Life with the robot. How I came to love the Roomba

By 30 December, 2013 52

it's coming right for me

In a desperate and forlorn effort to reduce the amount of screaming in my domestic situation I splashed out on an iRobot Roomba 630 which Costco at Majura Park is flogging for $500.

While the shouting has only intensified the floors, with very very little effort, are now spotless despite living with shedding dogs.

So I thought there was some value in sharing my thoughts.

roomba on the tiles

On arrival you take the big disk out of the box, put it on its docking station and wait for it to charge. This is something of an anticlimax.

Eventually the charge light turned green, the clean button was pressed and the magic began.

Beeping like a reversing truck the Roomba backed out from its docking station, turned around, and started trundling over the floor.

The dogs were initially alarmed, but after a bit of woofing settled down to watch it warily from the commanding heights of the couch.

After half an hour I interrupted it to check its dustbin and it was jam packed. Emptying it into the bin is a simple task and it was soon back on its way.

Despite having given the house a solid manual vacuuming earlier in the day it kept finding more and more, and more, mess to hoover up.

dustbin

It trundles around for an hour or so, gets itself into all the rooms, generally manages not to get tangled up in anything, and then backs itself into its docking station to charge.

At the touch of a button (and an emptying of the bin) the house is getting a daily vacuuming which otherwise it just wouldn’t get.

After the initial cleanup it generally comes back with its bin 3/4 full.

Vacuum snobs claim it isn’t as good as a committed human putting an hour in with a top of the line Dyson.

But I don’t have an hour a day, nor a top line dyson, and I was never that committed.

roomba

It does take a bit of getting used to.

Finding where it gets stuck (trying to get under cabinets mostly) and sticking a dog bed in the way or deploying the included virtual wall to steer it clear will take a little bit of trial and error.

But after a few weeks it now makes it around the house and back to its dock with a load of cleaned up mess nine times out of ten.

roomba

The random paths take it around the house eventually, but it won’t clean methodically room by room, so you’ll need to repress your command and control instincts.

The spot clean function in particular is worthy of note though for going over carpet cleaner. Drop the roomba on the spot, hit the spot button, watch it work its way around in a thorough spiral.

If you want to live in a house that’s been vacuumed (and particularly if your home is single level) but don’t want to be doing the vacuuming, then I really can’t recommend it enough.

Welcome to the future.

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52 Responses to Life with the robot. How I came to love the Roomba
#1
ausbradr11:03 am, 30 Dec 13

Nice write up. I’ve been a little bit skeptical about the cleaning power of these robots. It’s good to see it’s working out for you. After learning that these can be controlled via infrared remote (and thus our home automation), I’m sold, it’s great to know that these things don’t do a bad job either..

Now to save a bit after the xmas silly season and give ourselves a gift of more free time!

#2
johnboy11:09 am, 30 Dec 13

There are a lot of imitators out there and I can’t speak for the knock offs.

Also I should have mentioned it gets itself up over rugs without any real difficulties, (but you do need to groom its brushes with the supplied tool every week)

#3
EvanJames11:21 am, 30 Dec 13

And you can have endless fun if you have pets that interact with, or even ride, the roomba. And then you can put LOTS of vids of it on You Tube and be shared worldwide. For instance this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of2HU3LGdbo
(the famous Cat in a Shark costume chase Duck while riding a Roomba).

#4
Tony11:22 am, 30 Dec 13

How does it handle tables and chair legs?
Do you need open and uncluttered furniture layouts, or can it work itself around complicated arrangements of furniture?

What happens when it gets stuck? does it beep until its freed or turn itself off etc.?

#5
johnboy11:25 am, 30 Dec 13

Ours is a pretty cluttered and fussy place, it gets around it all very well.

Under chair legs diligently brushing right up to them (you can see the brush just in a couple of the pictures).

Basically it does a much better job under the dining table and chairs than I do.

When it gets stuck it tries to back track which works 95% of the time. Then it beeps, and a woman’s voice calls for help, then it shuts down until you go and find it.

#6
Felix the Cat11:25 am, 30 Dec 13

For those of you without Costco membership they sell them at Magnet Mart/Home Hardware at Gungahlin too and you get a “free” steam mop as well. Same model and same price.

