Which Roomba to Choose?

Which Roomba to Choose?

There is no doubt that the iRobot Roomba is among the best and most durable vacuum robots. Yet, it’s not easy to pick one because there are actually many Roombas on the market, with different features and accessories. Prices also vary in a wide range: from $200 up to $900. The goal of this guide is to help you choose the Roomba that best meets your needs.


Low-Cost Roombas: The 600 Series

The 600 series includes cheapest Roombas on the market. They cost between $200 and $350, and provide all basic features that make Roomba a renowned robotic vacuum cleaner.

The Cheapest

The cheapest Roomba on the market is the Roomba 614. It cleans all types of floor (e.g. tiles, hardwood, laminate carpets). Thanks to its dirt sensors, it is able to detect dirty spots such as high-traffic zones of your home, and spend more time cleaning them.

Cliff Detector + Auto-Recharge

Cleaning is done following a random pattern. Basically, the Roomba moves forward until it bounces on a wall or a furniture. It also changes direction when reaching the stairs. Indeed, the Roomba 614 embeds a cliff detector that prevents the Roomba from falling down the stairs or tumbling over drop-offs. Some people rely on this feature to use the Roomba for cleaning tables.

Roomba 614

Last, iRobot delivers the Roomba 614 with a charging station. Once the cleaning is over, the Roomba finds its way back to its station to recharge its battery and be ready for the next cleaning cycle.

Scheduling + Virtual Wall Beacon

Let’s now evaluate the Roomba 650 that is the 2017 best seller vacuum robot. Compared to the 614, the 650 provides two prominent features: scheduling and virtual walls. Scheduling is very useful since all vacuums are noisy, and the Roomba is no exception. It’s better to run it while you are away, for example during work hours. Once your home is cleaned or if the Roomba runs out of battery, it will find its way back to the charging dock. Still, you can launch the cleaning manually by pressing the clean button and clean your whole home or spot a specific area.

The Roomba 650 comes with a Virtual Wall beacon that allows you to restrict areas covered during a cleaning cycle. It acts as a wall, so the Roomba will bounce away and thus focus on a particular room, or avoid some region.

Roomba 650

WiFi Support

The last born of the 600 series is the Roomba 690. Compared to the 650, the novelty of the 690 is the Wifi connection. It can be controlled via the iRobot smartphone app that exist for both iPhone and Android. iRobot also provides support for speech recognition. So, you can control the Roomba 690 robot vacuum simply by talking to Amazon Alexa or Google Home.

In conclusion, the Roomba 650 is the best low-cost Roomba for less than $300. It provides a significant added value compared to the Roomba 614 -costing about $270- namely: scheduling and virtual wall. The mobile app and voice command provided by the Roomba 690 is of little interest, and does worth paying an extra $25.

Roomba 690

Roomba for Allergy & Pets Owners: The 800 Series

High Performance Filter

The 800 series builds on best features of the 600 series and adds extra accessories to make the perfect Roomba for people suffering from allergy or for pets owners. The first improvement concerns the filter. The Roomba 860, is equiped with a high peformance filter that captures even tiny dust particles. iRobot claims that these filters trap particles as small as 10 microns, which insure capturing 99% of allergens, pollen, and particles. Ideal for peple suffering from allergy.

More Power + Less Maintenance

The increased suction power is another important characteristic that makes the Roomba 860 better suited to fight allergy. Indeed, the 860 is 5 times more powerful compared to the 600 series. More suction power is also interesting for deeper cleaning, and better hair removal. This is also desirable for pet owners.

Yet another innovation of the Roomba 860 is the dual counter-rotating dirt extractors that virtually frees you from maintenance. No more entangled debris that require frequent dismounting and cleaning. A bonus feature is that extractors are supposed to break down dirt into smaller parts easier to suck, resulting into improved cleaning.

Roomba 860

Compound Dirt Sensor

As with the the 600 series, the 860 detects high concentrations of dirt, dust, and pet hair, and then performs focused cleaning where it’s needed most. However, the difference lies in the dirt sensing. The 600 series relies on a single acoustic sensor, while the Roomba 860 has a combination of an optical and an acoustic sensors for dirt perception. They ensure a better detection of dirtier areas and trigger the persistent cleaning behavior at the right spot.

