Narwal Freo X Ultra robot vacuum review – form meets function

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REVIEW – Since their introduction to market, robot vacuums have become more and more prevalent – accounting for a $3 billion market in 2023.  The tech has reached a point where these helpful little automatons can actually be useful with minimal human effort, and companies like Narwal are continuing to innovate in this space.  We’re having a look at Narwal’s latest robot vac and mopping solution in the Freo X Ultra to see what’s new.

What is it?

The Freo X Ultra is the latest iteration of the Freo robot vacuum and mopping solution by Narwal.  Several improvements have been made over the original Narwal Freo vacuum which we reviewed in June of 2023 and found to be excellent.

Narwal has packed a ton of tech and convenience features into the Freo X Ultra, such as a self cleaning base station, intelligent pathing and mapping with app control, upgraded sensors, and a high capacity dust bag.

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What’s included?

  • Narwal Freo X Ultra
  • Base station
  • Floor cleaning solution
  • Manual
  • 2x high capacity disposable dust bags
  • 1x traditional dust bin

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Tech specs

Click to expand
Robot Base
Dimensions 13.78″ x 14″ x 4.2″ 14.40″ x 16.26″ x 17.1″
Color White White
Weight 9.4lb 18.7lb
Battery 5000mAh n/a

Additional specs with comparison of the Freo X Ultra to the original Freo:

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Design and features

Robot vacuum base stations seldom look great, but Narwal has done a really good job with the design here.  The base station has minimal branding with a small footprint, and nicely hides away the vacuum when docked.  At the top of the base station is a touch screen panel which allows you to run some basic commands without the app.  Helpfully, the base station has a tray which can be fully removed for easy maintenance.  A clean and dirty water tank are found inside to support the mopping functions.

The Narwal Freo X Ultra itself is a typical round body, with a periscope tower for the upper sensor array.  New to the Freo X Ultra is the fully removable top plate for access to the dustbin, in place of the hinged dustbin door.  Windows for the sensors adorn the perimeter, with a solitary power button located near the center.

On the underside, triangular mop pads and sweep arms are found at each corner – the design choice here intended to maximize coverage into corners and along baseboards.  The knobby, robust tires are a welcome sight for our house, which consists of a few different floor types with various heights of threshold to traverse.

A special call out to the new dust bag approach in the Freo X Ultra alongside the tangle free brush design.  The dust bag approach allows it to hold more, though I am not sold on the disposable design as you need to throw away the entire thing – you can’t just replace the bag.  It feels a bit wasteful, especially when compared to designs that use a static dustbin in the bot and move the dirt into a container in the base station.  The tangle free brush is a pretty cool approach to the problem – by only anchoring the brush at one end, pet hair or things that would otherwise get tangled can freely exit the brush at the other end.

Side by side, it is clear that the X Ultra is an iteration of the Freo platform rather than a full redesign.

Assembly, Installation, Setup

Out of the box the Narwal Freo X Ultra is ready to go with minimal fuss.  Installing the floor cleaning solution bottle to the base station, filling the clean water tank, and plugging it in will get you started.  The rest is all up to the app, which thankfully, Narwal has done a great job with.  It is genuinely one of the better app experiences out there for a robot vacuum.  While feature rich and generally localized to English properly, it does require registering for an account – the only knock I have against it.

The app will guide you intuitively through adding the Freo X Ultra and getting it connected to your home internet.  At the end, it will send the robot out to do a mapping run.  This is a dedicated run where the bot will roll around the house only to map, then return to the base station.

The mapping output was good, but not perfect, and some manual effort was needed to clean things up.  A few of our rooms had been merged together, which isn’t entirely uncommon for our floorplan.  Options are available to break things out, and Narwal has even added furniture models that you can place on the map.  These don’t seem to actually do anything, but it was a neat touch.

Having the floorplan set also opens up additional options in customization.  The Freo X Ultra will detect carpet and allow you to set different options for what you want the bot to do when it encounters it, on a per-carpet level.  Meaning you can have it avoid the shag area rug entirely in the guest room, but power up to thoroughly clean the low pile rug in the family room.  All up to you!  Of course, you’ll also find the ability to set no go zones, and dial in customized cleaning paths.  The app truly shines as part of the experience, and really maximizes the ability to get the most possible out of the Freo X Ultra.

