iRobot’s Roomba 980: Too Good to be True?

With three teenagers, two dogs and a business to run, our house is always busy. To use one of my mother’s expressions, it often resembles Clapham Junction and that’s on a good day! I am therefore permanently on the look out for time-saving techniques and my life’s mission is to find the most efficient route to everything.

When iRobot asked me if I would like to review their Roomba 980 vacuum cleaning robot, I thought Christmas had come (very) early. I mean, who wouldn’t palm off a job or two to a robot, given half the chance?

The Roomba claims to seamlessly vacuum an entire floor whilst you’re out, even commanding it to do so via an app. Too good to be true? After one week of trialling it in our busy home, this is my verdict.

First Impressions

My first challenge was to put together the Roomba 980. Not being very tech savvy and with my  usual ‘go to’ (the 13 year old boy child) being at school, I had no choice but to tackle it by myself.

I was initially surprised by the size, wondering how this compact 35cm diameter piece of kit would manage to clean the whole of my downstairs and not a) run out of battery or b) fill up before completing the job (remember that we have pet hair and teenage mess to deal with).

I am pleased to tell you that I managed to assemble the Roomba and have it successfully charging in its docking station, within 15 minutes of opening the box (told you I was keen!).

Roomba 980 in a box

As the docking station needed to be placed away from the stairs, beside a plug socket and with only one wall in its vicinity, I decided that the hallway would be the best spot. I’ve since discovered that if you would rather not have it out on display, you can house it under a chair, sideboard or other piece of furniture, assuming there is enough room to accommodate its 9cm height.

The instructions supplied with the Roomba are very straight forward and the irobot app has a simple step by step video tutorial which is really easy to follow. I wrongly assumed that I would need to walk the Roomba through its first tour of our home. Amazingly, it uses sensors to navigate every room and all of the clutter that inevitably comes with a busy family home.

Are the Roomba’s Claims Justified?

The Roomba makes many claims; I was keen to put it through its paces to see if it really is worth its £899 price tag.

  • Cleans an entire level of your home. The Roomba has not successfully managed to clean an entire floor of my home as yet. I think this is partly my fault as it is well worth spending 10 minutes making your home ‘Roomba friendly’ before leaving the house. By that I mean propping open doors, putting dining chairs on the table, strategically placing the virtual wall barriers that come with the Roomba, to avoid it getting stuck etc. One floor of our home is about 100 sq/m and although the battery lasts for approximately 120 minutes, it seems unable to cover the whole floor in that time. Our house may also be exceptionally dirty (with two dogs and three teenagers, that is quite possible!) but the bin often needs emptying before it has completed a whole floor.
  • Automatically recharges and resumes until the work is done. If the Roomba is in a place where it can get back to its charging point (ie not stuck behind a door) then yes, this does happen.
  • Navigates multiple rooms. It seems to have no problem going from room to room, even navigating different floor heights. Click on the video below to see a short clip of the Roomba 980 in action.
  • Cleans under sofas and chairs. Assuming that the sofa, bed, chair or other piece of furniture is 9cms off the floor then yes, the Roomba can successfully clean under it – beats crawling down on your hands and knees that’s for sure!
  • Won’t fall down stairs. The Roomba cannot navigate stairs and doesn’t claim to. When I placed it upstairs, it did stop when it reached the stairs and I managed to film it doing just that.
  • Connect to clean from anywhere. As long as the Roomba is on its docking station and within wifi range, you can indeed command it to clean from the app.
  • Automatically docks and charges. When the Roomba has finished its schedule, it does return to its docking station. A full charge takes around 3 hours.
  • Cleans on a schedule. You can set the Roomba’s schedule via a very easy to use app where you can even give it a new name! I have mine set to start a lap of the downstairs at 9am Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You can set it for as often as you like.
  • Cleans all floor types. We have a mixture of wood, ceramic tiles and carpet. When the Roomba hits a new surface, it chooses the level of power required. It has no problem moving from a wooden floor to a rug. There is a good 1.5cm difference in the height of our tiled floor and wooden floor, see how the Roomba faried by watching the clip below.
  • Handles hair with ease. There’s a whole lot of hair in this house, of the canine and female variety. The Roomba picks up most things with ease but on occasion, I have found small clumps of fur left behind. Having said that, it did an excellent job on my bedroom carpet which my ordinary vacuum cleaner struggles to keep hair-free.
  • Sweeps wall edge and corners. The Roomba 980 does a thorough job and often goes backwards and forwards until it has successfully covered all corners and edges.
  • Traps dust as small as 10 microns. When emptying the bin I can confirm that it seems to have done an excellent job of collecting dust. Not being a scientist however, I cannot confirm what size they are!

