Length:: 1:25 Mins
NOTE ON VIDEO:
I thought it was fun to have iRobot's 780 (black hat) and LG's Hom-Bot (white hat) confined and cleaning inside a small space. Watch and draw you own conclusions.
To establish some background, we've been using robotic vacuum cleaners since 2007. The 870 would be the third Roomba and the fourth robot vacuum cleaner we've used. Prior to the 870's arrival we were using the LG HomBot 1.0 Robotic Vacuum
but the older Roombas, iRobot Roomba 560 Vacuum Cleaner - Refurbished
and iRobot Roomba 580 Vacuuming Robot
had been retired a few years ago. For reasons detailed below, this model while not quite perfect was 'love at first sight' and it gets a 5 star rating at this time. I am planning to come back and update this review if needed as I become more familiar with the product and can talk about what it feels like to use it over some period of time.
And one small comment regarding the 'for pets and allergies' that's in the product name as displayed at Amazon's site. Yes, this Roomba and even the previous Roomba generation come with a nice HEPA filter and all 800 series models make it a lot easier to deal with 'hair' but this model is not specifically designed 'for pets and allergies'. It just happens to work well in a house that has pets that shed hair. By the way, 'for pets and allergies' does not appear anywhere on the product's box or in its manuals so it maybe a marketeer decided that adding that may appeal to a certain group of potential buyers at Amazon.
And one final note concerning the to Roomba 870 vs. ... comparisons below. Obviously, I haven't tried all robot vacuums in existence. I've heard that the Neato is a good competitor but I didn't have a chance to try it out yet.
Briefly and to the point:
The 870 is a significant improvement over the previous Roombas because it features:
- Higher suction power
- Lower maintenance, mainly because hair no longer gets stuck on brushes
- Detects different types of floor (carpet, tile, laminate, etc.) and operates accordingly
- Good at detecting 'soft' obstacles such as curtains (passes through) vs. hard such as furniture (does not bump hard into them)
- Better at detecting and climbing over small obstacles such as runners
- Longer battery life
You may want this Roomba if:
- You've had a Roomba before, loved it and are going to appreciate a 'new and improved' model
- Consider hand-vacuuming a boring chore and would rather do something else with your time
- Are intrigued by the practical ways in which AI could improve our lives and enjoy watching it work
- Can afford and don't mind the high price
You'd want to think some more about it before ordering if:
- You find Roomba's inability to clean/climb stairs a disqualifier
- You don't want to see Roomba's seemingly random 'trails' on your thick carpet
- You'd rather invest into a similarly priced high end traditional vacuum cleaner
If you are already sold on a Roomba, you may also want to consider the more expensive 880 model that comes with a remote and 2 lighthouses. I haven't tried the 880 but, as one who owned a 560 (no remote) and a 580 some 7 years ago, I found that I almost never used the remote after the initial 10 minutes of playing with it. The virtual walls that come with the 870 prevent the Roomba from leaving a room or a designated cleaning area. A lighthouse, which is not available with the 870 keeps the Roomba in the room until it's done cleaning it and then it allows it to pass through and go clean the next room which is important if you want the Roomba to clean more than one room while you're away.
Like previous models, the 870 has the ability to find its charging base and recharge when battery is low. It can also sense the amount of dirt in its dustbin and turn on a red light warning so you'll know when it's time to empty it but, be aware that it will not stop on a full dustbin.
And, since I mentioned the dustbin, it's a self-contained box with a HEPA filter that so what comes out of the vacuum should be clean air as it to retains allergens/dust.
iRobot's claim that this model is 'virtually maintenance free' is an overstatement, to say the least. Yes, there is less maintenance on this model than one previous Roombas but, as the manual itself suggests, after every cleaning cycle you are expected to:
- dustbin: empty after each use
- HEPA filter: tap it against your trash can to drop the dust attached to it after each cycle, clean weekly, replace after 2 months or as needed
- extractors: clean and remove any hair, which is a 2-second chore on this model, by the way, very much after each cycle
- sensors: dust off the 16 sensors weekly
- front wheel: clean it as needed, recommended weekly
- spinning side brush: clean it as needed, recommended weekly
- Roomba's and Home Base contact points: clean them weekly
It doesn't take a lot of time and effort but I would not call this 'virtually maintenance free'. By the way, all parts that have to be maintained are conveniently color-coded (yellow) but there wasn't much to maintain on it so far. I will update this review and will note what if anything breaks or needs to be replaced or cleaned after a few months.
You can schedule future jobs on the main unit. The initial setup lets you select your language and set the date and time. You can then ask your robot to let's say, wake up every Friday at 2 a.m. and do some serious cleaning. Or you can set it to start cleaning every day at the same time or at different times on different weekdays. It's quite flexible. Or, of course, if you have many rooms/floors and only one Roomba, it's easy to simply take it to the room you want cleaned and turn it on which happens to be what we do because of this model's inability to clean more than one room/area.
