Tag Archives: Evolution Robotics

Mint Robot Cleaner vs iRobot Roomba 780 – Robot Cleaner Showdown!

What’s the first thing a person should do when they get their fancy, top of the line, iRobot Roomba 780in? Challenge it to a cage match verses a tough competitor, and then break down the differences between them. So in this article, we’re not only going to compare the Roomba 780 and the Mint Cleaner, we’re going see how they do in a cleaning smackdown. Two robots enter. One robot leaves!

(Later note: Don’t miss our in-depth review of the Roomba 780 and also check out our 780 vs 500 Series Roomba robot vacuum cleaner comparison.)

Mint vs Roomba 780 Review

The challenge

Two rooms. Both with hardwood floors. One bedroom, one office, two robot floor cleaners. We were surprised by the results!

So comparing the Mint and the Roomba. Let’s talk about the really big differences first. Obviously, the Roomba vacuums and does carpets and all other floor surfaces, while the Mint sweeps and does not do carpets. Besides price (the Mint being $400 US cheaper), that’s probably the biggest difference. Also in the big difference department is navigation technology. The iRobot Roomba uses different behaviors in a meaningful but admittedly random way. The Mint actually maps the room it is cleaning and does so in a methodical way. As we will see later, this leads to meaningful differences in the amount of time each robot requires to finish a room. The Roomba can be scheduled, comes with virtual walls, and also comes with a dock that it can go back to when finished. The Mint doesn’t have any of that, but can be tucked away in a small space when not in use.

The Roomba 700 series robots come with remote controls so that you can steer them around, tell them to spot clean certain places, and also to go home to their dock. The Mint does not come with a remote. The Mint is whisper quiet, although it does make noise when it bumps into things. You could have a phone conversation in the same room, but you might end up having to explain what that funny noise was. “No. I didn’t drop anything. It’s my cleaning robot.” The Roomba 780, like all iRobots before it, is not something you would want to have a phone conversation in the same room with. In fact, you’ll probably want to make sure and use the scheduler so that you don’t have to be around when it is working. The mint is almost an inch shorter, and is smaller and thus can fit into tighter spaces.

Similarities: Both clean floors automatically. Both come with cliff-detection technology to keep them from falling down stairways. Both do a great job of cleaning. Both recharge. You can replace the batteries in both. The Roomba 780 vacuum and Mint cleaner also do their best to slow down before they run into things. Both have schemes for cleaning multiple rooms effectively (but one does it way better than the other).

Roomba 780 Vacuuming Bedroom

The Bedroom

Our 100 square foot bedroom, with a bed, two nightstands, two dressers, two outlet strips, and some miscellaneous cords – mostly for chargers, alarm clocks, and a nightstand lamp. The bed is high enough for both robots to clean under. Only the Mint can fit between the legs of the nightstands, although it doesn’t end up mattering much, because that’s also where all the power cables are. We ran the Roomba 780 first, and then had the Mint clean up after to see how good a job it did.

Fuzzies Left by the RoombaThe Roomba took 28 minutes to clean the bedroom floor. It also required some prep work, moving cables out of the way. The 700 series Roombas are built to know when they’ve sucked up a cable, and actually reverse their brushes to spit them back out, which is cool. At the same time, I’ve had my 500 series Roomba suck up a cable and then drag a lamp off of a table, so I have some trust issues. The Roomba still ends up running over some cords, makes more noise, and can’t get under the night stands, so it leaves some fuzzies under one of the nightstands. Here is the bin after vacuuming the bedroom.

Roomba AeroVac bin after the Bedroom

I do have to say, really quickly here because it doesn’t matter much in the comparison, that the new AeroVac Series 2 bin at least looks like an improvement over the previous technology. Here is what the Mint picked up with a Swiffer Pad after the Roomba.

Really Impressive!!! If you click the picture to zoom in, you’ll see that there are some big particles, and two smallish dist bunnies that were left behind by the Roomba. Otherwise, it looks clean enough that we were both really amazed. Yes, here is the Mint cleaner pad after zipping around the same territory. The Mint did the bedroom in 17 minutes, which is 60% of the time. It was also really shocking, after the noise from the Roomba, to hear how quietly the Mint operates. Although I lack the technology to test it scientifically, I would have to say that between the two, the Roomba definitely plays rougher, moves furniture more while cleaning, and bumps into everything a little harder. However, I would say that the Roomba does do a better job of “seeing” furniture, and so the Mint tends to hit furniture at full speed more often than the Roomba. Because the Roomba climbs over cords, it did get some more of the space under the bed that was blocked to the Mint.

