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Roomba Celebrates 10 Years of Cleaning Up After You

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the most-of-the-world-is-carpeted-and-one-day-we-will-do-the-cleaning dept.

Robotics 92

SkinnyGuy writes "Roomba, the world’s first multi-million unit-selling home-helper robot, turns 10 today. iRobot has cooked up a self-congratulatory infographic filled with a collection of interesting and occasionally bizarre facts to mark the occasion. Did you know that dogs, cats and babies have ridden iRobot's iconic home cleaning robot since it was introduced exactly a decade ago?"

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First (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 2 years ago | (#41364891)

I want someone to clean up before me.

Dogs, cats, babies... (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 2 years ago | (#41364921)

Don't forget about the ahimatronic chimp head [boingboing.net] !

Re:Dogs, cats, babies... (1)

devjoe (88696) | about 2 years ago | (#41365127)

The babies that "have ridden the [Roomba] since it was introduced exactly a decade ago" are now on the verge of being teenagers, if they somehow survived that decade of dizziness.

Waaay to much money for those things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41364983)

$500+ ?? No. Should cost maybe 20% more than a regular vacuum, due to extra motors and a battery.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#41365061)

When a regular vacuum can be modified to autonomously clean a room with just a few extra motors and a battery, then it would be worth a 20% markup. Also, a lot of mid to higher end traditional vacuums sell in the same price range as the Roomba - although I can't say where on the scale the Roomba's quality falls.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41365115)

Mitt Roomba will be our next president.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41365141)

Mitt Roomba will be our next president.

Yes, because unlike Mitt Romney Mitt Roomba actually has a personality and will talk specifically about what he is capable of getting done.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41365849)

They both suck, though.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (3, Funny)

DrXym (126579) | about 2 years ago | (#41365801)

"I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!"

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (2)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#41365239)

A decent "regular" vacuum is, for me, a Dyson, and those cost right there. The cheapest used one that doesn't run on batteries could be had for about $200 (in a decent shape, for less if it's in bad shape). A new Dyson from the DC Animal family will run about $400. If Dyson ever made a robotic vacuum, it'd probably cost $1000 or more. I can't imagine a decent robotic one costing much less. Do note that a decent vacuum cleaner must have good beater brushes and a powerful, two stage cyclone-based air filtration system with a HEPA filter on the output (or three stage w/o HEPA). It can all be scaled down in size, but it will be loud as hell, and will run hot.

It's no biggie to have a 1kW turbine and a double (Dyson standard) or even triple cyclone in an enclosure the size of a Roomba, but I don't know where the heck will the batteries fit. The shaft will probably turn at 20k to 30k RPM, otherwise the motor and turbine would be too big. It might need a muffler on the exhaust, seriously, otherwise the whine will make your teeth hurt.

Never mind that you'd probably want 250Wh battery capacity at a minimum (so that it can vacuum for 10 minutes). With derating for battery life in hot operating conditions, 300-350Wh is more like it. That battery would probably cost a good chunk of change all in itself.

It'd be OK to use it when you're not in at home, but you wouldn't want to be around that thing when it's doing the job. Roomba is, performance-wise, a joke. If you want to know how bad it is, if you're cleaning your carpets using one, borrow a Dyson and see how much crap it'll pick up.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41365607)

If you want to know how bad it is, if you're cleaning your carpets using one, borrow a Dyson and see how much crap it'll pick up.

Yea, the see how much more it picks up demonstration is the reason we have a Kirby.

http://www.greatvacs.com/education/KirbyVsDysonVacuumReview.html [greatvacs.com]

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (3, Informative)

DrXym (126579) | about 2 years ago | (#41365851)

You have a kirby because you were suckered into buying an overpriced vacuum cleaner from a company which specialises in high pressure sales tactics and borderline illegal activity.

