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June 21st, 2003

Roomba: The Review

A few weeks ago I ruminated about how cool a Roomba looked. It got good reviews, was interesting from a geek perspective, and actually had a good use. On top of it all, it wasn’t all that expensive. A few days after writing the Ping and chatting with co-workers about it, I bought one.

Pricewise, I made out pretty well. The Roomba lists for $200 and every place that sells it has it for that price. I decided to use one of those 20% off Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons and walked away with a Roomba for $167 (after tax).

We couldn’t try the Roomba out right away because the battery required a full charge, which takes about 12 hours. The next day, though, we gave it a run in our family room and stood to watch it in action. The first time you run it, no matter how hard you try, you can’t help but stand there and stare.

The roomba starts out in a spiral motion, working its way into larger and larger circles until it bumps into something. It will readjust its direction and go straight, doing a relatively good job at detecting walls or furniture with long edges. Sometimes it seems like it goes over the same spot multiple times, but by the time it’s done, the Roomba seems to have done a “clean sweep” of the room.

Cleaningwise, it does well. It’s bagless, so you have to empty the tray after each room, but it’s very easy to do since the Roomba is so light. It had no problems on a normal height carpet and does really well on tile (it automatically detects a change in floor, so you don’t need to change any settings). The battery charge lasts for a few large rooms… we haven’t run the battery all the way down yet. While it does take a long time to charge, it’s one of those things you let go overnight and it’s ready to go again.

We’re pleased with our Roomba purchase. It does a surprisingly good job at doing day-to-day vacuuming and after doing a room once, doesn’t require any sort of supervision… it’s a “set-it-and-forget-it” type of vacuum, which is pretty cool. So, while they’ve gotten the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, now they can slap a Ping Seal of Approval on the box as well.

Posted in Miscellaneous

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