Best Robotic Vacuum Cleaners 2014
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Thanks to the rapid development of technology, then and again we witness that some gadget that was only a novelty a decade ago is on its way to becoming a key appliance of the modern household. Robotic vacuums are one great example of such progress. Indeed, these cute little machines have evolved into highly functional devices that will save you much time and energy that you can use to pursue your hobbies, attend to your family or devote to your work to increase your income. In any case, a decent robotic vacuum cleaner is an investment that will more than compensate itself with the convenience it brings to your life. This article is aimed to help you in finding the best robot vacuum. Below, you will find reviews of the best selling robot vacuums with impartial accounts on the pros and cons of various models. Having read through this page, you will have the information you need to decide for yourself the robot that will best serve your needs.
What to Look for in a Robot Vacuum
Robot vacuums often come with countless features and technologies. The things that a good robot vacuum should have can be classified in two.
Software: To be of any use, a robotic vacuum cleaner must have the brains to be able to travel to every point on your floor and come back to the service dock without issues. Robot vacuums by Neato and iRobot can fulfill this task. The difference between the two brands is iRobot does it in a more random manner while Neato bots scan the room with laser and sets an itinerary for itself. With that being said, iRobot's vacuum can actually sense dirt and do extra cleaning on dirty areas. This feature makes iRobot smarter.
Hardware: At least as important as the software is how good the bot can vacuum your floor. Vacuuming ability is a combination of several factors that include suction, vacuum and brush design and battery power. What I know about robot vacuums and thousands of customer reviews tell that iRobot rules in this category. iRobot's Roomba robotic vacuums are strong, efficient and well-built.
Let us now proceed to discuss the best selling robot vacuum models in detail.
Infinuvo Cleanmate Series and Infinuvo Hovo 510
Infinuvo finds a place in the best robot vacuums list because it enjoys decent sales although it is not even close to being a bestseller. The main reason for the sales is obviously the low price rather than quality.
The problems with Infinuvo robot vacuums are numerous. No robot vacuum should be expected to suck like a manual upright or canister vacuum but people agree that Infinuvo's suction is even weaker than other robots. Also, the algorithm that determines how the vacuum travels seems to be not very good because customers often complain it gets lost, starts drawing circles and does not cover the entire floor. Infunivo robot vacuums are reported to have an especially hard time getting back to the service dock. Too many people end up having to carry the robot back to the dock, which fails to recharge many a times. Finally, these robot vacuums easily get stuck when they run into carpets.
Infinuvo robot vacuums have an UV light feature to kill germs and a scent compartment to distribute nice odor around your house.
There are various models by Infinuvo. You see here, the three most popular ones. Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 Basic is one of the cheapest robotic vacuums ever. It has no homebase and must be manually plugged in to get recharged. That's not bad because recharge docks of Infunivo are not very good anyway. The QQ-2 LT is more expensive but has a homebase and a schedule feature. As for the Hovo 510, it is the newest robot vacuum from Infinuvo but the only thing it has that seems to differ is a virtual blocker that can be placed anywhere in the room to tell the robot not to pass a certain margin.
The conclusion: You get what you pay for. Infinuvo robot vacuums are very wallet-friendly but it looks like they barely do the job if at all. This brand is an option if you are on a budget and you desperately need a robot vacuum. I would check the better models below before I jumped on this one.
Neato XV, Neato Signature and Neato BotVac
Neato is the main competitor to the market leader iRobot. Its robots are not bad at all but they have to be improved somewhat if they are to be called the best robot vacuums.
There are a few features that make Neato vacuums appealing for customers. First, it is square shaped on one side, which people assume makes it better for vacuuming the corners of the room. Next, it scans the room with a laser sensor before it starts vacuuming so it basically knows where it is going and travels in straight lines rather than wandering around randomly. Finally, Neato bots are able to remember where it stopped cleaning so if it runs out of battery in the middle of its session, it can go back to the dock, recharge and resume where it left. This third feature does make a difference in Neato's favor.
Neato bots come with magnetic strips that you can lay down where you don't want the robot to pass. Basically, they function as barriers to keep the thing in a target area.
