Sat. May 18th, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • Narwal Freo X Ultra increases suction, avoids tangling with hair, and offers fine cleaning performance.
  • It simplifies the cleaning experience with customizable modes and better-than-average object avoidance technology.
  • The robot’s quiet operation, extended battery life, and powerful app make it a solid choice for pet owners and families.


While robot vacuums advance in unique ways, the Narwal Freo X Ultra’s approach this year is to do everything it’s been doing, but better and more efficiently. It’s increasing suction, adding better avoidance, and getting less tangled with hair. It does a fine job, but increasing specs only gets you so far in a crowded landscape of autonomous vacuums.

Narwal Freo X Ultra

Narwal Freo X Ultra

Narwal Freo X Ultra is the intelligent robot vacuum and mop combo featuring revolutionary technology. It’s the perfect companion for pet owners and families with kids.

Pros

  • Quiet-ish operation
  • Great Object avoidance
  • Solid Mopping Performance
Cons

  • Missed some crumbs on the floor
  • Falls victim to common robot problems while being pricy

Price and Availability

The Narwal Freo X Ultra is available now and retails for $1,399.99. It’s already been on sale for as low as $1,199.99, though promotions change frequently.

The robot and its charging dock only come in the color white. The device does fully tuck inside the base station, which has nice soft curves, so the full cleaning device looks more friendly than most other cleaning stations.

Specifications

Battery Life
3.48 hours

Weight
9.37lbs (4,250g)

Connectivity
Wi-Fi

Dust Bag Capacity(L)
1L disposable dust bag

Cleaning Modes
Vacuum and mop

Battery
5,200mAh

Suction Power
8,200Pa

BASE DIMENSIONS
16.3 x 14.6 x 17.1in (41.40 x 37.08 x 43.4cm)


This Year’s Model: Do More

Narwal Freo X Ultra on hardwood floors
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

The first Narwal Freo X was designed to be different when it was released. It tried to be more attractive, housing the entire vacuum instead of its base station, rather than letting it stick out. It also includes a circular screen on the station for basic controls. Its whole shtick is about trying to simplify the cleaning experience. The Freo mode, for example, is just the fancy name Narwal uses to say that it will handle all the cleaning settings and optimizations.

You can choose Freo mode for vacuuming while mopping, or vacuuming, and then mopping, or just vacuuming, or just mopping. Suction level and other various details are still available if you want to be more hands-on, but these make for fine quick cleaning options. All these things are still present in the Freo X Ultra.


This year’s new Ultra model builds on the previous one, not by changing much of its formula, but just by doing more. There’s 8,200Pa of suction—a higher number than most other robots at the moment. And then there’s a tangle-free roller brush which the company insists won’t get stuck with hair. Along with a few other tweaks.

Vacuum and Mopping Cleaning Tests

Narwal Freo X Ultra during its cleaning test
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

Ultimately, the Narwal Freo X Ultra is a fine robot vacuum and mop, just not amazing. It couldn’t get under my cabinets well enough and it struggled in the same way other similar products have—often scattering crumbs out of reach. The biggest problem, however, is its premium $1,399 retail price. It can be hard to justify its purchase if your floor plan isn’t full of perfectly square rooms with lots of room between pieces of furniture.


To see how well robot vacuums can pick up big and small debris, I use rice and crushed cereal cleaning tests on hardwood floors. White rice simulates bigger dirt pieces, while cereal dust simulates the finer dirt that collects around the house.

To lean into Narwal’s Freo mode, I conducted the tests with the first, default mode, which was for it to vacuum and mop at the same time.

In the rice test, the vacuum scattered fewer grains of rice than other vacuums I’ve tested. It also picked up more pieces than competitors in a single pass, even though it didn’t quite get them all.

The Freo X Ultra has a little bit of a unique motion as it scoots across the floor, rotating back and forth. To my eyes, this helped it pick up a few more pieces of the rice.

Most vacuums do better in the smaller dirt test collecting crushed-up Cheerios, but the Freo X Ultra actually did slightly worse. Again, not bad, as it got most of it, but it wasn’t perfect. It’s hard to tell if the Freo X Ultra performed slightly worse because it was vacuuming and mopping at the same time or for another reason.


In the end, the unit fared very average across both tests. A little better in one and a little worse in the other. The results were closely aligned with what I see from other similarly priced products. That’s not a glowing statement but more of an acceptance of where the industry is at with autonomous cleaners.

