The iLife A11 boasts powerful suction, ability to both vacuum and mop and advanced LiDAR navigation. We found its vacuuming skills to be impressive on carpet and hard floors. Mopping was a high point, too.
We found a lot to like in the iLife A11 robot vacuum. There's a few shortcomings, too. Read on to see if it is a good choice for your home.
The iLife A11 is a robot vacuum cleaner and mop with LiDAR-based navigation and mapping. The unit boasts 4000Pa of suction and a unique Y-shaped mopping pattern designed to simulate the movement made with a hand mop. iLife completed the package with long battery life and most of the core features we expect to find on a robot in this price range.
We haven't tested many 2-in-1 robots which both vacuum and mop. So, when iLife offered us a test unit to review, we were happy to oblige. Looking at the A11's features, two things stood out: the mopping feature (and it's unique Y-pattern), and the 4000 pascals of suction power.
We'll get into both of those features and all of our findings after spending the last few weeks performing real-world testing in a few homes.
This is our first in-depth review of any iLife product. The iLife A11 ended up in our hands after the company reached out to us and asked if they could providing us one to review.
We were aware that iLife manufacturers robot vacuums but weren't aware they had released a follow-up to the A80, a previous robot vacuum which also doubled as a mop.
After spending some time on their website, they also sell a stick vacuum cleaner and several robotic vacuum models and a series of mop-only robots. So, they obviously have some prior experience to tap into when designing the A11.
The iLife A11 has a recognizable while elegant design. It is round and black with a glossy black finish on the top of the robot. It is on the shorter side, with a height of just under 3.7 inches.
There are two buttons on the top of the robot vacuum: a power and a home button.
Unboxing yielded the robot vacuum itself along with its a compact charging dock and power cord. There's also two dustbins. One is a standard dustbin for vacuuming. The second is used for vacuuming and mopping and it includes a water tank.
There are two brush rolls. One is a more standard roller brush with alternating rows of bristles and rubber fins. The other has rubber fins only. The included mopping attachment is ready to use with a mop pad in place, too.
Extras include an extra side brush, main filter and replacement mopping pad. Finally, the iLife A11 robot also comes with a cleaning tool and small remote control. And yes, batteries for the remote are included.
After about five minutes of assembly and App setup we topped off the iLife A11's battery. At last, it was time to get down to business. We set it out to create a map in one of our test homes and it did a very good job.
Using its laser navigation system, the A11's confidently mapped the room it was in, then made its way through the entire house. Repeating the process in multiple homes, this was the usual experience we had with one exception.
On our initial runs as well as those to follow, we appreciated how careful the iLife A11 was around wall edges and LiDAR-detectable obstacles like sofas, chairs, tables and other household furniture.
One area which has challenged other robot vacuums was problematic for the A11. The area is a dining room with dark floors and a dark colored area rug. We aren't quite sure why this area proves challenging to the navigation system the A11 has, but it did.
In the end we never found a way to get an accurate map that would provide trouble-free cleaning of that dining room. Again, we didn't see this happen when testing in 3 other homes, or on another floor of the same home where it did occur.
There was also one other challenge that we think is likely a firmware or App update away. When creating a map, it often would be rotated by a few degrees. The map was still accurate, but there is no way to right it. The challenge this created was when mopping as we couldn't set an accurate No-Go Zone for area rugs, for example.
Again, this seems like it has to be software related, and something that could be addressed with firmware or an updated version of the iLife mobile app.
Where vacuuming was concerned, we found the A11 to be very capable. It did an excellent job on hard floor, cleaning up dirt, crumbs, debris, kitty litter and hair. We tried all of the cleaning modes, and had nothing but positive experiences.
Cleaning carpeting wasn't much different. We cleaned rooms with wall-to-wall carpeting and area rugs as well as some entryway and door rugs. The amount of dirt and debris we found each time opened the dustbin was impressive.
Note: The iLife A11 ships with two main brush options. We stuck with the combination main brush which has both soft bristles and stiffer rubber fins for all of our tests. It did a great job cleaning regardless of surface type.
The iLife A11 uses the terms sweeping for vacuuming and dusting for mopping. We think that the mopping feature does more than remove dust from the floor. But, as with most mopping robots, the mopping function isn't comparable to a person using a mop.
