As readers of my Samsung Navibot review will know, I’m not much of a person for housework, and tend to leave it for special occasions. So, it was with something of a sense of relief that I received iRobot’s Roomba 581 to test. iRobot Roomba 581 iRobot's Roomba 581: dust-loving droid The 581 is currently the most top-of-the- …
Can you make it say
"Foreign Contaminant" ?
I'd guess in your flat it would drive you crazy pretty quick.
"Oo-ooo--ooo-hhh!" *red light extends*
Seriously, Author - if I were your boss at El Reg, I'd probably fire you after seeing the ecological tragedy you call a residence. Testing a Roomba in there is like testing a Toyota Prius in the Paris-Dakar rally.
Your apartment doesn't need a vacuum - it needs give gallons of gasoline and a match.
And I thought my flat was a mess
Rope, bubble wrap, cement, and Lord only knows what crap appears in the photos of your office. You, Sir, live like a beast. I salute you.
75% seems a bit mean
Is it just the price you don't like?
Not quite ...
It's a combination of the price, and the need to keep a standard vacuum cleaner for the really dirty jobs (of which, naturally, I have quite a few).
Yay for the 2000AD mention.
Looks pretty cool, but I have a question: is it like a fancy (hudududud) Eubanks cleaner or does it have an actual vaccum in it?
That is one seriously dirty & cluttered office! Get the sponges, disinfectant and marigolds out man!
I think even Kim and Aggie would throw up their Marigolds in disgust at that place.
Poor robot, it was probably disposed of as hazardous waste when it went back to iRobot.
Flamethrower, more like.
Don't forget ongoing costs.
These are great, but they don't tell you there are future costs.
My battery gave up after a year (being used every day). I expected it to last at least 1000 cycles, but the manufacturers seem to think a year is not unusual, depending on usage.
Replacements cost about £70 for an official one, £55ish for a (better..) unofficial one.
If you complain they will offer you 30% off... if you keep complaining they might give in and send you a free one (they did for me...).
At the end of the day i will continue to replace the battery at my own expense in future as it does such a great job (three cats shed a lot of fur).
I just think they should make you aware of this expense up front though.
Not as lippy as Ro-Jaws
Yes, but it also doesn't clean your cludgey. Btw, that room was not pleasant, get a cleaner.
you neeeearly managed to not call it a 'vacuum' - until the second to last paragraph.
iRobot have always been terribly careful to refer to their products as 'cleaners' rather than 'vacuum cleaners' - as they don't suck, at least not in the literal sense.
Otherwise - what kind of Reg Hardware review is this, in that you stop at its basic functions and don't investigate hacking and homebrew?! ;)
Does it still get stuck on Ikea chairs? 53x does.
The main advantage of the Roomba is that you can run it pretty much every day. It may not pick up as much dust as a "proper" vacuum cleaner in one go but it is persistent and stubborned. The difference becomes really obvious once you get into the habit of running it every day (or schedule it to do it).
I found however a number of major flaws with the design which this review has missed:
1. The navigation is dependent on distance measurement by the front (small wheel) which has a simple black/white marking and a simple optical sensor. However the space between the wheel and the sensor gets clogged up very fast resulting in it running very sub-optimal patterns and taking an hour or so to find its base "by feel". It should be trivial to detect that it is not measuring distance correctly and signal a minor fault. However it does not do that.
2. Ikea/Argos/Whatever chairs in the classic Swedish style "steam-bent beech" design are a definite Achilles heel:
The Roomba is incapable of dealing with them. It climbs on top of the leg and starts bleeping for help.
By the way, it is not a vacuum cleaner in the first place. It is a floor/carpet cleaner with vacuum assist. Most of the cleaning is done by the brushes and the vacuum is only helping out to clean up the remainder.
"The Roomba is incapable of dealing with them. It climbs on top of the leg and starts..."
Down! Bad hoover! Down I say!
:/ It's impressive how dirty your flat got in 2 months, in the name of science (well journalism i guess, but it's a test, so i say science), naturally ;)
I fear purifying with fire is the only way i'll get my place sanitary :S unless you want to give away the review robot :D
What kind of a slob are you??
Jeez. Your office is in a dump stage!
No matter how many Roombas you've got, that pigsty won't ever get clean unless you actually clear it out and get the steam cleaners in!!
Shameful... The poor old dear who has to clean up that mess...
You live in that!? I thought *my* living standards were below par. I need to show to the wife to get myself off the hook more.
I'll get my coat, coz I'm too scared to hang it anywhere in your house.
Jesus - and I thought my wife was bad at cleaning up her workarea ...
