Roborock S4 vs Roomba 960
Today I am reviewing the Roborock S4 vs. Roomba 960. Roborock is not as popular as iRobot’s Roomba, but this underrated company has designed a lineup of incredible robot vacuums. An excellent example is the Roborock S4, which is more than capable of providing stellar cleaning performance in homes with hard floors and low-pile carpets.
The Roomba 960, on the other hand, is the remaining model of the 900 Series. This robot vacuum is a pricey one, as it includes some fancy features found in top-tier Roombas.
So, without any delay, let us get right into this review!
The Main Differences
- Battery Life
The Roborock S4 has a battery life of 150 minutes on its lowest setting, while the Roomba 960 can last only for about 75 minutes.
Robot vacuums nowadays all seem to have a shorter battery life as a tradeoff to the Recharge and Resume feature. Regardless, I still prefer a longer run-time. While the Recharge and Resume feature is convenient, I want my robot to finish cleaning as quickly as possible before it needs to charge itself.
Navigation is a strong suit for both the Roborock S4 and the Roomba 960. The latter uses iAdapt 2.0 with vSLAM®, while the other makes use of LIDAR. Simply put, the Roborock S4 uses a laser, while the Roborock 960 uses a camera to understand its surroundings.
- Suction Power
The suction power has to be the biggest difference between the Roborock S4 vs. Roomba 960. At 2, 000 Pa, the Roborock S4 dwarfed the 900 Pa suction of the Roomba 960.
The Roborock S4 uses a bristle brush, while the Roomba 960 comes equipped with the exclusive Dual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes. Both brushes are advertised as tangle-free, but the S4 still caught up with some tangles during my tests.
Last update on 2021-08-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Roborock S4: Is It Worth It?
Similar to the prior models, it features LIDAR navigation (a spinning laser) for the real-time mapping feature. The only reason why the S4 is cheaper than the Roborock S5 and S6 is that it lacks the mopping attachment that the prior models have.
While it lacks, Roborock added a new drivetrain for the S4, which gives it the ability to move forwards and backwards so that it could escape situations that might have otherwise caused the robot to get stuck. The price is also noticeably better without the mop.
Compared to the Roomba 960, I find the S4 a better cleaner in many ways. I would happily give the Roborock S4 nine stars for its overall performance. Although the app setup got into my nerves, I was glad that I could name rooms, create No-Go Lines or Zones, and receive cleaning reports, among many of the tech-savvy options offered by the app.
Best of all, the intuitive navigation paired with 2, 000 Pa of suction power, makes this robot vacuum a force to reckon with. The self-adjusting cleaning head also allows the robovac to suction and move simultaneously from one surface to another.
- Uses LIDAR navigation for real-time mapping and room scanning
- The suction motor generates up to 2, 000 Pa of suction power
- Equipped with a new improved bristle brush and a 5-spoke side spinning brush
- Cleaning Head is self-adjusting for easy transition between floors
- Comes with two removable and washable E11 filters
- Creates No-Go Lines or No-Go Zones via the app
- Has 150 minutes of battery life
- Recharge and Resume
- Operates at 59 dB during Turbo Mode
- 420 ml dustbin
- The bristle brush may still get tangled with hair when picking large amounts
- Confusing app setup due to many incompatibilities
Roomba 960: Should You Get It?
The 960 is the only Roomba available in the 900 Series showroom since the 980 was phased out. This model sits right in the middle between the i Series and the e Series, but its price still veers into the higher end of the spectrum.
Nevertheless, the 960 is the cheapest Roomba you can get that has a built-in camera for smart navigation. This model navigates using iAdapt 2.0 with vSLAM®. The Roomba 960 is likewise compatible with several smart home ecosystems, and the iRobot Home app is impressive as always.
Moreover, the Roomba 960 features a three-stage cleaning system, which iRobot refers to as the AeroForce system.
Any model with this tech comes equipped with Roomba’s patented Dual Multi-Surface Brushes and a high-efficiency filter. But compared to higher-end Roombas, the 960 has a less powerful motor rated at 900 Pa.
For the price, I would have liked to see a more powerful robot vacuum that can do better than myself when cleaning.
