Q: perspectives from robotic vacuum owners?

April 16, 2010 | By Amber | 2 answers | Expired: 2107 days ago


so we're looking into buying a Roomba with our credit card rewards points.

my question: which one would be best?

there are a couple of "Pet Series" ones out there. the 532 is the basic one and the 562 has on-board scheduling. but for the life of me, i can't figure out what, exactly, makes them so pet-specific. i get the impression that the dust bin might be a bit bigger...*might*, but aside from that, in all of the descriptions i've read, i can't tell any discernible difference between the "Pet Series" models and the others. is there something i'm missing? are there special safety features that the others don't have that i somehow haven't read about? or anything else at all that's different?

we're not really interested in the "on-board scheduling". we don't want it running unless we're home, just in case something goes wrong. but the more basic "Pet Series" model still costs $320. many Roomba models are cheaper than this, so given that i'm having a hard time finding any significant difference between the non-pet models and the "Pet Series" ones, i'm not so sure it would be worth shelling out the extra $$$ just because it says "Pet Series".

our house has all hard floors, so carpet is not an issue. anyone out there have a Roomba, "Pet Series" or otherwise? if so, which model, and how does it do on your hard floors? how much did it cost? and would you recommend it?

also, it has come to my attention that iRobot, the makers of Roomba, are not the only company with a robotic vacuum cleaner on the market. there are others, including some fairly dinky ones for under $100, but perhaps most notably, there's one called the "Neato". the biggest difference in performance is this: Roomba zig-zags around the room based on an algorithm, and as such, it can miss spots and can't actually avoid obstacles until it actually encounters them. the Neato actually maps out the room before it takes off. instead of zig-zagging, it sweeps straight back and forth across the room, avoiding obstacles in advance based on the "map" it made. it's also supposed to have plenty of great safety features and a larger dust bin than Roomba. pretty cool, right? i think so, but the thing is, there is only one model of Neato, and it costs $400.

so while the Neato certainly sounds cool and most likely even *better* than the Roomba, i'm just not sure if there will be enough of a difference in performance to justify the extra cost. this is going to be a real stretch here, but if anyone out there has a Neato or any experience with one, i'd love to hear your perspective, especially if you're able to compare it to your experience with Roomba.

Readers' Answers (2)

Apr 16, 2010

i don't own one, but my friends dad is an expert on vacuum cleaners. if they're not heavy and expensive, they're not worth your money.
i have heard of them bugging out and just ramming repeatedly into walls or objects, but i couldn't tell you which brand that is.

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Apr 25, 2010

I have a Roomba, but not the pet series. I love my Roomba when its working, but in the first year I had it, I replaced the brush deck module three times, the right wheel module twice, the left wheel module once, & the side brush once. The modules are all self-contained, which is great, but they aren't sealed so well that dust, pet hair, & anything else can't work its way into the mechanisms & cause them to stop working. You can't take the modules apart & clean them, so you have to replace them when that happens. Even though I vacuumed my house multiple times a week & only ran the Roomba as a backup in between, some module would always clog up & stop running after only a month or two. It was in warranty, so they would always send replacement parts right out, no problem, but at some point you have to start buying those parts. When it was working it did a good job of covering the rooms. I'd set it up in one room & let it go, then move it to another room. Most of my house is carpeted but I do have some tiled floors. It did fine on them. It wasn't as great about picking up kitty litter & similar-type items as I hoped. Some of it got scattered by the brushes instead of being picked up. The good thing is that it criss-crosses the areas enough that it eventually picks up most things. They're great for cleaning under heavy furniture that you can't move easily, like beds & dressers. They can get stuck sometimes if they try to go under things that are just a tad too low.

I was having so much trouble that they contacted me & asked me to participate in a beta program. They were going to send me a different Roomba to try for a certain time frame & in exchange for the test, they would extend the warranty on mine & send me a $100 gift certificate to use towards any Roomba purchases. After signing up, they never contacted me again except to string me along long enough for the warranty to run out on my Roomba. I'd contact them to find out what was going on & get an email saying the test was delayed. A year later I'm still occasionally getting emails from one of their reps telling me to give her a time to contact me & she will. I do & she doesn't. Their online customer service was excellent when my Roomba broke but I kind of get the feeling I got duped into letting the warranty run out on it so they wouldn't have to keep replacing all those parts. Otherwise I would have purchased the extended warranty plan.

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