Last year my Hoover vacuum cleaner broke. It didn't stop working, but the height adjustment snapped. I've been able to use it anyway, but it's less than optimal. Being lazy, I've not made the effort to replace or repair it.

Being the gadget freak I can be at times, I'm intrigued by the idea of a robotic floor cleaner. The older generation was too big and noisy, but with the advent of Roomba, I've begun to wonder if they're worth it.

Anyone played with one of these?

I was hoping that Fry's would have a demo model on the floor the other day, but I had no such luck. I'd really like to see one in action to help me decide if it'd be up to the task of keeping the new carpet looking new (and freaking out the cats).

Upon further looking, it seems that Best Buy might be my Best Bet. Or maybe Target, which is closer anyway. There's a list of places that sell the Roomba. Of course, Amazon carries it too.

Posted by jzawodn at February 20, 2004 09:20 PM

Reader Comments
# otherguy said:

I have one of these. My apartment is all hard-wood and running it every couple of days is a great replacement for sweeping. I've heard on carpet, though, that it's not a replacement for a "real" vacuum, but it prolongs the time in between needing to run one. Battery life is less than optimal, in my opinion. It can only clean one "large" room and one "small" one, and that's hardwood (I have a first gen model). All in all, if you're too lazy to vacuum regularly, the roomba is a great way to get it done for day-to-day cleanliness, and then just keep your other vacuum around for before christmas parties and whatnot.

on February 20, 2004 10:04 PM
# Ferg said:

The cats won't thank you for it.

on February 20, 2004 11:19 PM
# david said:

Well, maybe your cats might use it to take trips around the house..if the thing is strong enough.

on February 20, 2004 11:57 PM
# Dave Andersen said:

I've had one since November, and while the initial first blush of love has worn off, I still think it's great. I use it on carpet that's so hard-packed it's about as solid as hardwood. I've tested it on medium-shag carpet and it's not all that great, but on low shag it's perfectly fine.

The only drawback I've encountered is that one of the rubber wheel treads ripped, which was easily fixed with super glue. Same thing happened to my mom's roomba, and they sent her a replacement tread.

You'll probably find the best deal on a roomba at RoombaCommunity - there's often some funky home shopping network roomba + first time buyer deal there. I recommend the "Pro" model - it comes with the remote, so you can set the roomba on "Clean until you die (Max)" mode, but doesn't have the useless crap or expense of the pro elite. Unless you want the useless crap. :)

Oh, and dogs don't seem to mind the roomba. They get a little perplexed by it, but then they seem to decide it's harmless. Haven't tried it with cats.

on February 21, 2004 09:18 AM
# Jeff Boulter said:

Jeremy, you need to read my blog. :-)

I got one for Christmas :D.


on February 21, 2004 12:53 PM
# said:

I saw one on display at Sharper Image.

on February 21, 2004 01:15 PM
# Justin Williams said:

My grandmother won one in some contest she entered. She loves it. I keep trying to snag it from her, but she refuses.

on February 21, 2004 01:45 PM
# Kevin Burton said:


They're an evil evil company. Beware the "hidden" features activated by Ashcroft.! ;)

Seriously... I saw their presentation at ETech and it scared the hell out of me.

iRobot is getting a lot of their funding from Darpa and just do not seem to understand the concept of ethics.

For a funny joke ;)

on February 21, 2004 04:03 PM
# gabe said:

Hmm... I was considering getting one around christmas time. But then I decided that my $250 would be better spent on a nice DVD burner. I played around with it at a Brookstone store and it seemed like it worked pretty well. It kinda goes in a circular pattern until it starts hitting things... Heh.

on February 22, 2004 08:27 AM
# chewinggum said:

it's very strange, I have find ur blog with google .I have, like you, a blog, but it's in french .I like writing my troughts, my dailies ...If u can read my blog, i will be happy .Bye

on February 22, 2004 09:10 AM
# David Sifry said:

I got one a few weeks ago, and I gotta say, it's pretty nice. Louder than I expected, and the battery life isn't all that great, but it sure does pick up dog hair off the carpet, and a nightly run fills up the canister something good. You have to keep the floor reasonably clear of small objects and things like sheets of paper, but it is surprisingly good at getting itself out of tight situations. it isn't zero maintenance. You end up spending about 5 minutes cleaning out the canister and rollers before each use, and it doesn't have the capability to automatically find its own charging station - you have to plug it in each morning.

But as a nice "turn it on at night and let it work while you sleep" solution, I gotta say, it's pretty nice.


Just remember that

on February 22, 2004 10:21 PM
# Jeffry Friedl said:

Consumer Reports just covered them, and basically said that they were useless. FWIW.

on February 24, 2004 10:58 AM
# Roomba Review said:

The problem with the Consumer Reports review is that it tried to compare the Roomba to a full sized vacuum. One of their biggest complaints was that it took much longer than a regular vacuum to clean a room, but that misses the point.

Who cares how long it takes to vacuum if you don't have to be in the house to do it? And the Roomba may not do very well in corners, but it cleans under beds and dressers better than any other vacumm. The Roomba is definitely not perfect, but it can be a tremendous time saver and there are thousands of us who love our Roombas.

Just take a look at some of the comments on our message board from Roomba users. We aren't employees of iRobot, we just love our little robot vacs!