On the mopping side, it seemed to use a tad too much water at certain times but otherwise scrubbed well for a device of its size. The unit can exert up to 12N or force and a spring rate of 180RPM. It will try to determine the different strengths based on floor type.


Two areas of the cleaning experience I was thrilled with were the device’s volume and its object avoidance. Even at its strongest suction level, the vacuum wasn’t overly loud. At its moderate level, it was downright quiet. It’s one of the few robot vacuums I’ve occasionally forgotten about when it was running. It could legitimately run during nap time or at night and at least have a chance of not disturbing people.

In conjunction with the vacuum’s noise level, it was not creating a lot of extra disturbances by constantly bumping into chairs or furniture. It ate fewer cables and generally avoided common household items with more skill than I’ve noticed in other competitors.

It has a tri-laser avoidance system which Narwal says has millimeter-precision. It still did brush against chair legs in narrow instances, but I was impressed. Even if its cleaning skills were on par with other autonomous cleaners, it did so with less annoyance.

Base Station and Battery Life Compliment the Experience

Inside Narwal Freo X Ultra charging station
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek


Speaking of quiet cleaning, the all-in-one emptying and charging station performed its tasks without much commotion. Usually, there’s a huge burst of suction and noise that occurs when getting the dirt from the robot into the base station. That same level of noise isn’t here though.

To avoid that, the Freo X Ultra uses a disposable dust bag that compresses dirt for up to seven weeks to avoid noise and mess. In other words, there is no dirt collection inside the base station. It stays in the robot.

The unit I received came with three disposable bags. If you don’t want to rely on those, either for cost or constant trash, a reusable bin is included as well.

top of Narwal Freo X Ultra charging station with screen
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek


The caveat to the quiet docking operation was the mop-drying. Multiple people in my household, at different times, complained about the high-pitched whine coming from the unit during those times. Because of the frequency range, it could be heard throughout most of the house as well.

The high-pitched noise didn’t bother me much. I mostly didn’t notice it, but I certainly heard from other people in the house that they didn’t like it. There are options for fast or quiet drying modes, but neither of those stops the high-pitched buzz.

The base station includes a screen on top which I didn’t find myself using much, but I did like. I appreciated its presence so that anyone could stop a cleaning job and return the robot to its home. If the person with the app is out, other people can still stop it and exert a tiny bit of control over it.

I never had an issue with the Freo X Ultra completing a long, vacuum and mopping job. The almost 3.5 hours of battery life was more than sufficient to make it across my living room, family room, and kitchen.


Most of the time during long cleaning sessions, whenever the vacuum took a detour to its base station, it was to do something with the water, and not because its battery was exhausted. Most premium robot vacuums tend to have big battery capacities, so it’s nice to see Narwal continue to have plenty of power.

Mobile App: Crowded But Powerful

Although the company heavily relies on its Freo-optimized cleaning modes, the Narwal Freo mobile app, available for iPhone and Android, has a lot of minute details that can be personalized.

As a settings nerd, I loved all the details that can be customized, from the vacuum itself to the base station. The problem is that everything is packed in tight. If you don’t enjoy tapping through lots of screens to find how to add a no-go zone, for instance, the app feels a little frustrating.


The mobile app is another case where Narwal is on par with other vacuum companies. Roborock and Ecovacs, just to name a couple, have similar app designs packed with functionality.

Should You Buy the Narwal Freo X Ultra?

close up of mop pad on Narwal Freo X Ultra
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

I like the Narwal Freo X Ultra as it compares well to other high-end, premium robot vacuum mop combos. It has all the expected functionality built-in and does a remarkable job at object avoidance. I also appreciated that it was quieter than a lot of similarly-specced vacuums.

The cleaning robot did a fine job of vacuuming and mopping, but not a great one. It was about average for a comparable unit in this price range. It’s hard to get excited about paying more than $1,000 and still occasionally seeing crumbs on the floor and under cabinets or chairs. The more simplified your furniture and floors are, the better these devices work. If you understand the limitations of these cleaning robots, then this one is a solid choice.


Narwal Freo X Ultra

Narwal Freo X Ultra

Narwal Freo X Ultra is the intelligent robot vacuum and mop combo featuring revolutionary technology. It’s the perfect companion for pet owners and families with kids.



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By John P.

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