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iRobot Roomba Pet Series 532 Vacuum Cleaning Robot Review

Updated on March 26, 2015

Dog and cat breeds that shed heavily make vacuuming a seemingly never-ending chore. Right when you think Mr. Whiskers’ furballs have all been sucked up with the upright, another two pop up within hours after cleaning.

If anyone needs a robotic vacuum to clean up the house, it’s a pet owner. The folks at iRobot have caught on to the overwhelming demand and special requirements of this segment, aiming to calm the aggravation of animal lovers everywhere.

iRobot has revised two of their most popular models for households with pets that typically have much larger amounts of debris due to shedding. On the high-end, there is the Roomba 562 which is based on the flagship 560. The 532 borrows from the success of the 530 which has been a hit with budget-conscious shoppers.

The Roomba 532 is the same unit as the 530 plus few new accessories. An extra set of easy-to-clean brushes specially made for dislodging pet hair have been added to the box. Also included are two interchangeable cleaning bins. The High Capacity Sweeper Bin has three times the capacity of the other bin and is suggested for use on high-traffic areas of the floor that get especially dirty. The smaller Vacuuming Debris Bin is adequate for regular maintenance.

Pressing the big button on the top of the unit initiates a vacuuming session. Some owners think of the Roomba as a pet within itself because it moves around and sometimes behaves in an animal-like fashion. Firstly, it can be a touch on the clumsy and sporadic side. For the most part it will sense obstacles and slow down when it approaches it. When it succeeds you’ll be impressed by how clever it is. When it gets confused, it will come off like a drunken, half-blind hobo.

Vacuum robots like this are far cleverer today than a decade ago, but don’t expect it to start a plot to overthrough the human race. It acts according to input from the environment but cannot think, much like an insect. In fact, the algorithm that determines its movements was adapted from MIT research on the efficient coverage behaviors of foraging insects. It appears to move around randomly but in actuality the Roomba follows incredibly complex patterns. Once the cleaning cycle is over, each area of the carpet has been covered three to five times. That’s pretty thorough, which is good when pet hair has taken over your living room.

Cute but not fun to clean up after.
Cute but not fun to clean up after.

Cleaning a room takes around 45 minutes. That might seem like a long time at first; however it becomes irrelevant when you consider that the Roomba is best used when you aren’t around. Turn it on before you go outside to do lawn work, or while you sip on a cold one in the basement. The fact it doesn’t need to be attended opens up the possibilities further than just multi-tasking. By using a robot vacuum you are tapping into the power of automation, and that means more time for you to do the things you enjoy.

Some testing is required to get the 532 working its best. The included Virtual Walls need to be placed so that the Roomba won’t venture into areas that don’t need to be cleaned. Stairs aren’t a problem because it can sense the drop in height. Placement of the dock should be strategic, especially when cleaning multiple rooms. If placed poorly, the robot will have trouble finding the dock after a cleaning session is over.

Roomba’s in general are excellent for cleaning in hard-to-reach places. When the 532 goes under your bed and picks up a mound of dust, you’ll wonder how you made due without your robot buddy. Corners of the room can be problematic so you may have to go over these areas manually. Also, since the iRobot won’t go near stairs, you’ll need to clean the steps yourself.

Review Verdict

If you are a technology geek with pets you’ll have a blast with the 532. Although it isn’t perfect, it makes a mundane, boring chore interesting and fun. Most importantly it saves you time.

The 532 isn’t quite as heavy-duty as the more expensive 562 which is to be expected. Also, the scheduling features of the higher-end models were missed. Still, the iRobot Roomba Pet Series 532 Vacuum Cleaning Robot is probably the best value in the Roomba line.

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