You want a clean home? Sure, who doesn't. Too lazy to clean it yourself? Absolutely. iRobot's Roomba 880 -- the latest in its series of robot vacuum cleaners -- was made for you. It's the Rolls-Royce of highly motivated cleaning appliances, and it can take care of some serious dinge. Although it'll cost you some serious cash.
What Is It?
A robot vacuum cleaner (available now) that uses a pair of rotating extractors -- rather than brushes like most lame non-automated vacuums -- to rid your floor of all manner of debris. Why is that notable? Because brushes get tangled, and you'll eventually have to use your precious hands to clean hair and detritus out of them. And that is gross. The Roomba 880 is not gross.
Why Does It Matter?
Because Roombas are awesome, effective, and iRobot keeps making them better. The 880 series is supposedly five times more powerful and suck-ier (in a good way) than its predecessor, and it has a better battery.
It's a sleek black and chrome disc that resembles a stylish Bose speaker. And that's no accident; apparently quite a few of the members iRobot's design team came from Bose. It has a big ol' power button on the top, as well as a couple of buttons that will let you schedule cleanings, and adjust the date and time. On the bottom, there's a discreet compartment where the Roomba collects dust and dirt. You'll have to empty it when it fills up, but it easily pops out and clicks back in.
If you've owned or used a Roomba before, the basic setup will be familiar. It's just that this guy does it with a little more style.
I live in a house with a total of four girls and two dogs. Read: we are never not sweeping up hair. But Roomba goes to town on the furry ground of our apartment. You literally just press a button and it will take some time to use its magic sensors to learn and adapt to your room. Then it methodically zooms all over your place, picking up all kinds of debris.
This is probably not great for the Roomba, but the thing was even slurping up bottle caps from under the couches. I was shocked -- shocked! -- at its ability to clean along corners, abnormal edges, under beds, around table legs, and all kinds of nooks and crannies I probably wouldn't be able to reach with a broom or a regular vac. Roomba will also navigate from your carpet to hardwood floors like a champ. The only time it ever got stuck was when it tripped up over a rat king of cable cords -- which was totally my fault.
You can also schedule the Roomba to clean at a specific time. Say you want it to vacuum every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 3pm? It's as easy as pressing a couple of buttons.
Also, no one likes emptying bags on vacuums. The Roomba doesn't have any bags. Its dust bin -- which is 50 per cent larger than that of its forebear -- can be easily tapped out when it fills up, which is generally once a cleaning session. There's no guess work either. A little red light will let you know when you need to do this.
It's pretty much ready to suck right out of the box. Program the date and time, press clean, and Roomba starts doing its thing. This is luxury vacuum that any idiot can operate. Any terminally lazy idiot, at that. Because it uses a brushless system, you pretty much never have to do any maintenance on it.
It's a bit loud. Which isn't so much of a complaint as it is a nitpicky thing. I would love to see the next-gen Roomba that's a little quieter.
Should You Buy It?
Yes. The Roomba is like a maid, but it's a better investment. Don't like to clean? Buy this Roomba. Are you busy? Buy this Roomba. Have pets? Buy this Roomba. The only downside is the price. This Roomba is $US700, however, it is the top-of-the-line, newest and best Roomba on the block. If you don't want to spend that much, you can definitely get an older model. The 600 series costs around $US300, and is still a very good robot vacuum. But if you want a Rolls-Royce, you've got to be prepared to drop Rolls-Royce dinero.