Roomba 980 evaluate: iRobot's greatest vacuum but, however too expensive for many

Roomba 980 review: iRobot's best vacuum yet, but too pricey for most

It is 2015 and I am nonetheless ready for Rosie the Robotic, or some type of equal residence bot, to wash my residence. We’re in all probability years away from a Jetsons-like future, nevertheless it’s straightforward to overlook that iRobot’s Roomba has already been round for over thirteen years now, steadily getting higher at doing all of your soiled work. Now with the brand new Roomba 980, iRobot is making its vacuum-cleansing bot smarter than ever earlier than — a lot in order that it is calling the 980 the most necessary Roomba because it first debuted in 2002. It has a digital camera and superior localization know-how that permits it to see obstacles and map your flooring, and for the primary time, it is also wirelessly related and works along with a cellular app. Most significantly, it lastly rid my carpets of cat hair. The 980 is one of the best Roomba but, plain and easy. Sadly, its excessive value of $900 places it out of attain for most individuals.

eighty five

Roomba 980


  • Digital camera and site sensors make it much more clever
  • Cleans higher than another Roomba
  • App enables you to schedule it remotely


  • Too costly
  • Nonetheless must be charged always


The Roomba 980 is iRobot’s greatest robotic vacuum but, nevertheless it’s method too costly for most individuals to abdomen.

Hardware and design

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Roomba 980 review: iRobot's best vacuum yet, but too pricey for most

If you have not paid shut consideration to Roombas over the previous few years, you will not initially discover a lot totally different concerning the 980. It has the identical round, low-profile design that iRobot has been refining for years. Look a bit nearer, although, and you will discover a small digital camera on its prime. On the underside, you might have the identical two “AeroForce” extractors because the Roomba 880, which permits it to wash your flooring with out conventional brushes, in addition to the identical giant trash bin with detachable HEPA filters. One fascinating distinction from different Roombas: The 980 feels considerably heavier, primarily as a result of all the further hardware inside it.

What hardware, you ask? The Roomba 980 is iRobot’s first shopper gadget to incorporate its “visible simultaneous localization and mapping” (vSLAM) know-how, which was beforehand relegated to its costlier enterprise choices, just like the Ava telepresence robotic. Utilizing a mixture of the highest digital camera and a flooring sensor, it may possibly monitor the place it has been in your house by finding visible landmarks, and it could additionally keep away from obstacles alongside the best way. That know-how can also be the centerpiece of iRobot’s new iAdapt navigation answer, which permits the 980 to maneuver round your house extra simply.

Roomba 980 review: iRobot's best vacuum yet, but too pricey for most

With all of its new mapping know-how, iRobot claims the 980 can clear a whole flooring of your property by itself. And if it does not end the job, it might additionally return to its charging base, juice up, and head again out to work. The Roomba 980 can also be quite a bit smarter with regards to cleansing: It will probably detect when its on carpet and improve its energy to collect up extra mud. And when it is on hardwood flooring it is also quieter than earlier fashions.

This new Roomba lastly brings one thing followers have been wanting for a while: WiFi help, and a companion app. You should use the app to start out and cease cleansing periods remotely, in addition to handle your Roomba’s schedule. It additionally retains a historical past of all of your previous cleansing jobs, which is especially helpful when you’re not house to see Roomba work. iRobot reps advised us that many shoppers by no means used the scheduling function on earlier Roombas, as a result of it required twiddling with buttons and menus proper on the Roomba, utilizing archaic menus. (I am responsible of that, as properly.)

In use

Roomba 980 review: iRobot's best vacuum yet, but too pricey for most

I have been a Roomba proprietor for over a decade now, beginning with a refurbished earlier mannequin (I can not even keep in mind the precise one), and most lately with a trusty Roomba 730. Through the years, iRobot dumped Roomba’s brushes, improved the battery life, and added HEPA filters. In any other case, although, weren’t many groundbreaking modifications. It is a disgrace, however it’s comprehensible why many shoppers aren’t very enthusiastic about them — not one of the followup fashions have been as thrilling as the primary. And the truth that they’ve sometimes been fairly costly, making them extra akin to toys for the elite, quite than one thing helpful for everybody, does not assist both. The Roomba 980 does not do a lot to vary that elitist notion, however it’s notable as a result of it represents a elementary change in the best way Roombas work.

However let’s begin from the start: As on different fashions, you will should cost the 980 for a bit after you get it out of the field. Connecting it to WiFi is only a matter of downloading the iRobot Residence app in your iPhone or Android telephone, and following the method of including a brand new Roomba. The method is not precisely seamless, you have to hook up with the Roomba’s WiFi community, then add within the credentials of your property WiFi community, all of the whereas hopping between your telephone’s setting display. I used to be capable of get it related to my house community in round 5 minutes.

You need not have your Roomba 980 related to WiFi to make use of it, nevertheless it’s value doing. Even in the event you do not plan to regulate it remotely, or set a schedule, it is nonetheless useful to see the outcomes of your cleansing jobs inside the app. Hitting the large “Clear” button on the app usually begins a cleansing job inside 10 to fifteen seconds, relying in your WiFi community. The cleansing queue works identical to a printer queue. When you’ve got connectivity points whereas making an attempt to start out the Roomba remotely, you may end up with a number of stacked cleansing jobs.

