You will agree with me that there’s no conversation on robot vacuum cleaners that will end without the mention of Roomba. Whether you ask a friend or search online for robot vacuum cleaners, you will always find it.
It goes without saying that Roombas are the best robot cleaners in existence. Everyone will tell you that if you want a revolutionary vacuum cleaner for your floors, hardwood floors, carpets and pet hair go for the Roomba. Unfortunately, no one tells you exactly which one is best for what.
For this reason, we have compared the top 5 best iRobot robot vacuum cleaners in the market clearly highlighting where it performs best, the pros of each and also the cons. So, without further ado, let’s get down to business.
Comparison of Roomba models of 2018
1.Roomba 650 – AffordabilityThe Roomba 650 is among the most popular models in the market. I would say this is because of two reasons; it is cheap and has been around for quite some time. Personally, I have used it for over a year and I must say that its performance is impressive. It delivers quite some stellar performance just like some of the top vacuum cleaners in the 700 and 800 series only that it misses out when it comes to Smart connectivity.
One thing I like about this robot cleaner is its affordability and reliable raw power. It offers excellent cleaning on all floor types; tile, hardwood, vinyl and even carpet floors. Besides this, it cleans pet hair and pet messes like kitty litter. It also comes with several unique features including Dirt Detect and Edge sweeping, features you won’t find in the old 400 and 500 series models. For those with multi rooms, don’t worry, at least it comes with 1 Virtual Wall barrier. When it comes to price, it averages $385 with the lowest price being around $274. In as much as you may find cheaper options from ECOVACS, iLIFE and the likes, remember this is Roomba, the best vacuum robot brand in the market!
The major shortcoming is the fact that it lacks Wi-Fi. Considering we are moving towards a Smart Home, most people would rather go for the 690 which has been built with Wi-Fi and voice control. In addition to this, the Roomba 650 has a rather poor navigation system so if you have a high-traffic, it will get stuck a few times here and there.
2.Roomba 690 – Entry Level Smart Roomba
I traded the Roomba 650 I had for the newer 690 for only one reason; Wi-Fi. By that time, this was the hottest technologies in the scene so, to stay ahead of the game I had to cough up a few hundred bucks for it. It is very similar to the predecessor, the Roomba 650, in terms of features.
Regarding cleaning performance, there’s nothing new it offers compared to the Roomba 650. However, I must commend it for better suction power that ensures all the dirt and pet hair are vacuumed. Besides, this it has quite some good action on carpets. This makes it an all-round vacuum cleaner but still with a long way to go considering what the 900 series offers. I’d like to reckon its carpet cleaning as well as pick up of pet hair; it has better performance than the 650. The best thing about it is Wi-Fi and voice control. You can control your Roomba right from the Smartphone App or just tell Alexa what you want and it will oblige. This feature makes the Roomba a great purchase or even gift for those with mobility issues; you can clean the house without moving an inch.
However, there are a few things I’d like to point out. First, this Roomba still gets stuck in high-traffic rooms. Second, it often switched to Spot cleaning on the dark spots of my carpet. I understand the Dirt Detect perceives these spots as dirt.
3.Roomba 890 – EDITOR’S CHOICE
I find the Roomba 890 to be the best value for money. I have actually recommended it to several of my coworkers as well as family and none of them has disappointed. This robot represents real value for money because it blends all the features the expensive 900 series has save for the new navigation system and a few add-ons here and there. The good thing is that you will get it at around half the Roomba 980’s price.
Released together with the Roomba 690, this robot brings on board a few new features that make it 50% more efficient in cleaning compared to normal vacs. Having used the 650 and 690, I can fully attest to the 890’s superiority. Just as expected, it offers floor, carpet and pet hair cleaning. On carpets, the Gen 2 motor delivers 5x more suction power that pulls the smallest dirt particles and dust that hides in carpets. On the other hand, the new tangle-free brush system greatly reduces hair tangling, a common problem with the 650 and 690. It also has the more advanced Dirt Detect series II and high-efficiency filters that filter 99% of allergens. There’s also Wi-Fi and voice control. With all these features, you will get it for less than $500. This is very affordable bearing in mind the 960 costs $700 while the 980 retails at $900. Even if you venture into other brands, an equal of the 890 would be the ECOVACS R95 or Botvac Connected and they are all above $500.