Perhaps there really is some difference in the quality of vacuum cleaning from a Kirby but I suspect most people will comfort themselves with buying which costs 1/5th the price which is almost as good and weighs half as much. And buying it without some a salesman refusing to leave their house wearing them down for hours until they buy the thing.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (4, Insightful)

Cinder6 (894572) | about 2 years ago | (#41366033)

Several years ago, we demoed a Dyson unit. They look cool and have good marketing, but we were pretty disappointed by its actual performance. It cost more and performed worse than the Hoover vacuum we wound up getting instead. Right now we have a Sebo, and it works great.

As for the Roomba's performance, isn't there an argument that you can have it go out and vacuum every day? If you have it set to do that, then your carpets shouldn't get dirty enough that the lower performance is an issue. It also means that your carpets stay clean the whole week, rather than having one day where they look real nice and six days getting progressively worse (or am I the only one who vacuums only once a week?).

(Dear lord, I can't believe I'm talking about vacuuming right now.)

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41380173)

*only* once a week? That's at least an order of magnitude more than I do.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41380711)

or am I the only one who vacuums only once a week?

Uh... I think I last vacuumed the day before last Thanksgiving.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (3, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41366893)

By the time the salesman left it wasn't us that was worn out, it was him. He must have been there 5 hours and we paid a fraction of the original price.

The Kirby is a really good product, but I do agree the way they are sold is not very good.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 2 years ago | (#41368001)

It's not hard to find complaints about their sales, e.g. here [consumeraffairs.com] . Complaints like these are to be found wherever the things are sold. This is just a rotten firm and the more people who become aware of their shitty awful tactics, the sooner they'll go bust hopefully.

I'm sure even if I did want a powerful vacuum cleaner that there are other makes which can be purchased from a normal store which offer similar performance for a fixed and lower price. As it stands even my 60 euro bagless phillips is perfectly adequate for my needs and has lasted 3 years. I could stick 2000 euros in the bank (an amount which some people paid for their Kirby) and the interest alone would pay for replacement cleaners if and when they gave up the ghost.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41374533)

I had a kirby and it was fantastic. When you have multiple long-haired animals who shed, the old $99 Hoover just isn't up to the task. The Kirby is, it is motorized which helps a lot, and it shampooed the carpet. The salesman did some stupid tricks that were easy to see through, but the vaccuum is quality... you have to pay for quality, and as per usual, quality comes at a cost.

They last too. The only reason I don't still have the Kirby is I gave it to that cat hoarding bitch when I divorced her. All I needed was the $99 Hoover and it's still going after 15 years.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (2)

Medievalist (16032) | about 2 years ago | (#41365859)

Yeah, we have a Kirby, two roombas, and two Dysons (don't even ask why).

The Kirby is the all time champion for raw cleaning power, and the roombas are the worst in the same category. Dyson's in the middle somewhere, closer to the Kirby end of the spectrum.

But! The kirby and dysons won't vacuum the room for you while you are washing the dishes and cleaning the cat box. And the Kirby cannot be used except by large physically fit people (we've got two family members who can't lift it, and we originally got it because Nana could not even push it ten feet on carpet). So they are all great for 3 different use cases.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#41365985)

But! The kirby and dysons won't vacuum the room for you while you are washing the dishes and cleaning the cat box.

This is why I got a Neato (the one with the Laser scanner). I have it programmed to vacuum 4 times a week and my carpets have never been cleaner (mainly because I hate vacuuming.) All I have to do is rescue it the few times it's gotten lost in my house (and the one time it got caught on some sheets I forgot to pick up) and clean it's dust bin.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

SimplyGeek (1969734) | about 2 years ago | (#41365891)

The Roomba isn't meant to replace a real vacuum like a Dyson. It can't compare. What a Roomba DOES do is make it so you don't have to vacuum as much. By getting enough of the dirt, you don't vacuum as often. So the way I've always viewed my Roomba is as a device that allows me to vacuum less frequently and for the carpet to be cleaner in between those times.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 2 years ago | (#41366229)

