The best investment I’ve made all year | Tech spotlight

I love a tidy house. Crumb-free floors, sparkling draining boards, a tidy table and desk setup – all of it – really does bring me a lot of joy. Sitting in filth, or knowing that I’ve not tidied for a few weeks due to my busy teaching schedule, isn’t a lifestyle that works for me.

On the other hand, I can’t stand doing chores. The end result may be satisfying, but getting there doesn’t exactly bring me any level of joy. If there was a way to automate my clothes wash (that’s right, I mean a way to have my dirty clothes automatically put into the washing machine), I’d do it. It’s a kind of necessary task that needs to be done – and be done often – but actually doing it is never fun.

And isn’t that something that we should be optimising for in our lives? Fun? What would be the point in making more time for uninteresting tasks? That’s the whole point of being productive: getting the boring bits out of the way so that you can really, truly, enjoy yourself.

That’s why, when Prime Day rolled around, I made what could be the best investment of all time. It was something that I’d always been interested in, after seeing Youtubers aplenty using them, but never had the guts to invest in. It was the kind of purchase that screamed unnecessary, but has ultimately saved me over 15 hours of my own time so far.

This year, I bought a budget smart hoover.

The rationale

Who actually enjoys doing chores? Do you like the process of washing dishes? When I mentioned to friends and family that I’d been considering buying a smart hoover, they cried out in shock: ‘What’s the point? Doesn’t hoovering take you, like, ten minutes anyway?’

To that I’d say: ‘Fifteen, actually, but that’s besides the point,’ especially since nobody would think of questioning the purchase of a dishwasher. I spend around ten minutes cleaning the pots, pans, dishes and cutlery that I’ve used throughout a day, and would love a dishwasher, but none of the places that I’ve rented have so far come equipped with one. However, dishwashers have become so widely accepted as staple kitchen accessories that, despite their costly price to buy and run, are almost always considered to be desirable products for the average family.

Yet, a device that saves time in another chore that you’d rather not do yourself? Totally irrational! It doesn’t really make sense, does it?

Anyway, at an average cleaning time of around an hour (it’s a thorough device), I’ve so far saved more than half a day’s worth of work. That’s more than worth the investment in my eyes.

The hoover

I went for the Ecovac DEEBOT OZMO U2pro Robot Vacuum Cleaner* because it also functions as a mop and has a larger tank than most, which is allegedly good for pet hair. I’ve not used either yet – the former because some of my rooms contain carpet, and the latter because there are no pets in my flat – but both are welcome additions to my cleaning arsenal.

The full price of this device is £269, but I paid a much more reasonable £179 on Prime Day. At the time of writing, you can apply a free Amazon voucher to the purchase too, and save £60, which I think is very reasonable for the use I’ve had out of it so far. Nevertheless, you may be wondering: what makes this a budget smart hoover? Well, the more well-known makes, such as the Roomba, tend to cost a more unsightly £350-£600, with the top-end hoovers coming equipped with bins that empty automatically for 30 days, before the larger bin must be emptied.

The pricier models are also more advanced in their mapping technology, moving from sensors that detect obstacles (it’s rather amusing watching mine bump harmlessly into sofas and table legs before understanding when it needs to slow and turn) to technology that stores a memory of what your living room, kitchen, bedroom, etc., looks like for the next time that you use it.

As useful and exciting as that technology may be, I felt that the higher price tag wasn’t really worth it. I was much more satisfied with a hoover that I could control from my phone or smart speaker for less than £200.

It works as you’d expect a hoover to work. You can give it a name, ask it to start cleaning, and it’ll get going. I’ve found that I have to empty it – a bagless, super straightforward process – once every two weeks or so. Sometimes it will get stuck too, so you have to be careful to tidy any washing off the ground and keep laces tucked inside your shoes. If anything, then, it’s made my housemate and I even neater than we were before, or else suffer the wrath of tangled socks.

Credit: the Ecovacs’ Amazon webpage. Find the product here.*

If the hoover ever encounters more debris than it’s expecting – such as lots of long hair, then this can be really easily detangled by using a sharp knife-like tool that’s contained within the internal bin.

The verdict

I know what you’re thinking – this sounds brilliant, but is it for me? Honestly, that all depends on what you value in life. I like to think of money as a tool that can be used to make our lives easier. One of the ways that I wanted to make my life easier was by no longer having to hoover – and to increase the frequency at which my flat would be cleaned. Before the smart hoover, I would hoover once a week; now, it’s closer to twice a week – plus whenever we’ve made a mess.

I’m also no longer having to spend my own time, which I view as valuable (as we all should), doing a task that brings me no real joy. As a result, even if the extra time I’ve got is only fifteen minutes a week, I can nonetheless use that to do what I love – be that gaming, reading or writing.

For me, the investment was a no-brainer. For any working professional, I’d say you should go for it, too. However, if you’re a student or someone living in a house with a small living space, stick to a traditional, cheaper, vacuum. For you, I’m not sure the monetary investment would be worth it.

Look at him go!

Do you use any smart tech? I’ve started to tick smart tech items off my wish list, which I made in 2020, but I’d love to hear your suggestions for where I should invest next.

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