The reason for my reservation about Neato is the frequent complaints by customers. No less than 10 percent of people who reviewed Neato robot vacuums have reported about the device breaking down in the first few months. This is not the kind of user experience you should get from a several hundred dollars item. Customer service is also said to be not that helpful. Phone calls and e-mails to company go unanswered, you can be asked to pay for shipment when you get a defective unit and sometimes even the replacement units fail to work.
The customer reviews also reveal that Neato robots don't vacuum as strongly as iRobot's Roombas and Neato batteries don't last as long as iRobot batteries do. Neato bots are also loud although the issue is said to be addressed in the latest BotVac model. Finally, Neato vacuums' bins don't hold as much dust as Roomba and sometimes can fill up before it is done cleaning your whole home.
With all the cons listed, Neato vacuums are not as costly as iRobot and are able to do the job most of the time. There are two popular robots from this brand: Neato XV 21 and Neato Signature Pro. According to Neato, the Signature vacuums are stronger and more efficient but concerning user experience, there are too many reports that they are almost the same in function.
Neato released its latest robot called the BotVac in April 2014. The known improvements are the use of more advanced side and main brushes that are supposed to collect dust more efficiently. We are yet to see reports about real life user experience with this new model. What we know is it has not received a fraction of the public attention iRobot's Roomba 880 robot vacuum did. In any case, product durability and customer support are still there as things Neato has to improve to catch up with iRobot.
iRobot Roomba 600 Series
iRobot company was originally founded to build robots for the military. They started producing robot vacuums in 2002 and are now the leading brand in this market. iRobot Roomba 600 Series was released in 2012 to supercede the older 500 series, which had become too outmoded. These are not the very best of iRobot but they provide an economic choice with the basic features found in all Roombas.
One of the features that is found in all Roombas and makes iRobot the top robot vacuum manufacturer is the three stage cleaning method that goes like this: The side brush pushes the dirt towards the main brushes, the two reverse sliding main brushes catch the debris and the powerful vacuum sucks it in.
Another interesting thing about the Roomba vacuums is that they can actually detect dirty areas and spend more time vacuuming them. Roomba 630 and Roomba 650 do that with acoustic means while higher models are equipped with more advanced detectors and software to do the job. This ability allows the robot to clean more like a human would.
Roombas also have what is called the Virtual Wall. This is basically a small electronic device that comes with your robot and creates a barrier of infrared beam that the robot can sense. It is used to prevent the Roomba from wandering off to places it is not supposed to go. We've said that Neato does this with magnetic tapes. Some people like the virtual wall while others think tapes are better. The virtual seems easier to use and less intrusive to me.
These features sound great enough but real life user experience is more of an indicator for a decent product. Well, having sifted through hundreds of actual customer reviews, I can conclude that Roombas are better than other robots at cleaning the floor and vacuuming dust and debris. People who have had the chance to compare Roombas with other robots verify that Roombas have stronger suction, longer battery life and larger bin capacity. While some people continue to be fascinated by the more complicated travelling pattern of Neato bots, most customers and I think that iRobot offers a more useful blend of features that allow the robot to vacuum efficiently as it covers your floor.
There are two models in the 600 series that are quite similar to each other. They are named Roomba 630 and Roomba 650. My choice would be 650. While the only extra feature Roomba 650 has over Roomba 630 is scheduled cleaning ability, that is indeed a very important thing you should not miss when buying a robotic vacuum.
With Roomba 600 Series, you will be getting the Roomba quality that comes in the form of optimized software and powerful and efficient cleaning ability at a decent price. However, you should remember that the 600 series misses some of the key technologies found in the higher Roomba models, such as Dirt Detect II, HEPA filters, Full Bin Indicator and Persistent Pass Cleaning Method. I have no doubt that Roomba 650 is great robot but I also know that when investing in a high-tech item such as bot vac, it is best not to be frugal so that you can enjoy the full benefits of the device and it serves you for a longer time before its technology becomes completely obselete and requires replacement. That is why I advise you to check out the Roomba 780 and the Roomba 880 models reviewed below before you make your final decision.
iRobot Roomba 700 Series
iRobot Roomba 700 Series bots have been around for a few years now and they've consistently been filling the first few slots on the best seller list. Rated very high by customers, they were known as the top robot vacuums until iRobot released Roomba 880 in 2014. The 700 Series is still great as a cost effective choice because the price is better than 880 and they come with important features that the 600 series lack.
