Miele is the BMW of home appliances, so you would hope that its robot vacuum cleaner is a similarly dependable slice of engineering.
Though without all that turning-left-without-indicating. Ha! But, seriously, the Scout doesn’t have indicators.
It does, however, have two swirly brushes on its base that are designed to guide dirt into the roller-brushed maw of its vacuumy underneaths. Were it not for them, we would question whether this was actually a rebadged iRobot, so similar are they in design – round, 90mm high, with two large suspended drive wheels.
But iRobot Roombas, if they have a swirly brush, only have one swirly brush – although really, with this thing, the difference between one brush, two brushes or no brushes might as well render all brush talk pointless.
Actually scratch that, one more bit of brush talk. Pressing them onto the 'bot's axles is the first of two bits of setting up you’re required to do. They’re marginally different, but helpfully marked ‘L’ and ‘R’ to match the ‘L’ and ‘R’ on the body. We mentioned Miele was German, yes? Efficient.
SHOW ME THE WAY TO GO HOME
The second bit of setting up is the dock that – so the weary Scout can find its way home – prefers a home against a flat wall, in a bit of space, underneath a power socket.
It’s worth noting that these locational demands will invariably place your dormant robot out in the open, so colour choice might be more important than that of your cupboard-dwelling upright vacuum.
The Scout comes in two hues, silver or red. Not common house colours, those, but still classy.
The dock has a garage on its rear to neatly stow the power brick and excess cable, but in practice the garage is too narrow and the wires too stiff to perform its function easily. All earlier German references are rescinded.
You may or may not want to set the clock at this point, depending on whether you want to use the Miele’s timed cleaning function. Or, whether you want an inconveniently floor-mounted clock that you need the remote to activate.
ROUND AND ROUND IT GOES
Actually, using the timer function is recommended because watching the Scout go about its business is maddening.
Once activated using its touch-sensitive buttons or the remote control, it bumbles its way around using a combination of infrared and touch sensors with navigational algorithms to ‘learn’ its home. This one also has an upwards-looking camera for further orientation but it still acts with laughable irrationality.
It bumps into furniture, wombles around chair legs, pauses for thought and sets off in seemingly random directions. The deep pile carpet in our distinctly non-futuristic test flat didn’t help, with its correspondingly tall metal edge trims that the Scout would occasionally decide were impassable. All BMW references now also null and void.
No, much better to set the timer and come home assuming that it’s successfully completed a full tour – without a heatmap map app such as that of the Dyson 360 Eye, there’s no reporting of its activity. Except, that is, for the obvious preponderance of dirt.
Those swirly brushes we were on about? Often as not, they knock bits of dirt away from the Scout’s mouth, not into it. And, even if suitably directed, the vacuuming action just isn’t powerful enough to do a decent cleaning job.
It’s slightly more effective on hard floors though so, using the supplied magnetic strip ‘virtual wall’, you could use it just to maintain that crumbiest of rooms, the kitchen. Still, even the biggest robot fan would struggle to justify a £500 machine that spends most of its time drinking power through its dock, only to occasionally make one room mildly less crumby.
Miele Scout RX1 Verdict
In one word? Disappointing.
Whether you've got hard floors or a crib filled with carpets, this robot vac will struggle to keep them clean. It can make more mess than it sucks up, and spends just as much time topping up its charge as it does actually cleaning. With no app-based smarts either, it's not all too bright for a robot.