Somebody Stop Me
Fuck, the Dilemna

Roomba, Baby!

Performance Review – Part I

It’s finally here!  My sweet, sweet Roomba.  So for all of you interested in how well it worked I spent yesterday and today running extensive performance tests.  (I’m all mechanically-minded like that.  Hee hee!)  My model is the Roomba Discovery SE and this is the first set of data; I covered the living room, dining room, kitchen and pantry.  I have yet to run the Roomba in either of the bedrooms or the bathroom, due to the fact that I had to clean out my closet to repair the drywall and I have shoes everywhere… but that will be shortly remedied as the drywall is now all finished.  In fact, the roof is new, the drywall and paint are done, I got my Roomba… life is fucking SWEET!  (Oh, leave me alone, it’s been a rough couple of weeks; I can get excited about this shit if I want to.)

(You can always tell when I’m excited because I start swearing. What’s up with that?)

Back to the Roomba.  OK.  Here’s a little background on the way it works.  There are three settings: Clean, Spot, and Max.  The Clean mode will calculate how big a room is and keep cleaning until the room is “done”, i.e. it can’t find anymore dirt, then it will automatically stop.  The Spot mode makes the Roomba spiral three feet outward from the place it started, intensely cleaning a specific area; this is perfect for if you want to spot clean the middle of the floor – say right after a major Cheerio spill and before company drops by.  The Max mode will just clean until the battery almost runs out, about 120 minutes, it then goes back to the home base to recharge.  You have to pick up all loose objects, such as papers, power cords, or toys, off the floor.  The Roomba also comes with “virtual walls” that cordon off a room via an infrared beam that the Roomba will not cross.

For the purposes of testing I ran the Roomba on the Clean mode for each of the rooms. I’ve also listed the floor space, how heavily furnished the room is or other obstacles, and the time it took for the Roomba to finish.  (All measurements are approximate simply because my math sucks. I had to round down in some cases because I couldn’t remember how to calculate in inches when you’re trying to get square feet. If anyone knows how to do this, please feel free to enlighten me.)

Kitchen – floor space = 15’6” x 8’ or 120 sq. ft.    Run Time = 30 min.

I started with this room as one of the least furnished.  The Roomba performed excellently cleaning the kitchen and the adjacent laundry room.  Both of these rooms are linoleum floor.

Pantry – floor space = 7’6” x 6’ or 35 sq. ft.    Run Time = 15 min.

This was a key test area because we keep our litter box in there.  It’s also hardwood floor.  There was a small glitch in the beginning because the Roomba worked so good it actually swallowed up a nugget. (I didn’t know it was there!)  I had to call the help desk who said, “something big probably got sucked up,” and for them to walk me through retrieving the said nugget.  It was actually a very simple process.  I didn’t tell the help guy what got sucked up.  Once that was fixed, the Roomba happily went back to sucking up all that loose litter.  Bravo, Roomba!

Living Room – floor space = 16’6” x 11’ and 6’6” x 6’6” (front entry)  or 211 sq. ft.

   

Run Time = 55 min.

This was  the most heavily furnished room with the most toys.  It also has both hardwood floors and rugs, so I was interested to see how it did.  I picked up all the loose items and let the Roomba go to town.  I actually ended up moving one piece of furniture, our coffee table, because it was just high enough for the Roomba to go under it and then get stuck. Though if the coffee table hadn’t had been on a rug I don’t think there would have been an issue.  The Roomba performed really well.  It occasionally got stuck on the rug tassle but it would just try different maneuvers until it freed itself.  It never once abandoned its mission. 

Dining Room – floor space = 13’ x 10’ or 130 sq. ft.    Run Time = 55 min.

This was another room that had both wood flooring and a rug.  It also had chairs and a dining table, but the other furnishing was straight forward, i.e. everything is set against walls except for the dining set (unlike the living room where we have some furniture set at angles).  The Roomba did well, though it couldn’t fit under the chairs like I thought it would (my judgement error), so about halfway through I pulled the chairs out so it could go under the table. 

