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Roomba and Scooba

Roomba

Anyone using a Roomba or Scooba cleaning robot? Being a homeowner now with plenty of carpet, hardwood floors, and tiles, not to mention a yard and a pool, I find myself spending more time than I care devoted to cleaning the house. I’ve read some good reviews on the Roomba and Scooba, but I have yet to meet anyone personally who owns one of them. Any readers out there using products from iRobot to assist them in cleaning their homes? I’d like to hear what you think!

Back in college, I took an AI class—CS221, taught by noted AI pioneer, Nils Nilsson—where we had to develop an application that navigated its way through a maze. I don’t recall how my app performed, but I doubt that it would have won any accolades in the annals of artifical intelligence history. I’ve read that the Roomba isn’t all that intelligent either, especially when compared to the $1800 Electrolux Tribolite. That product uses ultrasonic sensors to map out the room it’s cleaning. There’s no way I’m paying that much money for a cleaning product, but a couple hundred for a smarter vacuum might be in order.

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13 thoughts on “Roomba and Scooba

  1. i bought my mom a roomba after she had a shoulder injury so that it would lighten the load for her daily chores. the roomba is a cute little contraption, but i do have a few complaints. it certainly isn’t the most intelligent device and it’s a pain to set up the little electronic walls so that it doesn’t go to places that it shouldn’t. my parents have a lot of floor space so it can’t vacuum every room in the house, but the single biggest complaint i have about it is that it doesn’t leave nice clean vacuum lines on your carpet. instead it sort of just goes all over the place in what almost seems like a random pattern. she has a lot of furniture in the middle of the room and that freaks it out a little bit.

    the roomba is great for discrete rooms that don’t have a lot of furniture in the middle of the room.

  2. Hey Adam,

    We own two Roombas and a Scooba. We have also given away a few Roombas as gifts to family. Everyone is very happy. We run our Roomba almost every night in our carpetted dining room. The Scooba is not used very often though. As far as intelligence, it doesn’t really need much. In fact, for the Roomba, less is more. It does have an open api so you can program it yourself if you want. We did just that by giving our Roombas personalities and by writing a scheduler program to tell it when to vacuum. You can pick up a refurbed Roomba pretty cheap on Amazon. Good luck.

  3. sting says:

    I have tried a Roomba for a month. It finctioned better on bare floor than carpet and it definitely is more of a maintenance device than a heavy duty cleaning device, for that I have a Dyson. Sharper Image has a 60-day trial I believe.

  4. Adam, both Adrian/Evelyn and Tori have Roombas. They gave me demos and I think they like them. The Roombas don’t have a whole lot of power plus take a long time (hours I think) to do a complete cleaning, but that isn’t a big problem since you just activate them before leaving the house! Makes a great conversation tool too. :)

  5. I’ve got one that completes one run every weekday in a 1,800 sq/ft loft with hardwood floors. I used to have to hunt dust bunnies out of every corner and crevice at least weekly, but now they’re nowhere to be found. It also navigates over transitions admirably and handles area carpets and stone floors.

    Consider I paid $150 for it, I couldn’t be more pleased.

  6. There are 5-6 different models of the Roomba out there. Is there any real benefit to getting the Discovery and Scheduler models over the basic, no-frills version? I’m leaning towards the latter, but wanted to hear from others if the more expensive models are really that much better. Thanks!

  7. The difference between the Roomba Red and Roomba Sage models is the Red has a standard charger (up to 7 hour charging time) and the Sage has a fast charger (up to 3 hour charging time). The Roomba Discovery adds a self-charging Home Base and a remote control. The self-charging Home Base is nice because after the Roomba is done vacuuming, it will return to base and recharge itself so it will be ready to work again. The Roomba Scheduler has Virtual Wall Schedulers instead of the standard Virtual Walls and a Scheduler Remote instead of a Roomba Standard Remote. Comparison available here.

    I did a lot of reading of various boards and reviews before buying my Roomba Scheduler for $280 after tax from LNT. In addition to my Roomba, I only have a hand operated Dirt Devil (which I have not had to use yet, but would use with a carpet cleaner if I had to remove a stain). I have been using my Roomba Scheduler for three months now. In my condo, I have five rooms (including my WIC) with carpet. I do not use the scheduler feature because I set the Roomba with its base in a different room each day to vaccuum (I could just put the Roomba in a room and let it run until the battery is drained, but I like the Roomba returning to its base to recharge in case I want to clean another room when I come home). After about an 30 minutes (the battery is supposed to last up to two hours, but I may not have put it in a large enough room where it needs two hours to vacuum), it is done vacuuming and returns to its base to recharge. Since I have a new carpet, I have to empty the bin after each use because of all the new carpet fuzz. I also clean the filter, the brushes, and the brush bearings after each use (though the manual says you need to do so after every 3 uses).

    As wilco said, the Roomba does not leave nice vacuum lines in your carpet, but random lines/shapes across your carpet. I found that the Roomba does not clean “everywhere” when it goes between two rooms like my living room and dining room which are connected with a large entryway between the two, so I use a virtual wall to keep the Roomba in whatever room it is vacuuming and it does a very good job in each room. The virtual wall’s field is not just a straight line, but a cone. The further the distance the virtual wall is supposed to cover, the wider the cone is. In my dining room, I place my chairs on my dining room table before vacuuming and in my living room, I move two chairs out to allow better cleaning without bumping into so many objects. The Roomba has a tendancy to get caught under one of my love seats, so I put one of my DDR pads under it to prevent the Roomba from getting caught. I also place a small box in my sliding glass track to prevent the Roomba from getting caught in it.

    From Roomba Review:
    Roombas manufactured after October 2005 contain an electronic and software interface that allows you to control or modify Roomba’s behavior and remotely monitor its sensors. This interface is called the Roomba Serial Control Interface or Roomba SCI. It is intended for software programmers and roboticists to create their own enhancements to Roomba.

    Engadget reported that the iRobot WiFi module received FCC approval.

    I have never compared a before and after to see after using the Roomba, how much stuff a vacuum would pick up and vice versa. I would be interested, but I do not plan to buy a vacuum cleaner. Is it slower than vacuum cleaner? Definitely. If I had a vacuum cleaner, I could probably vacuum my entire condo in 15 minutes, while the Roomba takes about 30 minutes for each room. Is this better for someone who’s allergic to dust or who prefers a bag vacuum over a bagless vacuum? No, you have to empty the bin and remove carpet fuzz and long hair from the brushes. All in all, I am very happy with my Roomba as I do not have to vacuum ever. The Roomba can also do hardwood floors (but I have never used mine on anything but carpet) or you could get a Scooba, but I just use a Swiffer WetJet (but nothing is better than a good scrubbing on your hands and knees).

  8. I ran a couple tests last night and my Roomba Scheduler runs for 1 hour each time it cleans a room before it runs out of battery power or before it returns to its self-charging Home Base.

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