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Hoover Rogue 970 review

When asked if the FBI is in the habit of cleaning up after multiple murders, Tim Curry’s character in the movie Clue replies, “Yes, why do you think it’s run by a man called Hoover?” That doesn’t really have anything to do with anything, except we happened to watch the film while reviewing Hoover’s Rogue 970, a robot vacuum that probably cannot adequately clean a crime scene.

In the case of this bot vac, it’s all about the app. The Wi-Fi-enabled Rogue has some functions and features that require users to download the Hoover app. It allows you to see where your robot is at any moment — and what areas of your floor it may have missed.

Accessory-free

Often when we unbox a robot vacuum, we spend quite a bit of time pulling out odds and ends, like magnetic strips that act as barriers, extra brushes, and cleaning tools for maintaining the device itself. In the 970’s box, you’ll find only the vacuum, its docking station, and a small brush for de-griming the cleaning machine. Black, blue, and silver, the round Rogue is 13.6 inches in diameter and 3.8 inches tall. Lift the lid, and you’ll find its removable dust bin. Indicator lights tell you when the battery is charging, if it’s connected to Wi-Fi, whether the bin is full, and if there’s an error. There’s a home button and a play/pause button.

Hoover Rogue 970 robot vacuum review cat
Jenny McGrath/Digital Trends
Jenny McGrath/Digital Trends

Underneath, the Rogue looks much like any other robo-vac (for example the Eufy 11c or LG Hom-Bot): It has Tonka Trunk-esque wheels, a roller brush, and two types of bristles that spin to usher dirt toward the suction. This is also where you’ll find the charging sensors and cliff sensors. The navigation sensors are on the front of the Rogue.

Magellan like a felon

According to Hoover, the Rogue has memory navigation, so it maps your home and remembers the information to follow an efficient cleaning path once it knows where your walls are. To do so, it first needs to run “recon.” You’ll probably want to sync it with the app first. We had the vacuum run a few times and did some tests, and when we downloaded the app, we had to let it do recon again.

We couldn’t recognize our apartment’s layout in the vacuum’s map.

The map is supposed to do a few things. It can show you where your robot has been during a cleaning session, and you can set up “virtual walls” to keep it away from your nest of cords, the dog’s water bowl, and other high-risk areas. Unfortunately, after the Rogue completed recon, our map looked like someone had been playing Hangman with their eyes closed. We didn’t recognize our 840-square-foot apartment well enough to tell it to stay out of an entire room, let alone leave one cord-infested corner alone. After watching it run its course a couple times, we got a better sense of the layout, but the map didn’t become any more detailed.

The list of completed (or interrupted) missions doesn’t have maps associated with them. This was a bit of a letdown. It would be really handy to be able to see exactly where it stopped if you don’t have three hours to wait for recharging. The mission history section doesn’t give a lot of details in general. Once, our robot was scheduled to start at 6 p.m. The mission report said its action was interrupted at 6:01, and that was that. If we hadn’t looked at the report, we wouldn’t have known the bot failed to clean at all (except by looking at the messy floors, of course).

Break time

The Rogue can apparently run for up to 120 minutes after charging for three hours. We found it did about 45 minutes in “beast mode” and an hour in regular. There’s also a quiet mode, which is likely where the longer runtime comes from. In the other two modes, the Hoover robot is fairly loud. Not only does it have the consistent drone of a vacuum, it sometimes made a muted screech when driving around. When the Rogue runs out of battery before its “mission” is complete, it returns to its base to charge before going back to the places it missed the first time around.

Hoover Rogue 970 robot vacuum review WiFi
Jenny McGrathJenny McGrath/Digital Trends
Jenny McGrath/Digital Trends

We appreciate the robot telling us when its bin is full (not something many vacs do), but even though we were watching the app when this happened, we didn’t get a notification. The only reason we realized it was full is because of the blinking red light on the vacuum itself. We paused the bot, emptied the bin (which you have to tug open with a reasonable amount of force), and hit play on the app. This caused the entire map to erase and the robot to start its cleaning all over again. There doesn’t seem to be a way to direct the robot to a specific room or spot via the app, which would’ve made this less of an issue and made it more useful for targeting specific messes.

Speaking of the app, it’s necessary for some basic functions. You can’t set a schedule on the vac, and it won’t give you any hints when there’s an error. You have to check the app to find out what’s wrong. That could be rather frustrating if your Wi-Fi is down.

As for cleaning performance, we found the Hoover Rogue to do an OK job. It was better on carpets than hardwood floors (pretty typical for a robot-vac). It actually picked up the majority of Cheerios we spread in front of it without sending them skittering further afield. Still, during the week we were testing, we’d find little scraps of paper and other debris left behind.

At $500, the Rogue is neither the cheapest nor most expensive robot. It has flexible scheduling options, which makes it more of a candidate for routine maintenance rather than heavy-duty cleaner.

DT Editors' Rating: 3/5

Jenny McGrath
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jenny McGrath is a senior writer at Digital Trends covering the intersection of tech and the arts and the environment. Before…
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