So did the Roomba 780 clean the floor thoroughly? We think so, and it passed the Mint white glove test pretty well.

Mint Cleaning a Floor

Second Run

A week later, we did the same room, but in the opposite order, to see how the Mint would do. Last time we ran the Roomba first, and then had the Mint test how iRobot device did. This time we sent the Mint cleaner to sweep up, and then had the Roomba see if there was anything left to pick up.

Mint swiffer pad after sweeping bedroom

So here is what the Mint Swiffer pad looked like after the bedroom. This is what it usually looks like every time we use the Mint. There’s always a big rolled up line of dust bunny along the front edge, and then plenty of larger pieces of dirt and debris all over the pad. Also some hair.

Roomba bin after Mint cleaning

Here is the Roomba AeroVac bin after vacuuming the bedroom. This is almost as impressive as what happened the week before. After the amazing showing by the Roomba, we had expected the Mint to have similar success. I mean, they’re both cleaners. It’s cool that they both do a good job.

We tested another room and found similar results. Each of the robots did find a little bit more dirt and dust after the other had cleaned up, but not so much. In all of the rooms, the Mint was faster.

Home Base

iRobot Roomba at home charging in dock

Mint Vacuum At home next to trash can

Prior to the Roomba 780 invasion, our home was occupied by an iRobot Roomba 500 series robot and a Mint Cleaner. While the Roomba would get the occasional assignment cleaning our living room, which has a large area rug, it mostly lived in the basement, which has wall-to-wall carpeting. The Mint lived upstairs in the kitchen, and basically found a home next to the trash can. Each floor of our house is only 800 square feet, so space is precious, and the Mint takes up very little. A Roomba and base takes up a little too much.

Multi-Room Cleaning

As mentioned above, both robots have schemes for cleaning multiple rooms. The Mint strategy is to use an extra Northstar module to keep the Mint from straying into the next room. It’s my view that this wasn’t designed very well by the engineers at Evolution Robotics. What happens is that you have to set up a Northstar navigation module in each room, and the second module only keeps the Mint from going into the next room. So you actually have to carry the robot into the next room and start it up again once it finishes the first one. Which is weird.

The Roombas have the much-vaunted “Lighthouse” technology, where the lighthouse acts like a gatekeeper and lets the Roomba into the second room when it has finished cleaning the first. The 780 ships with 2 of these Lighthouse virtual walls. The 770 and 760 ship with 2 virtual walls.


I don’t think we really have a clear winner here. Both robots are great at cleaning. Both have their respective strengths and weaknesses. Our informal testing indicates that the Roomba 780 cleaned up a little more thoroughly than the Mint. The Roomba is really the clear choice for people who have a lot of carpeting. Also, being able to schedule your robot to clean the house while you’re gone is really great. The Mint is significantly less expensive (even the cheapest model of the 700 Series, the Roomba 760, is more than twice as expensive). Also, the Mint requires less prep work to get a room ready to clean, and requires next to no maintenance. You just pick it up afterwards and change the pad. With the Roomba, you need to empty the bin, knock out the filters, and clean out the brushes. The eventually you have to change the filters.

Consumer robots are really here to save mankind from the drudgery of cleaning floors. Both robots are a welcome luxury, and we love using them! I would say that if you were trying to choose between the two, the three biggest things to consider would be the price of the robot, the amount of carpeting you have in your home, and the amount of prep work and maintenance you’re willing to put up with. For someone with hard wood floors throughout their house, our vote is still very much with the Mint Cleaner. (See our more in-depth review of the Mint, here.) For someone with carpeting and/or a real desire for high-tech features like scheduling, a self-charging dock, and a remote control, the iRobot Roomba 780 is pretty hard to beat.

Get the iRobot Roomba 780 Vacuum Cleaning Robot at Amazon

Mint User Reviews and More Information on Amazon

Later Note: There is also now a Mint Plus available at Amazon!

Mint Robot Cleaner Review

Later note – Announced August 22, 2013, iRobot is now selling the Mint 4200 re-branded as the Braava 320.

We’ve been excited to try out a Mint sweeper robot since we saw the news that Evolution Robotics had come out with one. Our verdict? Except for one or two annoying flaws, the Mint Robot Cleaner is a great product. (Later note: In mid-2011, Evolution came out with a new Mint model. See our in-depth review of the Mint 5200, here.) Here’s what the Mint cleaner looked like after sweeping the floor under our bed, which was dust-bunny city.


