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on 21 June 2010
If you think this is going to be the end of all vacuuming forever more then I am afraid you are likely to be disappointed. It's not just the price tag that marks this out as a toy for rich people, it is also the fact that it most likes to deal with large open rooms with minimalist furniture. If you live in a poky wee flat with lots of odds and ends of corners then you are still going to need to take the manual vacuum round to catch anywhere that is smaller than the diameter of the Roomba. Which is a lot of spaces! It also asks you to place the docking base against an open wall where it can "see" it from anywhere in the room. I don't have any walls like that, I have these things called furniture!

But then again it does do an awful lot of work for you. You just trap it in a room and let it do as it will. It's a bit of an idiot if you want it to vacuum somewhere specific, you will find yourself yelling "go forward you idiot" but if you leave it alone it will eventually give the room good coverage. It genuinely doesn't fall off the top of the stairs, though it certainly gives you a good scare.

If, like me, you are considering this because you are disabled then it's fantastic. You can poke the buttons with a long reacher and off it goes on its own while you have a lie down. It is not overly heavy and it will sit on the footplate of a stairlift so you can get it all around the house. If you line it up right with the top of the stairs you can even encourage it to get on the lift by itself!

But because of this obvious elderly and disabled marketplace there are a few important alterations I would make to it. First of all I'd include the remote rather than have it an optional accessory, but even if you buy the accessory it's missing a "follow me" button. You don't always want to clean every room in the house just to get a tiny bit, and not all of us can pick it up and haul it to the room that needs work, so a button that you could press down by RF connection (i.e. through walls, not line of sight like the current remote) to bring it from where it is to where you are would be so useful, or a line of sight button you can press and hold and it will just keep coming with you like a puppy on a lead. I'd also make the dust compartment less awkward to empty, if you have trouble with strength in your hands then by the time you get this off you will deposit the contents right back on the floor again! You have to squeeze with your hands and then pull, a motion not easy for those with arthritis.

The side spinning brush is a mixed blessing. If you have long hair then you might spend a lot of time disentangling it from this brush. It also agitates little dust piles on a hard floor and blows them around so it's much harder for them to end up inside the vacuum cleaner.

It could be made to fully replace other vacuum cleaners if there were a button to make it stay still and a small pull-out or push-on attachment to clean into the nooks and crannies, but until then you still need two vacuums, and at this price that's not so easy to maintain.
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on 25 March 2013
I first saw this product on the TV series Breaking Bad, Jessie, a single guy and a bit of a party animal had one. I now know why. I am single and not in the same party league as Jessie but I do hate domestic chores. I did do extensive "web" research on this product as none of my friends have ever admitted to owning one.

Most comments did say do not get rid of your conventional vacuum .... true! You need your conventional vacuum for touching up or getting to areas the Roomba can't (stairs etc). I used the conventional vacuum to get at particularly neglected areas 'before" I scheduled the Roomba to do its thing. It now vacuums my floor 5 times a week (5 times more than I used to do it) whilst I am at work and it does a very good job. I do not have a deep "pile" carpet it is more like "office" carpeting and tiled areas which seems to be perfect for the Roomba. I empty it's bin twice a week. First time I used it I emptied it more regularly (as the floors were dirtier). I also clean the rollers etc every week (takes ten minutes). I don't have pets so animal hair is not an issue in my place.

If you are not a domestic god/godess then seriously consider this product ... some of the best money I have ever spent.
It does appear to be well built and sturdy, although time will tell. I will post any problems that may arise. If you follow the instructions I don't foresee any problems. It comes with a "lighthouse" that stops it entering areas you don't want it to. It also comes with a spare filter and brush/roller cleaner. It functions as a "bumpbot" but this is not anything to worry about as the sensors slow it right down before it touches the obstacle with its bumper/sensor.

It does not tangle on wires although it will move them out of place, so it is best to lift them out of its path or arrange them off the floor.

