Roomba Vacuum Review11 minute read
11 minute read|
Updated for May, 2019
As we age, our stamina declines and our muscles and joints don’t work the way they used to. A task like vacuuming requires long periods of standing, walking, pushing, and pulling which all become more difficult in our golden years.
The iRobot Roomba can be a welcome helper in such a home to take the chore of vacuuming, and literally, sweep it away. It sounds great being able to push a button and never have to think about vacuuming again. For seniors it ensures regular cleaning without the back breaking work, plus the Roomba can reach places some people struggle to clean.
- Detects dirt automatically
- High-quality suction
- Long battery life
- Compatible with Alexa and Google Home
- Navigation problems
- Docking Issues
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Smart Home Compatibility
Technology continues to take things out of our hands while putting it into the hands of a robot and household chores like vacuuming can now be handled by a robot called the Roomba. This model is newer and much more affordable than a lot of the previous options.
They are attempting to compete with some of the lower end models from other companies like Eufy, but they are still trying to maintain their high-end appearance.
We feel they hit the mark with that. The vacuum performs no worse than any of the competition, and it feels sturdier and more durable than the others. That is important to us when you are turning something on and setting it loose in your house. You never know what it will run into or how it will get damaged.
The Roomba 690 is an excellent choice for a robot vacuum in any household.
The appearance of a vacuum may not seem to be an essential metric but when you are paying top dollar to receive the best product you can get we think it’s important. You want something that does not look ridiculous scooting around your home, and the shape and design of the vacuum are also vital to ensure it can fit underneath counters and along furniture.
The dimensions of the vacuum are 13 inches wide by 3.7 inches tall. We would have liked the Roomba to be a bit shorter because some of its competitors are three inches or less and that allows them to better slide along furniture and underneath chairs, but the height of the Roomba will do.
We also found the Roomba to be much more substantial than a lot of the other robot vacuums, weighing in at 7.4 pounds it is quite large, and you will be picking it up during every use to try and force it back to the charging hub. Doing this over and over could be tiring and if you have trouble bending or kneeling it could be downright impossible.
Buttons and Sensors
When you look at the vacuum from the top, you see three buttons. The one in the middle starts the cleaning session, the bottom switch sends the vacuum back to the dock, and the top bottom is for spot cleaning and alerts. However, keep in mind that the Roomba sits just a little more than three inches off the floor. If bending over is something you struggle with, you will definitely want to control the vacuum from your phone or your smart home speaker.
The vacuum comes with a rather small dustbin and a slew of different sensors to detect walls, cliffs, and dirt.
Something we found pretty cool and were not aware of is the Roomba’s virtual wall feature. The vacuum comes with a small tower that allows you to set it up outside of a room or area that you do not want the Roomba to enter.
You can decide between blocking off the entire room or creating a ten-foot barrier around a specific area, and this tower works perfectly at keeping the Roomba away from that area. This is perfect if you have pets or delicate items you do not want to get bumped into.
Using The App
The setup is simple for the Roomba 690. It requires you to plug in the dock, remove the manufacturer tab from the battery and let the vacuum get a full charge. Once you have done that, you are ready to go.
You download the iRobot app from your app store, and if your robot is on and has a charge, you should be able to pair it with the app using your Wi-Fi. Once you have done that all you have to do is click ‘clean’ on the app and the Roomba starts to do its business.
The app is incredibly simple and straightforward, and they tried to make it simple for anyone to use. The buttons are clear and easy to read and there is very little clutter, so you do not get confused when trying to get to what you want on the app.
The options you have to choose from are battery, performance, schedule, and different instructions. You can monitor the battery life of the Roomba from the app, and you can do this from anywhere, you do not need to be on your own home Wi-Fi.
This means you can start the Roomba from somewhere else and send it back to the dock once the battery starts to get low; you will see on the battery icon that it’s charging and that’s how you know it made it’s way back to the dock.