Mint Robot Sweeps up Dust Bunnies!

The Mint arrives in a large box, which is filled mostly with styrofoam, and opens up like a clamshell. While this ensures that the robot will arrive in one piece, I felt like it was a little excessive and not exactly environmentally conscious. The items you get in the box are: The Mint robot itself, the Evolution Robotics Northstar beacon, a charger for the robot, washable microfiber dusting pads, and the batteries for the beacon. The Northstar beacon runs on two C cells, and I have to applaud Evolution Robotics for including them in the kit! I hate it when I’m opening a new product and find that I have to make a trip to the store before I can use it.

Also in the box is a manual, registration card, and a quick start instruction page. I really enjoy quickstart pages, because they get you going with a minimum of fuss and muss. You can get the robot sweeping the floor, and the read the manual later, while you’re watching it clean for you. Both the manual and the quick start page are very clear and easy to understand. Here are the sections in the manual.

  • Safety Instructions
  • Mint’s Features
  • Mint’s Button and Lights
  • How Mint Cleans
  • Sweep and Mop Modes
  • Operating Mint
  • Battery and Charging
  • Maintenance
  • Customer Support
  • Trouble Shooting
  • Limited Warranty

In the box with the Mint Cleaner are two microfiber cleaning cloths for dry use, and one wet cloth for mopping. These are washable and more eco-friendly that using Swiffer Pads. Although the robot is designed to use Swiffer Pads. The pads (and the Swiffers) do a great job of grabbing dirt, dust, fuzzy things, grit, and hair off of the floor. One of the worries that I had about the Mint was that it would just sort of push the dirt around and leave it in corners or up against the floor boards. This is not the case. The dirt sticks to the pads and bam, you can throw them out (in the case of Swiffer Pads) or wash them in the washer.

The one frustration I have with the Mint cleaner is that where you plug the charger in is on the bottom of the robot, so you have to set it on its end (or flip it over) to plug it in. That’s the end of my gripes!

In comparison with a Roomba, there are some things that stand out. An iRobot Roomba is much noisier than the Mint. Much much noisier. When we use a Roomba, we turn it on and leave the house, because we’d rather not have to listen to it! To be fair, the Roomba is probably better at cleaning overall, just because it’s a vacuum cleaner. Also, a Roomba will do carpets. The Mint won’t do carpets. So it only runs around any area rugs, welcome mats, and hallway runners you might have in your house or apartment. It doesn’t go up on them. For a house like mine, that isn’t a problem, but some people will probably factor that in. On the plus side, the Mint will clean a room much faster.

I’m really happy with the Mint robot cleaner. You just take the Northstar beacon, turn it on and put it on a counter or table facing the center of the room. Then you grab the robot, put it on the floor, turn it on, and hit either the wet button for mopping or the dry button for sweeping. Evolution says that the robot uses the Northstar Beacon like GPS to keep track of where it is in the room, and maps the room as it goes.


It does a great job, works almost silently, cleans the rooms very quickly, and is fun to use and watch. It’s very methodical as it goes around your furniture and walls. The dirt sticks to the cleaning pad, so you’re not just spreading it around the room. In my house, the robot can clean almost the entire first floor on one charge. That’s about 800 square feet. The Mint fits under furniture, so it cleans in a lot of the places you won’t bother to go.

Editor’s Note: What follows is additional information after spending a couple of weeks with the Mint Cleaner.

DW and I are still very happy with our Mint Cleaner, and have named it Fido. We put Fido on cleaning duty twice a week, Wednesdays and Sundays. Something that has become clear is that with continued use, the floors get cleaner and stay cleaner. That’s pretty cool.

We use two pads to clean about 800 square feet and this is what they look like after:
Mint Microfiber Pads after cleaning
Consider that this is after a couple of weeks using the Mint twice a week. This is after 800 square feet including a tile bathroom and tile kitchen. The rest is hard wood floors. Two adults. No kids, no pets.

We have a few more grumbles with the Mint:

How the top of the Mint Cleaner is angled. It seems like an esthetic decision, and all it does is make the Mint unable to get under some furniture that it would otherwise be able to fit under (not that this is a big complaint – the robot is very short. But even still).

Something that doesn’t seem to do much good is mopping. We have had it mop our kitchen twice a week for a couple of weeks, and it doesn’t really seem to do a lot. We use the included mopping pad and water. So maybe it would help to use a wet Swiffer or some soap? Maybe if we were messier people it would make a big difference, but the floor looks and feels about the same for us.

