Polaris Alpha iQ+GET IT
This is a fleeting season—even more so if you have to spend prime summer hours cleaning a pool instead of perfecting your cannonball game. While it might seem like a splurge, a robot that crawls along sucking and scrubbing the bottom and up the walls of a pool, can return hours of weekends back to you. The four-wheel-drive Polaris Alpha iQ+ is the first robot to bring some of the smarts we’ve come to expect from indoor vacuuming bots to the pool, and it’s all wrapped up in a package that looks rugged enough to not have to hide.
Unboxing and assembly takes about 20 minutes, then you can toss the robot into the drink. If the pool isn’t within your network, you can command it from the controller. But as we found, syncing it to your WiFi and using the Alpha’s app, you have total control, including the directional buttons that let you steer it, for fun, or to spot clean a specific area. During the first 2.5 hours of initial cleaning, the robot is scanning and learning your pool so future cycles will be more efficient.
Expect a more systematic pattern—back and forth—with less reliance on randomly cleaning the entire pool. Both the app and the controller provide access to all the cleaning modes, so you can focus on the floor, or the walls up to the water line, or both, but the Smart Cycle button is what you’ll use most often which employs the map of your pool the Alpha’s created with its sensors. The app has the basics like scheduling features, but you can also see the temperature of the water and how full the 5-liter filter basket.
A 60-foot-long floating cable twists freely to reduce the chance of a kink and it never restricted Alpha’s ability to reach any corner of the pool. We used it to suck up grime, sand, stones, and leaves from the pool. Each time it left the water spotless. Pressing the lift button tells the robot to find the nearest wall, and climbs up enough to expose the grab handle just under the surface of the water. From there you bend down and yank the 22-pound robot out of the water. During the day, the transparent lid gives you a quick visual of how full the filter basket is, and at night it fills with light from a blue LED that looks pretty cool. About the only thing the Alpha can’t clean are two areas tough for any robotic pool cleaner: the surface of the water—which you’d need a totally different kind of robot for if you didn’t want to do it yourself—and stairs.
We’d love to see Polaris integrate a method of monitoring pool chemistry into the robot too. The Polaris isn’t cheap, for sure, but then again you can’t put a price tag on not having to manually vacuum the floor of the pool or scrub the sidewalls. The shorter your pool season, every hour you’re not having to maintain it pays off.—Sal Vaglica, Men’s Journal contributor
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