Not long ago, and after some extensive research, I purchased the iRobot Roomba 650 to clean the lower floors in my home. (Prior to that, I purchased and reviewed the Bobsweep PetHair Edition, but Bob now lives upstairs.) As I was researching the various robotic vacuum cleaners on the market, I discovered that iRobot offers several different models, including the Roomba 770, 870, and 880. While they all work well on carpets, hardwood, tile, and even laminate flooring, each consecutive model offers new features and more innovative technology. Now that I was a self-proclaimed robotic vacuum expert, I decided that I needed to try them all. Here are the results of my Roomba vacuum reviews.
Why I Love the iRobot Roomba 650
The iRobot Roomba 650 robotic vacuum cleaner is the entry-level model, but that does not mean that there is something wrong with the product. In fact, I still think it is the absolute best value for the money. I reviewed the 650 and I noted all of the features that I really loved. Not only did it get my floors incredibly clean, but it also came with a programming feature that makes my life a lot simpler. With kids, dogs, and a full-time job, remembering to turn the little gadget on seemed next to impossible. With the 650, there is no need to remember. It starts according to its programming, and when it is finished, it docks itself to charge.
Click here to read the full review.
My Experience with the IRobot Roomba 770
After purchasing robotic vacuum cleaners for my first and second floors, I found myself second-guessing my decision and wondering if I really had purchased the best products for the money. I discussed my investments with my brother, Daniel, who is a penny pincher by nature. Lo and behold, he told me that he owned the iRobot Roomba 770 Vacuum Cleaning Robot for pets allergies. I was shocked since he is usually the person to buy a cheap upright once every couple of months (cheap vacuums do not last long, as many of us already know). He told me that since he works 80-hour weeks and rarely has time to vacuum, he thought the robot vacuum would be a phenomenal investment. What’s more, he is allergic to his cat, Brittany, but he cannot bear to part with her. As such, he needed something that would pick up the cat hair and works automatically. By this time, I was intrigued.
I told Daniel about the Bobsweep I purchased specifically to reduce dog hair and allergens in my son Logan’s room, and we discussed its various features. He wanted to try it out, and I wanted to try the 770, so we decided to switch vacuum cleaners for a day. We met up early in the morning before he had to leave for work to make the switch. I immediately brought the 770 home and allowed it to charge to its full capacity. I work from home, so I figured it would be a great opportunity to see what the iRobot Roomba 770 could really do. After it finished charging, I took it upstairs and put it to work, and then I returned about 90 minutes later to check on the progress. The first thing I noticed was that the vacuum cleaner was still running. Bob would have quit on me at this point, but the 770 utilizes Extended-Life Power Management, which is something Bob has probably never even heard of. Another feature that caught my eye a few minutes later was the full bin indicator. This was miraculous in my eyes because Bob would have kept on running without picking anything up, which is essentially pointless. On the 770, when the bin is almost full, an indicator lights up, indicating that it is time to empty the bin. How simple is that? Why did Bob not do this? I was starting to feel a little disappointed in the Bobsweep. I charged the Roomba again, and I turned it on that night once we all settled down to sleep. It was quiet, and it did a fantastic job. There was not a hair or speck of debris on the floor the next morning.
We met up again the following afternoon to exchange robotic vacuums again. I think Daniel was angry with me; his eyes looked a little itchy and red. He told me that the Bobsweep was nowhere near as advanced as the iRobot Roomba 770, and that sometime during the day while he was at work, the bin filled up and that was the end of Bob. He came home to cat hair all over the floor, and in the process of trying to figure out what went wrong; he managed to have a major allergy attack. I guess this means he really wants his 770 back. For me, it means that I am going to replace the Bobsweep. I had more research to do beforehand, though. I definitely did not want to make the wrong decision again. You can check out my in-depth review of the iRobot 770 from Roomba here.
Testing My Best Friend’s iRobot 870
A few days later, as I was doing some research about various Roomba models on the internet, I decided I wanted to try the iRobot Roomba 870. Because I did not really want to buy one, I created a post on Facebook for my friends to see if anyone wanted to swap their 870 for the Bobsweep for a couple of days. My best friend, Fawn, commented that she had an 870 and I was welcome to give it a shot. I was a bit surprised that I had never seen it in her house; after all, I am there at least two days a week. She shrugged and said she runs it at night so she has less vacuuming to do during the day. (She has a three-year-old son who keeps her busy.) Her house is a new build and barely six months old, and the floors are concrete with area rugs scattered here and there. The house is also always, and I mean always, very clean. She came over later that day, and I once again handed over my Bobsweep in exchange for a Roomba.
Like always, I made it a point to charge the robotic vacuum cleaner completely before putting it to work. Then, I took it upstairs and set it loose. I came back a little while later to check out the results, just like before, and I was astounded. This little 870 not only made Bob look bad, but it even put the 770 to shame. There was literally nothing left on the floors. I even got down on my hands and knees to check out the baseboard under my bed, since this is where pet hair tends to collect the most, and there was nothing. The 870 had even managed to get under my bed up against the wall! I was thrilled. Bob would not do that, and even though my brother’s 770 did a decent job of cleaning, the 870 blew it out of the water. The Extended Battery Life helped, too. There is a lot of dog hair in the upstairs rooms, and Bob often died before he got around to it. The iRobot Roomba 870 picked it all up in one go. Like the 770, the 870 also indicates when the bin is nearly full, and I decided that I really needed that indicator light. Both models clean on a schedule, too, and this is important for me. With two dogs, kids, and a busy work schedule, I cannot always remember to turn the vacuum on. Neither of the models fell down the stairs thanks to the cliff detectors, and while the 770 got tangled very few times – especially on my tasseled rug – the 870 never did. They both automatically adjusted to the right floor height, too, and this came in handy when transitioning from the high pile carpet to the tile floor in the upstairs bathroom.
