Product Type: iRobot vacuums
Newest Review: ... so I do these properly when I use the vacuum. Emptying the dust and cleaning the brushes, which needs to be done each time, couldn't be... more
What a fantastic little machine!
iRobot Roomba 530
Member Name: ceanothus
iRobot Roomba 530
Advantages: Cleaning without the effort and amusing too
Disadvantages: None. Really, none.
I'm the very proud owner of a Roomba 530, and I have to tell you it's just fabulous! I was very sceptical, but I am totally converted and would recommend this little gadget to anyone.
Firstly, the Roomba is only small. About the size of a large dinner plate and only 4" high. It comes with a little docking station, to recharge the internal battery, and a lighthouse (more about that later). It's quite a heavy little thing, seems well built and looks extremely cute.
Everyone I know has a 'pet name' for their Roomba, it is very tempting to give yours a personality and think of it like a member of the family (!), but I'll try to stick to the point ......
It's quite simple. I already own some of the most technically advanced, expensive and well engineered vacuum cleaners available on the market today. But they all have the same problem - someone needs to stand behind them and push! The Roomba has quite transformed our household. You take it to the place you want cleaned, set it down on the floor, press the 'clean' button and off it goes. It beetles around the entire room, intelligently learning about the dimensions as it goes. The owner's manual claims it will cover the whole area about 4 times in the course of cleaning, and I can believe it.
It basically runs around on its little wheels, using a combination of brushes and vacuum to pick up dust, hair and small debris. It can circle, change direction and reverse. It has a main set of brushes underneath the body. An additional edge cleaning brush sweeps debris underneath the machine ready to be picked up by the main brushes. It carries a small slide-out waste collection bin that needs to be emptied after each clean.
It's extremely intelligent, with an array of sensors to guide it. There's a spring loaded bumper all round the front so it will gently touch against furniture without damage. As it approaches an obstruction, you can see it slowing down. Once it has nudged up against the object it will beetle off happily in another direction.
It also has a very clever 'cliff sensor' - as soon as it can't 'see' floor underneath the sensor, it will stop and reverse. So, it doesn't throw itself over doorsteps or fall down the stairs. Now I was very nervous when first testing this feature, but truly Roomba will not fall downstairs and I've completely relaxed :-)
It comes complete with a 'lighthouse' - a little pod about the size of a PC speaker that is battery powered. Switch on the lighthouse and it emits a signal that Roomba won't cross through. So for example if you want Roomba to stay in a certain room, place the lighthouse in the doorway of the room to confine Roomba there.
The Roomba has a selection of voice messages, beeps and lights to communicate with you. If there's anything wrong, it will beep and 'tell' you what it needs, for example 'please clean Roomba's brushes' . It also makes happy noises when it has completed its cleaning task and when it has docked successfully. It makes sad 'uh-oh' beeps when something is wrong! Bless.
When Roomba has finished its cleaning task, the 'dock' light will flash and it will try to find its way back to the docking station. When it has locked onto the docking station signal it will line itself up, sit on its charging station and play a happy little noise.
As you can probably tell, I'm totally charmed by Roomba, but quite honestly it's not a gimmick. While it's not the most powerful vacuum in the world, it cleans every day, gently and without effort. I believe it keeps the carpets cleaner than being battered by a full size vacuum two or three times a week, because the dust is being lifted every day. It copes with carpets, tiles and laminate equally easily and will happily clean rugs without mangling the edges.
Bad points: There's nothing really awful about owning a Roomba. It will not cope with extremely messy carpets or large pieces of debris. You also need to clean the brushes regularly (the brush cleaner provided with the Roomba is fab) and empty the collection bin after each cycle. The only consumables are the filter and replacement brushes, there's no bag to change.
Battery life could be better - if you have a large house or complicated room layouts, forget the spiel about leaving it to vacuum the whole house while you go out to work, it just won't happen. In a small flat, it would cope fine. It's a bit noisy while it's working, personally it doesn't bother me but I tend to put it to work in an empty room while I'm off doing something elsewhere. If you own a Roomba, you will soon get used to any areas where it gets stuck (e.g. we have one radiator that it can go under but not get out of, and it often shuts itself in the bathroom !!)
Good points: Too numerous to mention! Apart from the obvious advantage of doing the cleaning for you, it's also extremely amusing to watch, your guests will all want to kidnap it and take it home with them, and you have a clean house with very little effort. It also cleans right to the edges and can go underneath sofas, beds and numerous places that the vacuum cleaner can't.
Long term reliability? Don't know, but to be honest I'm not remotely concerned. It has a full 12 month guarantee. If at the end of 12 months it disintegrates into a pile of springs and microchips, I would rush out and buy another straight away. Why? Because based on a purchase cost of just over £200, £4 per week for a clean house feels like great value for money for someone who doesn't like vacuuming :-)
Summary: The absolute best £200 I've spent this year. Every home should have one.
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