As said ... brilliant product for someone who hates to waste time vacuuming. No I haven't given it a name!
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on 4 March 2013
i have had cheaper robot hoovers, This works great and does the job. It is perfect for the laminate floors and short pile carpets
it does not go back to charge when on low battery.
does not like long hair.

a remote would be very handy
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on 6 April 2012
I cannot recommend this enough! I had looked at these about a year ago and reactions seemed mixed but after reading mostly glowing reviews on the 555 model I took the plunge. We used to have a cleaner at £20 a week (but had to stop due to cut backs!) so although pricey i'd say worth equivalent of 12 weeks cleaner pay for something that I hope will last a few years if looked after well.
We have a dog and two kids under 3 and we both work so our floors were constantly covered in hair, fluff and god knows what.
Wall-e (yes the 2year old named him!) is wonderful. Fascinating to watch. The 1 year old crawls around following him around. The dog seems not bothered now he is used to it.
You do need to empty the box each day but I don't find that a chore at all, strangely I find it very pleasing to see how much he has picked up (whilst I've been at work!). I used to hate changing hoover bags so much prefer this.
The one job he was not able to do was tackle a black shaggy ikea rug we had in our lounge. I don't know if this is because the carpet was too deep or because it was black but he just refused to move when out on it so we've just got rid of it.. Now the carpet looks so much better we don't really need it anyway. We also have black slate floor in our kitchen and wondered if that would be a problem but he does a grand job on that. He gets places my Hoover never could, like under beds and chairs. I just love him!!
My carpets and floors look unbelievable compared to when we had to Hoover and never had time and the tumbleweeds of dog hair that used to drift around are gone completely. I love to press the big clean button just as I walk out the door and know that he'll be back safely in his dock recharging when I get back. Now I just need one that cleans the kitchen for me...
Buy it and I doubt you'll regret it.
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on 25 April 2012
I've owned the Roomba 555 for over four months now. I delayed writing a review because I wanted to see how reliable it was.
I bought the Roomba when I was recovered from a bad bout of flu and hadn't been well enough to vacuum for six weeks. I was desperate. With a lot of small rooms, fairly crowded with furniture, I didn't expect it to do much other than clean the centre of the rooms. In fact, the cunning side brush meant it was surprisingly good along skirting boards and around furniture. I move the odd item, like wastepaper baskets on to settees, and just let it loose. There are only a couple of spots it can't reach, like behind the toilet, and of course it can't do the stairs.
Initially, it needed its brushes cleaning a lot, but that stopped after it caught up with the cleaning backlog. It's pretty reliable at tracking down its docking station to plug itself in to recharge power,even when working its way round several rooms. Since I'm paranoid, I normally pop something across the top of the stairs when it vacuums upstairs rather than trusting the sensor, but the couple of times I forget it didn't plummet over the edge. I haven't bothered trying the timer since I usually run it when I'm in.
It cleans well on ceramic floor tiles, thin carpet tiles, and thick pile carpet, and seems to have cheered up the rather flattened pile of the hall carpet. It takes its time doing several circuits of a room before declaring it clean, but time is no issue when you don't have to stay and watch it except for entertainment value. It's quite amusing when it spots a dirty spot, the blue light flashes, and it does an extra circle to clean up.
I empty it every time I use it, because it only takes two seconds to tip out the dust. That's very quick and easy, which is important because house dust isn't good for me. I've bought spare filters and side brushes but haven't needed to use them yet.
I always make sure it's fully charged after use. If its two weeks since it was last used it seems to have lost a little of the charge, but a week seems to be fine.
If anything, the carpet is cleaner than when I used a conventional vacuum cleaner. I've given up using the old vacuum cleaners, and just bought a small handheld vacuum cleaner to do the stairs and behind the toilet.

A quick update on this. I've now been using it for about ten months. Still fine. Only changed the filter once.

Another update. Still working fine after four years.
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on 26 December 2012
I was lucky enough to 'borrow' a Roomba 555 for a week to try before I bought one myself. This little robot happily vacuums through the house first thing in the morning and I come home from work every day and know that the whole of my downstairs has been spotlessly vacuumed. The roomba travels between rooms easily, including managing to negotiate the door thresholds between rooms with no problems. Because I have to leave the doors open to allow the roomba freeflow through the house, it is important to remember that floor behind those doors doesn't get vacuumed and because my house is all laminate or ceramic tiles flooring dust balls do seem to collect behind the doors. This is not a problem as I just use a dustpan and brush in those areas each day and ensure the roomba has access to those areas a couple of times a week.

Two or three times a week I take the roomba upstairs and allow it to roam and clean the bedroom floors. Again, it manages to run around the whole area with no problems.

