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

johnboy 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
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Eaglehawk Eaglehawk 11:25 am 01 Jan 14

I’ve had a Roomba 577 for almost 5 years. Yes, it’s not a true “vacuum” replacement. It does the equivalent of a broom. But that’s fine for the hardwood/tile that is my home, no carpet ftw!

What many people don’t know, it seems that despite the generation changes over the years, you can use the “latest” generation brush mechanism in old models. I’ve currently got the 780 brush set in my 577. Yes, it does miss out on any software upgrades, and in my case, the HEPA filter of the latest models. But it did make the brush set so much easier to clean, and less tangle in the motor areas. eBay is your friend. I’ve only replaced the battery once, but the brush set at least every 2 years.

Waiting for the Scooba to be available readily, but the 230 model, not the 390 that Australia seems to be stuck with.

Postalgeek Postalgeek 10:48 pm 31 Dec 13

poetix said :

JB, are you riding it with the Skywhale hat on?

From the sound of it that’s all he’s wearing on his Roomba.

EvanJames EvanJames 10:36 pm 31 Dec 13

teddyhb said :

We have one of the samsung ones, basically it was the same price as the cheap roomba but had a scheduling function. Works great. Its pretty quiet too, you can watch TV when its vacuuming in the same room without having to turn the volume up.

Unless you put a cat on it.

Anna Key Anna Key 6:05 pm 31 Dec 13

EvanJames said :

And you can have endless fun if you have pets that interact with, or even ride, the roomba.

Not to mention stoned housemates

poetix poetix 6:00 pm 31 Dec 13

JB, are you riding it with the Skywhale hat on?

goosepig goosepig 5:03 pm 31 Dec 13

I’ve never seen an advertisement for a Roomba but it is good to know there is a Samsung alternative for when johnboy has worn this one out (and this will be soon)!

teddyhb teddyhb 4:32 pm 31 Dec 13

We have one of the samsung ones, basically it was the same price as the cheap roomba but had a scheduling function. Works great. Its pretty quiet too, you can watch TV when its vacuuming in the same room without having to turn the volume up.

Innovation Innovation 2:01 pm 31 Dec 13

BimboGeek said :

Central vacuum ftw. It doesn’t do itself but it’s so powerful that it barely matters, it only takes a few minutes.

Unfortunately this option is only available if you were installing new walls anyway. So I only mention it for the benefit of that one reader who is…

Central vacuums are definitely the way to go if possible. I haven’t looked into it enough but, IMHO, if there is access to the roof space, a central vacuum could probably be retrofitted. Most houses only need two or three ducts in the wall cavity (or perhaps a cupboard). Worse case scenario is that two or three areas would need to be patched to run the ducting.

As for the Roomba, out of principle I wouldn’t buy one because of the amount of money spent on TV advertising but I might now start considering another brand for in between vacuums. They seem to have come a long way in design.

Solidarity Solidarity 10:36 am 31 Dec 13

c_c™ said :

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.

They may not be the best vacuum cleaners, but they are by far the best friends. So much easier to look after than a dog, and far more interesting than a cat.

switch switch 9:57 am 31 Dec 13

EvanJames said :

You have to understand, it was working quite hard ferrying a cat around the room. Going by the videos those people have hoisted, the cat rides the roomba pretty-much all the time.

Staple gun?

EvanJames EvanJames 9:29 am 31 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 …

You have to understand, it was working quite hard ferrying a cat around the room. Going by the videos those people have hoisted, the cat rides the roomba pretty-much all the time.

BimboGeek BimboGeek 9:11 am 31 Dec 13

Central vacuum ftw. It doesn’t do itself but it’s so powerful that it barely matters, it only takes a few minutes.

Unfortunately this option is only available if you were installing new walls anyway. So I only mention it for the benefit of that one reader who is…

goosepig goosepig 8:59 am 31 Dec 13

Danman said :

Just a question – are these gadgets actually a vacuum as in suck the detritus up, or do they use a sweeping action like an electric sweeper ? The ones I have sen on telly have rotary brushes that sweep all the stuff into a chamber. I was thinking of getting one for our tiled floor, as it would be good to give it a daily sweep, but I wouldn’t expect it to replace a good vacuum, just extend the time between the two.

On Dysons, horses for courses, we got an upright Dyson around 9 years ago and it has not skipped a beat… When we got it, we vacuumed the house with our old vacuum, then the Dyson (committed yeah I know, I’m a clean freak) and the amount of powdered dust (aka dead skin cells) and other crap it picked up was phenomenal. May not be the best on the market. but whop needs the best of the bedt if what you have does a job that you are satisfied with?

I think it is a sweep thingy. Seriously, Johnboy is in love with it.

    johnboy johnboy 9:05 am 31 Dec 13

    there is a vaccuum working in association with the brushes

Danman Danman 10:19 pm 30 Dec 13

Just a question – are these gadgets actually a vacuum as in suck the detritus up, or do they use a sweeping action like an electric sweeper ? The ones I have sen on telly have rotary brushes that sweep all the stuff into a chamber. I was thinking of getting one for our tiled floor, as it would be good to give it a daily sweep, but I wouldn’t expect it to replace a good vacuum, just extend the time between the two.

On Dysons, horses for courses, we got an upright Dyson around 9 years ago and it has not skipped a beat… When we got it, we vacuumed the house with our old vacuum, then the Dyson (committed yeah I know, I’m a clean freak) and the amount of powdered dust (aka dead skin cells) and other crap it picked up was phenomenal. May not be the best on the market. but whop needs the best of the bedt if what you have does a job that you are satisfied with?

Solidarity Solidarity 9:21 pm 30 Dec 13

My little guys a Roomba 530. Does his job and does it well, no fuss, no complaints. Was going to get a new one, but decided not to as I was scared the old one would get jealous. Humans are weird.

sien sien 9:18 pm 30 Dec 13

Roundhead89 said :

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.

Clearly, that’s why the name is a fusion of ‘roo’ and ‘mba’ combing the australian roo with the US ability to make money from clever inventions.

hoody hoody 9:06 pm 30 Dec 13

I got a homehero for $50 when I purchased another vacuum from godfreys, mainly for the novelty value but I was surprised at how much it picks up. It is pretty noisy and it certainly doesn’t seem to learn anything, bumping its way around and it gets stuck under chairs all the time. Plus the urge to supervise it is overwhelming sometimes, defeating the purpose somewhat…Overall good value for what I paid.

caf caf 8:33 pm 30 Dec 13

johnboy said :

dog droppings on the carpet are a sin beyond the scope of robots.

Sounds like an argument for a robot dog.

squashee squashee 8:27 pm 30 Dec 13

I hope your dog doesn’t leave a mark on the carpet – apparently these robots don’t like dog droppings too much…

    johnboy johnboy 8:29 pm 30 Dec 13

    dog droppings on the carpet are a sin beyond the scope of robots.

steveu steveu 7:35 pm 30 Dec 13

I think these things are good if the layout of your house suits them – I found when we moved the layout changed, the chairs under the dining table had increased so it had trouble.
That being said, I think they are a great unit, I would set it to run mon-fri after we left for work, and it kept dust and fur levels down a fair bit. Not a replacement for a vacuum cleaner by any means.
Its also quite amusing watching it trot around, working out where it needs to go next etc.

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