- Impressive mopping function
- Self-cleaning feature for mop heads
- Spinning brushes on left and right sides
- Accurate room mapping thanks to LIDAR
- Lacks a bottom brush roller
- Weak sucking power
- Buggy app
Robot vacuum cleaners are a dime a dozen these days, but the Narwal T10 tries to offer something almost none of its rivals have.
There is a growing number of robots invading our homes, but not in the nefarious way that many sci-fi flicks would have us believe. These robots roam around our rooms, picking up dirt, dust, and hair and sometimes even wiping off stains. Robot vacuum cleaners now come in all shapes and sizes, and it has become a bit more difficult to pick one unless they have some special feature or gimmick. The Narwal T10, the company’s first stab at a robot cleaner, advertises one such special skill, and we set it loose on the floor to check if it makes the cut.
The Narwal T10 will immediately strike one as something so different from your usual robot vac, even the ones with 2-in-1 mopping and vacuuming functions. For one, both its base and the robot itself are coated in white, a color that’s most often associated with cleanliness and sanitation. It also gives off a better minimalist vibe, though that may come at the expense of dirt and stains being more visible on the product’s surface.
The T10’s base station is also considerably larger and bulkier than other robot vacuums, but that is both intentional as well as an illusion. Robot cleaners with narrower stations actually have larger bases for the robot to stand on, taking up almost the same amount of floor space anyway. With Narwal’s design, the robot goes inside the station completely and hides any part that humans or pets can trip on. Additionally, the larger size is necessary to support the T10’s mopping functions, which we’ll get to later.
The robot itself is also unique in its design, setting itself apart from the more common circular or “D” shapes of the competition. It is more square with rounded corners than a circle, pretty much a “squircle,” but it’s also wider than other robot vacuums. That doesn’t affect its performance that much, but it might be something to consider if you have narrower spaces you need it to reach.
It’s not that easy to describe the ergonomics of something that you wouldn’t be handling most of the time, but there will always be occasions when you need to get down and dirty with the Narwal T10 robot mopper and vac. You will need to do some things manually that other people might take for granted, and that’s when handling becomes a major consideration.
For example, you will need to empty the dust bin more often than not because of its small capacity. You will also need to swap out the brush and mop modules whenever you want to switch between vacuuming and mopping. Fortunately, the design of the robot is simple and lightweight, so it isn’t that much of a chore. The one drawback is that there are no handles for easier lifting or carrying of the robot, but that’s something that shouldn’t really happen often.
The large station is also simple to operate and has a top flap to access the two water tanks inside. Those have handles for easier lifting, though they will naturally be heavy if filled with water, both clean and dirty. There is no external bin in the station for solid dirt, which is why emptying the bin inside the vacuum cleaner itself has to be done more often compared to some other brands.
Despite how long robot vacuum cleaners have been around, there is almost no manufacturer that has gone off the beaten path to put a focus on keeping the environment just as clean as your floor or carpet. While many consumer electronics companies are putting resources into sustainable efforts, robot vac cleaners haven’t come on board just yet.
Narwal is no exception, and the T10 is chock-full of non-renewable, non-recyclable, and unsustainable materials like plastic. The cleaner might be easy to operate, but maintaining it isn’t, especially when it comes to repairs. The company does sell replacements for parts that will get worn out the most, like brushes and HEPA filters, and those need to get replaced every three to six months, leading to more waste for landfills.
The T10’s mopping functionality can use a detergent strip that gets dissolved in the water, though that is optional, and you can just go with clean water instead. Narwal doesn’t make any claims about the impact on the environments these strips may have, and it would have been a small but important step forward if you could use more eco-friendly alternatives. Unfortunately, the company does warn about using any cleaning agents other than its official strips that could cause damage to the parts of the base station.
Robot vacuum cleaners aren’t designed just to be looked at, of course, and even the most sustainable robot of the future would need to do a good job at cleaning your floor or carpet. The Narwal T10 does have an interesting story to tell in that regard, but not all of it is good, sadly.
As a vacuum cleaner, the Narwal T10 ironically sucks at sucking. Its maximum suction power of 1,800Pa just pales in comparison with other robot vacuums on the same price range, even when set to its most powerful “Power” mode. On the upside, that also means that the operation is fairly quiet and won’t be that much of a nuisance to kids and pets.
Unlike other robot vacuum cleaners, the T10 doesn’t have a bottom brush that rolls underneath it. That makes it harder for the robot to pull out dirt and particles that might lie below surface level, like dirt buried deep inside carpets. To compensate, it has two spinning brushes at its sides, doubling the sweeping reach of the vacuum.