- Uses iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with vSLAM® technology
- Features Roomba’s AeroForce cleaning system
- Uses Dual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes, plus a 3-spoke edge sweeping brush
- Wi-Fi controlled via the iRobot Home app, Alexa, or Google Assistant
- Compatible with Virtual Wall® barriers
- Recharge and Resume
- 600 ml dustbin capacity
- Fails to identify dark-colored rugs and floors
- 900 Pa of suction is often insufficient for picking up tiny particles
- Struggles in high-pile carpets
Face to Face Comparison
The Roomba 960 measures 13.8 x 13.8 x 3.6 and weighs 8.5 pounds. As for the color scheme, the Roomba 960 has the classic black and silver matte finish.
Built similarly to other Roombas, the 960 comes with a set of mode control buttons and a small handle made into the top of the unit. Only this time, it has an added onboard camera that allows the robot to navigate more easily.
Another exceptional quality of the Roomba 960 is that it is solidly built, so I’m not that worried if my jolly pup bumps into it occasionally.
Accessories and Setup
The Roomba 960 comes with a charging base, a replacement high-efficiency filter, and a Virtual Wall® barrier. What I like best about Roomba is that they have set the gold standard of user-friendliness, and the 960 is no exception.
All you have to do is remove the robovac from its packaging and download the iRobot Home app. There is no assembly required since the unit arrives at your doorstep fully functional and 50% juiced up.
Whether you want to make use of the app or buttons on the unit, there should be no issues getting your robot to run.
According to iRobot, the Roomba 960 delivers 5x the air power compared to the Roombas from the 600 Series.
However, that is just a fancy term of saying that it only has 900 Pa suction. Given the price tag, I don’t think that is justifiable. Therefore, the Roborock S4 has clearly defeated the Roomba 960 in this category.
Mapping and Smart Navigation
The Roomba 960 features iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with vSLAM® technology. Similar to the Roborock S4, it uses a combination of infrared sensors and an embedded camera.
The Roomba 960 also did quite well at learning the layout of my home, although it doesn’t quite navigate confined areas perfectly. Nevertheless, the robovac never became stuck around furniture, and the robot can find its way out quickly whenever it ventures underneath a dresser cabinet or some chairs.
I like that this Roomba can drive underneath low furniture, which is something the Roborock S4 struggles to do because of its turret. Likewise, this model never attempted to roll over a pile of clutter, like the Stabilos and Crayolas, my daughter has forgotten to pick up.
Moreover, I was pleased to see the Roomba 960 transition smoothly from the hardwood entryway to the living room carpet. The lip between these surfaces was not a problem for this robovac. Even the seam between the floor and the tasseled rug did not give the robot a problem.
This robovac also does well when instructed to return to its base to charge. Unfortunately, the Roomba 960 struggled with high-contrast flooring, thinking that it was approaching a high drop-off when in reality, the robot was driving over a dark rug.
Then again, this level of navigation offered by the Roomba 960 is way better than what you would typically get from robovacs that rely on infrared sensors alone.
Filters and Brushes
Instead of bristles, all the dirty work is done by the unique Dual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes. iRobot’s patented brushroll agitates and loosens dirt and debris for suctioning. Meanwhile, the three-spoke edge brush sweeps along walls, skirting boards, and furniture legs.
What I like best about these brushes is that they are tangle-free. There were no pet and human hair tangled in the brushes during my tests. But regardless, I find the Roomba 960 a tad ineffective in hair pickup, which I partly blame for its low suction power.
Battery and Run-Time
The Roomba 960 is powered by a 2, 600 mAh battery. This robovac can operate for about 75 minutes per charge on its lowest setting.
In my case, cleaning took only 60 minutes, but it also depends on how dirty the floor was. If there is still cleaning to be done, but the battery is already low in juice, the robot will return to its base to recharge. Then, it will continue where it left off until the cleaning is finished.
The 75-minute run-time is less than you typically see with robot vacuums within its price range. However, the battery life shouldn’t be a dealbreaker because the Roomba 960 is not wasting battery power. Thanks to its smart navigation, it isn’t slowed down by obstacles and door thresholds.
Virtual Barriers and Zone Cleanings
The Roomba 960 makes use of the same barrier system as the other Roombas. Each purchase of this model comes with one Virtual Wall®, which is a battery-powered device that emits an invisible cone-shaped barrier. This barrier blocks the robot access for about 10 feet. Simply turn the device on, and set it on the floor in front of any forbidden zone.
