A phrase that will surprise you on two fronts… firstly just the fact we can talk and ask a smart speaker to command a vacuum cleaner but also the fact that homes can now have their vacuum do the job themselves.
We’ve been testing the Roomba 980, this is the top of the line, Rolls Royce robot vacuum. Roomba have become a household name in robotic vacuums and we have never been so excited to do the cleaning. Owning a house with timber floors, carpet in the bedrooms and a rug that I’d be killed if destroyed meant that this vacuum had anything but a simple task.
We setup the Roomba in the dining area for testing purposes, this “home” is simply a place for the vacuum to return to for charging, so it could be anywhere accessible. The process was really simple, download the app and put the Roomba on your network, through the app you can control the start/stop but also receive notifications of the vacuum such as when it needs to be emptied or if it is stuck.
We also connected Roomba to our smart home device. This meant that even without the app we could command the vacuum to begin it’s chore and/or return home and stop vacuuming. So if owning a robot vacuum didn’t make you feel a little lazy, then doing it without even lifting a finger and just talking will simply blow your mind.
As a vacuum we were really surprised. Now we like to think that we keep a tidy household. No pets or kids and we clean the place often. The Roomba went to town, particularly on the carpets, quickly filling it’s bin over and over again. The Roomba will adjust for surfaces automatically through smart sensors. When the Roomba gets started it’ll begin a pattern of up and down a path and will work around obstacles. It will bump into things but not to a force that will concern you. While it vacuums it is recording where it has been and this is viewable on your smartphone, essentially it should look like a floor plan of your house.
Areas it simply wont do are bathrooms due to the ledge but if you really wanted you could lift it and put it in there to play for a few minutes. The Roomba will run for two hours before needing to return home but most times the bin will be full before the battery runs out. Due to the up and down path and not really focusing simply on where it needs to go and where it has been, we found the Roomba to cover areas twice before going to new areas (yes, we followed the Roomba around). It would often duck into the main bedroom and then head back into the hall before later going back to the main bedroom. Speaking of bedrooms, you’ll be glad to know that the Roomba is short enough to duck under beds and vacuum areas that are generally hard to access.
The rug we mentioned earlier did not need to be protected by me whenever the Roomba approached. The Roomba 980 comes with two laser beacons. Powered by double AA batteries they can be set to cast a straight beam or a sphere. The straight beam was used to zone off the rug while the sphere could be used to protect a dog bowl. We had to remember to put these out each time and turn them off after use. Compared to others on the market this is a little old school. With the Roomba mapping the house it should be easier to set up exclusion zones in the app like others can.
When you have a vacuum that does all the work for you, you will begin to use it far more often and ultimately have a cleaner house. After friends departed our home one evening we would begin stacking the dishwasher and ask Alexa to get the Roomba to vacuum, it was one less thing to worry about. We do wish that the floor map could be used and zoned so we could ask Roomba to vacuum the kitchen for example, but we’re sure this is coming later. The smarts will continue to improve, particularly when it comes to navigation, and this could be through software but when it comes to the vacuum itself; it does a stunning job. And that is the best base to start on, a great vacuum that will only get better. The battery performance is great, the suction is impressive and the ease of use is far too simple. If the bin could be larger it would mean less emptying and if the little guy was more efficient in it’s travel we’d have a pretty perfect robot.
At $1,348 (here) it is not the cheapest model on the market. You will find plenty of other Roomba models that drop certain features such as smart home integration or floor detection to make it more affordable but if you want one less chore in life, this could be money very well spent.
Living in Sydney his entire life, Geoff has always had a close eye on technology. Through school and immediately after, tech held his focus. Attending University later in life, Geoff began his IT career immediately after leaving high school and has been in the industry ever since. In his spare time he launched a YouTube channel focused on consumer tech that had millions of views. This led to work on community radio talking tech every week and has now stepped him into the studios of 2GB / 4BC every Saturday helping people with tech problems and reviewing the latest gadgets.
When Geoff is looking away from the screen he can be found holding a glass of red wine, spending time with friends and/or watching the Formula 1.