As an alternative of cleansing your flooring in seemingly random patterns (which I am positive is sensible to robots), the 980 strikes in straight, clever strains. It moved round obstacles in my residence with ease, as an alternative of simply bumping into them endlessly. And it did a reasonably nice job of cleansing my flooring too, particularly a wool carpet in my bed room that is principally a magnet for cat hair. It ended up accumulating round twice as a lot particles as my Roomba 770, overlaying the identical territory. And whereas it nonetheless sucks up some cables, they do not get jammed within the 980’s rollers, whereas that was a continuing problem with previous Roombas.

Roomba 980 review: iRobot's best vacuum yet, but too pricey for most

All of its sensors do extra than simply assist the Roomba 980 keep away from furnishings. After it runs by means of your home a couple of occasions, it’s going to additionally know the place, precisely, it’s in your house. If I begin a cleansing job from my workplace, it’s going to work its means by way of my condominium, hitting my front room, eating alcove, and lobby, till it reaches my bed room. And if I begin within the bed room, it goes the other route. Most impressively, the Roomba 980 was capable of maneuver via my condo with none assistance on my half. My 770 would all the time get caught cleansing one portion of my house repeatedly, which might drive me to select it up and drag it to a brand new room. The 980 is sensible sufficient to maneuver on when it must, and it is aware of precisely the place to go. It is the primary Roomba you will not have to babysit.

The app’s scheduling function can also be a pleasant addition, particularly for those who like coming house to a clear home. The 980 did not have any hassle following the schedule I arrange, judging from the spotless carpet (and freaked out cats) that I got here house to. In fact, it could solely clear successfully till its particles bin is full. When you have a big residence, do not anticipate the Roomba to work magic.

The 980 takes about an hour to run by way of my whole house, barely quicker than the 770. However because of its new sensors, I even have extra confidence that it truly cleans extra completely. I not should convey it again to closely dirty carpet spots, or nooks that it might have missed.

Regardless of all the technological developments this time round, the 980 is counting on a honking giant nickel-metallic hydride (NiMH) battery. iRobot claims it’s going to go for round two hours, and I by no means had hassle with it dying in the midst of cleansing. However as with each NiMH battery, it loses cost shortly, so you will should maintain the Roomba on its charging bay when it isn’t in use. When you’re frightened about power conservation, you will have to recollect to cost the 980 a number of hours earlier than you plan to make use of it (and which will additionally harm battery life, as properly). It would be good to see iRobot transfer over to lithium batteries that may truly maintain a cost for a bit.

The competitors

Roomba 980 review: iRobot's best vacuum yet, but too pricey for most

There isn’t any scarcity of competing robotic vacuums: LG’s RoboKing line has been available on the market for years, and has sported cameras and superior sensors for a while. Samsung, in the meantime, has the newly launched PowerBot, which appears to be an honest cleaner, however can also be fairly costly at round $900. However probably the most direct challenger to the Roomba 980 is Neato’s Botvac Related, which may additionally map your flooring and might be managed by a cellular app. It is also considerably cheaper than the 980 at $699. Dyson’s upcoming 360 Eye (above) additionally appears to maintain tempo with the 980 sensor-clever, nevertheless it’s solely out there in Japan proper now.

In fact, iRobot’s present Roomba lineup are respectable options, particularly should you’re trying to save a couple of bucks. The brushless Roomba 880, which cleans virtually in addition to the 980 however with out the sensor smarts, is promoting for round $625 now, whereas the 770 mannequin goes for round $480. With the vacation season approaching, you might be positive older variations will probably be happening sale too to make approach for brand spanking new stock. I managed to snag a 770 for round $four hundred final yr, and I can solely think about it getting cheaper. Truthfully, given the the breadth of cheaper competitors on the market, it’s kind of robust to abdomen the Roomba 980’s $899 worth.

It is arduous sufficient to extol the virtues of robotic vacuums once they’re round $500 — for one thing nearer to $1,000 it is virtually unattainable. As I used to be testing the 980 round AOL’s workplaces, for instance, it attracted loads of onlookers who have been intrigued by it, however have been instantly turned off by the worth. Or perhaps they only could not justify spending almost a half-month’s lease on one thing to wash their tiny New York Metropolis house.


Roomba 980 review: iRobot's best vacuum yet, but too pricey for most

There isn’t any doubt that the Roomba 980 is iRobot’s greatest vacuum but. It is not only a dumb bot bouncing towards the partitions, it is like a army weapon with a mission to hunt out and get rid of soiled flooring. (Do not forget iRobot builds loads of merchandise to be used by regulation enforcement and the army.) However at $899, it isn’t precisely a blind purchase. If something, although, the Roomba 980 is a superb signal for the way forward for house robots. They will want superior cameras and mapping methods to maneuver round our houses, keep away from obstacles and work together with us. The 980’s worth could also be arduous to abdomen, however it’s the clearest sign but that superior house robots aren’t too far off.

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