My only problem with this model is that it doesn’t have entire level cleaning. Yes, it will go to the Home base for a recharge but won’t resume cleaning. Being a top Roomba in the 800 series, this feature was long overdue. Fortunately, the 960 and 980 have this function.
4.Roomba 960 – A Clever Choice
The 900 series is the epitome of the Roomba series but at very high prices. However, the lesser one, Roomba 960 is a clever choice. This is in light of the fact that it costs around $200 lesser than the 980, but of course with a price; it lacks Carpet Boost and has a shorter run time. What makes it still stand out is the fact that it has the envied iAdapt 2.0 with Local Visualization which is among the unique features the 900 series boasts.
The most prominent feature of the 960 is the iAdapt 2.0 navigation system that uses a camera for real-time navigation. Unlike the 650 and the 690, it rarely got stuck in the same room these two were getting waylaid like thrice a week. I didn’t notice any much difference from the 890 in terms of cleaning performance. It is, however, worthy to mention that the Roomba 960 has entire level cleaning as it resumes cleaning after recharging. This makes it a great choice if you have large floors that have to be cleaned on a daily basis. If you have pets too, the 960 will be a great purchase. The 5X air power and high-efficiency filters work the magic.
However, there are a few things I didn’t like apart from the high price tag. It has a runtime of around 75 minutes only. This is quite short for a $700 robot vacuum cleaner. Another thing, it offers average performance on carpets. So, if you have a carpet, just go for the 980 with Carpet Boost.
4.Roomba 980 – Unrivaled All-Round Performance
This is a big-time player in the industry and competes with other heavyweights like the Dyson 360 Eye. In as much as it is expensive, its performance is incomparable. It cleans all floors, carpets and even pet hair and dander. Besides, its navigation is superior and so it is in terms of Smart connectivity.
In one sentence, the Roomba 980 is a versatile vacuum cleaner. It has been built to tackle all the major household cleaning challenges that we face on a daily basis. First, it has been built to clean all floor types; tile, linoleum, vinyl and so on. One unique feature it brings on board is Carpet Boost. This mode is activated on carpets and rugs and delivers up to 10X more air power for maximum suctioning. When it comes to pet hair, it leaves none o the floor. It also reaches wall edges and under furniture – this is where most pet hair is blown to. So, whether carpet or pet hair, this Roomba has got you covered. The navigation is also superior as well as its Smart features. Besides Smartphone App compatibility, it produces Clean Map reports and advanced cleaning settings. Its runtime is also impressive; at slightly over two hours, it will cover a good floor area before it goes to the charging base. Fortunately, it has resume capabilities so you won’t be required to prompt it.
The only issue I have with this vacuum cleaner is its price. $900 is quite a heavy price tag for a floor cleaner only. Besides, it should have at least some other cleaning options like mopping.
The Roomba 890 directly gets this slot for obvious reasons that point to value for money. Remember, this is the prime model of the 800 series that has some of the reliable Roombas like the 870 and 880. For me, I find it a cheaper alternative to the pricey Roomba 960 and 980.
This vacuum cleaner packs the same cleaning system as the 900 series. It can handle all floor types, carpets, pet hair and even allergens. Even though it doesn’t have Carpet Boost like the 980, at least it has a more advanced motor that delivers 5x more air power that enhances deep carpet cleaning and pickup of pet hair. The navigation is quite advanced courtesy of some few tweaks and how it syncs with the CPU. Besides this, it is still Wi-Fi compatible and supports Alexa and Google Assistant. The best part about it is that it costs around $500 while the 980 costs $400 more.
Having used the 890 for quite some time now, I can attest to its reliability and durability. Mine is still in great shape and cleans so well up to date.
New vs. Refurbished Roomba
I know you must have come across a really cheap robot cleaner below the normal RRP such that you doubt the authenticity. Chances are high it is a refurbished Roomba. Refurbished Roombas are simply used and restored to ‘like new’ vacuum cleaners.
In the recent times, a lot of manufacturers including Apple refurbish their products and sell them at a subsidized price. Even though most people fear buying refurbished products, they are not as bad as most myths suggest. Personally, I have owned a refurbished iPhone 6, a refurbished Roomba 880, and several other refurbished merchandise and none of them have disappointed me so far. Perhaps the best thing about a refurbished Roomba is the fact that it is very cheap. If you are on a budget and you still want that expensive cleaner, check out for deals on refurbished Roombas. The good thing is that most of them come with a 90-day warranty.
