Segway Navimow H1500E robot lawn mower review
Can the Segway Navimow H1500E robot lawn mower deliver a pristine lawn without the effort? Here's my review.
Robot lawn mowers have been around for a while now, but in that time, they've come along way in terms of what they offer and how easy they are to use. They are most definitely a luxury rather than a necessity - much like their robot vacuum cousins - but once you have one, you won't go back to digging that traditional mower out of the shed.
They do not come cheap though, and there are a number of options on the market these days, so how do you know which one to buy? Segway might be a newcomer to the world of robot lawn mowers but the Navimow (H1500E) robot lawn mower has been keeping my back garden in check for the last couple of months and it - or one of the Navimow models - should definitely be on your shortlist.
The Segway Navimow has plenty going for it. Its design is lovely, its performance is excellent and the app is so simple and easy to use that it will appeal to a broad spectrum of users. It doesn't come cheap and it has a couple of frustrations, but overall, if a robot lawnmower is on your wish list, the Segway Navimow is one to consider.
One of the things that has plagued robot lawn mowers in the past is how incredibly difficult they are to setup. Sure, once you've set up all the perimeter wire and you've then spent multiple hours fixing it after an animal has entered your back garden and ruined it, you might have yourself a solid grass trimmer on your hands. The problem is, there's also a good chance you might give up before then.
That's not the case with the Segway Navimow mowers though. No wire is required with all Navimow models using a GPS signal instead. There are a number of steps you have to complete in order to set up the Navimow mowers, one of which involves manually mapping your garden/yard by using your smartphone and the Navimow app to guide the robot lawn mower around the boundary.
The process initially involves setting up the Navimow's base and the GPS pole, which are connected by an antenna cable so they need to be close to each other. You'll need power and you'll also need to make sure the base and the GPS pole both have a clear view of the sky. This is a little annoying as while I'd have expected it for the GPS pole, I was hoping the Navimow's base would sit underneath the trampoline in our garden and out of the way. That wasn't to be however, and it can't be placed under a tree either so keep that in mind when you're installing it.
Once you have the green light - literally, it appears as a Segway logo on the front of the base - you'll then stick a cardboard ruler above the Navimow's right wheel, under the marked arrow. This is designed to make sure you don't get too close to the boundary of your garden when you perform the mapping process. It also just gets taken off once you're done. Mapping through the Navimow app is easy - it's a little like driving a remote controlled car with your phone. You use the arrows to steer the Navimow and you'll need to guide it around the entire perimeter of your garden to mark the boundary. If you have a path in the middle of your garden for example, you'll need to map both halves separately and create a channel. You can also add various keep out zones, such as a tree or climbing frame, so the Navimow knows to avoid those areas, and they are easy to delete from the map on the app if anything changes.
The Segway Navimow's design is lovely and it looks great on its base in the garden, so you don't have to worry about hiding it away. It's a predominantly orange and grey colour scheme - certainly in the case of my review model which is the H1500E - with the orange elements complimenting the grey nicely and making for a striking finish overall. I loved the main orange wheels, which are rugged enough to handle various garden terrains well - though not porcelain unfortunately, more on that in a minute. The two main wheels are supported by two smaller wheels, allowing for easy manoeuvring. There's also a handle at the back that enables you to pull the Navimow around easily if you need to.
The controls sit on top of the Navimow, with a large stop button for when you need the Navimow to stop immediately, as well as a home button, Mow button and OK button. You'll need to use these controls to enter a code if the Navimow is locked, which will then allow you to control it from the app. Otherwise, I didn't find myself using the on-device controls at all as the app is a much simpler method of operation. You can however press Mow and OK to start mowing immediately, if you don't have your phone o hand.
As you would expect, the Navimow models are all weatherproof (IPX6) so you don't need to worry about leaving them outside when it's raining. You might find that the camera on the front - as well as on the VisionFence if you have installed that - needs wiping after heavy rain however. Occasionally, rain left water marks across the camera lenses so they needed wiping in order for the Navimow to be able to start a mowing schedule, which was a little frustrating.
There's a bumper at the front of the Navimow, while the blades sit underneath, tucked away as you would expect. On the top, alongside the controls, there's a circular element that houses the BladeHalt sensor system and the Exact Fusion Locating System (EFLS), and it features an LED ring around it that flashes various colours depending on the mower's status. There is no way to turn this off entirely, but you can also adjust how bright the LED light is at night through the app.
The Segway Navimow has a number of features on board, all of which contribute to this robot lawn mower being a great automatic grass trimmer. I'll start with the Segway Navimow app as this is actually brilliant and it's a key element to using the Navimow. It's simple to use and there's a number of extra functions within it that contribute to the Navimow's performance. Using the app, you can create a schedule (something I definitely recommend setting up), as well as adjust the cutting height. The cutting height options vary between 60mm and 30mm, with increments of 5mm. I had our lawn set to 30mm, though I'd like to have had a 25mm option given a choice.
There's a rain sensor in the app which will stop the Navimow from mowing in the rain when turned on, and you can turn the BladeHalt sensor on or off too. This latter element is off by default, but if you turn it on, the blades will stop spinning as soon as the sensor area is touched. I kept this off, but the option is there if you want to add extra safety measures.