That’s not to say that the T10 is terrible, just that it works best only in certain conditions. Hard floors and tiles are no problem for the robot, but it can only suck so much out of a dirty carpet. Particles that stick stubbornly even on hard floors also pose a problem and will take a few passes before they disappear. Then again, it might be better to mop those areas off anyway.
A robot vacuum cleaner wouldn’t be complete without self-driving capabilities, and the T10 thankfully doesn’t disappoint. It uses more advanced LIDAR rather than a camera to create a map of rooms in the house and navigate around obstacles. It is fairly accurate and quick, but the user experience is unfortunately hampered by a buggy mobile app.
The Narwal T10 is ironically better at mopping than vacuuming, making it a great robot mop with an OK vacuum functionality on the side. While robot vacs that offer a similar 2-in-1 functionality have a small water tank and a damp cloth that simply wipes the floor, Narwal’s robot has dedicated features and parts just for mopping. And unlike its performance at sucking, the T10 is actually impressive in this mode.
You do have to manually swap the brush module for the mop heads, but the robot is thankfully smart enough to distinguish which is which and adjust its mode automatically. These mop heads spin around just like the brushes, but, more importantly, the T10 also applies pressure that helps in scrubbing the floor clean. The mop pads’ twisted fibers also help in making sure that as much stubborn dirt is lifted compared to a simple moth cloth.
The real magic actually happens inside the base station, which has an automatic cleaning function so you won’t have to get your hands wet and dirty. At the start of the mopping phase, the station sprays water with the dissolved detergent sheet onto the mopping pads. Each time the robot returns home, the station sprays soapy water again while the pads spin inside to rinse away the dirt. Once the mopping session has finally ended, the station rinses the pads again but also blow-dries them.
This is a feature that’s definitely unique to the Narwal T10 and takes away a lot of the drudgery in mopping floors. You’ll still want to wash the mopping pads from time to time to make sure they’re clean and properly dried, but Narwal does most of the dirty work for you.
At this point, it’s easy enough to give the Narwal T10 high marks, even with its less than stellar vacuuming capabilities. Unfortunately, there is one critical consideration that almost makes all of these moot. The majority of the robot’s functions can only be accessed through its mobile app, and that app is still regarded to be the worst part of the product since it launched.
The robot vacuum does have physical buttons for turning the vacuum on or pausing its current task, but everything else has to happen through the app. Unfortunately, there is a litany of bugs affecting the functionality of that app, bugs that still haven’t been addressed despite not-so-recent updates. The initial setup process can be finicky and is not as straightforward as the instructions seem to suggest. The most important consideration is that connection to your home network can only happen through a 2.4GHz band, so those with dual 2.4GHz and 5GHz routers will have to adjust their settings if possible.
Setting no-go zones isn’t trivial either, and you are limited to selecting rectangular areas the robot won’t tread over. It is possible to schedule cleaning times via the app, but the implementation isn’t exactly the easiest to use. The one thing in the app that does work perfectly is the real-time location of the robot, which could be handy if you accidentally lost track of it.
It isn’t impossible to use the mobile app, but it comes with a steep learning curve and requires a lot of patience. It might be worth the initial struggle for some, however, and hopefully, Narwal has a massive update coming to address these issues. Software is easier to fix than manufacturing or product design defects, and the T10 doesn’t have much of the latter, thankfully.
At $1,099, the Narwal T10 isn’t an expensive smart home device, though it is currently at a discounted price of $949. With an impressive mopping performance, passable suction power, decent battery life, and auto-cleaning functions, that is almost a good bargain. The mobile app, however, is the albatross around its neck and could cause some to reconsider making a purchase.
There are, however, other costs that owners will also need to keep in mind when investing in this robot vacuum cleaner. Some might find it more high maintenance than others because you have to manually remove the dust bin more often than those with larger bins or auto-cleaning for solid dirt. You will also need to replace many of the parts regularly, especially the HEPA filters in the dust bin, and have a stock of detergent sheets ready at all times. Narwal does sell all of these, which adds to the total cost of ownership.
With so many robot vacuum cleaners in the market, it’s rare to find one that has an exceptional feature that makes it stand out from the rest. The Narwal T10 is definitely one of those with its focus on its mopping function, though it, unfortunately, comes at the expense of the vacuuming part. The mobile app definitely needs a lot of work, and the young company will hopefully address those soon.
There are situations where the robot won’t be at its best, particularly if almost all your floors are carpeted. If, on the other hand, you mostly have hard floors and find yourself needing to mop more often than sweep, the Narwal T10 is undeniably a good choice to help you keep your house spick and span.