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back to article iRobot Roomba 780 automated vacuum cleaner

The Roomba is the most widely known of the robot cleaners, and with competition mounting, the company, iRobot, has not been sitting on its laurels. The Roomba 780 is the latest model, and boasts a larger collecting bin, built in scheduling and HEPA filters. iRobot Roomba 780 iRobot's Roomba 780 boasts improved battery …

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Unhappy

£500 and it still dosent look like R2

See optional title

That is all....

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JDX
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How's it handle stairs? Which era of Dalek does it emulate?

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It stops when it realises there's a drop - it managed to avoid falling down the steps from my bedroom.

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Yes and No

It stops when it is operating OK.

All Roomba cleaners have a maintenance quirk. They do not navigate by counting revs on the main wheels which would be the obvious solution, but through counting revs on the front wheel. It is painted black/white and functions like a mechanical (ball) mouse. There is a sensor behind it which counts the revs and thus measures the distances.

In my experience this wheel assembly picks up gunk way too easily. I have to clean mine after every 4-5 runs. Once gunk gets between the wheel and the sensor the robot starts getting lost. It will fail to navigate back to the base, it will fail to deccelerate before hard objects and it will approach stairs at stupid speeds. As a result, at the very best it will get stuck on the edge. At worst it will fly out.

By the way - 95% of complaints about Roomba behaving stupidly are related to this issue. Funnily enough it is not mentioned anywhere in the booklets. The robot does not do any diagnostic on it either (dumb, dumber). There is no convenient way to remove the wheel assembly either (you have to use a big screwdriver or a blunt knife to flip it out).

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Competition

Why would I get this expensive Roomba if I can get a Samsung Navibot that is not only cheaper but also much faster thanks to its mapping software.

I have to admit I must let the Samsung do the room twice before I'm totally happy, but that still is way faster than the Roomba.

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Anonymous Coward

You want a real test?

Two dogs, a cat and kids aged around 7 years old who like Lego, plasticine and a fascination for drawing on small scraps of paper and leaving them on the floor, that's how you test a vacuum cleaner! Wrecked two Dysons and putting a Henry through it's paces at the moment!

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Happy

A Dyson may be completely dismantled with an appropriately sized Torx driver. Fixing them is simple.

Dismantling the cyclonic bits, cleaning thoroughly and reassembling usually does the trick. The thing that's fatal to them is anything wet, particularly fruit squash. It combines with the dust in the small channels that form the cyclones at the top of the assembly and sets, bunging the the thing up.

Yes I have one, yes it's now over a decade old and yes it has been suckless and brought back to life more than once over that time.

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Dyson's are great!

You get a 5 year warranty with every Dyson and they've never quibbled about sending an engineer round or posting a new part for free. We have 2 hairy dogs and 2 kids and about once a year something fails on our Dysons but they simply post out a new part if we can fix it ourselves, it's almost like lego it's that easy.

As a tech freak I'd love a robot vacuum cleaner but in our house it would need to be emptied once in every room as it just doesn't have the capacity and I'd be totally surprised if it had the suction power to come close to a Henry, never mind a Dyson.

Doing it manually is very good exercise. :-) So the wife tells me.

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Coat

"Yes I have one, yes it's now over a decade old and yes it has been suckless and brought back to life more than once over that time."

Well that's married life for you.

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Cheaper than a Kirby

Kirby vacuum cleaners put the price of Dysons & Roombas to shame. One of them will set you back a couple of grand which is why they're only sold by door to door salesmen using (IMO) some highly questionable pressure sales.

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Anonymous Coward

I sold Kirby door to door

in between highschool and college. I got a rundown from an old timer. In 1998 they cost $200 to make. They are sold to distributors for $400. The distributors sell them to van crew leaders for $800. The crew leaders used the 'unpaid unless they made a sale' sales people to sell them at whatever price they can, starting at $1600 and negotiating down. Van crew leaders and the sales person split the profit. There is a lot more shaddy practices going on in these organizations from the credit cards they offer to finance the machines to people who can't afford them to the way they run the repair shop.

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Toy..

How does it cope with pet hair? Not very well I imagine..