Mobile App + Voice Command

Now let’s evalulate the Roomba 890. Basically, this is a Wifi enabled version of the 860. The companion mobile app (iOS and Android) lets you control your Roomba, trigger and schedule cleaning. It also notifies you about the status of your Roomba. For instance, the robot has an indicator to let you know when the bin is getting full and needs to be emptied. You can also view the bin level and status through the iRobot HOME App.

Last, the Wifi support makes most of the app features available via voice command. You can talk to your Roomba via devices compatible with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant.

Roomba 890

The 890 is sold at the same price as the 860. The choice is then straightforwad. Just pick the Roomba 890 for less than $500.

High-End Roomba for Large Homes: The 900 Series

The 900 series gathers the finest Roombas. They include all features of the Roomba 890, plus a camera that materializes a major shift in the navigation algorithm. Indeed, the 960 and the 980 are the first Roombas to switch from random motion to systematic cleaning. They methodically clean the floor by following a map of the area to clean. The map is built based on a SLAM algorithm which stands for Simultaneous Localization and Mapping. This approach is now mature and is more and more available in vacuum robots.

Recharge and Resume Cleaning

The iRobot robotic vacuums belonging to the 900 series map of your home while cleaning. They know which part were cleaned and which are still to vacuum. This allows speeding up the cleaning by vacuuming each spot only once, and hence covering a larger area with only a single battery charge. Moreover, knowing the exact position of the robot allows to clean large homes. Indeed, when the Roomba 960 and 980 run out of battery while cleaning, they automatically go back to the charging station. Once their battery fully recharged, they go back to where they stopped and resume cleaning to complete the entire job.

Roomba 960

Longer Run Time and Higher Suction Power

Battery is another improvement of the 900 series over the other Roombas. While all the other iRobot robotic vacuums can at most run for 60 minutes on hard floor, the battery of the Roomba 960 lasts 75 minutes. The Roomba 980 signifcantly improves the run-time with a battery that lasts up to 120 minutes! This double the run time -compared to the 600 and 800 series- is ideal for large homes.

The 980 ensuers better cleaning thanks to a higher suction power. It’s 2 times the suction power of the 960 and the 800 series. That is 10 times the suction power of the 600 series!

Roomba 980

Table 1: Summary of Characteristics of Compared Roombas

Summary: Which Roomba is Best for Me?

Table 1 (see above) summaries the characteristics of the vacuum robots discussed in the previous sections. We can see that iRobot made the switch to WiFi. All its latest robotic vacuums (namely 690, 890, and 980) can be controlled via a smartphone app. They are also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Another conclusion of the Table 1 is that the 900 series surpass the others, both from the hardware and the software levels.

In our review we went beyond merely comparing the performance and the characteristics of the Roombas. We have also conducted an analysis to identify the robotic vacuum that best fits your needs at the best price. Table 2 below summaries our recommendation.

Comparison of Best Roombas

Table 2: Best Roombas Vs. User Needs

Table 2 shows that the Roomba 980 is the best Roomba money can buy. Costing about $900, it performs best cleaning thanks to its very high suction power. Its long lasting battery and its ability to automatically recharge and resume cleaning, makes the Roomba 980 ideal for large homes. It systematically clean all rooms, in a single pass.

To people suffering from allergies, we recommend the Roomba 890, that costs about $500. Its high performance filter captures allergens (pollen, and small particles). The Roomba 890 is also appropriate for pet owners thanks to its high suction power. Its dual counter-rotating rollers avoid hair entangling and break down dirt into smaller parts easier to suck.

If your budget is tight, pick the Roomba 650 for less than $300. It will free you from the vacuuming chore. Just set up the schedule, and the 650 will vacuum your place daily while you are out. Once the cleaning is finished, the vacuum robot will find its way back to the charging dock. The Roomba 650 is also shipped with a Virtual Wall beacon that allows you to restrict areas covered during a cleaning cycle.

Roomba 980

Roomba 890

Roomba 650

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