The Mint Cleaner could use a hanging/charging system. Something you might mount on a wall next to a power outlet. I don’t think it needs a home base, but it would be good to have something that you could hang the Mint in that would be secure enough that you could remove the cleaning pad without having to grab it with your other hand.

Here are some new good things we’ve noticed:

Something you DO notice after you’ve been using the Mint to clean your floors, is how the areas it can’t get to are pretty dirty. I don’t do this every time, but every couple of times I have it clean a room, I’ll move some of the chairs out of the room, or rearrange something so that the Mint can get at an area that it will miss otherwise.

Some great ideas and engineering: I love the handle on the back for picking it up. That was a great design decision. DW has long hair, and the engineers at Mint definitely figured out how to keep hair from getting twisted up around the Mint Cleaner’s wheels. This is awesome!

We’ve definitely gone from “Turn it on and watch” to “Set it and forget it.” The Mint robot does a great job of navigating around the room, getting into and out of tight spaces, and beeping when it’s done. So you just put it in the next room and go back to what you were reading, or watching.

Buy the Mint Automatic Hard Floor Cleaner at Amazon.

Get the Braava 320 Floor Mopping Robot at Amazon.

More information

Mint Review at Robot Buying Guide
Mint Info at Engadget

Competition for the iRobot Scooba: Evolution Robotics Mint

Mint Robot Floor SweeperLater note: Click here for our review of the Mint Automatic Cleaner. In case you’re not sure what this site is about, it’s about robots that clean. It’s actually mostly about robot vacuum cleaners, but lumped into that I think it’s fair to include other robot cleaning devices. And it’s been a busy week for robotic cleaning. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is going in Las Vegas, and today Evolution Robotics Inc. announced their new venture into the robot floor cleaning market, Mint. Mint is designed to be an automatic cleaner for hard surface floors. It can wet mop or dust using cleaning cloths such as the Swiffer dry and wet cloths. Pledge also has such cloths. So you just pop a cloth on it, put it on the floor, press a button, and let the robot take over.

Paolo Pirjanian, the CEO of Evolution Robotics, had this to say. “Similar to how the once manual chores of washing dishes or doing laundry evolved with the invention of the dishwasher and washing machine, floor cleaning has officially been replaced by an automated appliance that achieves the same result, if not better, than previous manual methods. To do the job well, Evolution had to rewrite the book on how floor cleaning is done. Mint packs aerospace-grade technologies that were specifically tailored to deliver consumer with an appliance that cleans like they do, while still providing a hassle-free experience.”

To design the robot cleaner, Evolution brought in Yves Behar, an industrial designer. Together they worked to make a robot that would eschew a “techie” look and fit in better with home decor. They were especially looking to design a robot that would look like an appliance. As you can see, it is very geometric and black and white. Actually, it is quite sexy looking.

Like iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaners, the Mint is autonomous and designed to clean floors without human intervention. The cleaner has different actions depending on whether the cloth is wet or dry. With a wet cloth, the robot uses a “special mopping motion” (back and forth) to dissolve dirt and grime and get the floor cleaner. Mint floor cleaners are guided by Evolution Robotic’s NorthStar technology, which it uses to keep track of where it cleans. This works by projecting a beam on the ceiling that the robot can detect and follow. Like some other robot floor cleaners, it maps out the room and plans where to go next.

Evolution makes the claim that the Mint’s square body will allow it to clean surfaces better than round-bodied cleaners like the iRobot Scooba. The robot holds the cleaning pad in front of it, and has clearance on both sides of the robot behind the pad. The Mint is only 10 inches wide (and appears to be only a few inches tall) which makes it ideal to fit under furniture and between obstacles like chair legs.

Other technologies built into the robot:

  • Like Roombas, Mint has cliff detection so it won’t fall down stairs.
  • Mint will ship with reusable microfiber cloths.
  • Mint robots can detect where rugs are and will avoid driving on them.
  • The robot will adjust for different kinds of floors to ensure that it gets the best cleaning and can still get good traction on the floor.
  • The square shape of the robot enables it to clean into corners and along edges.
  • Battery life is expected to be 3 hours.
  • Since it has no bin to empty, Mint should be lower maintenance.

Mint is expected to be available for order in the third quarter of 2010, and in retail stores by the fourth quarter. Pricing is expected to be below US $250.

And it looks like a dinner mint would if it was a robot.