The iLife Shinebot W400 is a welcome departure from the typical robotic floor mop. Many of its competitors can be more accurately described as robotic floor wipers, because they don’t achieve the same results you’d get with the exertion of doing the job yourself with a stick mop.
This floor-washing robot comes a lot closer to that goal. It diligently scrubs floors, providing the agitation needed to lift up stubborn stains and leave the surface spotless.
The iLife Shinebot W400 is a big bot. With a height of 4.72 inches and a heft of more than 7 pounds, it’s a good deal more portly than the iRobot Braava Jet 240, which is just 3.3 inches tall and weighs less than three pounds.
A multi-function panel on top of the robot includes controls for starting and stopping cleanings, switching between the four cleaning modes (more on that in a bit), and getting voice alerts on the robot’s status. A pair of indicator LEDs track battery and water levels. Mercifully, a retractable handle is included beneath the panel to make it less laborious toting the Shinebot W400 room to room.
The Shinebot W400 uses a rapidly rotating microfiber brush and a scraper to scrub and remove dirt. Inside the robot, a pair of tanks with individual inlets and outlets keeps clean and dirty water separated. It’s worth noting that you cannot add detergent to this machine’s clean water tank. A dozen anti-collision and anti-drop sensors positioned around the robot enable it to safely navigate your household terrain.
The robot comes mostly assembled and ready to roll, along with several accessories. These include a charging dock and power cable, a remote control that includes most of the functions of the robot’s control panel, a replacement microfiber roller, and a cleaning tool.
Setup and performance
First things first: the Shinebot W400 must be set in its dock to charge. It’s noteworthy, though, that the robot cannot return itself to its dock when its battery runs low—you must pick it up and put it there yourself. The upside of this is you can put the dock wherever you have a safe, dry space near an electrical outlet, and you can even move it around since the Shinebot W400 doesn’t need to “remember” where its charging dock is.
To start a cleaning, you just need to fill the clean water tank—which pops up easily with a press of the tank-release button atop the robot—from your tap. You then press the Clean button on the robot or remote control, and a voice alert asks you to select a mode. The four options are:
- Path mode: The Shinebot W400 cleans in straight lines around obstacles and returns to its starting spot when finished.
- Area mode: The robot cleans in a pattern similar to Path mode, but only cleans an area 16-by-16 feet in front of its starting point.
- Spot mode: The robot takes a spiral route twice over an area of concentrated dirt, and then takes the same route back to its starting point.
- Edge mode: The robot travels the perimeter of an area, cleaning edges and corners.
While technically not a “mode,” there is a fifth option: controlling the robot manually using the directional button on the remote. Each of these methods has its uses, but I generally found Path mode best for regular maintenance cleaning.
The Shinebot W400 uses a four-step mopping method iLife calls the TidalPower Cleaning System. A half-dozen small nozzles under the front end of the robot moisten the floor with clean water to loosen dirt and stains, the microfiber roller brush scrubs these free, the dirty water is sucked into the robot, and the scraper wipes off any residue left behind.
This is an effective tool. I used the Shinebot W400 first on my entryway, a high-traffic area regularly stamped with foot and paw prints and tracked-in gunk. It scrubbed the area clean, leaving it dirt free and gleaming. I got similar results in my bathrooms and kitchen.
I knew from the moment I unpacked the Shinebot W400, however, that its size would be a drawback. It’s too tall get into the toe kicks under my kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and it’s also far too bulky to get into such tight spots as between a toilet and a wall. To be fair, most of the robot mops I’ve tested can’t do this either. iRobot’s Braava Jet 240 is the only one that’s been nimble enough for such maneuvers.
In lieu of app control, the Shinebot W400 uses its voice alerts to keep you updated on its status. Advisories that it is finishing a job or its battery needs recharging are helpful when your attention is on other business.
The iLife Shinebot W400’s four-step scrubbing system is extremely effective, and it comes pretty close to replicating the results of a push mop. Its ability to navigate independently and without requiring much hands-on intervention is also a big plus. Its bulk can be a hindrance, though, so if you’re in an apartment or other home where most of your moppable floors are in bathrooms and kitchens with lots of tight spaces, it’s probably not the robot mop for you. Look instead to the iRobot’s Braava Jet 240. But if you have hard floors throughout your home in fairly open spaces, the iLife Shinebot W400 is well worth the investment.