Roomba iRobot Robotic Vacuum Cleaner Review Report

Roombas Robot Vacuum Cleaners

There are some things that you just want to believe in, intelligent life on other planets, hookers with a heart of gold, honest politicians, pure sportsmanship, but in the end, most intelligent people are rightly skeptical of these notions of wonderful human spirit and innovations. Still, something really good comes along often enough to keep us believing, so that when we become aware of their possibilities, we hope for the best, even if we wait skeptically to find out for sure.

One of these wonderful amazing inventions is the robotic vacuum cleaner. The idea of a robot vacuuming your rugs and cleaning your floors while you sit back and drink lemonade has been a fantasy of mankind since the invention of the floor vacuum cleaner itself. Of all the futuristic inventions on The Jetsons, none (except the flying car that folds up into a briefcase) was more coveted than Rosie the robot maid, a robot who not only vacuumed carpets, but cleaned the whole house, and cooked too!

The iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner will not clean your whole house, nor will it cook for you. It might, however, fit in a large briefcase.

What the Roomba robotic vacuum will do for you is clean your carpets and clean your rugs without complaining, and most importantly without any work from you.

It sounds too good to be true doesn't it?

Roomba reviews sound like Mac or PC reviews with most people chiming in with either, it can't be realistic, high-rated five-star review of Roombas, or with a it can't be that bad, low-rating one-star review of iRobot Roombas that makes you wonder why they even make them if they are really that bad. (Note: Roombas do break easily. Buying a refurbished Roomba to save money, might not be a good idea because you get a much shorter warranty.)

A true review of Roombas from an unbiased reviewer will come in somewhere in between. After all, this is reality, we are trying to clean up here.

Note: Roomba has a cousin also made by iRobot called Scooba which is essentially the same concept by for mopping floors instead of vacuuming them. They are not interchangeable.

Roomba Reviews Finding Unbiased Legitimate Reports

Unfortunately, Roomba has attracted a following of rapid devotees, as well as an equally rabid army of detractors. Throw in the mix a large swath of "reviewers" looking to drive traffic and ad-revenue to their websites by saying whatever they think will get the most clicks, and you've got a potentially great electronic gadget that is tough to get solid information on.

Here are some ways to spot bogus reviews, or reviews that are either based on limited or no real world experience with Roombas.

The first warning that a Roomba report is a phony review is that the reviewer provides no first-hand account of how the product works in their house. Legitimate reviews will almost always talk about how well the Roomba did or did not work in their own home. This will usually include a mention about what type of carpet or rug it was, and whatever problems if any it had.

Most bogus or otherwise biased reviews will provide no images or pictures except for the stock photography of a Roomba that can be found on any shopping website, like Amazon.com, or on the iRobot homepage itself. This is because they have never actually had their hands on the actual Roomba.

While this by itself does not mean the review is fake, it should be noted among other factors. Some reviewers simply do not bother to take their own images and upload them. However, if a reviewer has obviously spent a lot of time and effort on a review that seems very passionate, then one must ask why they wouldn't at least include a snapshot or two.

Lastly, the iRobot Roomba is a nice little gadget and it does provide a lot of value for the right kind of user and the right kind of applications, it is not a Utopian creation. That is, like most devices, there are things to find fault with, and things to be impressed by. If a reviewer does not mention a single good thing about the Roomba they are reviewer, or if they don't mention a single potential drawback, the review is undoubtedly biased.

Roomba Error Malfunctions on Dark Rugs

Dark border = Cliff Black Pattern = Random Freak Outs
Dark border = Cliff Black Pattern = Random Freak Outs

iRobot Roomba Review and Suggested Uses - The Real Story

Except for whatever AdSense ads might show up here automatically, there are no ad or affiliate links in this post except for the generic Amazon module included at the bottom of this post. No one paid me or asked me to write this Hub either. In other words, there is no incentive for anything but the truth to be included here.

Here are the facts regarding the two Roombas that have been owned and extensively used in our house. We have owned two Roombas.

The first robotic vacuum we bought was a Red Roomba purchased new. The second, and current robot vacuum is a Refurbished 535 Model with Lighthouse technology. So, are Roombas any good?

Let's start by getting this out of the way. A Roomba does not replace your regular vacuum. Just think about the physics for two seconds and you'll see why. The battery technology is just not there for a small portable vacuum cleaner to use 18 amps of power. Secondly, no matter how advanced it is, the amount of vacuum suction that can be created for any vacuum cleaner is constrained by how big of air chamber it has available. Neither of these factors works in the Roombas favor.

A Roomba will not clean a carpet or rug as deeply or thoroughly as a full-sized plug-in vacuum cleaner.

So why would anyone want a Roomba?