Fawn returned Bobsweep the next day. She was anxious to take her 870 back home with her. Although she does not have pets in the house, her son has allergies to dust and mold, and the dual HEPA filters on the Roomba were an absolute necessity for her. We made the exchange and I sat down on the couch wondering what I should do. When I purchased the Bobsweep, I thought I had made the best investment. It turns out that I was wrong. Roomba had him beat on just about every single level. It was time to do more research. I needed a better product for the second story, but I did not want to make another hasty decision. I liked Bob, but when I purchased it, I was not aware that there were so many other technological advances available these days. I knew I wanted a iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner, but I was not sure which to buy. For more information about the iRobot 870 robotic vacuum cleaner, don’t miss my in-depth review.
My Ultimate Choice – The iRobot Roomba 880
I went online a couple of days later and decided to research all of the various Roomba models I had tried, including the 650 that I use religiously on the ground floor. Even now, I still feel as if the iRobot Roomba 650 is the best value for the money because of the features it offers. It is not quite as advanced when compared to the 770 and 870, but because I spend most of my time downstairs, I did not feel the need to spend more for advanced features. Then, I turned my attention to the 770. This had the Extended-Life Power Management, which was nice, and I loved the full bin indicator. It also had dual HEPA filters, and these are excellent for people like my son who are sensitive to allergens. However, it tangled on my rug, and that was its only downfall. The 870 has all of the same features as the 770, never tangled at all and the cleaning result is even better. It has an airflow accelerator, too, giving it more efficiency per battery charge.
My real concern was upstairs where my children and my dogs, Smokey and Bandit, sleep. This area is a constant mess of dog hair and dust, not to mention the grit and grime my kids bring in from outside. I figured that the Bobsweep would be the best choice since it was the PetHair edition, but it turned out that I was wrong. After researching all of my options carefully, I ordered an iRobot Roomba 880. This is the top-of-the-line model, outperforming the 650, the 770, and even the 870. Not only does it come with the virtual wall technology, which stops it from entering off-limit rooms, but it also has the infrared Lighthouse technology, which guides the Roomba from room to room. It offered the best efficiency thanks to the extended battery life, and I figured this would save me money over time.
The iRobot 880 arrived two days later, and I felt like a kid at Christmas when I opened the box. I quickly got to work upstairs, and as the Roomba charged, I set up the Virtual Walls and Virtual Lighthouses.
The Virtual Wall and Virtual Lighthouse features might sound a little confusing, but they are actually incredibly helpful features. The virtual wall blocks certain areas so that the iRobot cannot go to those areas at all. The Virtual Lighthouse feature forces the robot to clean one room or area after another, which makes cleaning more effective because it shortens the cleaning passes. This was something I had to see to believe, and there is a fantastic video showing the Virtual Lighthouse in action. In fact, this cool feature separates the 880 from its predecessor, the 870.
A few hours later, it was time to put the 880 to the test. I had not vacuumed in about four days, so the floor was sufficiently grimy. (Don’t judge me. It was for the sake of research.) I turned it on in Lighthouse mode and went back downstairs. Almost three hours later, I went to check on the robotic vacuum cleaner. It rested safely in its dock, but the hallway and kids rooms were spotless. I mean spotless. There was not a hair in sight. I got down on my hands and knees to check under beds and along baseboards. It was all as clean as a whistle. This time, I truly was impressed. I knew that the HEPA filters trapped the allergies, so my son would sleep better. I also knew that it would clean up the dog hair, which had a tendency to find its way into every nook and cranny in my home.
It seemed at this point that Bob was homeless. I liked him, and he had served me well, but I prefer the 880 due mainly to my son’s allergies. Also, with four people and two dogs in the house, Bob had a hard time keeping up. I put the Bobsweep PetHair edition up for sale on Facebook, and my mother-in-law, Sue, decided to buy it. She has the iRobot Roomba 630 (make sure to check out my review), and while she still uses it in her home, she loves the Bobsweep in her vacation home, which she visits regularly. She also loves my 880, though, and hopes I find a replacement so she can buy it, too. If you would like to know more about the iRobot Roomba 880, please check out the full review.
The Bottom Line
The iRobot Roomba 650 takes up permanent residency on my lower level because it is a powerhouse and the best that I could find for the money. The 880 stays upstairs, having kicked Bob out of his role (although he found a new home so I don’t feel guilty). The arrangement is working well for my family. My son sleeps better at night, and there is less housework for my busy schedule. In fact, it seems that all of my friends are interested in robotic vacuum cleaners now. My Facebook posts have been inundated with questions, and while I’m familiar with some of them, I am certainly no industry expert – yet. I will continue to test and review other robotic vacuum cleaners so that I can become a real expert and help my friends make the best decisions for their unique situations.
In fact, you can check out the handy infographic for a quick glimpse at all of the robotic vacuum cleaners in the iRobot Roomba line. Stay tuned for more reviews!