Review: The Dreame A1 Robot Lawn Mower Shows Promise (however Isn’t Worth Its Price Yet) | Lifehacker

We may earn a commission from links on this page.


Robot lawnmowers excite me. They’re amazing for accessibility, allowing people to maintain a lawn they otherwise might not physically be able to, and they eliminate a household labor, which I am all for. I suppose it’s lucky that the very first few I tried worked pretty well. Since then, though, ve been underwhelmed, plagued by set-up problems, unreliable mowing, missed boundaries and, in one case, a stolen mower. While the Dreame A1 robotic mower (regularly $2,594.98, and currently on sale for $1,899.99) wasn’t a total bummer, it didn’t impress me much at the price point. 

Dreame is a company that has impressed me in the past with their robot vacuums, which have consistently been a big deal at CES. The A1 looks like most other robot lawnmowers—a bulky lawnbot on a charging base. The mower itself is hefty but it has what amounts to a handle to lug it around, and it charges on a light base that doesn’t require a garage. The A1 has a big “stop” button on the front, which will pop open the settings panel on top of the mower. However, that also means that every time you want to change a setting, you are prompted to enter a PIN code using a manual dial, since you just hit “stop,” which I found aggravating. The robot comes pre-assembled, so there’s just the unboxing to handle. This robot did not feature an RTK or GPS tower, like my two favorite mowers (Navimow, Luba 2) do. One less piece of equipment to take care of is great; instead, it uses proprietary tech called “Omnisense 3D Ultra-Sensing System,” which is LiDAR (a common remote-sensing technology on board every robot vacuum). 

Major issues during set-up

Getting the A1 online was, for lack of a better term, miserable. The first mower I received already had a PIN set that support couldn’t reset or tell me the code for, so back it went. The second mower I was able to set a PIN for, but had hours of trouble getting to pair via Bluetooth or wifi after that. The answer from support was that the only PIN that would work is 0001, which defeats the purpose of a PIN. Once I reset the PIN and suffered through many hours closing the app, dumping the cache, reopening it and getting a tiny bit further in the software updating and pairing process, it was finally time to send the robot out on its maiden voyage. 

Robot lawnmowers do this in different ways: Some try to use LiDAR for this purpose (I didn’t find it very effective on the GOAT). But most (and my preferred way) use the app like a remote control, walking the robot around the perimeter of the yard to set the boundary. The A1 combines these two methods, which I think is a good idea. Let users map the boundary and then have the lawnbot use LiDAR to navigate within the boundary. Still, I struggled to get the boundary set on the A1 as well, due to the lack of explanation or nuance in the error codes the robot threw. There’s a pre-flight checklist before you can set your first boundary, and whether your robot is on the charging dock or not (it turns out both could be the problem), it still says, “robot not on dock.” After some more support calls, I was able to get the robot out on a boundary run. I mapped the backyard, which is largely a big open space with one obstacle (a fire pit) in the center. 

Once actually mowing, the A1 performs pretty well

The mower did a good job when it was actually mowing, heading out in a U-shaped pattern back and forth (checkerboard enthusiasts will be disappointed, as it’s not an option, but perimeter mowing or spot mowing is). I saw very few stray blades, and the cut came close to the fence. You can set the height between approximately one to three inches. The A1 also did a good job with slight dips and hills, which other mowers, like the Navimow, struggled with—but it was not as resilient as the Luba 2, getting stuck on a slightly more exaggerated dip the Luba sailed over. The A1 did navigate around the fire pit easily, but like the Luba 2, was too conservative in how big a space it left unmowed around the pit. The Navimow was able to get closer to obstacles. 

The A1 lets you schedule your mowing too. This feature worked as expected, except when it rained or became dark during the runtime. Usually the robot would return to the charging station at that point, and complete the job on the next run or the next day. The A1 just stopped where it was, stranded, and would not return to the base. This is problematic, of course, because if the mower is stranded on your front lawn, it’s easy to steal. Otherwise, the mower did a good job finding the base when it was done with a run, and though that sounds simple, the GOAT routinely failed at the same job. 

Having some success in the backyard, I added the front yard to the A1, since the A1 can handle multiple “zones,” which not all mowers do. This allows you to divide the areas you want to mow so you can treat them differently. This is a far more complicated area, with lots of flower beds to be avoided, and I wanted to see how the A1 would do in terms of avoidance. Minus a few strawberry plants that grew out of their area, the A1 did a respectable job. It struggled around corners of the planting beds, getting stuck on the sides of the bed itself and had trouble dislodging itself. This ability to handle multiple zones means that you could consider sharing this robot with your neighbors.

Lack of security features is a concern

A major swing and miss on the A1 is the security system. If you pick the mower up, it sounds an unpleasant alarm, which is good if it’s a robber picking it up but terrible if you’re just towing it back to the base because it keeps getting stranded. Either way, it’s not a very effective deterrent. The best deterrent, in my opinion, is a 4g sim integrated into the hardware, and an app feature that uses the sim for GPS, ensuring that if the mower is taken, you can pinpoint the location. 

Bottom line: It’s not ready yet

The nice thing is that all the problems I experienced with the A1 were software, not hardware-related. This means there’s some chance that via updates, the problems could get resolved. In Dreame’s favor, I could always reach phone support, even on a holiday, and even if they were not always particularly helpful. At full price (about $2,600), I think there are better mowers out there right now for ½ acre, which is what the A1 will cover. Grab a Luba 2 that will cover .75 acres for $2,500, or .25 acres for approximately $2,100, or grab a .25 acre Navimow for about half that.