Performance logs how many times you have cleaned your home and how long each session was. In a lot of the other Roomba vacuums, the log measures cleaned area by square footage, and we like that feature, so it is disappointing to find that this does not have it. You could technically turn the vacuum on when you are not home, and it says it cleaned for one hour but all it did was bump into the wall for an hour. You wouldn’t know it if cleaned the entire house or not.
The schedule feature is nice because it takes a lot of the thought out of things and allows you to set the Roomba to clean at specific times and days. If you have a date and time scheduled the vacuum will start working on its own, and you will be able to check this using the app if you are not home.
There are some other features like the locate button where the Roomba lets off a loud series of sounds so you can identify it, plus there are instructions and FAQs in the app as well.
Smart Home Capabilities
If you have Alexa or Google Home, you can use those devices to operate the Roomba 690 as well. Within the smart devices, there is an option to pair it with an iRobot Roomba, and you choose that.
Once you have paired the devices together you can say “Roomba Clean,” and it will start cleaning the house. The voice commands work well, and there is little issue getting Alexa to send the Roomba into clean mode. The only time you have problems is if you do not give the commands in the proper order.
If the Roomba is not already docked you cannot tell it to start cleaning; likewise if the Roomba has not yet stopped cleaning you cannot tell it to dock because that is an out of order command. It takes a little time to learn, but if you have Alexa or Google Home, you understand these types of things.
All that other stuff is great, but you probably want to know if the vacuum cleans. The suction on the Roomba is excellent, and with the direct detect feature it finds anything in your home to suck up, and it is incredibly accurate at finding dirt and crumbs. It’s great for getting things you may have otherwise missed along the baseboard and underneath furniture.
Some of the other Roomba vacuums have a carpet oscillator which is great for getting pet hair from deep within the carpet, and we found that feature cleans carpets better in general because it adds an extra brush to reach deep down where a simple suction does not. This vacuum does not have that feature so we found the cleanup to be a little less than expected on carpets but this Roomba is much cheaper than many of the other models.
As for navigation, the vacuum does not have that hard of a time getting around, but there are some issues with the cliff detection and docking. In a lot of robot vacuums, they tend to confuse dark flooring with drop-offs, and that is the same with the Roomba 690.
If you have an area rug that is darker than the rest of the floor, 99% of the time the vacuum will freeze up at that spot and not move in any other direction. This requires you to go over and push the Roomba in a different direction. This is why it is not always smart to start the vacuum unless you are home because it may wind up sitting at the corner of a rug for an hour.
Some form of alert that the vacuum is no longer moving in any direction would be nice, that way you would be able to get it and move it as soon as the issue happens. Knowing there might be an issue sometimes requires you to babysit the vacuum.
There is also no way of moving the vacuum from the app. All you can do is dock it and start it from the app, but it would be nice if you could make small movements from your phone to get the Roomba out of trouble when you need to.
We like the battery life of the Roomba 690, for a more substantial vacuum with a serious amount of suction we find the runtime to be about 70 minutes which is enough to clean all the rooms within a 1000 square foot area, granted the vacuum does not get stuck on anything.
Probably the biggest issue we found with the Roomba 690 is its complete inability to see the dock on its own. There is no way to give it a location from the app, so it’s pretty much up to the vacuum to find it on its own.
We are not exactly sure how it does this because it is not explicitly described in the manual or on the manufacturer website. We assume there are sensors in the Roomba and docking station that attract one to the other, but that means that it has to slowly make it way back and be near the dock before it could even detect that the station is nearby. If you place the Roomba near the docking station and tell it to dock, it does so with no problem.
Most of time time you will find yourself guiding the vacuum back towards the dock or picking it up entirely and moving it on your own which could be a hassle for some.
The Bottom Line
The Roomba is an excellent choice for someone looking to take a bit of the household chore responsibility off their back. This is also an option for caregivers with limited time to vacuum the home of their loved one.
The cleaning and vacuuming aspect of the Roomba 690 is perfect. It has an exceptional suction, better than most standing vacuums and the dirt detect sensor picks up on anything and everything.
We only wish that the navigation was a little better, so you do not have to babysit the vacuum quite as much. That said, you are getting a high-end vacuum at a low-end price tag.