Overall Conclusion

Not having owned a robot cleaner before, I have been really impressed with this genius invention. As a model, iRobot’s Roomba 980 is sleek, efficient and will definitely make my life a whole lot easier. I do think that I need to invest time in ‘Roomba-proofing’ my home in order to get the most out of it though.

At £899 RRP it is a hefty investment but iRobot have other models starting at £249.99 so they might be worth checking out.

I have thoroughly enjoyed setting the Roomba to vacuum the house while I get on with other jobs and can see it becoming a vital tool in my quest to make our home life more efficient.

Thank you to iRobot for gifting us the Roomba 980 in exchange for an honest review.

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16 Comments

  1. February 28, 2018 / 9:01 pm

    Oh this looks ace I need one of these so bad with an entire downstair of hardwood and tile I sweep everyday killing my back. Thanks for sharing this… good timing too. I was just looking at what would work better for our home. #wrc

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      March 4, 2018 / 10:39 pm

      Honestly, it’s really cut down on time for me – allowing me to do other jobs and not stress so much. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of marvelling at it!

  2. February 28, 2018 / 9:10 pm

    This looks so great, I have one on order and now cant wait to put it through its paces especially now I know it will be great for Toby, he is so hairy x

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 10:48 pm

      Ooh looking forward to seeing how you get on with it, Sarah! xx

  3. February 28, 2018 / 10:37 pm

    Loved the videos! I dread to think how long it would take to clean the teen’s room – poor thing would get lost under a pile of who knows what. I’m off to fantasise about getting my own robot cleaner now! x

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      March 4, 2018 / 10:39 pm

      I must admit that my teenager had to clear her entire room before it went in there as it couldn’t get past the threshold!

  4. March 3, 2018 / 6:17 pm

    We had a cheap one of these a few years ago and it was crap. I do like the idea of it though and would definitely try out a better one in the future.
    Nat.x

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      March 4, 2018 / 10:40 pm

      I’m sure there are lesser versions but this one is VERY good.

  5. March 3, 2018 / 10:29 pm

    That is so cool! I remember when Roombas first came out and thinking it looked too good to be true, but from what you say it pretty much does what it says on the tin, which is impressive. I certainly can’t justify the price tag sadly but it does sound like a fab thing to have.

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      March 4, 2018 / 10:42 pm

      This is the cream of the crop, there are slightly more affordable models, so worth checking out. It’s definitely an investment but I’m loving it so far!

  6. March 6, 2018 / 12:38 pm

    This is quite literally my husbands dream gift! A little pricey although I can see there are cheaper ones. Fancy that, doing the hoovering for you. WOW.

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 10:48 pm

      I’ve had it a while now and the novelty never gets old! x

  7. March 6, 2018 / 2:32 pm

    Oh wow! This is the stuff of dreams Suzanne. I was skeptical when I first saw these but I must admit I’m rather impressed with it after reading this post and watching your videos. x

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 10:49 pm

      Thanks Morgana, it really is a dream come true! A month on and I’m still impressed every time it starts up dead on 9am as the schedule has been set. x

  8. March 6, 2018 / 3:36 pm

    How cool is this!!! I hate using the ‘hoove’r so this has got my name written all over, although I feel my husband may have different ideas. Great review, well done xx

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 10:56 pm

      My husband also loves it – I don’t think it would take long to convert yours!

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