Roomba's rock btw
And there I was thinking it was a male trait, given all the females I know comment on my pigsty (which is tidy compared to this article). They don't seem to understand my sophisticated organisation scheme and think it is just crap strewn around.
perhaps I'm just a tad too old fashioned, but the "after" pictures are not impressive for a device that costs as much as the roomba's do. If it cost $75, I'd say it was dandy. But at the $300-$500 range I've seen (here in the States), I would expect it to do a much better job of cleaning than what the pictures show. Those floors STILL aren't clean, and if you have to drag out the regular vacuum to clean up after the roomba, what's the point? Er, well, other than telling your friends you have a cool robot toy that pretends to clean your floors...
You missed the point
It costs that much because you can run it twice a day if you want - automated and once it has cleaned up it can maintain it squeaky clean. It takes it about 2-3 days on average to get there.
You cannot afford the time to do run around your office daily with a 75$ vacuum cleaner unless you also purchase the Consuella attachment to it which costs way more than 500$ a year if you use the system on a daily basis.
For our UK readers, please note that the "Consuala" attachment has been re-named to one of the following (depending upon local availability):
".... It climbs on top of the leg and starts bleeping for help."
Thanks for that, a spot of light in an otherwise dull day.
I had an image of a Roomba in a nightclub frantically signaling to its mate... "I've found a pair of slappers who are up for it but you are getting the ugly sofa from Argos"...
Is this the Reg or what?
No mention of the Roomba open interface?
Of the Roomba-controlling hamster?
Of the Roomba with an airsoft gun?
Shabby Shabby Shabby
Where are you going to live now Shabby has left the Big Brother house...
I'm thinking she will be wanting her old room back now...
(BTW... If you hold the iRobot in your right hand, do you lose suction)
Owning a Roomba is like polygamy, without the bipolar commentary - its certainly cheaper to maintain than its biological equivalent! Having said that, the other wife does feel threatened by the invasion within her personal space and the need for increased assurance of her alpha status in the household is assured.
It has a particular affection for dragging phone chargers around the house, like safety blankets and given a chair of the correct dimensions, will happily slide between the legs and hump each in turn for hours, until it runs out of stamina. The only complaint is a sad melody as it accepts its fate, shuts down and awaits the eventual scorn of its owner - I'd complain like hell if I humped for that long and didn't at least get my bag emptied part way through!
The battery has the life expectancy of an iPhone and the side brush suffers from a bad case of Osteogenesis imperfecta and needs replacing frequently, once it's broken all it's limbs.
I'm considering getting another for upstairs, although the temptation to strap battery powered angle grinders and conduct "Roomba Wars" in the garage is too great!
Clean my STAIRS!
If you can't clean my stairs, you're not a robot. You're a bump-and-go car with a fan.
i love mine
I love my roomba. correctly. we love our roomba. had it for some time now and its great... its more a sweeper than a vacuum... but does run quieter than a vacuum...cant hear it when its on and we're in bed. nice. still need a 'standard' vacuum - for stairs, and higher areas (eg dado, picture rails etc). but its great for 'just keeping on top of things'.
NOT a vacuum cleaner
I've had a Roomba, and was reasonably happy until the battery went and the plastic broke, but it is NOT a vacuum cleaner, and it does NOT suck up the dirt. It will, however, have a pretty game with any tassles on carpets, or loose wires, until it gets bored and stops.
They do crawl under beds by themselves, and if you can get out of the house and not waste the time watching them in fascination, they do save some time, but they're robot carpet sweepers.
And you can still buy those
Argos: search for carpet sweeper £2.99 for the cheapest, a tenner for one just like your gran had.
I Want One...
...three ex wives don't even come close.
It DOES suck - in a good way...
There are a few posts on here that say that the Roomba does not have a vacuum function, or that it does not suck - this is inaccurate.
It's true that the majority of the cleaning is done by twin counter-rotating bars (one to brush the carpet and one rubber one to beat the carpet), but the beating of the carpet brings the dust to the surface (much like if you whack an old sofa or train seat), and then at the back of the Roomba is a vacuum - albeit a low power one - which sucks up this dust.
I have a Roomba 560 which cleans my flat daily, and leaves it spotless. There's no point in having one if you use it infrequently as it's not meant for deep cleans, but with it running every day my carpet looks great.
It DOES suck - in a good way...
I'm glad someone has pointed this out. Every Roomba review gets those comments about it not being a vacuum. Its an air filter always gets thickly coated with dust. There's no way a beater could do that.
@Ian Ferguson "iRobot have always been terribly careful to refer to their products as 'cleaners' rather than 'vacuum cleaners'" - the iRobot site gets to top few hits for 'roomba vacuum'. Why the Rooba fud?
no better than mine and mine was 40 quid
Kinda pissed off really... as I see my benny hill music and speed up trick has now been copied by other youtube robdogs, who have stuck cats on top... one even got onto Graham Nortons show :-/
I own one and I hate it takes forever to clean the whole room.
I don't understand why it passes on a square meter 50 times, then on another one just once.
This also happens every time it runs, so... no short term nor long term memory :(
Is there something on the market with some "intelligence" built in?
Re: Random wandering
"Is there something on the market with some "intelligence" built in?"
I believe that's called a "wife".
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