Performance

To avoid burying the lede at all here, the cleaning performance of the Freo X Ultra is excellent, and about as minimally quirky as robot vacs go.  Our floor plan consists of tile, carpet, and hardwood floors that are regularly traversed by a family of four with a cat and a dog.  Robot vacs get put through their paces here!  It’s important to also preface this by saying the work you do in setting up your floor plan will go a long way in the success of the Freo X Ultra when it’s time to get to work.  If you don’t configure your carpet settings it will just cross them by default, and if your room boundaries aren’t configured properly then you may get weird results with pathing.

I was very impressed with the application of the Freo Advice AI system.  During the first cleaning run of our floorplan, the Freo X Ultra spent a lot of time working on the slate tile floor of the entry way, cleaning it about three times in total.  This is perhaps the highest traffic area of the house, and it really dialed into that without me setting a custom cleaning pattern for that area.

In typical cleaning scenarios, the Freo X Ultra does a solid job with room pathing.  It will run the perimeter of the room first, then fill in with straight lines.  This approach helps maximize the cleaning effectiveness against baseboards, and ensure nothing gets missed.  The robot does well at staying tight against walls and objects, though some corners remain elusive.  The Freo X Ultra has an interesting aversion to going under things, such as our couch – despite having what appears to be comfortable clearance.

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Running the robot vac in Freo mode gets you all of the bells and whistles the Freo X Ultra can throw at a cleaning cycle, though I think my favorite is how it approaches edge cleaning while mopping.  The robot basically swings it’s butt towards the baseboard to ensure the mop pad gets as close as possible.  It works in practice, and is funny to watch!  The retractable mop pads also mean you can run a vacuum and mop cycle in a room with an area rug.  The robot will retract the mop maps while going over carpet to keep it dry.

I seldom run a robot vac into the kids playroom… the carpet in there is a bit beat up, and it tends to shed a bit when vacuumed.  We really need to replace it in the not too distant future.  I felt this was a good test of the zero tangle brush, and the results speak for themselves.  The photo that follows is the roller brush immediately after cleaning that room when the robot returned to the base station.  Not only is it free of pet hair, there’s very little carpet fibers caught on the bristles – I’ve never seen a roller brush so unscathed after cleaning that room.  A major win for Narwal on this!

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Vacuuming on carpet leaves behind straight lines, and the mopping efficacy is evident in the wastewater tank.  The mops do well at surfacing cleaning, though despite the 12n of downforce, they won’t be able to lift off anything stuck on.  A heated mopping solution may be helpful here to help break down those type of stuck on messes.  On the topic of mop pads, the base station does an excellent job of actively drying these after a mopping cycle.  This has been a pain point with other mopping robot vacs in the past, but Narwal has continued to keep this effective across the Freo line.

Object avoidance in the Freo X Ultra is another high point of the robot.  The base station sits in our office/laundry room which often has laundry baskets and clothes on the floor… to the extent where other robots have actually gotten lost just leaving the base station, thinking it was a different room entirely.  Thankfully the Freo X Ultra takes this all in stride, and as long as we aren’t blocking the door for it to leave, it hasn’t gotten stuck yet.  It will still trample low lying charging cables with reckless abandon, though I haven’t found any robot vac capable of reliably avoiding those.

What I like about the Narwal Freo X Ultra

  • Hardware and app quality are excellent
  • Clear effort in design aesthetic with premium fit and finish throughout
  • Very little human effort is needed to support typical cleaning routines

What needs to be improved?

  • Heated mopping would be nice
  • Convenience of longer dustbin life feels overshadowed by disposable design

Final thoughts

There is much to like in this latest iteration of the Narwal Freo X Ultra robot vacuum, and enough here to warrant the Ultra designation.  While imperfect, the dust bag approach stands out as a creative solution to minimizing intervention with the bot, while the new brush design is incredibly effective.  At this price point, it would be good to see a heated mopping option, but the pricing is otherwise competitive in this tier.  Ultimately, this is a fantastic robot vacuum and mopping solution, supported by the best application experience I’ve found yet.  Narwal has a lot going for it here, and is worth a look.

Price: $1399.99
Where to buy: Narwal and Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided for free by Narwal. Narwal did not have a final say on the review and did not preview the review before it was published.

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