For under 300 quid it's possible to purchase a particularly good vac with top of the line filters, pet hair removal and usually some attempt at carpet washing too i.e. Sebo or Miele.

I'm not a great fan of housework but it really does only take a few minutes each week unless you're very particular (in which case a Roomba isn't any good anyway). Plus it'll be able to vacuum furniture (necessary after pets have moulted again..).

There's a lot of things I could justify 500 quid of disposable income on before I reach a Roomba.

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Coat

You mean there is a moment when pets *stop* moulting?

Blimey, I'm going to mark that in the calendar if I ever see it!

/mine's the one covered in cat hair, with the eviscerated rat in the pocket

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Well a lot of that fluff that you see in the bin in the photos is made up of pet hair (though sadly not recent pet hair, due to the sad demise of my Pussy). So it does a reasonable job, though perhaps not quite as powerful as the Neato, which I used to attack the collected hair behind my sofa.

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I'll see you're pet hair and raise you...

with my own. So how do these things cope with vast quantities of very long himan hair? I moult like a dog but my hair is much longer and it's eventually destroyed every standard vacuum I've bought. Can a Roomba handle it? I'd get one if it can.

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Angel

re: You mean there is a moment when pets *stop* moulting?

Yes. When they are out in the garden. And when they come back in, they hop on 3 legs up to the bedroom just so they can leave nice muddy pawprints over the duvet..

Maybe 6 cats *is* a little OTT. The 3 dogs don't seem to mind them though (although the small fluffy one is a bit nervous of the two male cats..).

And anyway - I'm told that the natural state of the universe is to be covered with pet hair.

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If it's very long hair you may find, as I did with large clumps of pet hair and the Neato at one stage, that it sort of wraps it around the rollers in large clumps, neatly preparing for you to start the conversion into a lovely bit of yarn with which to make a jump that will enchant and surprise people when they receive it as a gift.

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Moulting pets...

I find sellotape efficiently prevents dogs/cats etc moulting, and hence saves on vacuuming too.

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Boffin

Needs a revolution not evolution

Apart from the bigger bin and better battery, this doesn't seem much of an improvement on my Roomba.

Looks a bit like they *are* resting on their laurels a bit. I'd love one of these with some kind of automatic bin-emptying system (no I have no idea how that would work) - it might be a worthwhile upgrade then.

And they really should do something about the price. As others have said you can get more capable competitors for less now.

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Joke

£500 ?? They are having a laugh!!

For that kind of money I can get a couple of slaves from the local travellers site, who will do the gardening AND clean the house (stairs included).

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"Crevice nozzle"

That is all

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Probably good if you have a large empty house

But I'm not about to drop 500 quid if it can't move cables, shoes, etc. out of the way, will be able to cope with bits of paper, screws, bits of wire cutting left on the floor, move the furniture - or be able to get into gaps 6 inches wide.

Of course it can do none of these.. so it's not going to be very useful.

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It will pick up some of those - it managed to gobble up assorted receipts, the cellophane wrapping from some of my (fairly large) cigars, and a few two inch screws. Those last, of course, wouldn't have made it into the bin of the recently reviewed Neato, thanks to the sharp bends that junk has to go round.

But yes, for a lot of people, you're still going to need to do stuff yourself. Or wait until you have a guest who's so disgusted with the state of your place that they'll do it for you.

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I love my roomba ...

... but frankly I wouldn't pay £500 for one. The one I've got *does* pick up a lot of stuff, and makes the carpets look quite decent. That does it for me. Oh, and it encourages me not to leave stuff on the floor, which is also good. This new model doesn't really sound like much of a delta on the old one.

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Anonymous Coward

got the old model

We have the old model 581, and its pretty good, but its horses for courses. Our main living space is open plan and about 35ft * 13ft with oak flooring and very little clutter, so it does a really good job. We've also got a couple of British Short hair cats, which despite their name have a really dense coat with lots of fur and it picks it all up. We have it set to go around about 3 times a week when we're out so it keeps pretty much on top of things. At the weekend I pick it up and take it upstairs to do the bedrooms and landing, but again we have oak flooring and not much clutter, but its great at getting under the beds etc

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Coat

Seen everything now

Blokes discussing vacuum cleaners.

Shakes head in disbelief.