#7
Deref11:29 am, 30 Dec 13

Thanks for that. Like ausbradr I’ve been very skeptical about these, but it sounds as if they actually do a pretty good job. I’m impressed!

#8
IrishPete11:39 am, 30 Dec 13

johnboy said :

Ours is a pretty cluttered and fussy place, it gets around it all very well.

Under chair legs diligently brushing right up to them (you can see the brush just in a couple of the pictures).

Basically it does a much better job under the dining table and chairs than I do.

When it gets stuck it tries to back track which works 95% of the time. Then it beeps, and a woman’s voice calls for help, then it shuts down until you go and find it.

Surely you are pre-programmed to ignore a woman’s voice calling for help in your residence? That seems like a design flaw…

IP

#9
Masquara11:52 am, 30 Dec 13

Couldn’t see – mesmerised by the amazing carpet!

#10
Masquara11:55 am, 30 Dec 13

EvanJames said :

And you can have endless fun if you have pets that interact with, or even ride, the roomba. And then you can put LOTS of vids of it on You Tube and be shared worldwide. For instance this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of2HU3LGdbo
(the famous Cat in a Shark costume chase Duck while riding a Roomba).

Sheesh – I was thinking of buying one, then watched the vid. Is it really that noisy, JB? You’d want to be out of the house while it’s working …

#11
johnboy11:57 am, 30 Dec 13

that one is an older model I believe.

you can hear it going but it’s not so noisy you need to shout to be heard over it.

#12
ausbradr12:08 pm, 30 Dec 13

Masquara said :

EvanJames said :

And you can have endless fun if you have pets that interact with, or even ride, the roomba. And then you can put LOTS of vids of it on You Tube and be shared worldwide. For instance this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of2HU3LGdbo
(the famous Cat in a Shark costume chase Duck while riding a Roomba).

Sheesh – I was thinking of buying one, then watched the vid. Is it really that noisy, JB? You’d want to be out of the house while it’s working …

Some models have a timer option. So you could very well set it to run during the day while you’re at work if noise was an issue.

#13
shauno12:12 pm, 30 Dec 13

Ive been thinking of getting one but my house usually has stuff all over the place on the floor lol.
Ive got a dyson dc39 its a good vacum no real hassles at all and if people are thinking of getting one I think its worth the money.

#14
johnboy12:17 pm, 30 Dec 13

the 630 is the bottom of the current range and has no timer.

but hitting the go button while walking out the door works too.

#15
Deborah12:30 pm, 30 Dec 13

Another fan here. Bought mine from Myers earlier this year and love it. House has never been cleaner. I only get the Dyson out once a month now.

#16
arescarti4212:33 pm, 30 Dec 13

I got given one by a friend when they upgraded to a newer model.

I always thought they were a bit gimmicky, but I’ve been really impressed so far. In particular, it manages to get under and navigate through my couches without getting stuck.

I also stuck googly eyes on mine and named it, which I highly recommend.

#17
ausbradr12:39 pm, 30 Dec 13

Has anyone been game enough to outlay a not-so huge, but still substantial amount of money on this one: http://www.godfreys.com.au/on-sale-now/superhero-robot-cleaner I’d be keen to know if any Rioters have had any luck with the knock offs…

#18
poetix1:03 pm, 30 Dec 13

That is a lot of money to spend just to have a clean house.

Two haircuts and a manicure, to put it in context…

#19
Masquara1:10 pm, 30 Dec 13

poetix said :

That is a lot of money to spend just to have a clean house.

Two haircuts and a manicure, to put it in context…

You pay $200 plus for your haircuts? : 0

#20
poetix1:19 pm, 30 Dec 13

Masquara said :

poetix said :

That is a lot of money to spend just to have a clean house.

Two haircuts and a manicure, to put it in context…

You pay $200 plus for your haircuts? : 0

When my hair is being dyed as well, yes.

I live a frugal life in other ways, but vanity before vacuum cleaners is a sensible approach. At least some of the hair on the carpet will be a nice colour.

#21
poetix1:45 pm, 30 Dec 13

poetix said :

Masquara said :

poetix said :

That is a lot of money to spend just to have a clean house.

