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2018 Review: iRobot Roomba 650 (Unpackaging & Review)

Several decades ago, we were promised that by 2020 we would have flying cars and that people would be living until the age of 200, well we didn’t get any of that, but we got automatic vacuums! My wife and I live in a 650 square foot apartment in Manhattan, and even though manual vacuuming shouldn’t seem so tedious, it is when you own a shedding dog! Enter Mila, our half husky, half pomeranian dog.

While Mila may have stolen our hearts, her constant shedding simply drove us nuts! We would manually vacuum the apartment 2-3 weeks per week and that was simply far too little. If any of us wore any dark colored pants or dared wearing black socks around the apartment, it wouldn’t take long before they were covered in white hairs. A few weeks ago I noticed Mila walking around the apartment, and she even had loose hair from the floor hanging around her paws, and that’s when I knew it’s time for a vacuum robot.

Having never used a vacuum robot before, I had no idea what to expect, how much to pay, and whether or not they work well. After brief research, the iRobot Roomba 650 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner caught my interest, and it was affordably priced compared to other models. The Roomba 650 model is the entry level of all the other Roomba’s sold by the company, and without surprise, is also priced the lowest, at around $300 depending on where you purchase it from. In this review today, I will be specifically covering the 650 model and letting you know as to what to expect.

Before jumping into my review, let’s go over what the Roomba 650 Vacuum promises:

iAdapt Response Navigation – the vacuum will be able to navigate around your home avoiding clutter and stairs

Low-Profile Design – designed to be able to clean under sofas, beds, and kickboards. ( I do want to point out that the Roomba is 3.4 inches high, so it won’t definitely be able to move under all furniture)

Virtual Wall Technology – simply a fancy way of saying that they will give you a device to place on the ground, in which the Roomba will pick on, and know not to venture past this object’s sight of view

Simple Operation – Easy to use

Self-Charging – The Roomba will automatically dock and recharge on its own

Scheduling – You can set your Roomba to turn itself on and clean at a specific time

3- Stage Cleaning System – We will be covering this “cleaning system” in the review, but for now, just understand that there are three moving parts in the vacuuming process

Spinning Side Brush – This spinning brush is meant to take debris out of corners

With my order placed, due to Amazon Prime, I received my Roomba the very next day, and here it is!

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As you might be able to tell, it does arrive in a large box. There really isn’t much to say here, since it’s just a box…

But time for the other side!

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If you care to read what information is found on the back of the box, then simply click on the image, you’ll see a larger version of the image. For the most part, there isn’t any new information that we don’t know of. They do mention the following:

Effectively handles hair, pet fur, lint, and carpet fuzz using AeuroVac Technology (sounds fancy).

Either way sounds perfect!

Let’s get the bad boy opened up:

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The Roomba is packaged securely within the box, which is always nice to find. When you initially open the box, you’ll find the documentation for the Roomba at the very top, and then any accessories on the right side of the Roomba.

Time to take the Roomba out of the box and get a closer look:

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At first glance, the Roomba looks quite sleek, and a big improvement aesthetically speaking from its prior versions. The big button you see at the bottom of the Roomba is actually the access point for the bin, and on the very top of the Roomba, the piece that looks like a lighthouse, that’s the infrared sensor that is being used for Roomba to figure where its charging port is located, or where the virtual wall is. The handle, is just that, a handle.

Can we get an even closer look, please?

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When Roomba mentioned that their vacuum is simple, they weren’t lying. It is incredibly easy to use the Roomba 650, and the lack of a dozen buttons shows us just that.

The “Clean” button will turn your Roomba on, and once your Roomba is on, you simply press again to activate the cleaning process.

The “Spot” button will be used when you want a specific section of your apartment to be cleaned. In “Spot” mode, the Roomba will begin circling until it reaches three feet in diameter, and then it begins circling back to its original position. When it completes this cycle, Roomba will shut down.

The “Dock” button is used when you want to tell Roomba to return itself to the dock station. So if you feel that Roomba has done its job for the day, and don’t care for carrying it to the charging station, you may simply click on “Dock” and it will find its way back to the charging station on its own.

Finally, for the rest of the buttons, those will be used when you want to schedule Roomba to clean on a specific schedule. You’ll first want to set the time correctly with the Roomba, and then you simply select the days and times you want it to clean.

Now as my mother always told me, what matters is what’s on the inside, so let’s turn him over:

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Notice that I’ve labeled different parts of the Roomba so that we can cover each part here:

a. This is the dust bin. Everything that your Roomba collects will be found in this bin. If you look closer, you will also see the filter inside of the bin.

b. This is the main brush. This brush is primary use picking up hair and lint.

c. Known as the flexible brush. This is a rubber brush that will be picking up actual debris.

d.  The edge-cleaning side brush. Due to the shape of the Roomba (a circle rather than a rectangle), it will not be able to reach corners, so this brush is meant to move debris out of the corners so that the Roomba can clean.

e. These are your contact points, specifically the points that are meant to connect to your charging station so that Roomba may charge.

Now that we better understand the parts of your Roomba, what about the accessories?