I have a small Kirby that I use for cleaning out vehicles it is awesome. It was my mom's vacuum and use to have a bunch of attachments but most of them broke or were lost a long time ago so I asked if I could have it when she bought a new different vacuum. Seriously that little vacuum sucks like a black hole with daddy issues.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#41371825)

Kirby has serious issues:

1. Yeah, the pipe is big, but a bigger pipe means slower airflow. Sure it has lower losses in that pipe and the pipe won't clog as easily with large stuff. What it will clog with is fine particulates that will build up over time because air flows too slow. There's a tradeoff between self-cleaning ability of a pipe and its diameter and thus propensity to clog in presence of large particles ("junk"). If you have big junk on the floor, you're supposed to use a shop vac. That one is designed to deal with big junk. If you're OK with carrying around a shop vac, don't buy a Dyson *or* Kirby, duh, but decide what the heck is it that you want. A shop vac is putting that big pipe to a good use. A Kirby, well, just wastes space with that big pipe.

2. The filter. The filter is a joke. Bag anything in a vacuum is a joke in 21st century. You're not supposed to, you know, get dirty while emptying it. In a Dyson you can go up to a couple dozen cleanings between having to clean the canister.

3. The air whatever test: I don't know what the tool purports to test, but sure as heck it doesn't test suction power. Power measured in, you know, units of power, like Watts. Suction power is quite important, because it gives an idea of how much work the air could do (at most) to extract dirt. Generally speaking, the mechanical suction power will always be less than the electrical power consumed from the outlet. So if you have a 7 amp Kirby and a 12 amp Dyson, the Kirby won't ever have the same potential of developing suction power as a Dyson has, unless the Dyson is much less efficient at converting electrical to mechanical power of the air flow (suction). Power in the airflow is given as pressure * flow rate. A tool better be calibrated in Watts if it purports to measure airflow (suction) power.

4. You can't compare apples to oranges. Dirt extraction isn't all about airflow, nor even all about air power. It's a combination of the beater brush performance *and* air power (suction power). All I know is that I had various contemporary vacuums in the 200-500 USD range, all made between 2000 and 2010, and compared to Dyson animal (large canister) they were rather subpar performers.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41375353)

What it will clog with is fine particulates that will build up over time because air flows too slow.

The particulates a vacuum cleaner is supposed to be used for should not adhere to the walls of any pipe in any significant amount. Even the slowest-moving airflow should be more than enough to prevent ordinary dust, hair, fibers, and sand from adhering to your cleaner.

If gunk is accumulating on the inside of your cleaner then you have a moisture problem. Either you're vacuuming wet material and should be using a utility vacuum, or you have crazy humidity and need a better air conditioner or dehumidifier.

2. The filter. The filter is a joke. Bag anything in a vacuum is a joke in 21st century. You're not supposed to, you know, get dirty while emptying it. In a Dyson you can go up to a couple dozen cleanings between having to clean the canister.

Come on, seriously? Which is more sanitary, throwing out a sealed paper package, or dumping out a plastic canister with a spring-loaded trapdoor? Granted, bags are not very "green," but F that. I want my dirt to stay gone once its sucked up, and I'll gladly give up the fun of watching it spin around in transparent plastic if I can toss it out without sneezing.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 years ago | (#41365787)

A decent "regular" vacuum is, for me, a Dyson, and those cost right there.
I'll give you a hint. If they have to advertise it on an infomercial, it's crap. Sure it costs as much as a Kirby, but it is nowhere near as good as a Kirby. But you are correct that in comparison to the Roomba, just about any regular vacuum cleaner is going to come out looking like a miracle worker.
Maybe i am getting senile, but isn't this the second Roomba slashvertisement in the last week?

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 2 years ago | (#41366431)

Roomba is, performance-wise, a joke. If you want to know how bad it is, if you're cleaning your carpets using one, borrow a Dyson and see how much crap it'll pick up.

