We recently bought a Roomba. Here is Lynne's review of the little robotic floor cleaner:
After changing all of our carpet over to gorgeous Bamboo Flooring I went to Target to get some type of convenient sweeper to use upstairs. I considered a broom; I looked at electric brooms; I looked at a carpet/floor sweeper type broom until Roomba caught my eye. Once upon a time I think I saw an ad for one of these things and I thought it was neat but I assumed it was too expensive. I compared the cost of the electric broom I had just put in my cart and Roomba. The electric broom was about $90 while Roomba was $150.
So - what really is a Roomba?
Roomba is an automatic robotic vacuum cleaner. According to the box it does as good a job in cleaning as an upright vacuum. It is small (compared to a regular vacuum cleaner) - only 13 inches in diameter and 4 tall. It will vacuum under chairs, chests, desks, coffee tables and other places you might not bother vacuuming regularly. The best thing is that it doesn't require you - you push a button before you leave to go out (of course, he can clean while you are home too) and when you come back, your house has been vacuumed.
I saved the receipt thinking surely it won't work well and I will be heading back to the store to return it... what about falling down stairs? Will it get all the spots? Can it really suck up well?
I tried it out even by the stairs - it got right to the edge, I was sure it was going down... just as I was ready to grab it before it crashed down and broke - Roomba turned away and went about cleaning elsewhere. Corners? Yep, got into every corner - the programming is good - I can't say I "get it" but it knows where to go so it covers all the area. It knows when it has vacuumed enough and calls itself done. How well does it suck up dirt, etc? Well it sucked up one of those little bouncy balls and tried to suck up a play bracelet that got caught in the brush.
It doesn't need bags - you just dump out the contents of the dust compartment, which actually holds enough so that it doesn't even fill up after I clean my whole house. I did learn that you need to pull out the filter each time though. You can just brush it off and put it back in.
There are different models. I bought Roomba Red - the price is $149 but I find people selling them cheaper on eBay if you like to shop there. Roomba Red has a clean mode for regular cleaning and a spot mode if you just want a small area cleaned. Roomba Red comes with a 7-hour charger but I purchased another charger on eBay that has a 3-hour charger and a home base. My son calls it Roomba's garage. It is really cool because Roomba will clean and when he is done he drives back to his home base all on his own and recharges himself. He will go back to the base if he is running out of charge too. The base cost $50 with shipping on eBay and costs $60 + shipping retail. If you buy a Roomba Discovery model it comes with this base charger automatically but the Discovery model retails for about $279.
Roomba Red comes with 1 virtual wall and Roomba Discovery comes with 2 virtual walls. These are small devices that emit a beam that acts as an invisible wall so that you can contain Roomba to a single room if you want. For example, if I just want Roomba to clean my kitchen, I put one virtual wall in each of the two open doorways to keep Roomba in the kitchen.
Roomba can also easily transition from floor to carpet and back. He does an equally good job on all types of flooring. He finds his way under and around chairs and other obstacles. He is easy to use and such a time-saver!
I enjoy gadgets. Many turn out not to be worthwhile but two that I am very pleased with are TiVo and Roomba - these are must-haves!