To answer that question, ask yourself how often you vacuum your rugs and carpets. Now ask yourself how often you should be vacuuming your carpets and rugs. If you are pulling out your regular vacuum and vacuuming the whole house on a regular schedule every 3 to 5 days, then you do not need a Roomba.

If, on the other hand, like most of us, your vacuuming goes a little bit more like every 8 to 10 days, or if there are rooms you just don't get to very often, or if you have dogs or cats that make it desirable to vacuum daily, then you should get a Roomba.

The Roomba vacuum does work. Just because it isn't as powerful as a full-sized vacuum doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile. In some cases, it works better than a big vacuum, underneath beds, couches, and dressers for example.

Also, since most people don't vacuum in an optimal fashion, the Roomba can actually clean up dust and dirt that your regular vacuum misses. Humans, will unintentionally clean the center of a room more than the areas around the center. Ironically, dust and dirt accumulates where there is the least amount of foot traffic which is around the edges. Since the Roomba's robot brain uses a pseudo-random pattern to drive around vacuuming, it will get the outer areas just as good as the inner ones. Furthermore, unlike the harried housewife or househusband frantically pushing the vacuum back and forth as fast as possible to "get it done" the Roomba moves methodically along at a pace that optimizes its ability to collect dirt and dust.

When a Roomba is done cleaning a room, there is inevitably a sizable amount of gray dust clumped in the storage compartment similar to lint from a dryer screen. This seems to occur regardless of how clean the rug seemed in the first place.

A few words about what the Roomba is not good for. Roombas are not for spot cleaning, even if they have that feature installed. There is simply no substitute for a human eye and going back and forth over the area until you are satisfied. Grab a Dustbuster or lightweight vacuum, or haul out the big guy to handle spills.

Lastly, all Roombas have one exceedingly annoying feature which could be a deal breaker for some buyers. Roombas have "cliff sensors" which keep them from falling down stairs. The folks at Roomba are very proud of these sensors and they cannot be turned off or deactivated. In fact, the robot vacuum will refuse to move if it feels that they are "dirty" and will tell you to clean them before it will do anything.

This would all be well and good except that the cliff sensors suck at differentiating between a drop off and black. That's right, a rug with a black border is viewed as a rug surrounded by a dangerous plunge. That means the Roomba will not drive over the edge of the rug to clean under the couch, or go into the dining room, no matter where you put your lighthouse.

What is worse, is that if you have a rug with black in the pattern, your Roomba will either work erratically, or not work at all depending upon when the Roomba determines that one of the little design patterns is a flight of stairs.

A simple mechanism to manually turn off the cliff sensors would solve the problem, but Roomba refuses to include one citing "safety." It is a classic case of a corporation that thinks it knows what its customers should want better than their customers know what they want. The irony is that a large majority of American houses have a layout that makes blocking off or otherwise securing the stairs very easy, while there is no way to change the coloring of a rug unless you are willing to buy a new rug just so your Roomba will work on it.

Most houses have just one set of stairs. Two staircases or less is the norm in over 90% of houses. In many houses with stairs, they are either, only accessible via a hallway, or a single room. In other words, a tiny bit of effort that is required for only 5% of the house's total square footage could keep the Roomba safe. But, apparently, Roomba would rather irritate everyone in America with a dark area rug or carpet rather than have a single Roomba fall down the stairs due to owner negligence.

In the end, Roombas are great for cleaning high-traffic areas or children's play areas, as well as for daily cleaning in homes where that is required. Also, a Roomba is a great way to keep a baby's room clean without having to figure out where to put baby while vacuuming, or trying to remember to time vacuuming to fit in with baby's schedule.

If the ability to vacuum easier and more often, while still pulling out the big vacuum every month or two sounds good to you, then get yourself a Roomba. You'll be happy enough with your purchase to be glad you did.



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Comments 6 comments

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Good, informative hub. My friend loves her Roomba!


Corinne 6 years ago

I love my Roomba!


Steve 5 years ago

To solve the problem with the roomba's inability to clean my black carpet (annoying!!!) I taped white paper over the sensors. I would have had no choice but to return it otherwise. Works great now. I agree that irobot should offer a better solution to this.


Carl 5 years ago

Enjoyed the article. Just received my Roomba 2 days ago and was beginning to believe it wouldn't clean one of my rugs because it's partially "black". Glad to see I'm not completely nuts. Going to try Steve's solution.


Carly 4 years ago

I really love my roomba. love that I can turn him on before guests come around and I can be working on other things. Always does a good job!


mbgphoto profile image

mbgphoto 2 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

I love my Roomba and since I use it every couple of days, I rarely have a need for pulling out my regular vacuum. I really think the Roomba is serving the purpose. I feel my floors and carpets are cleaner than ever.

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