Gadget of the day - Roomba

I know Roomba’s are old news, and are well covered elsewhere, but heck I just got one, so I get to review it too. I waited until Woot had a price I couldn’t refuse, $150, 50% off retail. My problem with them had always been, if I’m spending $300 on a vacuum, I want it to clean my entire house, on it’s own. Not one room with virtual walls, I didn’t want to walk the vacuum around and set it up in other spaces.

But, I figured for $150, I could have it vacuum the two rooms with furniture that’s impossible to move and vacuum under, and see how I liked it, and if it indeed could return to it’s base to charge without my help.

OK, I’m a convert. After 3 days of running it through the paces, this thing is amazing. It cleans under everything, cleans the edges of the walls too, and rarely gets stuck (I’ve got one dining room chair who’s base is just the right height for the roomba to wedge itself if it comes side-on to it at full speed, I rotated the chair to eliminate that trap). I’ve got a Dyson as the primary house vacuum, another high-priced yuppie-vac, which until now, has been the best vacuum ever. No bags, keeps working great year after year. Other new vacuums seem to be designed to die after 6-9 months. They’re not made like my mother’s solid metal 1950’s Kirby anymore.

Anyway, the Roomba works just like they say it does. Yes, you either have to put in virtual walls, or multiple charging stations (it doesn’t map the room, and in fact, is pretty much blind, and uses some basic periodic redirections to cover a pretty good full area). With multiple charging stations, it *might* get through a house, but don’t count on it. Much better to unleash it on one or a set of contiguous rooms. Since you can launch it, let it do it’s 1-2 hour dance, let it recharge, and move it somewhere else though, it’s still a lot less work than regular vacuuming, and heck, you can have it do it every darn day.

Now, you also might WANT to have it run every day, ’cause that dirt basket is darned small. Too small if you have a lot of pets (or, as is my case, one Old English Mastiff, who casts off the hair of 4 smaller dogs). I had it vacuum a room that had been just vacuumed by the Dyson, that only the one small cat frequents (but it’s a 20-20 room). It filled it’s little basket every cycle for 4 cycles, before it had gotten enough stuff off the floor to not fill up after a cycle.

If you want it to start and run when you’re gone, you’ll need to get the “scheduler”, which is just a remote control which programs the software already in your roomba to run on a schedule you define. I haven’t gotten that yet, but I will. I’m just trying to decide if I want a second roomba to go with the remote, since this one does such a great job.

So, expensive, might want to try a remanufactured one if you want to see if it’s your cup of tea, but you’ll almost certainly like it, unless you have a really dirty house.

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