Switching the iLife A11 from a vacuum to a vacuum and mop takes just a few minutes. There are four things to do:
That's it. We found the switch to be quick and easy. The next step is to send the A11 out on a cleaning run. In this configuration, the A11 vacuums and mops at the same time.
Depending on your home, you may need to create a different map just for mopping where Invisible Walls and No-Go Zones protect carpeting as the robot doesn't distinguish between the surfaces like pricier robots do.
What is pretty neat is the how the mopping system uses a Y-pattern that simulates hand mopping. We're preparing a video to upload to show the pattern, but it is an interesting approach that produced great results.
We did not have high hopes for mopping and were pleasantly surprised. No, we didn't expect it to scrub out stubborn stains. If that is what you're looking for, you'll be hard pressed to find that from any manufacturer without spending more than twice (or more) of what the A11 costs. What it did do was leave floors clean and free of dirt, debris and dust.
As the A11 makes its way around, the floor is cleaned of dirt and debris before making contact with the mop pad. This prevents not only poor results but also extends time between machine washing the pad.
We did not experience any issues with streaks. This is often a problem with mopping robots. But, between the design of the mop pad and water tank seepage, we had no issues whatsoever. Once a mop pad becomes noticeable dirty, it can be cleaned in a normal washing machine.
The mopping results were admirable, and will definitely cut down on maintenance between more vigorous mopping by hand.
|Flooring Surface||iLife A11|
|Tile & Hardwood||98.9%|
|Low Pile Carpet||93.6%|
|Mid/High Pile Carpet||88.2%|
There are three settings which adjust the amount of suction the A11 uses while vacuuming: Quiet, Auto and Max. We used the Auto or normal mode most frequently.
In Quiet Mode we measured noise of 61dBA with a decibel meter. Normal, or Auto mode registered 71dBA. In Max mode, noise jumped up to 76dBA. This is in line or slightly higher than other robot vacuums with the same level of suction as the iLife A11 robot vacuum.
|Mode||iLife A11 Noise|
All noise radings were takenf from approximately 3 feet away from the vacuum.
One feature the iLife A11 does not have is the ability to increase suction when the robot identifies it is on carpeting. This feature is all-but standard on LiDAR-equipped alternatives to the A11, and we were a bit surprised the A11 didn't have it.
The mobile App is user-friendly, while limited when compared with competitors' mobile apps. We found the app to allow for the basics, including:
The iLife Vac App doesn't have the same polish as we've seen in competing robots, but it was useable and did allow us to do what we wanted to do. Some things just felt somewhat unfinished, such as the legibility of room names on the map and instructional sequences.
We barely used the standalone remote control. This might be a good accessory for people that don't want to bother with a mobile app once the robot has been setup, but we preferred using the iLife App.
We found battery life to be in-line with aLife's quoted 2.5 hour run time in the most economical power setting. We did send the robot out on a repetitive, taxing cleaning runs to drain the battery to near empty. We then set it out again and when the the A11 realized its battery was low it docked, recharged, then resumed cleaning where it left off.
Finding and mating with the charging dock was seamless except in those unique circumstances we encountered where the A11 became somewhat spatially confused in its mapping. As we mentioned, we believe this was a unique situation, possibly due to a dark floor, and tall dark carpet combination. And, the area where we experienced it also confused another robot in previous tests.
Being one of iLife's few 2-in-1 mop and vacuuming robots, they've done a very good job. Vacuuming was very good as was mopping.
We did have a quirky navigation challenge and were frustrated by the skewed maps the robot created. And, while those two specific things were the only negative points for the A11 robot vacuum cleaner, they are both important enough to share.
We anticipate a fix for skewed in-app maps will come in future updates. The same goes for the unique navigation challenge that tripped the A11 up in one home where tested, too. Again, the A11 wasn't the first robot left confused by this specific room.
But, all-in-all we were far more impressed with the iLife A11 than we were disappointed or frustrated. At its price point, it is healthy competition for peer robot vacuums that also mop.
While manufacturer generosity doesn't influence our product reviews, we wanted to again thank iLife for providing us an iLife A11 robot vacuum for this review.