Hydrus Roker Plus review: The little pool robot that couldn’t

At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsLightweightNo assembly required30-day money back guaranteeConsPoor performance and battery lifeDifficult to clean and reassemblePower cable connector is badly designed, perhaps dangerously soOur VerdictThe Roker Plus does a poor job of cleaning debris and its battery is underpowered, making it a distant also-ran in the robot pool-cleaner category.
Price When Reviewed$269.99

Best Prices Today: Hydrus Roker Plus

$204.37

Admittedly, not everyone needs a powerhouse robot to clean their swimming pool. If your pool is more modest in size or isn’t overwhelmed with leaves, a smaller, cheaper, and humbler robot can probably take care of things.

Sadly, even if this describes your situation, Hydrus’s Roker Plus is a poor choice for the job.

The Hydrus Roker Plus will work only for buyers who have a small pool, minimal debris, and very low expectations.

Design

The Roker Plus is a goofy little robot that has a lot in common with Aiper’s Seagull SE–at least on paper.

Weighing in at 7 pounds and measuring 14 inches across, the Roker is easy to carry, either on land or in the water. A 20-watt motor helps the robot zip around, with two jets sending it back and forth across the floor of the pool in long, rough arcs.

Like the similarly sized Seagull SE, the Roker Plus’s motor sits on top of a lower housing, with a filter screen between those two pieces. The wheeled lower housing serves as a basin in which debris and leaves are collected. To clean it, you pry the two halves apart and hose down the screen and lower housing.

The unit charges its 2600 mAh battery via a port on the bottom of the device, and while that’s normal for a robot of this size, the connector on the cable simply isn’t designed for the task. When plugged in, the unit rests directly against that connector, causing it to bend–and likely damaging it over time.

It goes without saying that a damaged power cable is not something you want anywhere near water. In contrast, the Seagull SE has an L-shaped connector that prevents it from suffering the same fate.

Oddly, the Roker can’t even be flipped over to charge its battery; the manual instructs users not to let the top of the device touch the ground.

Performance

After about 2.5 hours of charging, I turned on the Roker Plus by pressing its bottom-mounted power button, then dropped the unit into the pool, where a modest amount of debris had collected.

The cleaner zipped along at a steady clip, but I immediately noticed that it was pushing many of the submerged leaves to the sides of the pool, where the Roker Plus was unable to reach them. The robot only handles the floor of the pool, not the walls, and when it hits even a slight curvature at the base of the wall it stops and backs up, leaving a lot of debris behind–about half in my first test.

Making matters worse, the Roker Plus was dead in the water after less than the promised 75 minutes of running time. The cleaner must be retrieved using an included hook attachment that you place on the end of a standard telescoping pole.

The Hydrus Roker Plus only trapped a tiny amount of debris during my testing.Christopher Null/Foundry

After recharging, I put the robot through its paces again with silk leaves, which I use for more controlled environment testing. The results were the same: Less than half of the leaves were collected by the robot, and some of them hadn’t been disturbed at all, as if the robot had run out of power before even making it to that corner of the pool. Other leaves were pushed to the sides as I’d seen during my first test.

When retrieved from the water, the Roker Plus beeps incessantly to let you know its battery is nearly dead, a feature that feels wholly unnecessary. The only way to stop the beeping is to push the power button. Note that there is no wireless connectivity or any other smart features on the device; the power button is really the extent of it.

Maintenance

When it’s time to empty debris from the Roker Plus, I found it a little tricky to get the two halves of the robot disconnected, as the pair of clips that hold the two pieces together can be difficult to snap open.

Removing the screen is easy enough, but I found that cleaning the leaves out of the lower chassis was harder than it should be, as many got caught in the nooks and crannies of the housing and had to be picked out individually by hand. It’s even harder to snap back together properly.

Should you buy the Hydrus Roker Plus?

If the Hydrus Roker Plus did a better job at cleaning, many of these faults would be forgivable. But the unit ultimately went down as the least effective cleaning robot I’ve tested to date. Worse, the robot costs nearly $50 more than the Seagull SE.

The bottom line is that the Roker Plus will work only for buyers who have a small pool, minimal debris, and very low expectations.

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