While it isn’t necessary to use it to control the PUREi9, the vacuum does come with an accompanying app that’s available for both Android and iOS. Via the app, you can set up a cleaning schedule and even start, stop or send the unit back to its dock (or Home).
Connecting the unit to the app is child’s play – just follow the instructions on screen and it doesn’t take more than a minute or two to get set up.
Any commands issued by the app are carried out instantaneously, and you can even use the app remotely over the internet – which is very handy if you’re bringing home unexpected guests and want it to do a quick clean before you get there.
The first version of the app that we used was quite simplistic: other than the basic controls and the scheduling, no other information was available. You couldn’t view the map of the cleaned area or determine battery levels, and nor could you get notifications or alerts from the unit (if it got stuck somewhere, for example). While most of those features are still not included in the updated version of the app, Electrolux has at least added a map of the area being cleaned.
However, there is a significant lag between the position of the PUREi9 in the physical room and its position on the virtual map. We found that the robot would often have returned home but the map still showed the droid as cleaning.
The map shown doesn’t really resemble an architectural floor plan, like Roomba or Ecovacs companion apps, but it will give you the general shape of the home to give you an idea of where the PUREi9 has been, useful if you’re keeping tabs on it remotely.
Cleaning out the bin is a cakewalk: press the rectangular release just beyond the touch panel and the bin pops out. The top cover lifts off the clear plastic bin easily for you to empty the contents. Plus, the bin is large enough for a few runs (perhaps two or three if you have a carpet floor) before it needs to be cleaned out. Of course, the triangular android will let you know when its bin needs a clean.
Between the red-framed mesh and the top panel is the dust filter, which slips off for a wash or a quick brush with soft bristles. Once cleaned, the bin easily snaps back into place.
Like most newer robot vacuums, the PUREi9 will speak to you when needed – if it gets entangled in wires and cables, it will verbally ask for help (albeit in a slightly robotic voice), or in case there’s an error it will mention what has come to pass so you can fix it. If the bin hasn’t been fitted in properly before the next clean, you will hear it ask you to insert it correctly, and it will ask you to empty the bin quite politely when it’s full.
While we can’t fault the hardware, Electrolux has seemingly struggled with the software side of things. Excellent physical cleaning performance and perfect app control is all for naught if a robot vacuum doesn’t clean in any logical pattern, which in the PUREi9’s case means it can miss large sections of a space or clean some spots repeatedly.
We get the feeling the PUREi9 would operate more effectively in small, simple spaces – like a sparsely furnished studio or small home (specifically, one with hard floors). But for a unit that comes with a price tag this high, we’d argue it should do well in multi-room dwellings with wall-to-wall carpets, too. Plus it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the competing robot vacuums, like the iRobot Roomba range, to otherwise help justify the cost – it doesn’t mop and the app has very limited functionality.
If Electrolux fixes the troubled mapping algorithm, however, we reckon the PUREi9 could make for an excellent robot vacuum. Being a slow learner isn’t always a bad thing, especially given how impressive the hardware is. So it’s a pity the smarts don’t (yet) live up to the same standard.