Roomba User Community

on November 8, 2004 08:37 AM
# Bob P. said:

I have owned 3 Roomba Pro models (original and 2 warranty replacements). All 3 initially worked as advertised, but then failed after about six months of use. Evidently some sensor failed, and instead of cleaning the carpet they just turn themselves on and off and spin around in place.

Roomba is aware of this problem -- but they are getting less and less helpful about replacing the current unit.

From my experience, I would recommend against buying a Roomba. In my opinion they are either defective, or simply not reliable.

on September 20, 2005 01:24 PM
# Robert Oschler said:

Ever seen a Roboraptor dinosaur robot ride a Roomba? Now you can:

on February 19, 2006 11:31 AM
# Steve said:

I had a similar problem with my Roomba. I was about to purchase a new one, when I found this site, which sells all kinds of robots. The good thing is, they also offer a Roomba repair service! ( I think they are the only one offering this?) It took about two weeks, from the moment I sent my broken Roomba to, to the moment a received it back ! Highly recommended service..

on March 24, 2006 11:44 AM
# kate weadock said:

I just returned the roomba.
I have 4 animals, it does not do a good job on rugs. my rugs have fringes so they have to be folded under the rug, then the roomba cant get over the bulk. It does not do corners. I was exhausted moving wires, furnature and drapes. It was like having another child.. Its not energy efficient, takes 20mins to do an empty room and nedds to be plugged in at all times.
At least I tried but its a costly mistake.

on September 1, 2006 03:02 PM
# philcam said:

The Roomba DOES do a good job, but is rather prone to downtime.
Like any vacuum cleaner, cords, etc., must be moved out of the way. If you wouldn't run over it with a regular rug-beater attachment, the Roomba will also not do so without consequence. The sound level is considerably softer than a traditional vacuum cleaner, though some still find it "loud"--perhaps because, with its compact size, the viewer expects something more of a "dustbuster" sound.
The spinning behaviour spoke of above can now be corrected by the company through a device they send called an Osmo. This plugs into the vacuum's serial port and upgrades the firmware to account for the defective sensor. (I always knew there'd come a day when I needed a software upgrade for my vacuum cleaner. Next: anti-virus for my fridge.)
With additional accessories, Roomba will also return itself to the charger, and will start up and clean your floors while you're out.

on December 7, 2006 09:04 PM
# Kelly said:

We got a Roomba about a year ago and loved it while it worked. It picked up pet hair well and did a better job than we thought it would. The problem now is that it's broken and irobot has NO support. While they offer email, chat and an 800 number, nobody is there to help. I've called and been on hold for 45 minutes, emailed with no response and tried to chat but nobody would be there. I'd NEVER buy another Roomba since they don't seem to care about helping their customers after the purchase.

on January 24, 2007 12:46 PM
# said:

That's funny because I've contacted support three times since 2002 when I first got my oomba and the longest time I've ever been on hold was today. I waited for approximately 5 minutes. They are sending out the replacement tread tomorrow...

on February 5, 2007 01:51 PM
# Adrian Jones said:

I've replaced mine three times now, for different reasons. (I buy another one at BB&B and then return the old one) The first one started to go in circles, Roomba sent me out a chip to reprogram the brain, and that didn't work. The next one lasted about 3 months and it quit, this last one has a power light that says it's charged but as soon as you unplug it, it goes red. This last unit was only being used sporadically (about once every 2 weeks on the basement concrete floor.) The first one we used on the kitchen tile floor and had it scheduled to run every day but we have dark stained cabinets and noticed that it was rubbing a path into the kick plates on the bottom of the cabinets and had to stop using it in the kitchen. I guess I'll be calling them again today. I think it's a great idea, they are on the right track but the product is far from reliable at this point. May be it will be worth looking into again in about 4 years or so. It would be great if they had a reset button on it.

on June 15, 2007 05:57 AM
# N. Dobrowski said:

We are on our fourth Roomba having ultimately experienced the spinning with each one. This last one my husband was able to get working once again. Luckily.

It is a great asset when working correctly. Does a phenomenal job cleaning up pet hair off a tile flooring especially - when it is not working can be the most frustrating piece of equipment we own!

on October 14, 2007 02:05 PM
# MG said:

Purchased one a couple of years ago and it stoped working within the first six months. I have been unable to repair it myself and I am unable to find any place that would do the repair for me here in the Fort Lauderdale Florida area.

on December 17, 2008 06:06 PM
# said:

Hey y'all. I have 2 roombas. One I got at a thrift store and one on ebay. Both did not work but I got new batteries for them, cleaned them up really well, (with an air compressor) and both are working just fine. 1 is the orig. and the other is the discovery with docking station and remote. I have small pile carpet throughout only kitchen and baths are floors. These little guys work so well, I didn't realize how much dirt my big vaccuum missed. The only maintenance I have had to do is retread tires and clean thoroughly. I guess I was lucky. I even fixed my friends which was doing the spinning thing. I took it all apart and cleaned it and voila! no more spinning. I think sensors are a big part of their malfunctioning. But I have a tinkerer's heart and love to fix stuff. Kinda weird for a girl but I enjoy it. Does anyone know where to get treads cheap? Thanks, TC

on June 21, 2009 10:17 AM
# Conner said:

Hi, I just got 1 Roomba and I love it! It's so nice not having to constantly clean. I just wish it had a better battery, but other than that it's great. Thanks!

on April 19, 2010 02:29 PM
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