Earlier this year, iRobot introduced the Roomba 980, a huge and exceedingly efficient vacuuming robot controlled with a smartphone. It’s a gigantic, autonomous, dirt-slurping hockey puck designed to clean an entire home filled with kids and pets and food and everything else. It isn’t cheap at $900, but it’s perfect for big homes with big families.

My parents tried it and loved it. Seriously. They sent me videos. I mentioned this to the folks at iRobot during a recent video, and said the 980 doesn’t make much sense in my small apartment with wood floors. No problem, they told me. We’ve got just the thing: the Braava, Roomba’s first robotic mopping machine.

dog.gifBuster and the Roomba 980.

The Braava uses a vibrating head and jet spray to sweep and scrub hard floors. Not only is it more suited to dwellings with more tile, linoleum, and hardwood, it’s much smaller and lighter than its siblings. It’s smaller than a shoebox and easily stashed under the sink. Mopbot includes three different pads that easily slide onto the bottom of the Braava. One’s for sweeping (it feels like a Swiffer pad), one’s for light mopping, and one’s for deep cleaning.

It works just like every other Roomba you’ve ever seen and uses a gyroscope and sensor to map the room. When I saw it in action, it bumped into the bathroom scale, made the appropriate adjustments, and glided right around it afterward. It learns where your furniture is, and adjusts its speed to avoid throwing itself into a wall or table leg.

While it’s a smart little bot, it’s not as smart as the 980. It doesn’t have as many sensors, and they aren’t as capable. There’s no mobile connectivity, so you can’t control it with your phone (the HORROR!). This is, Roomba says, because you can only pack so many circuits and sensors into something that’s full of water. But there’s another really, really good reason for the pared down Braava: It’s way cheaper than its bigger brethren. iRobot sees the Braava as the gateway to its lineup; it doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it’s only $199. People might balk at the big ol’ Roomba and its lofty price tag, iRobot said, but this teeny little thing does your mopping and isn’t terribly expensive.

The other thing that differentiates the Braava from the rest of the line? It’s square. That’s so it can better mop corners and get into those places that are tricky to reach (behind the trash can, around the toilet, that sort of thing). You can buy the Braava starting April 1. Yes, I know. April Fools’ Day. But I saw the Braava in action, and it’s real.

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The Braava Is iRobot’s New Roomba. And This One Mops