of and really saved me the time of getting out the Dyson for a quick tidy.
I also liked the spread of features offered by the VC1s app. There are many options such as automatic floor type detection, which worked great to go across our area rugs and back to hardwood or tile with ease. Another handy feature was the virtual wall setting that allowed me to block off rooms or the stairs to the basement by setting up a sort of virtual fence thanks to the device’s lidar sensor. I was forced to keep the VC1 out of my office due to the number of loose products and wiring out during any given period. This feature made it very easy to manage that without having to remember to close a door that otherwise is always open.
What I Didn’t Like
The app created for the VC1 is complete and utter trash. I’m not trying to be hyperbolic here, it is just the truth. Far more often than not, I would open the app to be told the device was offline, despite watching it drive across the floor while trying to devour my 12-year old Goldens tail. Sometimes a force stop and cache clear would do the trick, sometimes I just had to keep trying the tap the vacuum icon to access the device while it was in function. Dozens of times though I would resort to tracking the vacuum down and pressing the pause button and carrying it back to the charger
I also feel like the vacuum is a bit of a jerk. It would be off doing its thing, only to do a complete 180, leave the room it was in to come and bang into my feet while working in the kitchen. It also is not a fan of my dog. Especially the older one, Allie. No less than 3 times now I have watched the vacuum excessively drive into the side of the old girl over and over until finally reaching her tail and gobbling it up. The result of this was a terrified dog who would stand up and run away scared with a vacuum stuck to her tail saying “I am suspended, please help me”. I haven’t caught this on camera yet, and I wish I had of because this sounds so far fetched I am not surprised if you don’t believe it
My final major complaint is the dust bin. It is simply too small. Yes, I am aware that I have a heavy workload for a vacuum thanks to the kids and the dogs, but during one cycle of the house, I have to stop the vacuum and empty the bin. I also have to do this without prompting. Despite all the functionality the VC1 offers (on paper) it lacks any sort of sensor to tell you the bin is at capacity and to empty it. Leaving the bin full and letting the vacuum continue does what you would expect it to do. Shoot dirt and crumbs around the room, never succeeding in sucking them up.
I mentioned about the VC1 vs. Golden Retriever confrontations and how I wished I had caught it on video. Sadly I can’t do this because it appears that at this point the VC1 has already given up the ghost and stopped working. Despite many attempts to revive the sometimes psychopathic vacuum, I am met by a permanent lidar error. The VC1s soothing female robot voice tells me her lidar sensor is blocked and to please clear it (it is at least polite). I currently have a ticket open with their support looking for a fix but I have done everything possible to clear this error, both in the app and physically, but have not been successful. I have only had the vacuum for 3 months and this error came up out of seemingly nowhere. It was a pretty common occurrence. The kids had left something on the floor, VC1 decided it was a good idea to try and suck up said a thing and then bark out an error saying that it was jammed. I removed the object, as per normal, pressed start and was met with the friendly lidar error.
Should You Buy The BW-VC1 Robot Vacuum
Before I received the VC1 I was very excited about what it could do to free up time for me that is spent lugging around the Dyson and for a short period, it delivered the dream. However, despite the app receiving many updates in the short time I have used it, the reliability issues are just too prominent to recommend it.
The VC1 isn’t cheap either. Available only on Banggood right now, the VC1 will set you back just shy of $350 CAD + shipping which is usually about $30 CAD
If you’re looking for a smart vacuum and can’t afford the iRobot or Dyson offerings I would steer clear of the VC1 and look to Amazon for similar, high rated, smart vacuums or wait and see what the VC2 and beyond can offer should you want to try the brand. The brand, BlitzWolf, as I mentioned has been really good to work with and I intend to continue reviewing their devices. Right now I have an HD projector and a new pair of truly wireless earbuds that I am reviewing. The projector hasn’t been put through the paces to have an opinion on yet, but the headphones are looking really good so far.
After working with BlitzWolf’s support, I wasn’t getting anywhere. They were trying, but coming up with a solution wasn’t happening. You have to remember, BlitzWolf is a small company and are growing fast, with rapid growth, there are often many pain points.
So, with no positive resolution in sight, a friend of mine with a different brand of smart-vac contacted me to let me know his vacuum was throwing lidar errors. He decided to disassemble his vacuum and found a loose connection inside the housing of the lidar unit. I had already taken my device apart once but did not see three hidden screws on the underside of the housing. I decided “Why not” and took them off. Inside I found two more connections, one plug, secure and one ribbon cable, just a bit off center! Reseated and powered up and finally, no more nagging lidar error!!