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It's a promising product, but don't get too excited!
on 27 October 2010
I've watched iRobot evolve Roomba over the past couple of years, but after having read many reviews all over the internet, I still could not really imagine what Roomba can actually do, so with my fingers crossed I chose this 555 model, thinking that I hit the right balance between value and money. What follows is my experience after the first time I used Roomba to clean my house. It's best I think to provide a plus/minus list and then my verdict:
On the plus side, Roomba:
+ actually works! My worst fear was that Roomba is just an expensive toy, with no real use. Well, it did collect much of the dust around.
+ has a decent battery. After initial charge, Roomba was able to clean almost my entire house (about 100 sqm) which was above expectations. Let's hope this battery has a long life too.
+ covers the entire surface and will pass from the same spot multiple times, so don't worry if there's something left behind after one pass
+ its noise when cleaning is lower compared to a traditional device (but no, you cannot clean on midnight), but then Roomba is weaker, so this is expected.
+ looks futuristic and while you watch it clean, you think that someday this will be norm.
However, this generation of Roomba
- cannot replace traditional vacuum cleaners. You have to move around furniture so Roomba has less obstacles to confront and yet dust will be left in corners and other "difficult" spots. Actually, I'd really like to see a square-shaped model of Roomba, since the round shape doesn't help at all with corner cleaning. My advice is to watch Roomba the first time it cleans a room, so you know how it behaves (which spots cannot reach and what furniture obstruct its way). For example, Roomba did not fell of the stairs in my house, but it stuck there, calling for help...
- there is always the hassle of maintenance after every use (according to manual) and you can get yourself really dirty cleaning Roomba. That never happens with a traditional vacuum cleaner. Roomba definitely needs an improved dust bin that is disposable when it's full.
- using Roomba can get expensive since it requires regular filter and brushes change. Will see how that goes...
- It's detector is not that accurate. Against walls and solid furniture Roomba will slow down as it approaches, but sometimes it thinks it can go under some piece of furniture and it will crash against it full speed. I did not notice any damage to furniture or Roomba, but still it could do better at detecting the height of an object (I observed that happens more often with dark colored furniture).
Verdict: Roomba is a glimpse into the future, but right now it is useful only to those people that due to physical inability cannot take care of their house cleaning. Everybody else will eventually need to use a more traditional vacuum cleaner, after Roomba has finished its job. And using Roomba will only add time and hassle that no-one needs. Maybe I will use it for the in-between "light cleaning" or sell it. Finally, I have to admit that Roomba satisfied neither my bank account nor my house floors. Just my curiosity ;)