Top positive review
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Great but not perfect ***Downgraded Star Rating***
on September 16, 2007
My wife and I decided to get one of these because our 8 month old son is about to start crawling. While we try and keep our floors clean, our beagle has other thoughts as she sheds all over the place. We went with the latest 560 model as it has just about everything we would want with a product like this. It works as advertised and we will definitley keep it but there are some areas that need improvement. Here is a quick breakdown of the pros and cons
1. Quieter than a standard vaccuum
2. Seems to learn the room dimensions quickly. The virtual walls and lighthouse feature are very nice.
3. Is "smart" enough to avoid getting tangled in our area rugs
4. Obviously easy to use as it is just a push of a button (or even better when you program it)
5. Can use everyday to keep the floors spotless
6. Have successfully used it on hard wood, vinyl, carpet and (accidently) concrete
7. Cleans under furniture which is otherwise a pain to do
8. Entertainment value - keeps the dog and baby interested for a while!
Cons (or areas for improvement)
1. Fills up fast - Upon intital cleaning cycles, we had to empty it after about 10 minutes. Further usage proved better as the dust/dog hair was a lot less than before. I suppose this is a good thing as it is picking up dirt that I missed with the regualr vaccum.
2. No warning that it is full. This is the one area that would be a huge improvement. I feel like I need to interrupt it all the time to check if it is full. It would be great if it had some way to gauge how full it is.
3. Battery life - Not sure if I am getting the full specified battery life out of this as it seems to need a recharge after about an hour to an hour and a half (isn't it supposed to last longer?)
4. Automatic docking is iffy. Several times after it was done cleaning, it wandered around aimlessly looking for the docking station. The "lighthouse" feature didn't seem to help much. I ended up moving the dock to a more open area and hopefully that will work better.
So for my first few days playing with this thing, it seems to do its job rather well with just a few annoyances that really do not affect its ability to clean. We plan on running it once a day to keep the dog hair and dust down to a minimum which will hopefully help our allegies.
Well, I've been using the Roomba now for a couple of weeks. I have it run every other day and here is what I think of it now
1. After letting it clean several times, I find I don't have to empty it every 10 minutes. I can now clean three rooms (about 900 square feet) without having to empty it.
2. My wife and I both agree that we seem to breathe better in the house now. Maybe it is due to less dust in the house (especially under the couches) or maybe its in our heads. Either way, we are breathing easier.
3. The self docking is now working great. I think my problems in the past were due to the brushes getting too dirty and requiring frequent cleaning (2 or 3 per run). Now, since the floors are cleaner, this has not been a problem and the Roomba finds its way home with no issues. I use the lighthouse settings to clean each room separately and then I guess they help Roomba find its home. Very nice!
4. Battery life doesn't seem to be a problem. I am getting the stated cleaning times per the manual and it seems to be enough to clean the 3 rooms.
5. The Roomba does require maintenance after each cleaning cycle. This requires emptying the dust bin, removing the brushes and filter to clean and, sometimes, cleaing the sensors that may have dust buildup. The entire process takes no more than 2 minutes and, even though it sounds like a pain, will hopefully keep Roomba problem free for a long time.
I can find no fault with the Roomba right now. I might even consider purchasing a second and third one for the other parts of the house. I suppose I can move Roomba to the back rooms on the first floor or the upstairs but that would require too much effort on my part!
I am also considering the Scooba for my kitchen and bathrooms but haven't pulled the trigger yet. I might wait for the next generation to see if the bugs have been worked out of the current models. Also, if Irobot ever invented one, I would jump at the chance to get a robot that will shampoo carpets! Maybe we will see one soon..
Ran into my first problem with Roomba this past week. The side brush snapped off and I was unable to put it back on. Knowing that these brushes need to be replaced from time to time I decided to order some replacements. Finding them on the Roomba site and ordering them was easy. Problem is that I was informed that they are on backorder for 4 to 6 weeks!! I e-mailed support and they responsed asking me for my mailing address, Roomba number and where I purchased it from. They stated they needed this so they could send me a replacement brush (a free replacement brush). I sent them the information with the hopes that they have some spare brushes ready to ship out but was then informed that it will take 4 to 6 weeks to get it out to me.
So in the end, I am stuck waiting for about $75 worth of brushes that I ordered as well as the free side brush they are sending me for at least 4 weeks. The good news is that Roomba still does her thing but the corners and edges of walls are somewhat neglected without the side brush.