Factors to Consider when Shopping for a Roomba
For many first time buyers, shopping for a robot vacuum cleaner may be quite a challenge. Others just get excited and end up just buying any other Roomba without addressing the pertinent issues on what a particular Roomba offers. Fortunately, we have made things easier by compiling and addressing several important questions that you should answer to arrive at a Roomba that will address all your cleaning needs. So, before paying for any Roomba, make sure you answer the following questions.
1. What is your floor type and size?
First, make sure you’re the Roomba you get will do a good job on the type of floor you have. The good thing about Roombas is that they have self-adjusting heads that adapt to the type of floor they are cleaning. However, performance still varies from one cleaner to the other. For example, the 650 and 690 work very well on hardwood, tile, linoleum and vinyl floors. However, they are not the best for carpets, not in terms of performance; it damages the fabric.
When it comes to size, it all goes down to runtime. For how long can it run on a single charge? What area will it have covered? If you have an average floor area, say 2,000 sq. ft., the 650, 690 and 890 would certainly do the job if there are no many obstacles. They can run for 45 – 60 minutes which is enough to clean an average house on a single charge. On the other hand, the 900 series can handle larger rooms; the 960 has a runtime of 75 minutes while the 980 can do 120 minutes.
However, in as much as battery runtime is a real concern, the verdict rests on what happens after recharging. All the Roombas have self-recharging, a feature that sends it back to Home base whenever the battery power goes down beyond certain limits. However, the 900 series has a new feature that is called resume function. Once the Roomba recharges, it will go back to finish cleaning from where it left. This makes the 960 and 980 best for large houses.
2. Do you have a carpet?
For those who have carpet floors, make sure you get the right Roomba for the job. A good vacuum cleaner for carpets should have high suction power to ensure it reaches in the deepest parts of the carpet fabric where most dirt hides. Besides this, the brushes should be very gentle on the fabric. The Roomba 650 and 690 have all been designed for carpet cleaning. If you have Saxon cut pile, textured cut pile, or uncut carpet pile, these two would be great as dirt doesn’t go deep in these carpets. Unfortunately, the 890 and 960 overshadow their performance courtesy of the 5x more air power that boosts vacuuming. But it’s the 980 that takes the crown of the best Roomba for carpets courtesy of the Carpet Boost mode that solely targets carpets. The hardest carpets to clean are the polypropylene carpets, polyester, and wool. The 980 cleans all of them with ease with the 10x more air power.
Also, note that the ground clearance of the carpet matters. Those with rugs understand what I mean here. If it’s too high, you will have some problem with transitioning. The 650, in particular, has problems climbing rugs because it perceives the edges as obstacles. The 690, on the other hand, will go over it but with a bit of a hassle. On the other hand, the 890, and 900 series have no problem with rugs.
3. Do you keep pets?
Many homes have pets and cleaning their pet hair and dander is the biggest worry. The good thing is that pet hair and dander is among the messes Roombas handle, but not all of them. So, if you heard somewhere that Roombas offer excellent pet hair cleaning, make sure you get the right Roomba for pet hair, not just any other Roomba. Just like in carpet cleaning, suction power is among the major dynamics here. For this reason, the 600 series will definitely not be the best even though they do clean pet messes. The 890 and 960 take center stage here because unlike carpets, the 5x more air power is just enough for sucking hair and fur. You don’t need the 10x the 980 has, it’s just a waste. Remember, these are not the only Roombas for pet hair, here’s a full review of the best pet hair Roombas.
Another important consideration here would be the type of brush used. Personally, I discredit the 650 and 690 when it comes to pet hair cleaning for a sole reason; tangling. Time and again, I had to clean the brushes to remove tangled hairs. The good thing about the 890 and 900 series is that they are tangle-free.
4. How is the traffic in your rooms?
Do you have a lot of furniture in the living room? Are there any obstacles on the paths? What’s the average ground clearance of most furniture? How are the doorways designed? Are there areas where you don’t want the robot to reach?
These are some of the questions you need to clearly sort out to get the best Roomba that won’t keep getting stuck every now and then. It is imperative to note that even though Roombas may have the same navigation system, accuracy and precision greatly varies. iRobot has so far developed two navigation systems for the Roomba series; iAdapt 1.0 and iAdapt 2.0.