Mines the apron with front pockets for thimbles, hair pins and clothes pegs.

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Happy

RE: "Seen everything now" Ah but you don't understand - this is tech.

That's the whole point. That's how the really smart wife gets hubby to do at least some of the housework - by persuading him that he is using kit. The sort of stuff he reads about at El Reg. That way she can convince him that its not some *girly* thing, instead its something with buttons, flashing lights and it probably goes "beep, beep" as well.

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Coat

How much does Nigel get paid again?

Cigars and fancy robot butlers?

Mine's the smoking jacket in the billiards room please e-Jeeves.

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I don't buy my cigars in the UK. Doesn't everyone enjoy puffing on a Cuban once in a while?

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Anonymous Coward

I'm not that way inclined...

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Coffee/keyboard

£500 on a vacuum cleaner that may not properly clean the floor???? Why spend so much when a Henry costs about a 100 quid and will clean stairs and furniture? It may not take so long to clean the room with it anyway. You can save up the £400 on something a bit more worthwhile.

You can also clean keyboards with a Henry! (Other cylinder vacuum cleaners are available)

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Boffin

A I

I'm waiting for the version that can tell the difference between what is rubbish and what fell to the floor by accident and puts the latter back in the correct place (preferably without sarcastic comment).

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Facepalm

'By accident' ?

The floor's my filing system... wardrobe... bookshelves...

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Devil

A version between that can tell the difference between rubbish and what fell

I already have one of those, it's called a wife. Comes complete without sarcastic comment, often lacks suction and is known to moan a bit.....but otherwise reliable.

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Rug munching....

... has a different meaning to some people (unless that was your intention?)

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Anonymous Coward

not a REAL rug muncher

Yeah. I wanted to read about a rug-munching sucking machine, but stopped the moment I found out that it was a vacuum cleaner.

Darn.

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Alien

Sorry

Zoomba with a Roomba?

Or

Roomba with a Zoomba?

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Alert

don't believe the hype

Roombas are garbage. Take it from a guy who was sold on them by all this internet hype and paid "reviews" (i'm looking at you, reg) and laid out >$2000 to outfit himself with a bunch of Roombas and Scoobas. They've all, _all_, bit the dust now (~1.5 years later), and I'm back to pushing the Dyson around by hand. :(

I'd love to live the dream of a Jetsons world where robots do our cleaning for us just as much as the next guy, but that's all iRobot is doing, selling us a dream, not an actual useful robot vacuum.

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I wonder what you mean by ' paid "reviews" ' ?

I've written four reviews of robot cleaners for RegHardware. The only person who's paid me any money to do it is RegHardware, and they certainly don't tell me what to write, nor do the PRs ply me with gifts, freebies or anything else.

Looking at those four reviews, I would hardly class them as hype, and indeed they all manage to find some sort of fault with the various models on test.

You may not have been happy with your purchases, or regret your decision, but please don't go around making allegations of impropriety without being able to back them up.

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Unhappy

sorry. I shouldn't have been "looking at you, reg".

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I thought it would be silly to own a Roomba.

But I went ahead and bought one anyway.

I thought our $45 Bissel Vaccuum was doing a good job but after using our upright I then started to charge the Roomba then ran it the next day just to make sure it was fully charged.

I currently own the the 570(black silver) Ok so I hit the button and let it do its own thing.

even after 30 minutes it was still going along and then after 45 minutes the batttery light turned yellow and knew I need to use a light tower so it can find its way home.

Ok so now it found its docking station and I opened up the bin for the very first time and the image looked very similar to the one in this article and it was full! OMG and I thought the Bissel was doing a good job? Heh... So I threw out the $45 Bissel upright.

The battery last for 1 year. Still looking for a local retailer that sells the battery as I prefer to shop local.

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Black Helicopters

£500 and no Wifi? How is it suppose to join the RoTM?

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Just wait

until it's hacked by Lulzsec.

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WTF?

Whoopee. 50 extra battery charging cycles.

Imagine what you would say if your mobile telephone maker told you that new software gives you 50 more charging cycles? Wow, you get to extend the life of your device by a whole 2 months! What kind of batteries does this thing use - lemon-and-nail batteries?

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