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Vacuuming and Pet Entertainment Made Easy! Roomba Rocks!
Jul 25, 2003 (Updated Jul 25, 2003)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Recommend this product?
Aaaah, the Roomba. One of the most reviewed and revered little gadgets on Epinions.
I have been wanting a Roomba since I first saw them about a year ago. We have a Golden Retriever and she sheds everywhere. I think we could build a whole new dog out of the tufts of hair that we find on our carpet wherever she goes.
My husband said no. He thought it was a foolish, and expensive purchase. He was right on at least one count.
Then we went to his parent's house one weekend. I noticed a Roomba charging in the kitchen. "Honey, look! Your folks have a Roomba!" One thing about Mr. J's family: His father is a total gadget geek, much like me. We seem to be in a constant game of one-upsmanship on the gadgets. I buy a 3.3 megapixel camera. He gets a 5 megapixel camera. He gets a Ceiva picture frame. I buy my folks a Ceiva picture frame. I buy a photo printer. He buys the same photo printer. He gets a Roomba... well, you see where this is going.
Mr. J asked his mother how it worked. They have a Golden Retriever, two large birds, and a cat. And during the holidays they usually add three more cats and two more dogs to that mix, as all of us kids come to visit and bring our respective pets. It's quite literally a zoo there sometimes.
"It works great!" she said.
Armed with this ringing endorsement, I went for it again. "Sweetie, you know a Roomba would be nice to have for picking up Jess' hair.
Buying the Roomba
The Roomba retails for about $200 but you can usually find it for anywhere between $150 and $160 if you have coupons or know where to look. The easiest thing to do, if you have a 20% off coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond or Linens -n- Things is to take the coupon and head to the store to buy one offline for about $160.
If you don't have these stores around, or don't have a 20% off coupon lying around, you can go to Outpost.com and buy one for $149 + shipping, which works out to about $160. That's what I did.
I ordered my Roomba from Outpost on Sunday night. It was delivered via Airborne Express and was already on my doorstep on Wednesday morning when I woke up!
Leaving for work, I found the Roomba box waiting for me. Work was immediately put off for about 15 minutes while I unpacked the box from Outpost. My Roomba arrived in a large outer box, packed with pillow bags. (I love Outpost.com because they don't use those &^%$#@! peanuts.)
I unpacked the Roomba and plugged it in. It's supposed to charge for about twelve hours initially. (I found it took around fourteen hours before the green charging indicator went off, indicating it had a full charge.) And then I went to work.
Using the Roomba
Using the Roomba is easy. The manual that comes with it, and the pull out paper they include which details what to do in a multitude of Tough Roomba situations was straightforward. A mere glance and I was off to watch my new robotic vacuum!
I picked it up by its handle, unplugged it from the charger, and set it in the middle of my bedroom. I turned on the power switch and then hit the "L" to indicate it would be vacuuming a large room. My Roomba switched on and the fun began!
Don't believe you can set your Roomba down in any room willy-nilly full of junk and just let it do its thing. You have to first prep your room a bit. The manual recommends that you supervise your Roomba during its first run in a new room so you can fix any problems that come up.
Things you should do to prep:
- Pick up all small items
- Try to arrange cords and wires either out of the way or bundled together along a wall so the Roomba doesn't 'eat' them or get snagged
- Block off any small areas where the Roomba might get wedged or trapped
- Make sure there's enough clearance that the Roomba can actually go under a piece of furniture or at the very least, won't get snagged trying to go under it
- Prep under your higher furniture, because the Roomba's going in!
You can also use the Virtual Wall unit that comes with your Roomba to keep it from going places you don't want it to go (in another room, under furniture, etc.) The Virtual Wall unit emits a beam that the Roomba avoids as if it were a wall. It requires 2 D batteries (not included) to work.
There is a bit of noise from the Roomba but nothing so loud as to be too distracting. The point of using the Roomba is that you can set it off in one room and leave to go do your thing, so the noise shouldn't be too bothersome anyway.
What It Did
My Roomba immediately set about finding a wall and followed it along the length of the room - until it bumped into something. Then it turned about and went elsewhere. Before I knew it, the Roomba had gone underneath my bed! This was the best part, as that bed has not had a vacuum under it since sometime around Reagan's administration! It eventually came back out and whirred around the room, occassionally taking on a circular pattern here or there.
After about thirty minutes the Roomba beeped to let me know that it was done, and shut off. I took into the bathroom to dump everything out.
How Well It Did It
Cleaning the Roomba is a brief process. You pull out the canister and dump out all the hair, grime and junk that accumulated. In its first run, my Roomba picked up a penny, a Zyrtec (my allergy medicine, one must have gotten under the bed) and a AAA battery! (The battery was later discovered behind the Roomba's brush, after an autopsy was performed because the Roomba was "making a funny noise".)
The Roomba performed much better than I had expected! My husband was even impressed.
How Long It Can go
The Roomba can go about 60-90 minutes on one full charge. The battery indicator on the top of the machine changes from green to amber to red as its charge gets lower and lower. I was able to vacuum one large and two medium rooms on that first charge.
Other Roomba Fun
The Roomba doesn't just vacuum, it's also entertainment. It's a new cat toy for my Tonkinese who likes to just stealthily follow the Roomba around the room. Thankfully it didn't freak him out and he didn't think it was something to pounce on!
Jess isn't thrilled with the Roomba. Truth is, at sixty pounds (fifty more than the cat) she's a big coward. She's a little freaked out by it.
Warranties and Support
The Roomba comes with a limited 90-day warranty covering labor and parts. To obtain warranty service, you can go to the iRobot website at http://www.roombavac.com. You can also visit that site to find FAQs, technical support, Roomba user manuals and even go to the MyRoomba section.
MyRoomba is where you can find out about hosting your very own Roomba Parties! Yes, I am not kidding. There really is such a program. Think Tupperware, only with Roombas, and you get the idea.
Down the Line
I love my Roomba, but if you're holding out for the "Next Generation" in Roombas you won't have to wait too much longer. A search of Brookstone's catalog online revealed a new model that's coming out in a month or so: The Roomba Pro Elite model.
The Pro Elite has a sleeker design and appears to be burgundy in color (I couldn't tell since the add to cart option wasn't yet working if you could order other colors or not). Brookstone's catalog listed it as having a few other features, but I couldn't verify them since the product isn't active yet.
I love this little Roomba. It works exactly as advertised and does a great job on my low-pile carpet and hardwood floors. If you have high pile carpets, or lots of fringed rugs, you probably won't find the Roomba as useful as I do.
It doesn't completely replace vacuuming once every week or two, but it certainly can supplement it on a daily basis. We use our Roomba once or twice a day. It's so simple to use that I set it up to run while I'm getting ready to work and my husband sets it up after I've left to hit another room before he goes into work.
I'm really glad we ended up buying the Roomba. If you have pet hair to contend with, or just want to get some dust and junk off your floors without having to haul out the vacuum EVERY - SINGLE - TIME then the Roomba is a great choice!
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