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[Review] iRobot Roomba 980

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If you are just like me, who gets sick of doing housework all the time, and just want to be left alone to play with your tech goodies, the iRobot Roomba 980 is an excellent piece of tech that will help you do just that! No more nagging from your wife/parents/partner to vacuum the house! It can even vacuum more frequently (and even when you’re away from home) so you can come home to a nice, clean house. However, with a price tag of around $1,500, it is beyond most people’s ability to purchase one of them.

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Ever since iRobot came out with robot vacuum cleaners in 2002, the Roomba 980 is the most advanced cleaner yet, with iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with Visual Localisation which keeps track of its location while being able to learn and navigate each room of the house with ease. When I unleashed our new member of the family to do its first rounds, it was actually quite dumb. Dumb in the sense that it kept vacuuming the same place over and over again, going round in circles. Eventually, it crawled out from its hiding space and began to do some exploring. Which it met some new furry friends along the way, in the form of dust and hair, which it gladly took under in its trash bin.

It took almost a week full of vacuuming before I noticed the iRobot Roomba 980 had become just a little bit more “smart”. Once it had finished with a room, it would cleverly navigate to another room without hitting any walls or obstacles, and that was when I allowed it to roam by itself without me constantly watching over it. I mean, at the beginning it’s fun to follow and watch it do its job, mainly because you never know what it might suck up, and it’s kinda addictive too!

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The iRobot Roomba 980 is the first in its lineup to be able to connect to the home WiFi and be able to be controlled straight from your smartphone, whether you are at home or away from home. It was nice of Roomba to let me know that it had to pause its cleaning because the trash bin was full, when I was at work. Unfortunately, it wasn’t smart enough to empty its own trash! Which brings me back to me mentioning that I had wish the bin was slightly bigger. As a side note, there is the ability to continue cleaning even if the bin is full however I would not like to see the repercussions as a result of jamming the bin full. You can check this option in the settings side of the app.

The robot vacuum cleaner actually cleans our carpet floors pretty well! It sucks really well and it will nearly always get that piece of dirt you can see on the floor the first time, otherwise it will come back during its second round and get it. Thanks to its 10x more power than its 600/700 series models and its ability to increase its cleaning power when on carpets (currently only available on this 980 model), it doesn’t do a half-arsed job requiring you to later get out the regular vacuum to finish off the clean. Here is a comparison chart between the different model Roombas you can get today:

iRobot Roomba Comparison

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Starting at the beginning: The iRobot Roomba 980 doesn’t come in the box fully charged. It is recommended that you charge the Roomba a bit before using, but if you were as eager as me to get it on its way cleaning, it can be done too. Just don’t expect a long clean. As this is the first robot in iRobot’s fleet to be able to utilise WiFi and an app, it may pay to set up the app and connect your Roomba to your WiFi network at this point too. If all goes well (and the step-by-step instructions are pretty clear), you should have this all set up within 5-10 minutes. You don’t have to connect it to WiFi to be able to use the Roomba, but by doing so you can remotely add a cleaning job to your Roomba, set schedules, change settings, and even see a projected map of where the Roomba has been cleaning in your house. I found this map to not be very accurate, but had the basic general idea of what my house’ floor plan is. You can even configure how many passes the Roomba shall do throughout the house, as well as choose for it to stay on Performance mode, Eco mode or Automatic.

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The AeroForce cleaning system (the two rubber extractors in the middle) leverages the dual counter rotating AeroForce Extractors first introduced in the Roomba 800 Series to deliver exceptional agitation and brushing performance.

iRobot claims that the Roomba 980’s battery when fully charged can vacuum up to 120 minutes. It takes about 3-4 hours for a full charge. It was able to just clean our 154 square-metre house without having to recharge before it completed its job. That means when the house is extra dirty, it will have to navigate back to its base station, charge up, then automatically resume its cleaning job all without me having to tell it to.

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When emptying the bin, the filter and the bin is usually clogged with dust particles, and makes cleaning the bin/filter a bit hard. You can see from the picture above how dirty the HEPA filter can get after a couple of rounds of cleaning. iRobot do include a spare filter and an extra side brush for edge cleaning.

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Speaking of edge cleaning, the iRobot Roomba 980 is very good at cleaning the edges of the floor thanks to its smart maneuverability and its side brush. After it has cleaned the floors of your house, it will then proceed to clean the edges of the floor by using the side brush to brush debris into the path of the robot. And if you don’t want the robot to clean a certain area, the Roomba 980 also comes with two dual-mode virtual wall barriers to prevent the Roomba from crossing a virtual barrier, or will not go around the radius of the wall barrier. The best thing about these two virtual wall barriers? Batteries are included. 🙂

The Roomba is also smart enough to detect what type of floor it’s cleaning and automatically adjust its suction power. When it senses it’s on carpet, it will increase the suction power and when it senses it’s on a hard floor, it will reduce the suction power slightly for a quieter clean. As mentioned above, you can select in the app whether you would like it to always be on increased suction power (Performance mode), on normal suction mode for quietness (Eco mode), or let it choose automatically depending on the floor type (Automatic).

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One of my favourite features of the iRobot Roomba 980, is apart from it doing all the dirty work for me, is that it cleans under beds, sofas and chairs, whereas I would have to either pull out the sofa to be able to clean underneath it. It is so smart that once it detects a cliff, it will not go over it! Where there is a rug in the way, it will utilise its mountain-climbing skills to power over the rug to clean it. During its first clean however, it thought that my rug was an obstacle so it actively avoided it.

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Overall, I have been very happy with the iRobot Roomba 980. It has been a time-saver, a life-saver as well as a space-saver as it is very compact and can manoeuvre itself into tight spaces where it would’ve taken me some time to move furniture about. Its  smart features including but not limited to its ability to detect drop offs, its iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with Visual Localisation technology, as well as its ability to be controlled via an app whether you are at home or away from home, make the Roomba one of the most wanted tech gadget one would like at home. The only thing stopping most people from owning one, would be the price tag of $1,599 NZD.

You can purchase one of these beauties at the official iRobot NZ online store, or from leading retailers in New Zealand.

For more information, please visit: http://store.irobot.com/default/roomba-vacuuming-robot-vacuum-irobot-roomba-980/R980020.html