IROBOT ROOMBA 980
The iRobot Roomba 980 stands out for how easy it is to use, with or without its app. It also has powerful suction that cleans very well, and is one of the few robots that can actually handle carpets without getting stuck.
The Roomba 980 ships with the most well designed app among the five. The UI is easy to understand, and you can set up a flexible cleaning schedule for specific timings on individual days. A cleaning log lets you see at a glance how much of your house the Roomba 980 went through, and if it missed any major spots.
iRobot’s iAdapt 2.0 system even seems to learn; after getting stuck a couple of times under my sofa, the bot now avoids it. It’s also the only bot in this shootout that had no problems with most of my carpets and rugs, even ones with tassels. However, no carpet escapes a bot unscathed, while the Roomba 980 didn’t get stuck on them, it still pushes and crumples my rugs around.
But while it manages to avoid obvious drops, like the step from my dining room into the kitchen, it kept dropping into my toilet, which has a much smaller ledge, and it couldn’t climb back out again. I always had to remember to close the toilet door before leaving the house, or I’d come home to a stuck Roomba.
The Roomba 980 complements its smarts with powerful suction, which managed to suck up most of the big debris in my controlled testing, as well as a good amount of flour. When it detects a bigger mess than usual, the Roomba 980 cleverly ramps up power to increase suction. The bin is found in the front, instead of inside the main body, making it easy to detach and empty out without making a mess.
I’d easily recommend the Roomba 980 except for one caveat. Reuters reported iRobot CEO Colin Angle saying the company may sell map data of customers’ homes to third parties, but a few days later, he said he’d been misquoted and that iRobot would never sell customers’ maps. Even though iRobot now insists it’ll never sell customer data without their consent, it does raise an ugly possibility.
Well-designed app. Cleverly adapts to avoid obstacles. Powerful suction.
Still drops down small ledges. Expensive.
The Roomba 980 has a clean, if industrial design, with good controls.
The bin is one of the easiest to empty out without making a mess.