I guess it depends on the model. It's certainly not the case for the one I bought for my wife. She has a Dyson too. In all honesty I think the compliment each other more so than compete. The Roomba runs on our first floor every night at 3 am. My wife usually gets out the Dyson and carpet shampooer once every month or two. Regardless, the Roomba still finds plenty to clean up afterward. I think part of it is that it can get into places easier than a big ass Dyson, plus it has a little spinning brush that can get under baseboard and other things better. The Roomba also doesn't need as much suction as a Dyson as the impeller blades are much closer to the floor than they are on the Dyson. If I had to make a choice between the two, Roomba would win without a second thought.

As far as maintenance, I'm truly impressed with how the Roomba is designed. It's pretty modular and very easy to take apart. Most of the modules are also held together with actual screws instead of glue or rivets. So it's actually possible to fix a lot of things yourself if you feel like it, rather than buy a new module. The version I bought for my wife six years ago was one a step down from their commercial one. When they came out with a newly designed vacuum bin, they made it fit older models. So we were able to upgrade it for $35 +/- instead of buying a new one.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

EnglishDude (580283) | about 2 years ago | (#41368797)

Dyson? Regular? Really?

I got a Dyson upright and it died after a year - it constantly got blocked needing disassembling and cleaning once a week. It eventually died by blowing dust out of its exhaust and I gave up with it after 3 hours of trying to find the problem. It couldn't cope with anything more than light dust. That was a heavy maintenance vacuum cleaner. I also hated not having a bag as emptying the cylinder in my wheelie bin would generate a lot of dust. I eventually emptied the cylinder directly into a bag before binning it.

I then got an Henry [wikipedia.org] as cleaners in nearly every commercial premises I've seen use one and I thought "Pretty much all companies use the Henry vac and their cleaning demands are much greater than domestic demands so they should be hardy" so I got one. Cost me £80 ($130) for a HEPA version including 30 free bags. I've abused it heavily, including accidentally knocking it down a flight of stairs, and regularly vacuuming up building rubble. It's now 7 years old and still works fantastic. The design has barely changed in 32 years for a good reason! It got blocked only once which took me 5 minutes to clear. It's missing a couple features I'd like to have, but I'm not complaining.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#41371877)

I think you've run into their production run that had a well known issue. I'm not apologizing for them, just stating facts. It's not normal performance, and you're not the only one who had that issue. I find it incredulous that most customers wouldn't even bother trying to figure out what's wrong -- it was a simple problem with the inner-to-outer cyclone seal (the ring in the middle of the bottom of the canister that seals the upper cyclone dirt collector cylinder to the bottom cover of the canister, IIRC).

I guess people won't spend a couple minutes trying to imagine how the damn thing works -- namely that the outer cyclone spins out the big dirt, and the fine dirt gets spun out by the inner cyclones, with the final cleaning done by the foam prefilter and HEPA postfilter. If big dirt gets to the inner cyclones, they obviously don't have capacity to spin that out (they're tiny!), so the prefilter gets clogged up in short order.

The prefilter, in my case, collects occasional hairs and a fine sprinkling of dust that we clean twice a year if we won't forget. The HEPA has been swapped once, probably for no good reason since it's rated for the life of the vacuum. The exhaust side sure looked clean, even if the intake was black -- I think quite a few of that black was graphite from the brushes.

I give Dyson demerits for awful handling of the customers who had this issue -- they pretended the problem didn't exist. If I run into that issue and had to deal with their crap, I'm sure I'd have sour aftertaste, but then I'd have probably figured it out and fixed it myself before getting in touch with anyone. I do usually break warranties. I think every new thing I buy gets torn to pieces soon after it's taken out of the box. How else will one stay current in engineering? ;)

When it comes to Dysons, I think that the ball models are a bit underengineered due to smaller plumbing and smaller motor. The best performance is to be had from full-size uprights -- if you see them in a store, simply select the one that has largest piping and largest canister volume. That's all there's to it.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

supercrisp (936036) | about 2 years ago | (#41373131)

For me the best vacuum for your money is a blue one. I have a blue vacuum cleaner, and it picks up the cat hair from the carpet and the dust bunnies and little bits of kitty litter too. It uses an advanced paper-bag filtering system, which both collects dirt and hair while filtering the air it returns to the room. It also has a sophisticated height-adjusting system that allows me to use it both on carpet and on smooth surfaces, such as hardwood floors. Additionally, it has a binary power control system allowing me to adjust its state of function independent of my proximity to the wall outlet. It is truly a superior device.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 2 years ago | (#41365641)

$500+ ?? No. Should cost maybe 20% more than a regular vacuum, due to extra motors and a battery.