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With your Roomba 650 purchase, you will receive five accessories:

a. This is your charging station. Notice the two metallic pieces, they are meant to touch the “contact points” on the bottom of you Roomba. The infrared sensor at the top will send out an invisible laser so that your Roomba may find it.

b. With your order, you will receive one virtual wall. If you have a specific room in your home or apartment that you don’t want the Roomba to venture into, then simply place this virtual wall against the entrance, and it will shoot out an invisible laser that your Roomba will understand not to pass. Do keep in mind that the virtual wall runs on batteries, and they are not included with your Roomba purchase. You will need 2x C Alkaline batteries to make it work.

c. This cord is your charging cable for the charging station. You will simply connect one end of the cord to an outlet, and then the other end connects to your charging station.

d. Even though your Roomba comes pre-installed with a filter, the company is nice enough to send you a replacement filter as well.

e. This small plastic that resembles a brush will be used to clean the brushes of your Roomba.

Time for the best part, let’s see the Roomba in action.

Since the Roomba was already powered on, I only had to click the “Clean” button once. When I did, the Roomba gives up a few chirps, exits the charging station and begins to clean. I’ve also included audio in this video so you can get a better idea of how noisy the Roomba is. It’s definitely not a silent vacuum and likely sounds nearly as loud as your typical average vacuum.

So how does the Roomba deal with an actual object, such as a coffee table? Well, I have a video of that as well!

Take note that the Roomba is able to recognize that this is a physical piece of furniture on the floor, and it begins to outline the furniture. At the same time, you can see that it gives up on following around that furniture all the way, so for this specific trip, it didn’t complete the job. Keep in mind that the Roomba will continuously return to the same spots, so possibly the next time around it will cover the other side of the table properly.

In the next video, we will be using the “Spot” mode on the Roomba:

As stated earlier, Roomba will circle up to a three-foot diameter before shutting off. In this video, you can tell that it does a pretty good job in covering the complete area of the rug, and cleans the rug up quite well. You’ll notice that I sometimes used my foot to keep the rug in place and that’s because the Romba may end up pushing the rug around, and fail to get on top of it right away. In that case, it won’t be circling in the correct area. This problem will be evident for all lightweight rugs that are on a slippery surface. If you have a living room rug, obviously this problem wouldn’t occur. If you have rugs that are against a wall, or a piece of furniture, that also will help avoid this problem.

So how simple is it to clean out the bin?

Roomba has done a fantastic job in making the cleaning process for the bin very easy. You do not have to pick up the Roomba, or even use two hands to pick up the bin. You simply use your thumb to push the button, and then simply pull out the bin. Inserting the bin is just as simple, it slides right into place.

It’s recommended to clean the Roomba quite frequently, especially the brushes. So let’s take a look at how to access those brushes:

You’ll have to press on the two yellow pieces simultaneously while lifting the cage to access your brushes. Once you do so, you simply press each brush inwards while holding onto to the yellow end to pull it out. Again, quite simple. Take note of how I applied pressure to the wheels, when you turn the Roomba over, the wheels will reside a bit due to the weight. Whenever the Roomba needs to overcome a thick rug or chair legs, it will actually push itself higher by bringing its wheels out.

Here is how Roomba does against chair legs:

In this video, the Roomba does well in overcoming the chair legs. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, there have been instances were Roomba may spend 30 seconds trying over and over again to overcome those legs. In some circumstances, it gets stuck in between both of the legs, as you can see in the middle, and in those circumstances, it has spent nearly a minute before it was able to overcome the obstacle.

Does the Roomba 650 clean well?

Yes. My wife and I are very satisfied with our purchase. We are currently running the Romba twice a day, and our floors have never been cleaner. Every single time that we run him, he successfully picks up hair and dirt that were invisible to the naked eye. He goes on an adventure in our home in the morning and in the evening, each time for about 45 minutes. I will say this, Roomba will NOT clean your home 100%. It’s simply not possible. While this vacuum is quite smart, it’s not smart enough to map out your whole apartment in memory and make sure to cover every inch. But what it will do is clean 90% of your home without fail. There will always be some obscure corner of your apartment that the Roomba had failed to venture into, and in those circumstances, if you really want a perfect looking home, you’ll have to take our your manual vacuum.

For us, the Roomba is still a perfect solution. We simply want less hair and dirt in the common spaces. We want to be able to walk around our apartment without having debris sticking to our clothes or socks. The Roomba makes that happen. But you can bet that if the Queen of England visited our apartment, we wouldn’t hesitate to complement Roomba’s work with manual vacuuming.

I can honestly say that this robotic vacuum has been worth every penny and we’ve been running it every single day since we first got it.

The vast majority of our apartment is hardwood flooring with a few rugs here and there, and both the wood flooring and rugs come out clean.

In terms of the intelligence of the Roomba, it’s not extremely smart. If you sometimes watch it clean, at times, it will seem that it’s being completely random with the paths that it chooses to clean. So in terms of efficiently cleaning, it’s not that great. This is a cleaner that you want to set on the ground, and allow it to work for an hour or more to completely clean out your home due to its random pathing at times. Apparently, the more expensive Roomba models do a better job in mapping out your home, so if you’re interested in reading more on a higher model, you’ll find more information towards the bottom of the review.