All the models, save for the 900 series have this navigation system. However, after testing several cleaners all the way from the 400 series to the 800 series, I reckon the difference in performance. If you have a room with average traffic, iAdapt 1.0 will just be fine. The iRobot 650 and 690 can avoid obstacles and falls but get stuck at times. We recommend that just before it starts cleaning, at least remove some clutter on floors to make its work easier. I also have to mention certain flaws with these two vacs on carpets with dark spots and walls. It tends to mistake these spots for dirt or obstacles. This is because they use acoustic sensors only unlike Dirt Detect II that combines acoustic and optical sensors. They also hit walls leaving dark marks on them, especially white walls. When it comes to the 890, I noticed some difference in accuracy right in the same house and layout we tested the 650 and 690. While the 600 got stuck like 3 times in a week, the 890 only got stuck once. The 890 also slowed down rapidly when about to hit the wall. Even though there will be some contact, it won’t heavy enough to leave marks on the wall.
On the other hand, the 900 series has a more advanced navigation system, iAdapt 2.0 with Local Visualization. Besides the sensors, there is a camera on the top of the interface inclined at around 45 degrees. It takes images of common landmarks and processes them for a more refined grasp of how your house is. We tested both the 960 and 980 in the same room as the rest of the cleaners and their performance[/su_note] was exceptional. At no time did we find either of them stuck.
5. Are you keen on a Smart Home?
With the advancement of Smart technology, everyone is more inclined to make their homes Smart with the use of Smart appliances, robot vacuum cleaners included. Roombas come with several Smart features, but remember, not all Roombas.
If you want a Smart robot, go for the 690, 890 and 900 series. These are the only vacs in our review that have Wi-Fi and consequently, voice control. The Roomba 690 and 890 have Wi-Fi and support Alexa and Google Assistant. On the other hand, the 900 series offers more than this. The 960 has Clean Map reports that show you where the Roomba has cleaned while the 980 has Clean Maps and additional cleaning settings.
6. How long is the warranty?
What happens if your Roomba is delivered with a defect? What happens if it breaks down for reasons you can’t understand?
Be sure of the warranty terms, what it covers and most importantly, for how long. iRobot is a top brand so you shouldn’t worry much about aftersales service. The standard warranty is 1 year for the robot and 6 months for the battery with a new purchase. This warranty is quite important especially with batteries. There is a high chance of receiving a Roomba with a DOA battery that the robot itself. On the other hand, with refurbished Roombas, you get anything between a month and 90 days depending on the seller. However, what I don’t like is the fact that you will need to incur the costs of sending it back for repair.
7. What times do you clean?
This is another important question to ask yourself before buying any Roomba. This is specifically in relation to the noise it emits when working. While there are low noise-operation Roombas, other are very loud and won’t be the best if you like cleaning your house at night. If you clean your house after retiring to bed or you treasure your calm, then you should consider the noise the Roomba will emit when working.
If you want something quiet, the Roomba 650 is what you should go for. In as much as it lacks fancy features, it has a powerful motor that delivers raw power with minimal noise. If you want Wi-Fi, I’d recommend the Roomba 890 because, at 55dB, it is quite silent compared to the 980 that hits over 60dB when in Carpet Boost.
8. What is your budget
There’s one mistake a lot of shoppers make, failing to set their budget. Just like any other category, Roombas greatly vary in prices. From $300 to $900, you can get yourself one of these little helpers.
Before setting out for shopping, set a budget, for example, $500. Stick to this budget to avoid overspending. Personally, I wouldn’t say there’s little money; there’s something for everyone. With $500, I would get the Roomba 890 considering it offers the same performance as the 900 series save for the new navigation system. With $300, I would still get a good refurbished Roomba 650 and remain with some change. If I’m looking for performance and a little of the fancy stuff, I wouldn’t settle for anything lesser than the 9809, but then, it would set me back a whopping $900.
Please note that these prices fluctuate and many are times when you can find deals and discounts. For example, the Roomba 890 once sold at around $300 during Black Friday while the 960 dropped up to $550. Make sure you sign up for our instant deals alerts!
iRobot has already dominated the robot vacuum cleaners market and is expected to keep up the pace with more interesting technologies. So far so good, they have impressed with the Roomba series. This is it leads the conversation when it comes to robot vacuum cleaners. So, if you were looking for a good Roomba, set your budget and get any of the above Roombas and you won’t regret!