iRobot Roomba 980 review: Smart and efficient but expensive

Here’s what we think about the Roomba 980.

    Name any field, technology plays a great role in it. Already, there are smart home appliances to help us in our everyday life. With its range of smart vacuum cleaners, iRobot is extending its help in the task of floor cleaning.

     

    iRobot is synonymous with smart vacuum cleaners. The company has released a slew of such products. The latest and advanced one is the iRobot Roomba 980. It is an improved robotic vacuum cleaner priced at Rs. 69,900. It comes with an array of features for better cleaning.

    We used the Roomba 980 and pretty much liked it. However, there is what we think about it in detail.

    Design

    The iRobot Roomba 980 doesn't look like a robot. If you had thought that robots will always take the shape of a human, then this disc-shaped device will take you by surprise. It has wheels at the bottom for moving around and a vacuuming motor. The cleaning sensor is present at the bottom while the camera is located at the top and these help in letting the device sense where it has to clean and how to navigate.

    There aren't many controls or buttons on the device. It has a large power or Clean button at the rear and at the center of the top. There is a Dock button, which will direct the device back to the Home Base (the charging dock). Also, the device has a Spot button to clean a specific spot of 3 feet in diameter. There are additional indicators for Wi-Fi, Fill Bin, Troubleshooting, Battery and Locate at the front.

    The Roomba 980 has sensors at its bottom to help the device maintain its orientation and director. These sensors ensure that the device doesn't roll off the edges of the floor or stairs. There is a cleaning brush at the bottom, which pushes the dirt towards the center for the rollers to pick it up. The back of the device can be opened to clean the dirt. Also, the bin can be removed when the Fill Bin indicator prompts you to clean the bag. If you haven't put any component back in its place correctly, then you can see the Troubleshooting indicator showing an error.

    What we like in its design is its low profile design that makes it easy for the device to clean under sofas and beds. It goes underneath most of the furnitures seamlessly, picks up the dirt and backs away on reaching a wall.

    Performance

    Unlike the traditional vacuum cleaners, you need not drag this one around your house. Roomba 980 creates its own path and follows the path to capture dirt. It puts a slew of sensors, iAdapt Navigation 2.0 technology and a visual localization system to carry out the cleaning process. With the provided accessory (we'll take a look at it later), it backs away and changes its direction without entering the specific region.

    This robotic vacuum cleaner comes with carpet boost, which will prompt the device to do an effective job while cleaning carpets. What's interesting is that all this happens automatically. It is touted that the device can capture 99% dirt and impurities as small as 10 microns. We used the Roomba 980 on carpeted flooring and found it to be really efficient.

    The Roomba 980 is touted to work for 120 minutes under full charge but we could use it only for 90 minutes (shown in the app). Once the battery life gets low, the Battery indicator at the top of the device will prompt you and the device will return to the Home Base automatically for charging. Thus, is no situation wherein the device gets powered off in between a cleaning process.

    Virtual Wall Barrier accessory

    The Virtual Wall Barrier accessory bundled in the box of the Roomba 980 serves two purposes. It works in two modes - Virtual Wall Mode and Halo Mode. Both these modes of operation are helpful in restricting the device from cleaning specific areas of your home. This is possible by the signal that is emitted by the accessory telling Roomba not to cross the line and prompting it to change the direction of cleaning.

    In the Virtual Wall Mode (button pushed upwards), you can restrict the device from entering a room in your home. In the Halo mode, the device will not clean a specific area with 60 cm diameter from its center. You can prevent the Roomba 980 from cleaning areas where you have kept pet bowls or decorative items by setting the accessory to the Halo mode. You can get to know more about the Roomba 980's operations from our hands-on video.

    Needs an app

    The Roomba 980 comes with a companion app called iRobot Home, which is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. To connect to the app, you need to make sure your smartphone and the Roomba are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. This way, both the devices will be paired and you can control the vacuum cleaner using your smartphone.

    On connecting the Roomba and your smartphone, you can control the former via the app, provided the devices are connected to the internet. You can use the app to trigger cleaning, send the Roomba back to the Home Base and get to know the battery status too. You can also control the carpet boost feature, the cleaning passes, and other settings from the app. It is also possible to set cleaning schedules so that the device will clean at a specific time as per your preference.

    Verdict

    The iRobot Roomba 980 is a good improvement over its predecessors with better navigation, an enhanced cleaning technology, and the smart control via the iRobot Home app. What we like about this device is that it requires minimal intervention.

    However, given that India is a price conscious market and there are powerful vacuum cleaners at much lower pricing, this one turns out to be a really expensive option. At Rs. 69,900, the Roomba 980 is definitely an expensive home appliance that many consumers might not prefer buying. But it does lay the path for the future of home cleaning.

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