I would still recommend Roomba to those who are thinking about it. Just be forwarned that "due to extremely high demand" replacement parts, including brushes, are currently on backorder for the 500 series.
******Final Update 1/25/2008*******
Thought I'd give one final update now that I have been using Roomba for several months. I am still a believer that Roomba can keep your floors clean but it does take a bit more effort than some people will think. I will try my best to break down the cons for Roomba as the pros are pretty straight forward. You get very clean floors without having to pick up a vaccum. My floors have never looked or felt cleaner and this goes for both the hard wood floors and the area rugs.
Now for the cons (none of which would make me rethink my purchase but I thought it would be informative to those who are still waiting on buying one)
1. Although Roomba does her thing once I hit the clean button, there is still some maintenance that is required. Emptying the dirt bin after each cleaning cycle and keeping the brushes clean have actually been a bit more work that originally described. I have a dog who sheds and the hair gets wrapped around some of the brushes. The tool that is provided in the box to clean the brushes does little to help with this. I find it eaiser to get a pair of scissors and carefully cut the wrapped dog hair off the brushes. For those of you who don't want to get your hands dirty, please keep this in mind!
2. The side brushes break fairly easy. One of the comments I saw in my review is that Irobot now ships some rubber bumpber that helps with this. I haven't looked into getting this yet but I suggest that if you don't have one on yours (like me), be prepared to replace the side brush often. I was able to get a free replacement on my first one but haven't gone back for a second yet.
3. The scheduling aspect of Roomba is useless for me. Because I have a 1 year old who has every toy in the history of toys, I find I need to do a complete sweep of the rooms before Roomba does her thing. If Roomba hits one of these toys, the sensor doesn't always pick up on it and it will try and go over the toy. This usually results in Roomba shutting down until you restart it. Leaving it on schedule means I need to clean up before it goes off. Its just easier for me to set it off manually when I want it to clean.
4. Noise - While quiter than a vaccum, Roomba can still be rather loud. Unless your house is very large, expect the noise to create a bothersome sound if you are watching TV on the same floor or if you are trying to sleep. You will hear it.
5. Auto Docking - Can't seem to figure this one out. Half the time Roomba docks itself with no problem. The other half it wanders around aimlessly with the docking light blinking just a few feet from the station yet it completely ignores it. I've cleaned the sensors and it still does it. I guess it just has a mind of its own sometimes.
6. One minor cleaning issue - Roomba will sometimes leave a big dust ball on the edge of an area rug when it is transitioning from a hard wood floor to the rug. It appears that the dust ball is wrapped around the brushes at one point but gets pulled off by the edge of the rug when it takes that tiny little step up from the floor. If Roomba goes back over that area, great! dust ball gone. If not, your stuck with a dust ball that you have to pick up (again, for me not a big deal but for those that don't want to get their hands dirty....)
None of these complaints or even the sum of them all give me enough reason to question my purchase. Since 95% of the dirt is removed including under furniture (which frankly, I never cleaned prior to Roomba!) these minor issues really don't amount to much in my opinion. Yes, it can be rather disgusting to clean the brushes when they get clogged and I need to make sure all toys are off the floor but that all translates into a very clean house! Keeps the wife happy!!
I'll check comments from time to time so if anyone has any additional questions, just drop them in and I will try and help.
********One More Update - May 20, 2008**************
Had to post this as it has been somewhat of a minor/major issue with my Roomba. The side brush that spins around has not been the best design I've ever seen. I've mentioned that it has broken off before and Irobot sent me some free replacements. Well, this continues to be a problem.
It seems that the side brush likes to get caught on things like corners or furniture which then causes it to break off or snap off an arm. I contacted Irobot about it again asking if they could send me some of those rubber bumbers one person mentioned in the comments section. The response was that they found the rubber bumber to have little to no impact on the side brush so they are no longer using them.
They did send me 3 additional brushes at no charge (thank you very much) but this won't fix the design problem of the brush itself. So I caution people here that are looking to purchase this robot that do not want to fork over additional money for new brushes every coupole of months. I'm Ok with it because I just consider the brushes to be the cost of vacuum bags (and the free ones don't hurt either!) but in this economy, some people might not have the money to pick these up when they need replacing.
I sitll love my Roomba because of the great job it does and the fact it covers areas I could never reach. In fact, I now have a Scooba to wash my floors and love the job that does as well (although that has an entire other set of issues!!)
