In a country where we have a startup, bookmybai, offering maids on hire and maids are integral family member of many households, one might dismiss iRobot as fancy product. But India is changing and after using the iRobot Roomba 870 for a fortnight now, I think vacuum cleaning robots could soon make way into many households especially in urban cities. There are increasing number of working couples households who find it difficult to manage theirs and maid’s timings and then even finding the right house helpers are increasingly becoming difficult as well as costlier. Then there are those clean freaks, who would like a second round of cleaning later the day. For all those, iRobot Roomba would be a perfect help and here is why.
iRobot, a popular household name in America and Europe officially started its operation in India few months back with their own stores as well as an e-commerce platform in their Indian website. The iRobot offers vacuum cleaning and mopping robots. In India they currently offer their 600, 700 and 800 series and the price starts at Rs 32,900. The review unit they send us is iRobot Roomba 870, priced at Rs 62,900 (currently they run a festive offer discount of Rs 13,000)
The box contents include:
- The Roomba machine
- docking station
- Power chord
- two vertical walls unit
- a spare filter
- 4 AA batteries for the vertical walls
- User manual and a quick guide.
Across the series, the iRobot Roomba has a distinctive circular design, while the 600 series have predominant white color on the body, the 700 and 800 series have opted for black and grey shades that work better visually. The Roomba is a sturdy device and it has to be as it collides with the walls and furniture when prowling to gather dirt.
A handle on the top makes it easy to carry around.
The top face display has four buttons – dock, clock, schedule and spot. The scheduler can set the timer for each day of the week for the Roomba to automatically go about its work on the scheduled time. There is also a bin release button and a room confinement sensor on the top. There is a large Clean/Power button, that glows in green.
Turn to the bottom side, there are three pairs of cliff sensors, spinning side brush, debris extractors, removable caster wheel, two sturdy wheel module.
iRobot introduced the AeroForce technology first in the 800 series and replaced the bristle brushes with rubber rollers. The company says it cleans up to 50 percent more dirt, hair, and debris. AeroForce is essentially two treaded rubber rollers that spin in opposite directions. The treads are angled and it enhances the sucking power of the air flow by creating a sealed channel on the floor. It also tangle less with long hairs, pet hairs and threads when compared to the bristle brushes.
The extractors can be easily removed for cleaning and easily snaps back in position.
There is a side spinning wheel which helps to dig out the dirt from the edges as well as to sweeps the dirt around to the path of Roomba for it to swallow them into its belly.
The dust bin is small and it can be easily released by a press of button and snapped back. On the top, there is a lid that covers the filter.
The bin can get quickly filled, I had to empty it every 4-5 days but it depends on how messy your house is.
The cleaner bot is very simple to use. When the bot is powered off, first press of the clean button, brings it to live and you see the green glow. A second press sends it to cleaning. Similarly, when it is working, pressing the clean button pauses it and a long press shuts it down.
The robot is íntelligent’ too. When the battery is on low charge, it automatically finds its way back to the docking station to recharge. There is also a regular cleaning and spot mode. The spot mode instructs the vacuum to work on a particular area.
You get two virtual walls out of the box. If you want to create a virtual barrier to block of the particular area or room, you can just place the virtual wall box to create a fence. It works very well.
The cliff sensors work brilliantly, the first time I used my heart skipped a beat when it approached the edge of the stairs but it stopped, turned and continued its cleaning act. Accessing difficult to reach areas like under the cot are easy with Roomba. It waded under my cot, coffee tables and furnitures smoothly and does not complaint.
While Roomba is easy to use, it can test your patience too, if you are in a hurry. While it can sense the time it needs to clean the room and then hit the docking station once the job is done. At times it can take its own pace, it follows an algorithm to cover as much ground as possible but while you see a dirt a few feet away from the Roomba, it can skip it go the other corner and lazily return after some time to clean the dirt. But, it does the job. Having said that, the dirt sensor can sometime disappoint by half-cleaning at one area and thinking it is done with it. (may be it mimics us, ha!) It also can gobble up the food spills, I was surprised it slurped the pomegranate juice that had dripped down a cracked fruit on to the floor along with other bits and pieces of kitchen wastes. If you have a large carpet area, you would appreciate Roomba. It does a fantastic job at sucking out the hidden dirt.
I don’t have cats or dogs as pet, so I took the Roomba to a friends place to check how it handles the pet’s hairs. Unless you have a long-haired dogs, you shouldn’t be having much issue. Long hairs can occasionally tangle into the extractors needing your attention. Though in my testing period, I faced no such instances barring once.
The Roomba also needs periodic maintenance. The extractors and sensors needs to be cleaned. The dust bin of course has to be emptied when it is full. Fortunately, there is an indicator (including a voice one) that says the bin is full.
To be honest, it was my first attempt at testing an automatic vacuum and iRobot Roomba 870 struck a positive note with me. Yes, the traditional vacuum cleaners offers a better suction power but the Roomba frees your time. When used regularly, the Roomba can keep your home pretty cleaner. At it’s price, it will be a luxury for many and I have no plans of retiring my maid. For those who can afford it, the Roomba can be one happy cleaning bot offering a good, compact design, solid build quality and impressive performance.