While I wish the 870 could work with lighthouses, the virtual walls are still useful because you can confine your robot to a specific area so it won't go into the bathroom if you forgot the door open if you wanted it to clean the bedroom only. Depending on your floor layout you may need more than the supplied 2 virtual walls. We had 4 left from our older models and we are actually using them all so, the more the merrier and you can always buy them from Amazon or directly from iRobot.
The robot is good at fully covering the area and removing the dust. It is works great in a fully carpeted room or a bare-floor room and anything in between and, unlike our older 560 and 580, it easily climbs from the floor onto the carpet. The pattern it follows is not as organized as that of our LG robot but, in the end, there was very little dust the LG picked up after we did a full Roomba run on our bedroom - we tested that - so it seems to be covering the area well.
As I noted already, its many sensors (optic, acoustic) allow the 870 to intelligently identify obstacles and navigate accordingly. Our old 560/580s had a problem detecting 'dark' objects and would bump into them, full force. Not this 870. It goes under the bed, correctly identifying the bed's skirts as something it can pass through but it never bumps into the legs or the walls. It also appears to be able to avoid or detangle itself from electric cords, most of the time, the thicker the cord, the more successful it is. The 870 still has issues with thin charger wires so some prepping the room prior to cleaning helps.
Its sensors also allow it to detect dirt and, judging by the amount of debris found in the dustbin, it does it better than its predecessors. Once a dirty spot is detected it goes into a mode where it moves back and forth over the area several times and thoroughly sucks whatever there is there, doing multiple passes.
The 'going back to base' feature works well. This Roomba almost always managed to find its base and went into its charger when batteries went low.
You can use the virtual walls to confine your robot to a specific room. It's pretty straightforward for as long as you keep the VW and the charging base away from each other so the VW won't prevent your Roomba from going back to the charger when needed.
This is going to be a short section because I've already enumerated above what you do after each cleaning cycle. Will updated if needed. The manual suggests that you replace the HEPA filter after 2 months and the only 6-month warranty on the battery seems to suggest that it's not going to last or operate at top capacity forever. Time will tell.
What's in the Box:
- Roomba's body, of course
- 2 virtual walls
- Rechargeable battery
- Home base
- Extra HEPA filter (nice)
Roomba 870 vs. Roomba 880
They are essentially the same machine but the 880 comes with a remote control which, in my view, you will not miss and with 2 lighthouses which, if you have a complex floor layout or you'd like your Roomba to clean more than one room in one session you will miss. Be aware that the 870 can't use a lighthouse so you can't buy an 870 and then buy lighthouses to work with it.
Roomba 870 vs. LG's HomBot 1.0
The HomBot is 'the other robot' of this generation we are currently using and it's interesting to see how they stack against each other. So here it is. I will prefix a heading with an 'R' to indicate 'advantage Roomba' or an 'L' to indicate 'advantage LG'. Will use '=' for a tie.
R NAVIGATION: Roomba has the advantage here. It appears to be better at going around obstacles and passing through 'soft' walls such as bed skirts. It's a lot better at dealing with wires.
R MAINTENANCE: The Roomba has a clear advantage here. Getting hairs out of its system is a matter of seconds. It's a lot harder on the LG.
R MANAGEMENT: Roomba wins by default simply because the LG doesn't have virtual walls so the only way to prevent it from crossing into another room is by physically blocking it.
= REMOVE DIRT: Both performed well. Each was able to find some small amount of dust after the other did a full pass but we already knew that cleaning is never 100% done :)
= BATTERY: Both run well on a charge. Well enough to fully and thoroughly cover a typical 'master bedroom' area. They both appear to recharge quickly.
L NOISE: LG is quieter
L CLEAN PATTERN: LG's ability to establish rectangular 'cleaning boxes' leaves a nice pattern on a 'wall-to-wall' carpeted floor. The thicker the carpet, the better a room cleaned by LG's robot looks.
I would say it's 'advantage Roomba' overall, mainly because I loath dealing with hair caught on brushes but they each have their strengths.
My rating: 5 stars
As I noted already, we've used 2 previous Roomba models in the past, we are also using a nice LG HomBot 1.0 Robotic Vacuum
in the house, largely confined to our master bedroom. This 870 Roomba improves on previous generation of Roombas mainly by simplifying its maintenance which is a huge improvement for me. We like the LG in our master bedroom because it's significantly quieter and it has a 'cell' cleaning pattern where it establishes itself a rectangular area on the floor and it cleans it before it moves to the next. That looks good on wall-to-wall carpeting. However the LG lacks some major 870 features: hair gets tangled in the brushes, has no virtual walls and it occasionally gets trapped under the bed because it thinks that the bed skirts are walls.
While not perfect, the 870 does a number of things very well, some, especially Roomba's navigation leave room for further improvement. It's a 5 stars for 'overall' goodness, especially if you don't mind the price. Be aware that the 880 adds the lighthouse capability which may be worth the extra cost under circumstances I discussed above.
>> Brush your teeth, it's the law! <<