While I was at the BlogHer conference, I mentioned that the event was sponsored by iRobot, makers of the famous Roomba vacuum. In my “Enthusiasm (!!)” post, some readers mentioned they hadn’t had great experiences with the Roomba. The Monday after I returned home, I got an email from iRobot asking if I’d like to see for myself all that Roomba can do. Of course I was ecstatic to get one. Less than 24 hours later, FedEx was on my doorstep with a big box!!!!!!!
I spent the next hour following it around the house. It’s really like having someone at home with you! Once I stop following it and sat down at my desk, it would sneak into the room behind me! And it sings these cute songs when it starts and end cleaning that make it seem like a happy child. I give it an A for companionship
iRobot notes in the instruction manual that while the patterns seem random, Roomba really does have an agenda for cleaning a room. I’d stand over it and watch it miss some crumbs, but sure enough, when I’d check the spot later to see if it picked them up, they were gone. It also does a good job cleaning along walls, in cracks and under things: all places I don’t clean that often!! So I give it an A for thoroughness. I also LOVE the lines it leaves on the carpet. Like lawnmower patterns, it just makes the room feel cleaner! He gets an A for “clean feel” too. I was really impressed by how much dirt it picked up.
Frequently I’ll turn it on just before leaving the house to go to class or work out, and when I come back, the floors are clean. To me, that is the best part. It’s like having a maid come while you’re out. The Roomba will usually have gone back to its docking station to charge (although sometimes it gets stuck places – see below). We also will lock it in our bedroom, close the door, and come back an hour later: everything is clean. It also helps with cleaning the kitchen after meals to pick up the crumbs we drop all over the floor while cooking. (And it’s also nice when the husband makes bread and gets flour all over the place!)
One complaint I do have, although it might be more our fault than Roomba’s, is that our living room couch and chairs are just a little low for him to fit under – so he gets stuck. This isn’t a big deal if we’re home and notice, but when I come home expecting clean floors and find he got stuck in the first 10 minutes of cleaning, it’s kind of annoying. It does shut off automatically, though, so it’s not like it was running under there for an hour. There’s a programmable self cleaning schedule so you can program it to clean everyday at 9am or whenever you’re out, but because we find we have to monitor it in the living room (or close off the doorway to that room), I prefer to supervise
Here’s a time when it happened and I remembered to take a photo for the review:
I’d give it a B for “need for a babysitter.”
Roomba also comes with 2 “lighthouses.”
You can use these two ways: 1) As a lighthouse (a magnet of sorts), so it will clean one whole room and then move into room #2 and 2) As a virtual wall. Honestly we haven’t really figured out how to use it as a lighthouse, but the virtual wall feature is awesome and just the trick to keep him contained in the kitchen. I’d give the lighthouses a B+ for effectiveness.
As a divider between the den and the kitchen:
Since we have white carpets, I used to vacuum every other day or so, as they show every little bit of dirt. I can’t stand to see dirt, and I felt like our floors were always dirty! So for this, Roomba has been a lifesaver. I turn it on every other day or so and just let it run. It certainly has made floor maintenance easier. One thing to note: I don’t think the Roomba replaces a vacuum cleaner. I still get out my Eureka every now and then. But it’s probably every 2 weeks instead of every 2 days. Consider the analogy of microwave to oven: a microwave makes cooking a whole lot quicker with less effort, but you still want to have an oven too – for when you have the time and energy to cook, because nothing really replicates an oven-cooked dish. Same with a “real” vacuum – use Roomba for maintenance and a vacuum for deep cleans. I give it an A+ as Kath’s little helper!
We store it under a table in the den. I guess it’s a con that it has to be out and available to be most effective (since it’s not the prettiest decor) but I’m willing to let him sit out in exchange for his services I’d give him a B for attractiveness + ease of storage.
So as long as he keeps working properly, I give the Roomba an A- overall. More than anything else, he has been SUCH a time-saver!!
I’ll leave you with a quick video we made with the help of one of our bears, Beaker, who I sometimes find riding the Roomba into the room, compliments of the husband!