iRobot Roomba 870

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Roomba 870
Operating Time (hours)
Charge Time (hours)
Operating Pattern
Back and Forth, Random
Scheduled Cleaning
Infrared Sensor
Dirt Sensor
Hardwood, Tile & Linoleum
Spot Mode
Height Adjustment
HEPA Filter
Multi-Room Navigation
Battery Indicator
Full Bin Indicator
Cliff Sensor
Charging Base
Return to Charging Base
Boundary Markers
Virtual Walls
Remote Control
Additional info
+ 3000mAh iRobot® XLife™ Extended Life Battery
+ Airflow Accelerator
+ High-Efficiency Vacuum
+ Dirt Detect Series 2 with Persistent Pass Cleaning Method
+ iAdapt Responsive Navigation Technology
- No Lighthouses
Comparison: iRobot Roomba 870 vs Neato XV-21 Pet & Allergy

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Review by D. A. Ross
I've been clinging to the same beat up Dirt Devil Vibe Upright (with Power Brush attachment!) since I bought it on clearance ten years ago. The suction is terrible, it's as loud as a cement mixer, and it weighs about as much as that cement mixer. Needless to say, I have been in need of a new vacuum for quite some time, but never did I think that vacuum would be a Roomba.

Truth be told: I always thought robot vacuums/sweepers were a bit of a gimmick, something for tech-junkies or, well, the lazy. So when it arrived in the mail, I opened it with both skepticism and cynicism, thinking, if nothing else, the Roomba would serve as a fun new torture device for our cat, Sherlock. As much as it pains me to admit, I am now eating crow. The Roomba 870, despite a few limitations, is an incredible appliance and I will (probably) not speak ill-ly of them again.

My home set up: one-bedroom apartment, about 700 sq ft, tile in the bathroom and kitchen, carpet and throw rug in living room, bedroom and closet. One short-hair domestic cat who loves to shed, and one imported wife with long black hair, who also loves to shed. After spending some time with it, here is a list of Pros and Cons for owning the iRobot Roomba 870:

* Solid construction. The Roomba is built like a tank, but has soft edges, so if it does collide with an object (which rarely happens anyway), no damage will be incurred
* Surprisingly quiet. I can still hear the TV/stereo/conversation while the Roomba is running
* No more spinning brushes that get clogged with debris! I didn't realize what a pleasure this would be (specifically, it doesn't choke on the tassels at the ends of the throw rug! Genius)
* Fairly intuitive, easy setup. I'm certainly not ignorant of technology, but for time's sake, I'll always prefer simple programming. Can set up multiple, scheduled cleanings with relative ease
* Long battery life and self-charging. The battery has yet to die mid-cleaning, as I don't have a ton of square footage, but this is still a a great feature. The Roomba will find the nearest dock and park itself until fully re-charged
* Collects a great deal of cat hair and dust, so it lives up to the pet/allergen claims
* Strong suction. We have an issue of our cat trailing litter everywhere, which we're constantly sweeping. The Roomba is easily able to suck up the litter granules
* Transitions pretty smoothly from the tile to carpet. It only got hung up once, but only because it hit a warped part of the rubber carpet stripping.

* Warranty. Comes with one-year limited standard, but with an appliance with this much technology, and at this price point, I would expect at least 5, if not 10, years of coverage.
* Can't use it on furniture, like our couch, which still necessitates owning another vacuum or handheld device
* See above, for carpeted stairs (I mean, you COULD use the Roomba on stairs, but you'd have to manually lift it onto each step, thus defeating the purpose)
* Dust bins are a little small, meaning they need to be changed after every cleaning, but I am willing to concede the overall size of the unit will limit this

If you're on the fence about buying a Roomba, take it from me that it's worth the plunge. I'm now thinking of getting one for my mom and step-dad, who also own a cat, and just don't have much time or energy to vacuum their place. And if you're curious, besides functioning as a high-tech cleaning device, it definitely delivers as an entertaining torture machine for pets.