The Gadget: The Roomba Professional 610—the most powerful Roomba EVER—is made for large areas like offices, businesses, and big homes. It comes with two interchangeable bins, extra brushes and filters, and two virtual walls.
The Price: $US549
The Verdict: Although the Roomba Pro—which we lovingly dubbed "Calculon Jr."—is meant to be the tough, industrial one of the Roomba series, there are times it acted less like a machine, and more like a rebellious child with ADD. This would be a good cleaning device for industrial sized rooms despite its drawbacks, but it's too big and too loud for apartments.
The Pro is supposed to run on four different cleaning paterns: spiralling, wall following, room crossing, and dirt detection—all seemingly random unless you're familiar with the paths and AI its creators programmed for it.
After directing Calculon Jr. to find his "home," he only managed to dock himself—even when physically placed next to the docking station—twice out of five tries. Moreover, the Roomba is extremely loud, so I wouldn't bother trying to watch TV when the Roomba Pro is running—(unless he's cleaning a different room, which can be sanctioned off using the two included virtual walls, which worked fine with two C batteries).
One cool feature about the Roomba Pro is how simple it is to schedule a cleaning time—which can be set up to once a day, seven times a week—by using the built-in display that also tells the time and day. However, the display can only be seen if you keep the "clock" button held down.
When trying to clean up cookie crumbs and sunflower seeds, Calculon Jr.'s side brush would scatter the mess in different directions instead of sweeping it up into his vacuum. However, if you let your Roomba Pro run around for quite some time—or if you place him directly on top of the mess—he does a quite thorough job of cleaning up the dirt and debris on the floor, as long as it is an open space.
Here's where the Roomba Pro differentiates itself from its smaller brothers. Because of the Pro's larger size, it is unable to get to the dirt under smaller areas—such as the spaces under counters and couches. Similarly, when Calculon Jr. was placed under a table, it took him a while to manoeuvre around/between the chairs, and try to find his way out from under. When it is unable to do so, the Roomba Pro will automatically shut itself off.
Because it's a Pro model designed for offices and bed & breakfasts, it comes with various spare parts that owners can use to self-repair. It would've been nice if the Roomba Pro came with a remote, but in addition to what comes already attached, the box has two brushes, a high capacity sweeper bin (which, according to the instruction manual, you're still instructed to clean out after every use), two filters, a mini screwdriver, two brushes, two virtual walls and an extra side sweeper. But it's still a Roomba, so its AI is not going to be dramatically smarter than other models.
For example, when it comes to sensor detection, Calculon Jr. is smarter than a baby, but dumber than a five year old. With our smaller Roomba (4220), whenever it hit an object such as a PS3 controller or my foot, it would immediately turn around and go in a different direction. With the Roomba Pro, however, Calculon Jr. painfully ran over my toes, attempted to crawl up a Rock Band drum set, and knocked over three (toy) guitars.
Many of the problems that we encountered could have been because we tested the Roomba Pro in a (carpeted) medium sized living/dining room and a (tiled) family-sized kitchen. If this apartment were a mansion with large rooms and minimal clutter, the Roomba Pro would be an ideal vacuuming device for everyday housekeeping. But if you're looking for a gadget that'll routinely clean your cozy apartment, we recommend going with one of Calculon Jr.'s smaller and cheaper brothers. [Product Page]