I have never been a fan of vacuuming in fact I have gone through many many vacuums because they weren’t powerful enough or I felt they didn’t clean well. Besides that, as much as I do want to Vacuum I never get around to it because I’m too busy! Well iRobot, the makers of the Roomba were nice enough to send us the newest generation of their little robotic vacuum cleaner who I already named Ronnie…
When the UPS man dropped off the Roomba I got twinges of excitement. Would this be it?! My dream come true – would I never have to touch a vacuum again. I’m sick of hurting my back bending and sucking up crap from my floors or unclogging the nozzle and hose from items that I sucked up by accident. And I’m just lazy.
I unpackaged the box and was greeted with the iRobot Roomba 560 Vacuum Cleaner. The 560 is part of bunch of newer models that were released this year. I unpackaged the box and inside I found a self charging home base, 2 virtual wall lighthouses, and 2 extra filters. Immediately out of the box I felt the need to name the Roomba. Don’t ask me why but I did. According to the iRobot panel we attended at CES this year, many owners name their iRobots and become extremely attached to them. And I guess I was just charmed right out of the box. I plugged in the home base right away and then put “Ronnie” to sit on it to charge for the day. The Roomba began pulsating an amber color meaning it was charging. There was no setup needed to put him together. Unfortunately I had to wait till the next day when I would put Ronnie to the test.
So I was ready and so was the Roomba, who I named Ronnie. The amber was gone and Ronnie was glowing green meaning he was fully charged. First I pushed the “Demo” button to make sure I knew how to use this thing. I hate reading manuals, so the demo button was very welcome. When pushed, a woman’s voice starts speaking and introduces you to the Roomba and its many talents. It tells you, you can schedule a cleaning every day but you have to set the time and day first. There are indicator lights that mean different things. For instance if a blue light comes on it means there is dirt in this area. Other pulsating lights could mean the Roomba is in trouble and you will have to check one of it’s brushes or empty the tray were the dirt sits. So I held down the clean button and set “Ronnie” to clean. According to the demo the Roomba takes longer to clean because its very thorough and also needs more time to get around your space. So away he went, with the push of the clean button I watched the Roomba take off. Walking behind it like a mother who is just witnessing their child take their first steps, I was very concerned the Roomba wouldn’t break or get caught up in wires or hit into everything. There are sensors in the front of it to detect furniture and such but still I was hesitant. I sat down on my couch watching it go around my feet and under the coffee table and spin around its little side brushes for corner cleaning. At first glance I have to say I wasn’t impressed. A lot of items on the floor seemed to be just getting kicked away and not vacuumed up and it often it would stay in the same place spinning for quite some time and without moving on to a different area to clean.
I set up the included Virtual Wall Lighthouse so that way the Roomba would know which other rooms I wanted cleaned, as they serve as a sensor indictator of sorts to make sure Roomba covers all rooms or blocks off other rooms till each one is completely cleaned. So I let Ronnie have his fun for 30 minutes and then I stopped it. It become to stressful to keep watching it go around especially when it sucked up some socks and wires it had found and caused the Roomba to go into distress. So I put it back on its home base and would give it ago another day. A couple of days later I decided I would attempt this again and go about it in a different manner almost like how mother birds teach their young to fly. So I pushed the clean button again and let Ronnie do it’s thing. I didn’t watch it, in fact I went to watch TV and then make dinner. In about 45 minutes Ronnie was done and even returned to it’s home base to begin charging again. When I looked around my floors were shinier than I had seen them in awhile and those on purpose pieces of dirt I left on the floor were picked up by the Roomba. I was impressed. As a matter of fact, I’ve never noticed any of my previous vacuum cleaners leave my floor with such a spiffy shine.
When I left the Roomba alone to do its thing it did a great job. It had gone under my bed and into my kitchen and cleaned in all sorts of weird spots and it was even pushing some of my furniture around to collect the dirt. My wood floors were left looking really clean and I didn’t have to break a sweat. One gripe I do have is that hair seems to be one element the Roomba doesn’t handle to well. After it returned to the base I turned it upside down to make sure all the brushes were clean and I found tons of long hair tangled in the brushes and side brushes. It is easy to dismantle and in some cases I pulled the hair out of all the bristles or I had to use scissors. After I was done I put the brushes back. Overall I was very impressed with iRobot’s Roomba. When it was first introduced several years ago, I scoffed at it thinking it probably doesn’t work all that well and would be labeled as another “As Seen on TV” gadget. However I was very wrong and and it seems that over the years iRobot has taken the Roomba line very seriously, transforming it in to a welcome household tool. For $349.99 it certainly isn’t cheap but if it saves me time and a bad back, I say that it’s well worth the investment. But what you are really probably wondering is whether or not the Roomba will be replacing my old vacuum cleaner? Yes. And it’s good news too for my home. Instead of vacuuming once a month, I find myself setting Ronnie off every other day.
The Good: Cleans on its own just set a schedule, leaves floors extra shiny, returns to base when it’s done. It’s a ROBOT!
The Bad: Doesn’t handle long hair to well gets tangled in all wheels and brushes. The better models could be a bit pricey and hard to prove for the price its better than some of the larger competitors.