Table of Contents
It’s amazing how far robot vacuums have evolved technologically over the past two decades. So many brands are rolling out vacuums capable of mapping your home, mopping, and automatically ditching their dirt. Unfortunately, a common pattern among these feature-rich vacuums is how expensive they can get. And while it’s great when a vacuum can do everything, most of us never use all the features. TCL, a brand famous for budget TVs and smartphones, knows this dance well and recently decided to test the waters by joining the robot vacuum fray. In this review, I tested the TCL Sweeva 6500 robot vacuum in my home for a month to see how well it cleans and gauge the overall experience.
- App and device are easy to set up and use
- Auto-emptying is effective
- Long battery life
- Vaccum-only; cleaning is below average
- Little significance when adjusting suction
- UV light never came on; even with setting enabled
- No obstacle avoidance; tangles often
What’s Included With the TCL Sweeva 6500?
The TCL Sweeva 6500 is a LiDAR-equipped robot vacuum with an auto-emptying dustbin/docking station priced at a wallet-friendly $499. Most self-emptying vacuums cost $700 (or more!), and so TCL is offering a more affordable vacuum with this feature set.
While the vacuum has most of the standard robot vacuum features, it is the first and only robot vacuum I’ve tried that uses UV light to sanitize your floors — very futuristic! We’ll come back to this in a moment.
The vacuum uses a floating roller brush, a single side brush and an onboard dust bin with a 17-ounce capacity. The dustbin emptying and charging station has a sizeable one-gallon storage capacity. TCL claims that this capacity is enough for a month full of cleaning before you need to empty the bin, but depending on the frequency of sweeping, you might get more or less.
Unlike some robot vacuum models that now boast mopping abilities, this bot is vacuum only, so it is expected to do its only job exceptionally well.
TCL Sweeva 6500 UV Sanitization
One unique feature the TCL Sweeva 6500 brings to the table is a UV-C light for sterilizing surfaces. I’m a fan of useful innovations like this, but I had many questions about how the technology works and if it’s truly effective.
I looked to the FDA for expertise. I found that while UV light sanitization has been used for many decades as an effective method of killing bacteria and viruses (including COVID-19), the key to efficacy seems to be the level and intensity of exposure and the duration of the exposure to UVC light.
TCL, unfortunately, publishes no specific information about the light intensity on its website (which is typical among companies that sell UV sanitizers), so it’s hard to know how well this truly works. Furthermore, there was hardly any consumer-ready information published about the efficiency and effectiveness of UVC light being used in robot vacuum cleaners, which are constantly in motion.
In truth, I have a hard time believing that a quick drive-by over my floor is enough to kill any bacteria lurking there. I never saw the light come on, even after toggling the setting on, off and back on again. At no point was I able to catch any light glow from underneath the vacuum where the light is, so I asked TCL about this. The light, as it turns out, is very dim; there’s no X-Files type glow emanating from under the bot. I placed the bot on a glass-topped table and only then was I able to see any glow whatsoever: Tiny dim pinpricks.
The bottom line here: if you’re buying this vacuum for the light — we have more questions than answers.
TCL App, Mapping & Voice Control
The TCL app is refreshingly easy to use while still boasting all the features robot vacuum users want. The robot was able to go out on its initial mapping run and create a very detailed and accurate map of my home. This allowed me to use the zone and spot-cleaning features with no issues. Similarly, the labeling and division of the map went smoothly, which is not always the case with other robot vacuum brands.
It was also relatively easy to schedule regular weekly cleans inside the app, and the bot carried them out flawlessly.
If there’s one grievance to note, I found the app to be a little bit slow. I’m not sure if this is due to my Wi-Fi connection or the prowess of the technology.
The vacuum also appeared in my Google Home app automatically. I asked Google to send the bot out, return it home and clean specific rooms. You must use very specific language to get it to start and stop, and in this case, the language was, “OK Google, turn on RoboVac 6500,” but it worked well.
Adjustable Power & Suction
The TCL Sweeva 6500 has four suction power levels starting from quiet to a max setting peaking at 2,700 pascals.
That said, there does not appear to be a significant difference between the highest and lowest suction modes. This vacuum is ultra quiet on high power, and dropping it to the lowest power still makes almost no major audible difference.
This does lead me to question the effectiveness — is the lowest power incredibly powerful, or is the highest power incredibly weak?
Regardless, this is a generally quiet robot vacuum, which is definitely a plus for people with pets and anyone who hates the constant whir of appliances.
TCL Sweeva 6500 Testing Results
I tested the TCL Sweeva 6500 the same way I test each robot vacuum I review. I run it through my house three to four times per week on a schedule and then put it through dedicated cleaning tests. These tests include finer spills like flour or corn flour, bigger bits like rice or oatmeal and then larger cracker pieces, and all tests are done on carpet and hardwood floors.
I found the TCL Sweeva 6500 was quite adept at picking up finer spills from both carpet and hardwood. However, it struggled with flatter pieces of oatmeal and often left some behind.
I also tested with rice to compare against the oatmeal, and it wasn’t great at that or cracker pieces either. In total, it left about a third of all debris on both carpet and hard floors. To be fair, if the bot did have a second pass by a spill, it improved overall cleaning effectiveness, but it still almost always left something behind.
At standard settings, the vacuum runs for about 3 hours before its internal 5000mAh battery needs to recharge. The bot could easily clean my whole floor (about 1,000 square feet) on a single charge.
Should You Buy the TCL Sweeva 6500?
What’s most significant to me is that this robot vacuum got stuck more often than others models. It was constantly getting tangled up in cords and cables. And while I could take the blame for these roadblocks, TCL also makes no claims about this model’s ability to avoid hazards.
I did enjoy the easy connectivity, voice control capabilities and applaud the long battery life. Other than the addition of the UV-C light, which we’re still on the fence about, the TCL Sweeva 6500 doesn’t reinvent the robot vacuum.
I admire the price point TCL has offered consumers, but for me, it’s just not as effective a cleaner as other models I’ve tested. That being said, I’ve tested the best robot vacuums in the world, so I can’t help but compare the TCL Sweeva 6500 to premium models from iRobot and Ecovacs.
Now, if you’re the type who doesn’t make large messes and are interested in adding a smart robot vacuum to your cleaning arsenal, this may be the way to save some money. But if you’re somebody who has messy pets or a family who leaves things all over the house, I would seek other options.
Buy This If: You’re looking for a self-emptying vacuum under $500 from a trusted brand.