Many of the other participants have posted 'unboxing' videos or reviews. Mine was professionally installed by Chris of MacGregor Groundcare, so he unboxed it... therefore I have this...
First impressions of the physical unit are very positive. The 450X Automower® is well designed and feels robust, as does the charging station (which is good, as it does ram it at a reasonable speed regularly!)
One minor irritation in the design is the decision to put the control panel which includes an LCD screen showing the current status behind an opaque panel, which can only be lifted when the machine is not running. I'd personally have made this transparent, so the status can be viewed whilst it's running.
The button to open this panel doubles as an e-stop, so opening this panel instantly stops the mower.
Despite having GPS, the Automower requires a buried guide wire (well, several) and doing this in a large garden would take some time. Helpfully MacGregor have a machine designed to make this process easier - it still took 30 mins or so.
If I move house I'll be sure to get them back to install a new wire!
The wire serves several purposes;
- provides a guide to allow the Automower to find it's way back to the charging station
- denotes the boundary, beyond which the Automower should not cut
- for security; the Automower will not operate away from it's own garden.
The dedicated iPhone companion app allows the Robotic Lawmower to be configured and controlled from the phone. Setting this up took only a couple of minutes and it works perfectly - the developers of BMW and Land Rover's car integrations apps could learn a thing or two from these.
Much like my car, the mower has a SIM card in it and connects to the mobile network, so doesn't require any configuration to connect to a WiFi network and there are no firewall issues.
Rather than cut the whole lawn with the Automower, I have elected to cut only around half, this should provide a clear illustration of the difference that Automower makes. The remaining half will be cut as normal by the estate, roughly fortnightly.
Full disclosure: I am participating in a competition that means, in exchange for reviewing these, I do receive a free unit. It does not, however, mean that I'm biased. I will be posting my experience of this little robotic critter over the coming months.