When it comes to cables, the Roomba is smart enough to recognize when it begins to suck in cables, so it will untangle itself from the cables and move elsewhere. +1

Are there are shortcomings?

Nothing is truly ever perfect, right?

While the Roomba is a great purchase, there are a few things to watch out for:

  • The company behind Roomba could have done a better job with the “Dirt Detect” sensor. We haven’t touched on this yet, but this Roomba comes with a special feature known as “Dirt Detect”. Whenever the Roomba passes by an area that has quite a bit of dirt, it’s supposed to realize it, and then adjust itself to that area. Well, there have been circumstances when it rolls by some visible lint, and even though the lint is within an inch of it’s passing, it won’t notice the lint.
  • There have been complaints online that the Roomba will not climb dark rugs. Roomba is meant to recognize stairs and avoid approaching them, due to obvious reasons. Well, dark rugs give off the impression that they are stairs, so the Roomba will avoid your rug if it is black. Not just that, but in our case, the tiles in our bathroom are black, so the Roomba will not enter our bathroom for that reason. Whenever we need him to clean the bathroom, we have to manually bring him to the bathroom.
  • The self-docking feature is quite useful, but you’ll find out that sometimes it will take time for your Roomba to figure out where the dock is. The infrared laser that is located on your dock will shoot out a rather narrow laser, which your Roomba won’t be able to find until it passes through this laser. What this means is that your Roomba will continue to clean your apartment until it randomly crosses paths with that laser beam. In our 650 foot apartment, it once took 7 minutes before it was able to dock itself.
  • Initially, I was surprised by the sound level of the Roomba. It’s not any louder than your typical manual vacuum, but I expected a quieter machine. It’s fairly difficult to listen to your TV with Roomba going to work, so if you do live in a small apartment, keep in mind that you may want to run Roomba whenever you don’t care for the noise level.
  • Roomba bumps things, a lot. The front of your Roomba is an actual bumper that depresses when it hits something. Even though your Roomba is equipped with several sensors, it will bump into different pieces of furniture as it completes its cleaning cycle, well, those bumps give off a sound as well. Even more importantly, there have been online reviews where people have complained that the Roomba had dirtied their white wallboards due to the bumping. Some of these people ended up adding an additional white bumper to the Roomba so that it would stop leaving black streaks on the wallboards. Personally, I have yet to see this problem, it could simply be a case of keeping the bumper clean.

The cleaning process for the Roomba 650:

Bin: The bin should be emptied after every cleaning cycle. In the case that you have a big home, it would be wise to empty the bin several times during the cleaning process. The bin will last forever, and won’t need to be replaced.

Filter: You can simply pull out the filter from the bin, and check to make sure that there aren’t big pieces of debris there. A new filter should be placed in every two months, click here to find replacement filters for the Roomba 650.

Bristle Brush: After every cleaning process, you should take a look at the bristle brush and pull out any tangled hair. Use the brush that came with your Roomba to help pull out the hairs that are tangled up in your brush. This brush should be replaced every six months and you can click here to find a replacement bristle brush for the Roomba 650.

Sensors: The sensors surrounding your Roomba should be wipped down every week, and never need to be replaced.

For the front wheel, spinning side brush, and the contact points, simply wipe them down once a week and they shouldn’t need replacement.

Do I regret not purchasing the Roomba 980?

Image Credit: CNET.com

The Roomba 980 is nearly $500 more than the Roomba 650. While I can imagine that for people with large homes, a stronger vacuum makes more sense, in our circumstance, the 650 is more than powerful. Nevertheless, let’s look at where the Roomba 980 improves:

  • Uses iAdapt 2.0 technology which allows it to map your home better with time, so that the cleaning processes become more efficient.
  • Has the technology to return to the dock to charge itself up before continuing the cleaning cycle that it was told to do. In addition to that, it has a running time of 120 minutes vs 90 minute running time of the 650.
  • The use of the iRobot Home app, and I’ll admit, this looks very attractive. Via the app, you’re able to remotely control the Roomba, and even tell it where to go, and what spots to pay attention to.
  • Promises “10x the air power” of the 650, specifically when cleaning rugs, so yes, I would imagine if you have many dogs, and many rugs, this can come in quite useful.

I’m sure the Roomba 980 is quite powerful, and definitely worth the money as well, especially considering how positive the Amazon reviews are, but don’t fret over the idea that the Roomba 650 is lackluster! The 650 works perfectly for us, and for many others!

As a closing statement, while the Roomba 650 is not perfect, it’s a powerful, useful and worthwhile purchase. We’ve stopped manually vacuuming ever since we’ve purchased our Roomba, and we will likely remain loyal customers of various Roomba for the unforseenable future.


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iRobot Roomba 650 Automatic Vacuum

Ease of use
Picks up debris
Picks up hair
Battery Life
Mapping Technology
Noise
Value

Winner in our books!

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