Not sure where you're shopping, but you either only looked at the top of the line model or they're ripping you off.

Try more like $200.

Re:Waaay to much money for those things (1)

hotfireball (948064) | about 2 years ago | (#41372137)

No.

1. Really good regular vacuum cleaner costs ~300 EUR. Things like Dyson costs even more.
2. If you toss in extra motors and a battery in it, making it 500 EUR, it still does not autonomously cleans your house.
3. Roomba starts from 270 EUR: http://www.irobot.com/de/store/store_products.aspx?id=487 [irobot.com]

I own one and I love it (and I do have vacuum cleaner too, BTW).

Needs an upgrade (4, Funny)

Guano_Jim (157555) | about 2 years ago | (#41365005)

I bought a Roomba years ago to take care of some light-colored carpeting in the living room. I'm not buying another until they come with an under-the-couch dog poop sensor, standard.

Poodle skidmarks, man. Poodle skidmarks.

Re:Needs an upgrade (1)

danomac (1032160) | about 2 years ago | (#41365055)

Yep, an iPoop robot could sell well. Although I would think that it would still make a mess cleaning it up.

Re:Needs an upgrade (0)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41365175)

The simple solution is to get rid of the dog.

Re:Needs an upgrade (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 2 years ago | (#41365361)

The simple solution is to get rid of the dog.

Obviously you have never had one in your family.

Re:Needs an upgrade (0)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41365487)

Never an indoor one.

If the dog poops inside don't keep it inside, or keep close supervision of it to make sure it doesn't poop inside.

If the dog is pooping in your residence then it really is your fault and not the dogs, but the simple solution is to get rid of the dog rather than fix the owner.

Re:Needs an upgrade (3, Insightful)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 2 years ago | (#41365615)

A little effort with target-training or crate-training [drsfostersmith.com] can housebreak a dog quickly. If you don't want to expend the effort, then you shouldn't have a dog in the first place.

Domestic dogs are bred to be with us, inside our homes. Don't banish them to live outside.

Re:Needs an upgrade (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41366765)

If the reason that the person doesn't want the automated vacuum is because it spreads dog shit all over the house because he doesn't pick up the dog shit, then perhaps that person shouldn't have a dog inside, or no dog at all.

Re:Needs an upgrade (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41366403)

Of course if it had that poop sensor, you'd find yourself trapped in the dustbin as well, efftard...

Re:Needs an upgrade (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 years ago | (#41366611)

Eewwwww. Those kind of situations help one understand the importance of "common sense". Machines are stupid savants.

Useless Vacuum (1)

na1led (1030470) | about 2 years ago | (#41365025)

I purchased a Roomba a few years ago, and it did little to clean the floors. Spent most of the time getting stuck in a corner, or going around in circles.

Re:Useless Vacuum (2)

yotto (590067) | about 2 years ago | (#41365163)

Mine worked great so long as I otherwise kept an immaculate apartment. Immaculate included no chairs or cat toys.

Speaking of cats, cat hair... Oh my god the cat hair.

Mine's about 4 years old now, and I haven't used it in about 3 years. I spend less time vacuuming than I did cleaning the Roomba.

Re:Useless Vacuum (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 2 years ago | (#41365323)

Roomba gave me a great reason to try and keep my place more or less tidy. It's the only way Roomba will work.

