Review of IRobot’s Robot Vacuum, Roomba

A lot of people hate vacuuming. It’s loud, noisy, a hassle and it takes a good amount of time. I hate vacuuming, but it’s not so bad now. I own an iRobot Roomba Red. It is a bottom-line robotic vacuum that makes life extraordinarily easy. No more worrying about dust and dander on the floors. This is a great buy!

iRobot now makes 5 different versions of the Roomba robotic vacuum. I own the “Roomba Red” which is the base model. I want to give you some insight to this model, and some of the features of higher models that iRobot offers.

Roomba is a great investment for any home. Its ease of use and intelligence are unprecedented and its ability to maneuver under beds, chairs, coffee and end table, and curios make it an unparalleled addition to any cleaning arsenal. In comparison to other robotic vacuums, there are very few cons to the Roomba, but loads of pros. Here is what Roomba offers:

– Ease of use. Simply put, there is no easier way to vacuum. Tell me of another vacuum that you can set in the middle of the room, hit a button, and come back 45 minutes later and be done? There isn’t one. And that’s all there is to operating the Roomba Red. If you opt for a higher model, it’s even easier. You program the iRobot home base for what time you want Roomba to start cleaning, and what time you want him back home, and that’s it. You program Roomba once, and you’re done. After that all you have to do is clean out his canister. The Roomba is smart enough to get back into his base with no issues. Additionally, once back in his home, the Roomba will charge his batteries for the next cleaning cycle automatically.

– Cleaning Ability. I would say that the Roomba cleans 85-90% as well as a conventional vacuum. Since I have never owned another robotic vacuum, I can’t really compare this, but from what I have heard, nothing comes close to iRobot’s Roomba Robot Vacuum. Basically, it cleans the deep down hair, dander and dirt rather well, but due to its poor suction, sometimes misses topical dirt such as grass, leaves, or strings. Roomba is designed with a deep digging brush that enhances its ability to pick up stuff rather than suck up stuff. Much like with normal vacuuming, you must pick up cords, area rugs with fringe, and clothes before setting Roomba free. Otherwise, he will get stuck. iRobot claims that Roomba’s battery charge is good for 2 hours, and I would believe that if it was hard floor. But, for medium to deep carpet, realistically you are looking at 1 hour and 15 minutes of solid clean time. Also, Roomba takes almost 45 minutes to clean a large room. What I would suggest is take turns every day with what room you are cleaning.

– Style/Design. Roomba is small, round and sleek. Imagine a thick Frisbee, and you will have the basic gist of a Roomba robotic vacuum. The Roomba is much quieter than a conventional vacuum, and really quiet enough to talk on the phone, or watch T.V. over. The biggest design flaw to the Roomba is the canister. It is a relatively small canister which means emptying it about twice as often as your normal bagless vacuum. Roomba is bagless, and can be used with a Hepa filter, which is a nice touch. Roomba also has a side arm brush that sweeps against baseboards and under counters to get those hard to reach areas.

– Intelligence. Roomba has an amazing amount of built-in intelligence. Some of the better features are: The ability to clean under tables, chairs, desks, beds, and even recliners. Roomba’s sensors alert him when the barrier of a wall or other hard item is near. This allows him to shimmy along the edge of the item, ensuring that it does not miss a single spot. Roomba can also sense whether he is on hard floors or carpeted floors, so no need to adjust settings. Roomba can also be used on a bed or couch. This little robotic vacuum has sensors to know if he is about to fall, so he won’t fall down the stairs or off of a surface. All models of Roomba also come with an invisible wall that you can set up (requires 4 “D” batteries) to keep Roomba in one room, or out of one particular area. It’s a great feature that helps keep him out of the areas that kids, dogs, or plants may be. Available for sale through iRobot is a kit that allows you to turn Roomba into a virtual robotic slave! You can program Roomba to be whatever you want. Security systems, waiters, and robotic toys have been done quite a few times.

– Cleaning Hassle. The biggest problem with Roomba is what it takes to keep him clean and running well. If you have pets, it is quite a task to keep Roomba running up to par. First, you must keep the canister empty and the filter clean. Then there is the brush bar and the beater bar, both of which collect pet hair very well. It’s good for the carpet, but not so good for your Roomba. Then there are all the little sensors and parts that can easily be clogged by dirt and pet hair. It seems like a lot, and it is, but with the use of a q-tip and a little time once a month, you learn to clean Roomba quickly and easily. iRobot is supposedly working on a way to cut down after-cleaning-cleaning time for newer models.

– Replacement Parts. Most of the parts the need replacing on Roomba are the same parts you would have to replace on a normal vacuum. Those parts include; beater bar, brush bar, filter, and side arm brush. You can buy a kit that comes with all of these parts for around 20 bucks from iRobot’s websites. The parts compete very well as far as price goes in the normal vacuum market.

– Other Products. As I mentioned earlier, there are quite a few models of the iRobot Roomba to choose from. You can go baseline with the Roomba Red or Roomba Sage, or get all the bells and whistles in the Roomba Discovery SE. Prices range from $130.00 to $500.00. Also, iRobot makes the Scooba, which much like the Roomba, cleans mops and dries your hard floors in one pass. The claims say that Scooba is even safe on hardwood floors. (Psst.. hey dads.. Rumor patrol has it that iRobot is working on a robotic lawnmower to make those Saturdays a lot easier!!)

Overall, I would definitely recommend this product. This little robotic vacuum can’t replace a conventional vacuum, but it sure can cut down the amount of times you have to use one. Make sure you do your homework and decide what Roomba model you really need before you run out to the store to buy one. Roomba can be found at most department/specialty stores, or online at www.irobot.com.

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