On the main app screen, you'll see a map of your garden based on what you initially setup, along with a large orange button to start mowing. You'll also see the battery capacity of your Navimow, the progress percentage once you start mowing and the coverage in metres squared, though you can change the unit measurements in the app too if you want to.
In terms of the mower itself and the features it offers, there's a Smart Four-Module GNSS Positioning System, an Abnormality Alarm and an Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS) that make up some of the Navimow's smarts. There's also the Exact Fusion Locating System (EFLS) I mentioned, which is not only used for accurate mapping and ensuring the Navimow mows in the most efficient pattern possible, but it is also used for anti-theft on the H1500E and H3000E models. If the Navimow moves outside of the virtual boundary you've set, you'll get an alert on your phone, along with real-time location information within the app. There's also a pin code on the Navimow so if it is stolen, it would be useless if someone didn't know the code.
The Navimow has an automatic mowing path optimisation system that allows it to select an optimal mowing path, whilst automatically changing the mowing direction after it has completed a job. This means the Navimow's wheel tracks don't always follow the same path, protecting your lawn.
When it comes to sensors, there are several on board the Navimow models, including the BladeHalt sensor I mentioned previously that is switched on through the app, alongside a number of others that detect the environment and allow the Navimow models to adapt in real time.
If a hard object is detected, for example, the Navimow will reverse and continue in another direction, though this may be too late as my hose soon found out. The top-of-the-range Navimow model (H3000E) comes with an Ultrasonic sensor that detects objects before it goes over them in order to avoid running over them, and this sensor can also be bought separately and retrofitted to other Navimow models, which I would definitely recommend.
My review model - the Navimow H1500E model - is claimed to be able to service 1500m2 of lawn and it comes with a 7800mAh battery. I have a 100m2 back lawn and it used between 10 and 15 per cent battery for each mow. The H1500E is not the top model in the Navimow range, but it's not the bottom model either. The biggest difference between the models is the lawn capacity, batteries and a couple of extra features, like the Ultrasonic sensor on the top model and one year free 4G connectivity, along with the anti-theft system on this model.
All models have a 54dB noise emission - which is very quiet in operation based on my experience, so much so that you barely hear it or notice it, meaning you can run it early in the morning. All Navimow models can also handle a max slope of 45 per cent too, thanks to their hub motors and 14-bit high precision positioning sensors. I have a very flat garden so I wasn't able to test the Navimow's ability to handle this, though I can say it offers excellent performance, with fantastic cutting results in the areas it can reach.
The one terrain the Navimow H1500 did struggle with however, was porcelain tiles. I have a path on the left of my garden with porcelain tiles embedded into the grass and grass in between each tile. Naturally, you would hope that the grass in between was cut at the same time as the rest of the lawn. The Navimow's base is on one of these tiles, though it never managed to cut in between the tiles, despite them being within the perimeter. This was because the wheels slipped on the tiles - even when dry - which led to the sections between the tiles being ignored and the Navimow moving to another part of the garden. I suspect if the path had been in the centre of my garden, it would have been ok, but as it was at the edge, the angle the Navimow had to turn at wasn't something it could handle.
Elsewhere, I briefly mentioned the camera lens needing to be cleaned after rain, and that was another area of frustration as this impacted the scheduling sometimes. The Navimow wouldn't run until it was cleaned so while I would have had the Navimow mow the lawn at 6AM before anyone was up and about, this wasn't always possible if there had been heavy rain overnight. The Navimow also can't run at night. It needs more light than you would think too, so even dusk is a struggle.
Another thing to consider is you really need to have a clear lawn. For some people, this won't be a problem at all, but for anyone with kids or pets, this is more of a challenge. As mentioned, I lost a hose head to the Navimow as it was in its path and while the Navimow stopped once it realised, the damage was already done to the hose. Buying the Ultrasonic sensor as an additional extra will help protect against this, and it's also worth considering the VisionFence sensor. This is placed on top of the Navimow and helps it to see more, offering a clearer view from higher up.
Overall, the performance of the Navimow H1500 is excellent though. You will still need to get a strimmer out to tidy the edges of your lawn that the Navimow can't reach, and you'll need to make sure your lawn is spotless and free from clutter, like hoses or toys, but otherwise, the Navimow does a sterling job of keeping things neat and tidy.
The Segway Navimow has plenty going for it. Its design is lovely, its performance is excellent and the app is so simple and easy to use that it will appeal to a broad spectrum of users. It doesn't come cheap - especially if you consider some of the add-ons, but it's likely the bottom of the range model is more than adequate for many people too, covering 500m2 of lawn and still offering many of the same features as the top of the range models, like the H1500E being reviewed here.
Occasionally having to clean the camera lens after rain is a bit of a pain, and it not coping with my porcelain tile path was also annoying, as is always needing a spotless lawn, but if you can make these things work for you, the Segway Navimow is an excellent addition to any garden. There's a lot to love and it does a sterling job of delivering a pristine lawn (if you ignore the edges).
Britta is the Deputy Editor of Pocket-lint and has been a part of the team, covering consumer technology since 2012.You'll often see her name on some of our biggest features, including many of the versus articles and the rumour round ups, but she is also responsible for ensuring all the other great features from other members of the team cover off everything you might want to know about.Cutting WidthNoise LevelProsConsCutting WidthNoise Level