Two haircuts and a manicure, to put it in context…

You pay $200 plus for your haircuts? : 0

When my hair is being dyed as well, yes.

I live a frugal life in other ways, but vanity before vacuum cleaners is a sensible approach. At least some of the hair on the carpet will be a nice colour.

Possibly I could have expressed that better.

#22
Postalgeek1:45 pm, 30 Dec 13

Used them for several years and been through a couple of generations.

Batteries have been a recurring issue, including replacements. You can get them on eBay fairly cheaply. I don’t bother with genuine ones anymore.

Tassels on rugs used to be a problem but the newer generations cope a bit better, but they can still get caught up.

Best suited to hard floors and short pile carpet.

Don’t expect miracles. We used them to keep down the build up and exterminate dust bunnies under furniture and beds, but we still had to give the floor a good vac every couple of weeks.

#23
busbooster1:52 pm, 30 Dec 13

I haven’t ever owned a roomba, but I am the proud owner of the entry level LG roboking. It does everything the roomba does but has two main advantages: the LG mapping software means it works to clean each room in a pattern instead of randomly like the roomba. I couldn’t stand to watch the roomba driving around bouncing off walls all day.

The roomba’s dust bin also has a design flaw which means it is impossible to take off without spilling all your hair and crap every where.

If I was smarter and richer I would have bought a more expensive model LG with more bells and whistles.

Note well that all robot vacs work much better on hard floors than carpet. You also need to tidy up a bit first for best results especially phone and PC cables.

I think there is a good roomba vs LG vs Samsung showdown on YouTube involving bread crumbs. checkout also the ‘silent night dirty nightmare’ video… masterpiece.

#24
c_c™4:19 pm, 30 Dec 13

Firstly, I’m not sure why the write up keeps making comparisons to ‘top of the line’ Dysons. Dyson vacs are fairly average in cleaning performance, their claim to fame is that while average, their performance is constant, while traditional vacs start off better but decline in performance as they fill.

Secondly, they’re not good value. For $500 that Roomba picks up large particulates as seen in the removable bin, but for less than $500 you could have picked up a German made Miele, tested to 20yrs equiv use, with a sealed HEPA filtration system that is far better at trapping smaller particles.

#25
johnboy4:25 pm, 30 Dec 13

c_c, while many consider me to be an insufferable nerd not even I aspire to your level.

I bought a robot vacuum. It’s doing a good job for me and making my house much cleaner than it would have otherwise been.

I have shared that information for the many people, like me, who have wondered.

#26
c_c™4:33 pm, 30 Dec 13

johnboy said :

c_c, while many consider me to be an insufferable nerd not even I aspire to your level.

I bought a robot vacuum. It’s doing a good job for me and making my house much cleaner than it would have otherwise been.

I have shared that information for the many people, like me, who have wondered.

I should mention I use to sell these. Miele’s had the least margin so a lot of outlets push other brands, but all the staff preferred them.

#27
el4:42 pm, 30 Dec 13

c_c™ said :

Secondly, they’re not good value. For $500 that Roomba picks up large particulates as seen in the removable bin, but for less than $500 you could have picked up a German made Miele, tested to 20yrs equiv use, with a sealed HEPA filtration system that is far better at trapping smaller particles.

Yebbut how much extra does the robot that vacuums the house with the Miele while you’re at work cost? And does it have the option of a German accent?

#28
c_c™5:02 pm, 30 Dec 13

I guess convenience is the key thing for Roombas and for many the trade off in absolute performance may be offset by the benefits of convenience.

I guess my point is be realistic and informed about each options pros and cons. iRobot themselves for example only claim 98% removal of playground sand on a hardwood floor after 3 passes.

#29
HiddenDragon5:08 pm, 30 Dec 13

Masquara said :

Couldn’t see – mesmerised by the amazing carpet!

Yes, I was wondering whether the carpet pattern might have something to do with the propensity to scream in El Rancho Riot – anyway, this sounds like a very happy story, and that’s nice at this time of year.

#30
Roundhead895:13 pm, 30 Dec 13

Did you know the roomba was invented by an Aussie? In fact an Aussie who appeared on the ABC show The New Inventors in the 1990s. That episode was repeated on ABC2 in 2007 before it became a children’s channel.

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