I've had roomba for six months now - I wanted to wait before writing a review to be confident that my positive views of this item didn't diminish and it didn't turn out to be a 'fad'. I love roomba and can honestly say it has made a massive difference to my daily routine. I still need a standard vacuum cleaner (for cleaning the stairs, running round the tops of doors and the ceilings to get the odd cobweb etc).

The price initially seems expensive, but when compared to other quality vacuum cleaners it is very reasonable, and the roomba does a far better job of cleaning - not because it is any better but because it does a more thorough job of vacuuming that I ever did operating a Dyson.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Roomba 555.
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on 16 February 2012
I now have a small collection of gadgets, countable on the fingers of one hand, that leave me thinking 'What a brilliant little device, why didn't I buy one of these before?'. The iRobot Roomba falls into that category.

It's not a substitute for a traditional vacuum cleaner (eg it doesn't clean the stairs) but anything that cleans 80% of the floor and doesn't answer back is OK by me.

Things got off to a bad start when it arrived with a faulty power unit. The iRobot's support guy said it needed to be charged until the green light came on. After 72 hours the light was still amber so I sent it back and they replaced the power unit.

It has some shortcomings but I can live with them. The user manual states that its docking unit needs to be within range, but I find the iRobot leaves about a two-foot radius around the unit which it won't enter except to re-dock when finished (solution: I remove the docking unit while it's cleaning).

Unfortunately I have pieces of heavy furniture in most rooms that are just at the height the iRobot gets stuck under. I tried ramping up the bed onto a box but it then got stuck under the wheels of the bed.

The device has a radio button sitting prominently about a centimetre above the main unit but the motion-detection functionality doesn't cover it. Unless I find a solution, it's only a matter of time before it breaks off when colliding with furniture.

It's not as thorough as I was expecting. Sometimes I have to run it twice to do a good job. It doesn't clean into corners; the main brush doesn't reach the edges of a room (it relies on a spinning wheel to flick gravel into the path of the brush) but it does at least as good a job as I'd do, so I'm not complaining.
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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 ;)
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on 4 March 2010
Was a little sceptical at first but now completely won over by the Roomba. We live in a 3 storey house and the Dyson hasn't come out of the cupboard once since this purchase - you can sit for hours watching it work its way through the room. Practically speaking you do need to prepare the room as with any vacuum cleaner, i.e. remove smaller items from the floor, get cables out of harms way. The Roomba is quite powerful working from surface to surface, can easily scale a couple of centimeters, a little like a minature dune buggy which very occasionally gets it into trouble but have been pleasantly surprised about how seldomly it gets stuck - it is great to return home after leaving it to run around and coming home to find it retired safely to the docking station. The cleaning quality is really impressive - carpets look almost like new when done, much improved on a regular cleaner - maybe that was just my laziness with the Dyson but that's kind of the point with this! Only concern would be around the technical support. The warranty documentation that comes with the product is provided by a company that is no longer trading and apparently the unit needs to be returned to Sweden for repair if it does break down - very much hoping that never happens.
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on 6 April 2012
I had been looking at these robots for a number of months, wondering if they could possibly live up to their claims. Well if your wondering the same let me assure you they do.

we have a Dyson canister pet model that's a year old, which was bought because we have a long haired cat. said cat is loved dearly but leaves his hair everywhere. I can hoover one day and return the next to find hair balls in every room. the Dyson is a good hoover the best ive owned. but the Roomba blows it away in getting pet hair off our carpets and i don't have to do any of the hard work either.

my biggest worry was if it did a good job. which it does btw it manages to clean all of the upstairs once a day and i move it down stairs to do the next day. my second worry was if it would really not kill its self on the stairs, which is why ive held off a few weeks before reviewing it. its still alive and ive watched it many times now stop at the top of the stairs and turn round.

this is not a vacuum cleaner btw that's misleading. its more a carpet brush like the ones you pushed back and forth for the sixty's. but dont let that put you off. it does a better job than the dyson does.

the one down side is keeping the brushes clear of hair build up which slow it down and i guess could damage it. alot of reviews have said this needs to be down along with emptying the dust compartment after each clean. but ive been getting away with doing it every few days but im sure most would manage once a week.

its wont do the stairs and it wont clean the spider webs from the ceilings but weve had it about a month now and ive not used the dyson once since getting it

in short if your on the fence. try it you wont be disappointed
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