*****Update November 8, 2009*****
Oh boy! Changed my rating down to 3 stars. For the last few months, I noticed that Roomba was not picking up as much stuff as before. I changed brushes. cleaned it, took it apart and cleaned it but it still wasn't picking up anything. All I was getting was balls of dust being left behind.
Went online to find some ideas and followed a few tricks and found that my brushes were not moving. Upon trying everything under the sun to get this working, the end result is the the cleaning head module (CHD) has died. Great news, however, is that Irobot sells these for $49.99!!! Yay, I get to spend even more money to keep Roomba running. I am beginning to believe that the 560 model I bought was the beta version since the side brush and now the entire CHD have been redesigned. Yes, you heard that right, the CHD I decided to order is a redesign that apparently fixes the issues that the original one had.
Since I am in this for so much money already, what's another $49.99? The original cost was about $380 plus another $100 or so on replacement brushes plus this $50 brings my total to the cost of a high end Dyson vaccuum. Well, at least it does a great job when it is running.
While I love Roomba when it is working, I am finding the the cost and effort required to keep it running (the constant cleaning and taking it apart)might be too much for most people. I've read all the forums out there and the problems I have had are very common. And since Irobot keeps redesigning this piece by piece, I assume they are aware of all the issues as well. Hopefully, by the time I am done putting all the new pieces together, I will have a Roomba that will last for a long time before breaking down.
I understand that technology requires maintenance and repair but 2 years should not be considered the life cycle of a vaccuum. I guess gadgets of today are not made as well as they were "back in the day" as my parents woudl say. I will update once I get my new CHD and let everyone know how it works.
****Another Update 11/23/2009******
I got my new cleaning head module and it looks like Irobot has fixed the issues where dirt and paet hair could get stuck in the motor. Only time will tell if this will last but it is doing a great job for me again.
HOWEVER....my battery would not hold a charge for longer than 30 minutes and all attempts to "fix" it per the forums and tech support failed. The end result was a new battery purchase..yes, more money spent. rather than buy directly from Irobot, I decided to pick up a generic one sold here on amazon. I believe I paid about $65 for a generic battery that is equal to the $99 battery on the Irobot store. It is supposed to last longer than the stock battery but I haven't noticed much of a difference in the 2 Roomba runs since I got it.
So my Roomba is happily working again, just in time for the holidays, and I am hoping that I am done replacing faulty designed parts. I must be right???
******Maybe my Final Update?? 1/7/2011*******
Its been a while since my last update to this review. I guess that is because I haven't had any issues since I replaced the cleaning head module and battery in late 2009. The newer white side brushes seem to stay in place, the newer style brushes don't get as clogged as the old ones and my battery (an aftermarket brand) gives me a good hour and forty five minutes (or more) before it needs a charge.
I now have a 1 year old boy to go along with my 4 year boy so my house is in pretty rough shape after the two of them are done destroying it. So I am routinely running Roomba around those play areas so I can avoid bringing out the big vacuum. It has worked well...knock on wood!
I think I have nothing more to say! (unless of course something else breaks!)
With the holidays approaching fast, I figured I'd drop in and give a quick update. It's been almost a year since my last update and I am proud to say the Roomba has not given me any issues since the new cleaning module was installed back in 2009. I have swapped out various brushes from time to time but that is part of the regular maintenance that everyone has to do (part of the ongoing cost to keep Roomba happy).
I don't get to run Roomba as often as I would like as my almost 2 year old is petrified whenever Roomba turns on. I basically have to wait until my wife takes him out for a bit so I can let Roomba clean. My almsot 5 year old could care less when Roomba is running but does complian about the noise if he is trying to watcgh TV. It makes it a bit harder as the cleaning cycles are farther apart from one another so human intervention is needed to clean out the dust bin at least once during the cycle.
Hopefully my writing this update doesn't jinx me in some way and Roomba will decide to quit on me this week! Overall, I'm still very happy that I have this machine to help with the never ending cleaning of my house (amazing how much 2 boys can ruin in such a short amount of time!!)
*****Update June 19, 2012*****
Thanks to one of the commenters, John, I wanted to update this to point out that Irobot has changed the 560 model from what I originally bought. It seems that the marketing is still listing the 560 model as the 560 but it is really the 561 model which replaces the lighthouse technology with virtual wall technology (a downgrade in my opinion). Not sure why irobot did this and kept the 560 box and marketing the same but I find it a bit misleading. To amazon's credit, the description does state virtual walls rather than lighthouses but most people read reviews so others commenting on the lighthouse technology will just confuse people.
Irobot should consider re-branding the 560 as the 561 to stop the confusion.