A robot in the house

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I hate vacuuming. Right there, I think that’s a good enough reason to get a Roomba. The invention has been around for a while — and I always saw it with a mild curiosity. But recently I decided to give it a serious look after getting really fed up with the amount of cat hair that collects in the house. And with Lucretia’s little day care opening in the imminent future, I felt like the last thing we needed was stressing out about vacuuming the house.

I checked out the iRobot site, did the comparison between the models, and watched their promotional video. Admittedly, I was already half way sold when I began considering the purchase… A machine that promises to do the very job you hate doing — what’s not to like? But I was genuinely impressed with the video, and how intelligent and resilient the little thing seemed to be. I also read some reviews on independent review sites. I was going to get a 530, but then I found a good deal on ABC Vacuum Warehouse — $50 less than Amazon, no tax (they’re based in TX), and free shipping.

I was faking my purchase just to see what the total price would be — then I accidentally submitted my order! Obviously their site has some usability issues, but I must say I didn’t mind the little accident. I was going to buy one anyway, so what the heck, right?

Roomba box

Within 5 days, my little robot arrived at our house. The self-running demo was pretty short, and the instruction booklet is a little lacking, too. I expected much more hand holding for operating a robot! But I guess it speaks to its (hopefully) durability and simplicity. Really, you just push the button in the middle when you want your room cleaned. Sure, there’s more to it if you want to schedule auto-cleaning, or do this and that. But I like that it doesn’t feel like I replaced one headache with another.

Roomba 560 unboxed

I still have to pick up around the house to “clear the way” for Roomba. But I kinda have to do that anyway with a regular vacuum. Maybe I do a little more to clear any potential problem areas that it might get stuck in. But I see it as a good way to clear the clutter on a regular basis, and the trade-off is that I can go off and do something else while Roomba cleans, so I still think it has more upside than down. More than anything, it feels less like a chore. The thing is cute, it’s fun, and it cleans pretty well. So far, it’s very yummy!

2 Responses to “A robot in the house”

Kathy says:
Tuesday, September 2, 2008 @ 5:59 am

Oooh! Chris and I were just talking about getting a Roomba the other night. We also hate vacuuming and also have the cat hair issue – perhaps it would be a good investment for us as well. The only thing that concerns me is that we have a lot of stairs in our place, and I wouldn’t want poor Roomba to fall to its death.

Minoru says:
Tuesday, September 2, 2008 @ 7:11 am

It definitely won’t fall down the stairs. Now that I’ve watched it work for several days, my biggest concerns are: 1) Breaking the corner brush — it seemed to be a fairly common thing. It’s one thing that sticks out of the profile, and it seems a bit flimsy; 2) Getting stuck somewhere and overheating the motor or something — it has some trouble with our living room rug (it’s a shitty rug and we blame it more than Roomba), and also a floor vent. So far it’s good at getting unstuck by itself, but the poor thing struggles and it’s hard to watch!

So far I’m still “baby”ing our Roomba, probably spending more time than necessary to clear up its path. And I’m using it to do one room at a time, even though 560 comes with the “Lighthouse” feature that lets you do multiple rooms. I’ll let you know if I find any deal-breaking flaws!