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87 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2008
I am delighted with my Roomba 540 for what I expected it to do-- it's actually a bit better than expected so far, though I have not yet owned it long enough to rate longevity/reliability. I have two small boys (7 and 5) and two cats (one long-haired) and I decided to use the Roomba upstairs rather than downstairs-- it is easier to control the clutter upstairs in our house, and therefore more practical for our use to use it up there on a routine basis.

Roomba vacuumed under a challenging queen bed, navigating over some cords, between two underbed boxes and six box-spring support pillars, and still getting out to the edge of the baseboard under the head of the bed-- great since I don't exactly move an oak bed around very often. Roomba covered the floorplan of a fairly complicated floor layout completely in the MBR, found the MBath, and cleaned up the tile floor very well, navigated back out (not using the included lighthouse yet) and discovered the hallway and one of the kids rooms as well as the kids' tile bathroom; it did a nice job on all. I did shut off the closet doors before starting Roomba. It navigated itself into and out of some pretty tight corners.

Roomba bumped into a balled up shirt on my son's floor and navigated around it rather than trying to eat it, though I don't recommend that approach routinely.

Roomba did have a couple of difficulties, which I found to be minor, compared to actually vacuuming:
*Now, I have not yet used the included lighthouse to mark off the rooms and help Roomba navigate-- but Roomba has not yet managed to navigate itself back to its base for recharging-- I have to go find it after it's done and take it home.
*On the first pass under that bed (which was in dire need of a good vacuuming) Roomba's brushes had a little more cat hair than it could handle and it spit out little hair balls here and there which I was able to pick up easily and discard-- maybe half a dozen tops. However on the second and third runs, when that floor was much cleaner, this did not happen.
*The directions suggest emptying Roomba's dustbin and cleaning its filter every three cleanings. OK, I've already indicted my dirty carptes here, but I've found it worth emptying/cleaning each use at least at first, but fortunately this is really simple to do-- push a button, pop out the easy to handle bin, dump in the trash, clean the filter (same as a dryer lint filter in your clothes dryer) pop bin back into Roomba with a click. No big deal, no mess, at least IMO.

On the up-side, when cleaning for the first time and encountering a lot of cat hair, Roomba's was stopped, and when I picked it up, a human sounding voice informed me that I needed to clean Roomba's brushes. This was easy to do and Roomba was back on its way. My unit came with spare brushes and a spare filter, suggesting these parts will need periodic replacement.

But if vacuuming takes only pushing a button to start and putting it back with a stop past the trash can when it's done later (or at your convenience) then I'm sold. And it seems to be doing a nice job with good coverage of the floor areas. I would give one to my mother.
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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2009
I did a lot of research on the Roomba 500 series here on Amazon, and was finally convinced this could be the solution to our huge pet fur problem. I ended up buying the Roomba 540 at Sam's club instead of here on Amazon, but since it is the same model, I thought I'd offer my review. I've been using it daily for about a month now and here are my observations:

Pros:
Seems to do a really good job vacuuming our living room (carpet) and kitchen (hardwood) in one shot.
It almost always finds it's charging station at the end, and even sings a little happy song when it does.
Has not once gotten tangled or hung up on anything
It's low enough that it fits under all our furniture, including couches, which is nice.
The little spinning side brush really pulls in debris from the corners
It slows down before it bumps into stuff. Like when it approached the flap on the couch, it slows down and then tries to gently push through. If it encounters a leg or something, it turns around.
It's fun to watch. Really, it's pretty cool. I was surprised when it went under the couch the first time and I couldn't hear it, then it popped out on the side.
Not too loud. Yeah it makes noise, but not keep you up at night kind of noise.
Pets seem OK with it. Our two dogs just get up and move when it comes near them. I was worried they would try to eat it, but so far, so good. Luckily there is not much sticking out they could actually get their mouths around.
Virtual wall works
Came with a sticker saying if I feel like getting my geek on and hacking the Roomba software, Go For It!! How cool! (more below)

Cons:
Brushes need to be cleaned after EVERY run (more on this below)
Bin capacity is pretty small. Only enough to hold one pass. They do make a larger bin you can buy though, but it sacrifices the dust filter functionality.
Dirt Detection is hit or miss. I would not pull this out for spot cleaning unless I was willing to wait for the entire room to be cleaned. They do make a remote control that can guide it though, so maybe that would fix this issue.
The 540 model cannot be scheduled to run at a certain time of day. You only get that with the 550 and up. You can buy an accessory for this though, so you're not entirely out of luck.
The 540 model comes with a "Virtual Wall", which is NOT the same as a "Virtual Lighthouse". The former keeps Roomba in one area for good. The latter keeps Roomba in one room, then lets it into the next room, then guides it back to its original room when it's all done and looking for its base. I believe higher models come with the lighthouse.

