Pros:power saving feature, effectively prevents Roomba from crossing an area
Cons:does not produce vertical beam from unit, pricey when bought on its own
The Bottom Line: I would suggest having at least one Virtual Wall Unit. This Unit is a handy tool in forming a barrier for the Roomba that you will not trip over.
The Roomba Virtual Wall Unit is a relatively simple device by iRobot that is used in conjunction with the Roomba robotic vacuum. It uses a harmless invisible beam that tells the Roomba to stay in a particular room or section of a room while vacuuming. Several units may be used in conjunction to divide up or seclude rooms. The Virtual Wall Units beam can effectively block archways and other openings up to 13 feet wide. Obviously, if you are not worried about tripping over items, you can bypass the usage of this unit in open doorways by lining up shoes to block the Roombas progression into another room. I personally like the option of not tripping over items if I need to enter the room the Roomba is cleaning.
Recommend this product?
The Virtual Wall Unit is relatively small. The base length is a little larger than the palm of my hand (sorry, I cant find a ruler), and the height is an inch shorter than the base length. Its appearance kind of reminds me of the robots you would see in the older science fiction movies
it really is difficult to describe. It is more or less a rounded trapezoid and has a raised control area. The main controls to the unit are located on the top surface. There is a Range Selector Switch (slides) that gives you the option between 0-3, 4-7, and 8 feet for your virtual wall. Next to the Range Selector Switch is the Power button. The power indicator is adjacent to the power button. Near the front of the unit, there is the raised beam emitter (emits a beam that protects the Virtual Wall from being bumped by the Roomba). The beam emitter is at the front end of the unit on the upper edge.
The Virtual Wall Unit operates on 2 size D Alkaline batteries. The battery door is located on the bottom of the unit and is accessible by unscrewing a screw holding the door.
1. Simply open the battery door by loosening the screw.
2. Insert 2 new batteries following the and - symbols.
3. Close the battery door and tighten the screw.
Operating the Unit
Operating the Virtual Wall Unit is relatively easy. Just place the unit on the floor where you want to create your wall. Typically, it is placed either at the edge of the doorway aimed across the doorway or along a wall pointed across the room. You want to make sure that the Beam Emitter is pointed across the opening of the doorway or across area that you want to divide to insure that the Roomba does not cross the invisible beam. Select the setting for what size opening you are blocking by sliding the Range Selector Switch. And then press the power button to turn the unit on. The Virtual Wall Unit has a power saving feature (in case you forget to turn it off) in which it automatically shuts off after an hour. Alternatively, you can shut the unit off by pressing the power button again.
The beam produced by the Unit is in the shape of an old fashioned keyhole. There is a round perimeter beam around the unit and a beam from the Unit that spreads slightly as more distance is created between the unit and the opposing wall.
The Bottom Line
A Virtual Wall Unit is included with every new factory sealed Roomba, but they are also sold separately. The average price that it sells for is $39.99. I believe that it is worth having at least one Unit. I am not sure that I would go out of my way to by another Unit unless I move into a bigger house that I need to block more than one opening at a time. It is nice to be able to walk freely through the blocked area without tripping over shoes. If you want to save some money, you do not have an open floor plan, and do not mind setting up roadblocks, hold off on buying an extra unit.