When you first turn on the Roomba and it starts the cleaning process, you'll likely notice that it kind of "ping pongs" around the room and vacuums at random. Yet, at the end of the job, you'll notice that most (if not all) of your floor has been cleaned. So while it may not look like it at first, there apparently is a method to its madness.
The Roomba goes from my hardwood floors to my linoleum to my carpet without a hiccup. It just keeps rolling along and adapting to whatever surface it's on. It can sense most walls and furniture and it will slow it's approach until it's bumper touches, at which point it will either turn or it will continue vacuuming alongside the length of the obstruction. If it detects dirt (which is does by sensing the "rattling" sound), it will concentrate on that particular area by going around in circles. A "dirt" LED light will also illuminate on the Roomba when this happens, so you're not stuck wondering why it's spinning around. It also updates the stats in the iRobot app to show how many "dirt detection" events occurred.
The side brush complements the Roomba's cleaning very well. It gets those dust particles that collect near the walls that even a traditional vacuum has trouble getting to. It also helps "pull in" other debris as it goes around it's normal route.
However, the Roomba 690 is not perfect. It sometimes gets tangled on cords you forgot were on the floor and it can get stuck under furniture. For some reason, it does not seem to detect my TV stand and will run into it at full speed, which doesn't appear to damage the stand, but I'm starting to see some paint marks on the Roomba. But for a majority of vacuuming, the Roomba gets the job done.
The predominant feature with the 690 model is its Wifi connectivity and app. I thought this was somewhat gimmicky at first. I mean, do vacuums really need to connect to the internet? However, the app does prove to be useful in several scenarios:
- You can start a cleaning task when you're away from home. With my last robotic vacuum, as soon as I would leave my house I would often think, "Darn, I should have started the vacuum before I left." Now, that's not an issue, as you simply open up the app and hit the big button labeled "Clean" when you're away from home.
- You can check the status of the Roomba and receive a push notification when the Roomba is done or if an error occurs.
- It provides instructional videos for cleaning the various parts of the Roomba. No more hunting for the manual.
- It can help you locate the Roomba if it did not return to its charging station.
- You can link the Roomba to Amazon Alexa and Google Home using the app. Now, I just need to say, "Alexa, ask Roomba to start cleaning" and the Roomba starts.
The app gave me some trouble at first, claiming that I was not on the same network as the Roomba (I was). However, this may have been due the Roomba updating it's onboard software, as the issue cleared itself a few minutes later.
The package includes one virtual wall that can be used to keep Roomba from crossing an invisible line into another room. It can also be setup as a "radius" barrier in order to prevent the Roomba from running into pet bowls or plants.
EASE OF USE--
Assembling a robot to clean your home may sound like a daunting task, but I found the Roomba very easy to set-up. The included instructions are well illustrated and show you how to remove the packing material from the Roomba and prepare the home base.
The iRobot App will guide you through linking the Roomba to your home Wifi. This does require you to temporarily remove your phone from your home's Wifi and connect to the Roomba's temporary Wifi broadcast. Many other connected-home items I've used in the past did not require this step as they can receive the Wifi information from your phone via Bluetooth, but it appears that Bluetooth is not available on the Roomba. I was displeased that I had to create an account and password just for the iRobot App (yet another password I'll never remember), but the process was straightforward.
Ongoing maintenance is surprisingly easy: empty the bin, clean the filter and check the brushes and the front wheel for loose strings and debris. None of the steps are difficult nor very time consuming. Again, the app can guide you through these steps as well and allows you to order replacement parts.
So is a robotic vacuum worth the investment? Despite my desire to have a smart home, I would often scuff at the idea of buying a robotic vacuum since I was perfectly capable of vacuuming myself. Then after I purchased my first one, I was hooked. Let's face it: none of us have a lot of free time. And when we do, we don't want to spend it doing something like vacuuming. But unless we want our houses to be featured on the next episode of Hoarders, vacuuming is a necessary evil. To me, a robotic vacuum is a worthwhile investment as a compliment to your regular vacuuming schedule and it frees up your time for other tasks.
Unfortunately, the Roomba won't completely vacuum your entire house. They still haven't developed a model that can navigate stairs or move furniture, so you will still need to occasionally run the regular ol' vacuum. But for a majority of cleaning, the Roomba does a surprisingly thorough job.
I purchased my previous Roomba model 1.5 years ago and it is still working very well, so it would appear that iRobot produces durable machines. Overall, the Roomba 690 is a good value with convenient app-controlled features, making it a worthy ally in maintaining your home.