Thoughts:
On Cleaning: At least in our house, we have to empty the bin and use the brush cleaning tool after EVERY run, otherwise it will get about 10 minutes into the next run, stop, do the uh-oh sound, and tell you to clean the brushes. Then it just sits there until you do. Cleaning is not that hard, but you do need to take out the two brushes, take off the plastic spacers and bearing "cap", pick out little bits of fur around the bearings, run the brush through the cleaning tool (which is actually pretty awesome)and put it all back together again. It takes me about 10 minutes, and I really wish it could go a couple times between cleanings. So far I don't mind it but trust me, the novelty will soon wear off.

On effectiveness: It works. Way better than I (and more importantly my wife) expected. Our floors have never been so consistently fur-free.

On Fun: iRobot is the coolest company in the world. They actually encourage geeks like me to hack their software and give Roomba new functionality like playing music or drawing pictures. They provide a serial port on the Roomba itself for hooking it up to a laptop, and there's loads of software and info out there on the internets. Best of all, it will still clean your floor and it won't even void your warranty. Again, the folks at iRobot = awesome.

Final Thought: I'm still really glad I bought it. They do make a Roomba specifically for pet hair, which may alleviate my biggest con, I don't know, but even with the daily cleanings, I still like the Roomba a lot. It's just one of those things that make me feel it is so cool to be living in the future, and hey, clean floor.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2010
Love it, Love it, Love it!
I read mixed reviews about the Roomba from several sites as well as love it/hate it stories from co-workers. Hence, I was skeptical about spending money on something that was either hated or loved by others. I took a leap of faith and bought it!
I've had it for 3 months now and use it about 3 X a week. I own 2 dogs, one of them sheds a lot! The roomba has been a blessing for me. Not only does it do the job of cleaning my tiled floors by itself, it actually does it better than I do.

My husband and I were amazed at how well it cleaned. I had my mother in law over for Thanksgiving and she was equally amazed at the job it did. I haven't tried it on carpet. It might be a different experience all together and I'm guessing this is were the problem comes for dissatisfied customers.

In regard to other reviews, I don't find any of the maintenance on this little vacuum an inconvenience. Yes, we have to empty the dirt from the storage compartment after each cleaning, but that's something I would do with any other vacuum cleaner. A big bonus for me is that it gives me time to do other stuff, without having to pay someone else to clean my house.