But yes... cat hair. There are two sensible, easy, and not too expensive upgrades that would vastly improve the Roomba, but are still inexplicably missing even from the latest models:
- Ball bearings for the brush drivers on the gearbox. This is where all the cat hairs get into the gear box and foul up the gears, to the point where they run so hit the egarbox actually melts a little. Apparently there's a model or version of the gearbox that comes with bearings, but I never found one. I ended up modding the thing myself.
- A good Li-ion battery instead of the craptastic NiMH they still stick in there. And even for NiMH the Roomba packs are of rather poor quality; they all failed quickly, and replacing them with good NiMH cells from an old model airplane pack gave much better results.

Other than that, these vacuums to a pretty good job. They clean places that I usually skip when vacuuming (like under the bed / couch), and they do well on carpets; going over it from different directions as it crisscrosses the room they clean it better than I do by hand.

Re:Useless Vacuum (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | about 2 years ago | (#41365683)

under bed cleaning? Hell if the damn thing managed to make it under my bed, it'd be lost forever - that's a blackhole down there or there's a monster that does a good job of keeping things clean. Even my cat refuses to chase anything under the bed

Re:Useless Vacuum (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about 2 years ago | (#41367043)

There's a guy (I think his name is Vic) at roombareview.com who can rebuild your fur-caked 400 series with new sealed bearings that aren't as vulnerable to cat hair. The 500-series 'pet' models come with sealed bearings out of the box.

Re:Useless Vacuum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41365471)

I seriously considered buying one but negative comments in battery life and cleaning quality (especially with respect to dog hair) have made me stick to my manual vacuum cleaner. I hope to someday change my mind once robot vacuum cleaners reach a higher quality.

Re:Useless Vacuum (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 2 years ago | (#41366529)

I seriously considered buying one but negative comments in battery life and cleaning quality (especially with respect to dog hair) have made me stick to my manual vacuum cleaner. I hope to someday change my mind once robot vacuum cleaners reach a higher quality.

I have 2 of them - one of the older models and one about 2 years old now. They won't replace even the cheapest regular vacuum for heavy-duty use, but they're great for when you are too lazy to vacuum it yourself, and they're outstanding for cleaning the dust bunnies out from under beds and sofas.

The original Roomba took forever to charge and the algorithms in it were prone to get it into "lobster traps" and other stalled situations. The newer system has a faster charger (still too slow), and smarter code, including dirt sensors so that it will spend extra time on dirty areas.

The older roomba split a tread, so I got a repair kit. It wasn't very impressive. The newer Roomba is actually less sturdy in some ways, although it has a bigger dustbin. Both Roombas are at their best on carpet and their worst on tile (where they mostly just kick dirt around). And, of course, you have to make the room "Roomba friendly" by removing tasselled rugs and other things that can get grabbed by the brushes and jam the works.

The lifespans of all Roomba battery packs are annoyingly short, although these days it's easy at least to find replacement packs. I got one at Radio Shack and another from a local battery store.

"The Future" is a little closer... (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#41365029)

My house (and business) use Neato's, but I'd hardly begrudge the Roomba for making people think "robot vacuum cleaners should be in my house now".

Re:"The Future" is a little closer... (2)

SpzToid (869795) | about 2 years ago | (#41365369)

That is interesting as I had not heard of those before. Here's a link to their site: http://www.neatorobotics.com/ [neatorobotics.com] although I see they only make a vacuum, and not a wet mopping thing like iRobot does. I wonder how effective the are wet mopping robots are.

Re:"The Future" is a little closer... (1)

rgmoore (133276) | about 2 years ago | (#41366655)

I've been less impressed by the Scooba (iRobot's mopping robot) than Roomba. It's slow, requires quite a bit of maintenance on every use, and can't cover a very large area on a single tank of water. I haven't found that it saves much time compared to scrubbing the floor by hand.

Re:"The Future" is a little closer... (1)

SpzToid (869795) | about 2 years ago | (#41371545)

You have made my day with that info. Here's why: About a year ago I gave some consideration to how much time and effort (and cost) was involved keeping the floor clean in my house. The house gets very dusty quickly because of where I live. I opted against a Scooba back then primarily because the price was way out of my priorities and budget.