Initially, the Roomba 960 did not support the Keep-Out Zones. Fortunately, iRobot released an update last year that expands the digital mapping capabilities of the 960. So, if there are areas that you want the robovac to steer clear of, you can put up virtual wall barriers via your smartphone.
App and Smart Home Integration
One of the many things I look forward to a Roomba is the fully-featured iRobot Home app. A few taps on my iPhone is all I need to do so I could come home to a tidy house. The app allows me to:
- Start or end a cleaning session.
- Adjust the number of passes. You can choose between One, Two, and Automatic. On auto, the robovac will decide how many passes to make based on the size of your room.
- Choose between CLEAN Mode and SPOT Mode.
- Track accessory health. Maintenance is key with robovacs.
- View the cleaning history.
- View cleaning maps.
- View the digital map and real-time location of the robot.
- Create or cancel a scheduled cleaning cycle. The scheduling capability of this robovac is quite versatile, allowing you to set various times each day.
- Receive notifications.
- Send the robot back to its dock.
- The Roomba 960 has also given me the benefit of giving voice commands through Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant.
Roborock S4 vs. Roomba 960: Cleaning Performance
To make a fair assessment of the cleaning performance of the Roborock S4 vs. Roomba 960, I purposely littered the following on three different surfaces:
- 100 grams of sesame seeds
- 100 grams of corn flakes
- 100 grams of silver dust/li>
- 50 grams of cotton balls
- 50 grams of synthetic hair
Hard Floor Cleaning
I love how the Roborock S4 cleans in a regimented manner, moving from the hallway towards the living room in a Z-shaped cleaning pattern.
The Roborock S4 picked up 99% of the debris on the hardwood floor. The only slight issue I saw was a few debris that got left in the baseboard.
My daughter must have left an AAA battery lying around because I saw one in the dustbin. While this robovac is powerful enough to lift batteries and similar items, I advise that you pick up these objects before activating your bot. Otherwise, the robot could go haywire before you know it.
High-Pile Carpet Cleaning
The Roborock S4 isn’t an outstanding performer when it comes to high-pile carpets and plush rugs. Technically, the unit is marketed to handle thick carpets, but in my experience, I had some issues with that.
One thing I noticed right off the bat is the robovac’s climbing ability. This model can only climb up to 1.5 cm max, so it might not handle thick carpets.
Hard Floor Cleaning
Speed is a factor I usually pay close attention to, and I must say I was impressed with the ability of the Roomba 960 to drive around and locate dirt and debris.
The mapping and Dirt Detect™ features both help the robovac to memorize a specific pattern and determine the quickest path to eliminate debris. This combination, in addition to the patented brushes, makes the Roomba 960 a highly maneuverable robot vacuum cleaner.
Then again, the Roomba 960 is not a powerful robot vacuum, and that lack of power has shown up in the glitter collection evaluation. The robot left 70 to 80% of the glitter on the floor and tracked plenty of it around as it moved. Likewise, there was a wide strip of glitter along the walls despite the efforts of the edge-spinning brush.
On the bright side, the Roomba 960 is as good as more expensive Roombas when picking up larger debris from the surface of hard floors.
High-Pile Carpet Cleaning
The Roomba 960 showed an average performance in the high-pile carpet cleaning test. Nevertheless, its performance is still better compared to the Roborock S4. The robovac was able to clean up the sesame seeds, corn flakes, cotton balls, and hair at levels ranging from 80% to 90%. The robot also stalled out many times as it reached fluffy carpets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Roborock better than Roomba?
Does the Roomba 960 have Imprint®️ Link Technology?
Can the Roborock S4 mop?
The Roomba 960 utilizes advanced navigation, and it is a durable robot vacuum built to last. But after putting this Roomba through the test, I don’t think its performance justifies the price tag it carries. I prefer the cleaning performance of the Roborock S4, which is as solid as its navigation.
While the Roomba 960 has anti-tangle brushes, its hair pick-up isn’t as great as the Roborock S4 due to its low suction power. As a busy pet parent, I would rather untangle some pet hair in the axles rather than pick up clumps of hair that my robovac has failed to clean up.