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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

FROM: Chris
DATE: Sunday June 22, 2003 -- 9:28:55 am
You know...I'm thinking I might be able to buy my wife a vacuum cleaner for her birthday and actually get away with it!

FROM: Paul
DATE: Sunday June 22, 2003 -- 10:04:53 am
Well, great, now I want one. Even though we mostly have hardwood floors, I'm sure the Roomba wouldn't let me down.

Nice to see useful "robots" for a change.

FROM: Dave [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday June 22, 2003 -- 2:08:53 pm
Now you make me thing I WANT ONE!!!! first I read about the IPOD on here (and I go and get one) and now this!!

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday June 22, 2003 -- 2:39:40 pm
I'm still curious how well the thing works in "high traffic" areas AKA soiled welcome mats, the main hallway, etc..We've got a dog here, and with all the rain, occasionally, you get some nice footprints going down the hallway. How thorough would the Roomba be?

FROM: Solange
DATE: Wednesday December 3, 2003 -- 9:23:03 pm
"Even though we mostly have hardwood floors, I'm sure the Roomba wouldn't let me down. "

For hard surfaces, try attaching velcro to the back of the Roomba and affixing a Swiffer towel. Works even better than Roomba alone!

"I'm still curious how well the thing works in "high traffic" areas AKA soiled welcome mats, the main hallway, etc.."

The Pro Elite concentrates on high traffic area clean ups. Try the aerosol carpet cleaners before intense spot vacuuming. The Pro version also has a focused cleaning mode -- however offers a good idea for restricting the basic version to a small area for intense cleaning or avoidance. Simple wood pieces that form a corral.

FROM: Roomba Review [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday January 23, 2004 -- 6:09:24 pm
The Roomba does extremely well in high traffic areas. It cleans as well or better than a full sized vacuum on tile and hardwood floors, and does moderately well on carpet, depending on the thickness. (The deeper the pile, the less thoroughly the Roomba will clean.)

You can read a full review of all of the Roomba models at


DATE: Tuesday April 27, 2004 -- 7:56:43 am

FROM: Henry
DATE: Monday December 20, 2004 -- 2:13:12 am
Hi, Guys, not be too excited!
I just got my Roomba Discovery and tried it after a full charge for three hours. Here is my first impression:
1. It cleans ok where it passes but I am somewhat disappointed that it lacks area-mapping intelligence. Remember the toy car you played with when you were a kid? Roomba works just like that. It turns the steering wheel when it runs into an obstacle. Then everything from there is pretty much random. It simply does not know where it is going and where it has been! It takes much longer to clean a room. And it does not cover the entire area when it considers itself done with the work! The most frustrating part is you have to live with it and it can not be re-programmed, even though it is called a “Robot”!
2. Maybe my rooms have too many obstacles for Roomba to finish its simple-minded spiral motion. But whose doesn’t? It can also be trapped in a corner area with an entrance slightly larger than its diameter after it gets in. So I would not leave it alone running before going to work. That is a real shame!
3. It cleans the surface of regular carpet floor (not too thick and soft). But it consumes battery much faster than hardwood or tile floors because the wheels have to fight higher resistance. So it is not a replacement for my household vacuum cleaner as I dreamed!

FROM: Michael C
DATE: Thursday March 17, 2005 -- 3:28:03 pm
I have just bought a Roomba Discovery and love the job it does. It will not get into wall corners (it is 16" diameter) or do stairs so I kept the cannister vac. It will vacuum for a long time (in my carpet (plush) over an hour) and it will pick up stuff from clean carpets. The best thing about Roomba is the division of labor. I can dust, wash, paint, etc. while the robot is vacuuming. NOW to get the mowbot (lawn) so I can enjoy summer!

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