It's like something out of a sci-fi horror film when a small blue robot unexpectedly nudges a woman's leg in a murky pool of water and then darts sideways and crawls up a nearby wall to surface with a spray of bubbles and rotating parts.
But instead of the heroine screaming in the next scene, as she flees for her life, this particular robot, known as the Polaris 9300 Sport, simply cleans the swimming pool, scrubbing the tiles and steps until they're sparkling clean and then diving back down for another round.
This energy-efficient pool vacuum uses 90 percent less energy than a typical robotic cleaner. It operates on a 28V power supply and consumes about as much energy as a 70-watt light bulb.
I've observed it in action several times this summer as it cleans an in-ground swimming pool, and while it does vacuum up much of the debris, in the interest of full disclosure I have to say that it doesn't catch everything. There are two cleaning cycles, one that lasts 1.5 hours and another that lasts 2.5 hours. While the longer cycle did a more thorough job, it still left a bit of debris on the bottom of the pool.
If you buy this vacuum, keep in mind that about once a month you will need to use an additional method to clean your pool. However, it does do an excellent job of scrubbing steps and tile walls.
The biggest draw for this vacuum is the entertainment factor. Kids and dogs alike were entranced by the mechanics of the robotic vacuum. Because, face it — it looks pretty cool to have a robot cleaning your pool while you lounge around, taking it easy.
Pros: Effortless vacuuming. Lightweight and easy to handle, with a removable and easy-to-clean filter canister.
Cons: Only removed about 90 percent of pool debris even on the longest, 2.5-hour cycle.
Specs: 17"W x 8.5"H x 19"D; 16 lbs.; maximum pool size of 20' x 50'