One of the things that make 700 series better than the lesser Roombas is the dual HEPA filter. By filtering out particles as small as 0.3 microns, these robots will release fresher air into your house. That's especially important if you have allergies. Model 770 and above also have a full bin indicator. Knowing when you have to empty the bin makes things a lot easier.
We have seen a key feature that makes iRobot the market leader is the Dirt Detect technology. In 700 series, iRobot further enhances this feature by introducing what is called the Dirt Detect Series II. That means, in addition to the acoustic sensors found in all Roombas, 770 and 780 models have optical sensors that allow them to detect both hard and soft dirt particles. This way, the robots are much better at finding and cleaning the dirty spots. Sometimes the product descriptions can be consfusing so what you have to remember is only Roomba 770 and 780 models have the Dirt Detect II technology while Roomba 760 is limited to Dirt Detect I.
Being better at finding the dirtier spots, Roomba 700 series vacuums are also programmed to put even more effort into cleaning these problematic areas. This is done with what iRobot has named the Persistent Pass Method, a back and forth movement that mimics what a real person would do on a dirty area.
Another interesting stuff that comes with Roomba 700 series is the Virtual Wall Lighthouse. This works similar to a virtual wall but it lets the Roomba go into the next room once the first room is done. That's a key improvement for vacuuming floors with multiple rooms. Lighthouses are compatible with Roomba 780 and above.
In conclusion, Roomba 700 series come with some ground-breaking improvements that make them way better than 600 series and below. They get a very high overall rating from customers and there are next to zero complaints about these robotic vacuums breaking down or failing to vacuum stuff or to find its way around. By getting either the 770 or the 780 model, you are sure to enjoy the true benefits of having a robotic vacuum cleaner in your home. Roomba 770 is currently the second best selling robot vacuum because it offers all the key features of 700 series at a decent price. I recommend the 770 model as a cost effective choice. However, 770 does not have virtual lighthouses and is not as good as Roomba 780 for cleaning multiple rooms. If multi-room cleaning is important for you, Roomba 780 is the recommended choice. Roomba 790, on the other hand, has minor improvements over the others and is just too expensive for what it offers.
iRobot Roomba 880
Released in late 2013, iRobot Roomba 880 is currently the best robotic vacuum cleaner. It has rapidly risen to the top position in sales and is receiving excellent reviews from customers. I do not know of even a single person who bought this bot and was less than amazed with what it does.
Roomba 880 has all the state-of-the-art stuff that was found in the 700 series including Dirt Detect II, Persistent Pass, HEPA filters, virtual lighhouses and everything else we've seen so far. Roomba 880 takes the best product badge by improving on the 700 series in three aspects: a more efficient vacuum engine, ground-breaking debris extractors, better battery. Let us now discuss each of these in some detail.
Roomba 880 has a smaller and more efficient vacuum engine that sucks up to 5 times faster according iRobot. This is coupled with what is called Airflow Accelerator. That's basically a narrow entry sealed well with gaskets that concentrates the vacuum power and forces the incoming air to move very fast. The result is a vacuuming mechanism that sucks 50% more dirt and yet takes less space. The space saved has been allocated to a 60% larger dust bin. All these new features come together to allow Roomba 880 to collect more debris, finish the job quicker and require you to empty the bin less often.
A common problem with all robotic vacuums is when they come across long strands of hair, their brushes often end up wrapped with it and you have to clean the brushes and perhaps use scissors. Roomba 880 overcomes this issue with the removal of the brushes and the introduction of two tangle-free extractors that break down the debris and push it into the vacuum entrance. Turning in reverse directions these rough plastic extractors make Roomba 880 clean better and free you from servicing the robot every now and then.
Finally, the new Roomba comes with an iRobot XLife Extended Life Battery that survives twice as long as the older Roomba batteries do before you need to replace it. The new battery does not take more charge than other batteries but iRobot Roomba 880 is still much less likely to run out of charge in the middle of something because it cleans faster than all other bots.
To sum up, iRobot's latest Roomba is the best robot vacuum on the market. The 880 is sort of killing the competition as it has become the best selling robot vac weeks after its release and absolutely nobody has come up with a complaint so far. If you are going to invest in a high-tech device namely a robot vacuum, I advise you to get the most advanced item that is certain to do the job rather than risk wasting your time and money on outdated or inferior robots.