All in all, I was very, very pleased.  The Roomba did well in both heavy dirt areas and around a lot of furnishings.  It really does get into the nooks and crannies of a room.  The only exceptions were spaces too small for the robot to fit.  The Roomba actually picked up more stuff off our rugs than my vacuum cleaner does, due to the cool dual brushes – one rubber brush and one with regular bristles.  I cleaned all of the brushes after the first three rooms, which was very easy to do.  (The manual suggests cleaning the brushes every five times, but… *cough*… our rooms had gone for a while without a vacuum.)  The Roomba certainly fit under the furniture better than either of the two hand vacuums I currently have.  The Roomba was also very easy to use and set up; no complicated settings or buttons, and all the components (brushes, etc.) were just like a regular vacuum, so if you’ve ever cleaned one of those, you can clean this.  I was a little amazed at how well it worked for its simplicity. 

I do think some of the cleaning cycles run a little long, however, that is only because the Roomba cleans until it’s sure (in its robotic estimation) that it’s gotten all the dirt – which I think amounts to a few extra circuits around the room.  You can manually stop the Roomba if you are satisfied with the cleaning it’s done, which is probably what I’ll do in the future.  I’m also excited to try the Max mode because I think it will be perfect for when I’m running out of the house on errands.  Simply set up a couple virtual walls, hit run on the Roomba, and go.  It cleans while I’m out.  Yay!

Sure, I could vacuum faster myself, but I think the Roomba did a better job and got more dirt out of more places than either of my two hand vacuums.  Plus (and this is a big plus), I didn’t have to get all sweaty.  Score!           - the weirdgirl 

Comments

mrsfortune

Dang! I want one now, thanks for the Consumer Report. Now they just need to come out with the "woomba" (an SNL commercial), you know, to clean out your nether regions (not YOURS specifically, you know what I mean, right? Uh, yeah.) :)

The Phoenix

Excellent review, WG.

When you're vacuuming the 'old fashioned' way, you have to move furniture like chairs and small tables anyway.

One thing: We need to see how the Roomba works on carpet. Wood floors are pretty easy to clean. How does the Roomba work on berber? How about thick long pile carpet?

KC

I've never heard of the Roomba before. Sounds very Jetsons! I'm gonna look it up on the web right now!

knq

Thank you very much for that lovely review.

I want one NOW...

fuzz

That sounds cool. Now if you can program it to bring drinks and snacks while on it's rounds that would be perfect.

I had never seen you curse before. Shame for shame. I was glad to see that you do it when excited and it wasn't a bad influence from me.

siren

You should go into Roomba sales, you're a natural. I want one!

Chag

Robots Rule! Especially ones that clean for you!

Square feet = Square inches / 144 (if that's what you were asking)

the weirdgirl

Phoenix, I don't have any pile carpenting but it would be interesting to see how the Roomba would do. I think it would be fine on Berber because that's about the same thickness as our rugs.

Fuzz, it's funny you should mention the swearing because I was just about to write my dilemna with being a potty mouth (which I am). Stay tuned.

Chag, thanks for the math help. I talked to my contractor friend earlier today and he set me straight on the math. I didn't know if I just timed 15.5 by 8 (for example) if it comes out right. But it does!!

Ladies, sorry if I've yet again influenced you toward shallow, materialistic, consumer purchases. But these robots are cool! I would have a household of robotic appliances if I could! I especially need one to follow me around the house all day with fresh cups of hot tea.

AdventureDad

That sounds great. I didn't know they were that effective. Thought they were more like a fun toy. Sounds like a must have geek item:-))

AD, out of NYC

Kim

Do you have pets? Also, how do you empty it? Is there a bag or something on the inside that you empty out?

I have been toying with the idea of getting one for awhile. I have a dog who sheds and I'm afraid carpet + dog hair would kill a Roomba. However, it would be HILARIOUS fun to watch my dog get chased by a Roomba and that might be worth it. ;)

the weirdgirl

Hi Kim - Yes, we have two cats and the Roomba did really well on the cat hair. Better than my hand vacuums! I think the rubber bristles really grab at the hair. It's also bagless; there's just a compartment you empty after each room and a filter to change every few months. Easier than I expected, truth to be told.

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