iRobot Roomba 530 Vacuuming Robot Review
The vacuuming sections in big box stores have seen some massive changes over the last decade. A domain once reserved for standard uprights, canister-style vacuums, and handhelds, is being infiltrated by a new “alien technology.” The new era of supreme laziness has arrived ladies and gentlemen. Cleaning the carpet no longer has to be boring or even your concern. Leave the cleaning up to your robotic slave.
The Roomba 530 is the middle of the road entry in the fifth generation of iRobot vacuums. This new line fixes many of the problems seen in the previous models. Fringes that stopped fourth generation Roomba’s in its tracks pose no threat to the 530. It’s smarter, has an increased capacity dust-bin, longer battery life and cleans carpets more thoroughly.
Pressing the big round button on the top of the unit releases it from the dock. It looks like a giant hockey puck but operates more like a zamboni, to keep the sports analogy going. Two high-speed, counter-rotating brushes dislodge dirt and send it to the rear of the unit to be consumed by the dust-bin. It moves around the floor like a crab, slowing down when closing in on obstacles, then working around them. It also occasionally lightly bumps into objects, providing you with cheap laughs. Like a clumsy but lovable pet, it’s amusing to watch the Roomba in action.
Those new to robot vacuums need to keep in mind that the technology has improved drastically over the years but is still not without its quirks. The Roomba 530 seemingly sets a course that is completely random. It will dance around near your lampshade, crawl under the side table, venture near the television then come back to its place of origin. Certain it thinks much different than humans but it’s actually far from random. It works from a complex algorithm that tells it where to clean next. By the end of the cleaning cycle, it has evenly cleaned the majority of the areas in the room four to five times.
This little robot isn’t partially fast as it takes about 45 minutes to finish an average-sized room. This is no longer significant when you consider that the Roomba is best used when you are busy with other tasks. A perfect time to use it as in an example is when you are out in the garage working on your car, or lounging on the patio. The Roomba is very quiet compared to traditional vacuums but once the novelty has worn off, you’ll probably rather be elsewhere when it is working.
Although it lacks the scheduling features of its big brother, the Roomba 560, you can start up the vacuum before you leave for work. If all goes well it will return to its dock once the job is done to recharge the battery.
What it lacks in speed it makes up in thoroughness. Still, the Roomba has trouble with the very edges of the room so if you’re picky about cleanliness you’ll want to go over these sections with an upright from time to time.
Before you start leaving the house while it’s cleaning, some experimentation is required to get the most out of the 530. You’re first mission is to decide where to place the Virtual Walls which create an invisible boundary that the iRobot will not go beyond. Most likely you’ll want it to stick to rooms with carpeted floors. The second mission is to find the best place for the dock. If it isn’t placed in an optimal spot the Roomba will sometimes wander around endlessly and never find its way back to the dock, pathetically losing its power somewhere along the way.
To avoid tumbling to its death, the Roomba won’t go near stairs because of sensor technology. As this also means it can’t vacuum stairs, you’ll need to pull out the trusty upright to take care of steps.
Although not as solidly-built as the more expensive models, the 530 does a fine job for people that don’t use it excessively. The 530 is intended for use about once a week. The scheduling options found in the 560 were missed but at this price point it’s hard to complain. If you have pets and need to clean your carpets often the 530 isn’t a good choice. Get at least a 532 which includes special brushes specially designed for pet hair.