I would highly recommend it to my dearest friends, provided they don't expect the machine to empty the dirt in their garbage after cleaning.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2010
Great first experience. Shortly after a week, unit stop working. A little hassle for me just because I rally don't want to deal with return or exchange but I don't have any other chioce but to get a re placment.
iRobot customer service was quick and gave me an upgrade replacement (latest model).
The only thing I don't like was I had to pay for shipping of the bad unit.
Over all,this pruduct was a great idea and efficient, I would recommend this to any one.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
My husband bought this for me at my request and I like this Vacuum, but honestly I expected more. I have an open floor plan and laminate and tile throughout my moderately sized home and while the robot helps keep my floors less dusty and hairy from the dog in between deeper cleanings, (because I still have to mop and the scooba isn't made for laminate) I kind of feel like I have to babysit it. My biggest complaint is that its battery life is pretty short and it takes hours to do what I could do by hand in minutes and it doesn't remember what it has already cleaned and where it has been. Because I have an open floor plan, this makes it hard to just let the vacuum clean up. Once it runs out of power and goes back to the dock, it doesn't recharge and then go back to where it left off and start cleaning again. This means that I have to make little pens for it to clean, moving the dock around from pen to pen after it recharges. It takes an entire day of this for it to clean my house and I have to be present to move it from one place to another. It will clean one room while I am gone or asleep, but thats it. And if you don't clean the whole house at once and because it takes so long to clean, dirt from other areas of the house get tracked into areas already cleaned. I expected a bit more intelligence from this robot and I expected it to be able to work in a modern floor plan in an average sized home without much effort from me. In this I have been disappointed. Cool idea, but lots of room for improvement.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2010
I have waited about a month to write this review. I was pleased with my Roomba as soon as I started useing it. But because I had read alot of reviews I allready knew of a few short comings. It is a very handy unit. I have two rooms that are hard wood and two carpet. My roomba transitions fine between the two. Yes the brushes need cleaned every so often, and the bin needed emptied two or three times each use when I first started useing the unit. But I noticed that the more the unit was used the less often I needed to empty the bin. Now I empty it once per use after it is done with all four rooms. Plus If I notice a heavy amount of dirt in one area, like right inside the front door, I will run our large vacuum in that spot before I run the roomba. Yes it will bump into furniture. I haven't noticed any damage to anything however I could see where it might cause a scuff mark on a $5,000 table. But if I had the money to buy a $5,000 table I would more than likly have a maid do all the cleaning anyway. These units are not a complete fix-all for everyone. There are some households and situations that it will not work well. I have a wife and two kids age 9 and 11 and 3 indoor cats. It works great for what I bought it for. It gets turned on once a day to help maintain the cleanliness of the house. We still clean the house and run our large vacuum. But instead of running the large vacuum 5-6 days a week. It gets run once. And then I let the roomba run around in case I missed anything,usually in the corners. Yes it has gotten stuck a few times. Yes it has been found sitting in the middle of a room doing nothing. I check it for any thing major like a clog brush or full bin and then just take it back to within the recommended range if the docking station (which is listed in the owners manual)tell it to dock and it will dock and recharge. Sometimes it has trouble finding its docking station. Usaully when this happens it is because of alot of dust on the sensors. I wipe them off in accordance with the manual and he works fine the next time out. Sometimes it isn't as simple as just pushing the button and letting it do its thing. If you have alot of clutter on the floor like toys or you have stacks of paperwork from a project you have to have done and turned in tomorrow. Tiddy up a bit first. Its kinda like mowing the lawn, unless you want to stop 100 times to move something so you can mow. Take 5 minutes and tiddy up a bit before you switch on your roomba. Trust me I've allready had a "Dad, the roomba is eating my homework" situation. This is an awesome product and if you give it a little TLC and do the minimum requirements that are outlined in the owners manual as far as cleaning and maintenace of your roomba, you should have a awesome experiance. Just remember a few things. It is a robot, but it can't do everything and be self sufficiant you still need to do a little work too. Some products break or malfunction for no reason. It happens. And three, Do research! The more you research these products the better you will know what to expect or even if these will work for you. Its better to have an awesome experiance because you did a little research instead of a bad on because you didn't think it through. Especially the different models. Don't just look at the price, look at what your getting for that low cost before you buy something you don't enjoy or won't work for your situation.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2010
We (me, my husband, toddler and baby) have a 4-bed room house with living, family and dining room at the first floor. Usually we vacuum our carpet once a week (with a canister vacuum). But recently my husband move out to other city and visited us only for weekend. So, I do not want to spend time for cleaning at weekend and decided to buy Roomba. I was ready to outsource this kind of job to robot.

I ordered 540 model, because I want to have charging base. I do not schedule, remote and other gadgets.

Since now (four upstairs rooms) - I love it. It clean well, collect dust under the beds and pick up hairs (I hate hairs!). When it cleaned master bedroom, it has some difficulties - because it was too much dust and Roomba just stopped in the middle of process. I cleaned it and start over - works fine.

It is not noisy, but when it bump door - I can hear it from downstairs.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2010
I needed something that could vaccum the house more often than I can with a bulky Hoover. The roomba fits the bill for me perfectly. I agree with the shortcomings the other reviewers point out, but it's got more than enough to vacuum a decent portion of the house on its own, and it does a pretty good job with it. I am amazed by how much dirt it picked up when I empty it. It saves me so much time and pain, that even with some weaknesses that have been pointed out, I have no problem giving this 5 stars.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2010
I have 2200 sqft home and initially bought a 562 model for $340. I thought that automatic scheduler is an useful feature but then after using it for few days I noticed that the vacuum roams randomly and not very efficient for large rooms. I had to manually move the cleaner from one room to another so the scheduler is not an useful feature. Hence returned it and bought 540 for $240 .

On positive side we never do anymore the manual vacuuming, this robot cleans fine and I see that it picks up lot of dust including fine lint, hair and other particles. It cleans well on edges. So overall it saves us lot of time and make our house more clean.

On negative side, I see that it takes lot more time for this vacuum to clean even small area due to the random nature of its cleaning. A better algorithm will be nice to have and most important is that it is missing the capability to complete one room and move onto another.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
After some research I purchased the irobot rhoomba 5th generation vacuum.
I am not a high tech person so I selected a unit without remote control. A simple push of the button sends my little butler off cleaning surprisingly well! I am especially pleased and surprised at the amount of dust it collects. The dust filter is super easy to access and clean as well as the dust bin! I did get the virtual wall/ lighthouse and use it with great success to cordon off my large living area from the dining area to assure a thorough clean time.
My only negative observation is that having longer length hair that falls out, my rhoomba needs to be cleaned about every third use to keep the brushes free from the hair wrapping around them. The cleaning tool provides ease in cleaning so I don't really find it to be such a negative in the long run.
Overall, I find this purchase well worth the cost and am highly pleased!
Might I suggest it would be a super hit as a wedding or housewarming gift!
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