I owned a Smart Pools Kleenmachine for 3 years that I bought from Costco. I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. I never had to pull out the vacuum. I left it in the pool for days on end. I could go a whole season without backwashing my DE filter. The only area it missed was the steps but brushing the debris off the steps was usually sufficient. Then about 2 weeks ago, the motor stopped working, or would only work intermittently. Parts are very expensive so I decided against repairing it.
I decided to go for something a little better, so after checking reviews, I ordered a Dolphin Primal X3. I received the Dolphin Primal X3 on Saturday, just in time for a pool party Saturday afternoon. I bought it on eBay from the seller backyardpoolsuperstore for $598.00. Shipping took 8 days by way of Fedex and USPS. I wouldn't have had it until Monday except that I went up to the post office when the tracking said "Out for Delivery" on Friday but was not delivered. (The carrier lied about attempting delivery on Friday.) Backyardpools said it was a mistake that they shipped it by that slower than slow method.
My first impression upon taking it out of the box was that it was heavier, the cord was thicker, and it seemed a little more robust than the Kleenmachine. It was easy to get going. The pool bottom was dirtier than normal because it had been at least 10 days since it had been cleaned. Watching it clean, I was surprised to see not much of an effect when it went over an area. No clean path to show where it had been. After a while the water was cloudier than it had been all year. Now I knew why there were two sets of cleaning filters. I had the standard filters in the machine that were allowing all the fine dirt right through to cloud up the water.
Now it has been 5 more days and so far I am not at all happy with the performance. I have swapped out the filters and that solved the clouding problem, but the poor suction is still there. We had a heavy thunderstorm a couple of days ago that put a bunch of leaves in the pool. Most of them are still there, even after at least 3 cleaning cycles. The cleaner is picking up significant amounts of dirt, but leaving a lot behind. Heavier dirt particles seem to be left behind as the cleaner just rolls over them. I never felt compelled to vacuum the pool after running the Kleenmachine. Worst case, I would just run it a second time and the pool would be spotless. This new one is a different story. With all the positive reviews for the Nautilus and M3, I started thinking that I might have a defective cleaner.
Today I called Dolphin and was quickly connected to a customer service rep. She explained that the climbing rings, which are foam circles on each side of the cleaning brushes need to wear down a little bit to get maximum suction. She said that can take a couple of weeks and then the suction should dramatically improve. So that gives me something to hope for. She said if I don't see any improvement in a couple of weeks, to call back to speak to a technician. Has anyone who owns one of these Dolphin cleaners seen such an increase in performance?