But I did buy an expensive mop and bucket from the local five and dime. I just stared at all the options long enough, so I wouldn't have to constantly get my hands wet wringing out the dirty wet mop. This centrifgual mop bucket is what I bought and I like it a lot. I bought several extra pads and I throw them in the washer (along with similar rags used for cleaning).

It works by pushing the mop down in the bucket, about three pumps is good. Doing so spins the mop head fast to rinse off excess water (after rinsing down in the bucket, of course).

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Leifheit+55341+Twist+Mop+System [amazon.com]

I find simply sweeping the floor simple and effective enough for about 1 or 2 'cleanings' and the about the 3rd time I get serious with the mop and bucket.

Oh, I almost forgot *this* is most awesome! OMFG it is so awesome. Imagine sweeping up the dust off the floor using a little dustbroom and pan. Now stop doing that and use this little Dyson DC34 cordless vacuum cleaner (for Everything) like I do: http://www.amazon.com/Dyson-DC34-cordless-vacuum-cleaner/dp/B006WS39NE/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1347946341&sr=8-18&keywords=dyson [amazon.com] Even this most-serious former Air Force I.T. security professional raves about his little Dyson: http://taosecurity.blogspot.nl/2007/12/make-cleaning-awesome.html [blogspot.nl]

Just for cleaning the regular dust build-up behind the PCs alone, that extremely well-designed vacuum is seriously worth the money!

Since I have adopted those tips, life has improved greatly.

Re:"The Future" is a little closer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41365503)

I bought a Neato from Woot! last week. It's picking up a lot of cat hair, and is quiet enough that it doesn't freak out the cats.

The only problems I'm having are related to it losing traction, which causes it to forget where the charger is. I had to dump a chair that the Neato had tried to climb, completely disorienting itself.

I like the idea that it's working on my apartment right now while I'm at work.

Re:"The Future" is a little closer... (1)

samwichse (1056268) | about 2 years ago | (#41365919)

Another thumbs up for Neato. I got mine about 18 months ago, and I basically only take out a regular vacuum to hit the stairs/corners (and cobwebs) occasionally.

The "robot" part of the Neato makes a Roomba look like a toy, and the suction is much more powerful... however, they did have some QC issues and I had to return mine twice... once for a broken wheel spring (new ones are redesigned), and once for an RPS error (the lidar unit wasn't turning).

Sam

Re:"The Future" is a little closer... (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#41366077)

I've had mine for a few months now and possibly one of the best things I have done. There's one spot mine likes to get lost in my house because it's not a regular layout, but other than that... the carpet has never been cleaner! It also forces me to keep the floors picked up and serves as a gentle alarm clock at 7:00 in the morning (only 4 times a week.) It's not terribly loud, but it's movement that wakes you up.

Ride em (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41365039)

... and lonely housewives!

Nice, if the batteries would last (2)

redelm (54142) | about 2 years ago | (#41365087)

I've owned a Roomba for ~3 years. After the second set of batteries went out 6 minths ago, I gave up. It cleaned OK (if emptied reguarly) & would park & recharge OK (kept a close eye), but not ready for prime-time.

Re:Nice, if the batteries would last (4, Interesting)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#41365203)

The batteries are cheaper than a maid, and more thorough for those things it does.

A pain to keep running (hair wraps on spinning bits), but still less work than sweeping it yourself - transforms a long boring daily task into a much shorter one with intermittent tech skills required: Google search "WTF does two beeps mean on a Roomba", ah: get screwdriver, remove edge sweeper, cut away hair wrapped on hex shaft, replace, good to go for another 50 uses.

Really pleased with it (3, Informative)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about 2 years ago | (#41365159)

Sure, it can't do the stairs, but my second/third/whatever hand Roomba (530, I think), £100 from eBay, is great — press the button, off it goes, and does a more than merely passable job of the downstairs. I would not pay full price for one, but, for the money I spent, I'm more than happy with the product.

It didn't immediately decrease the time spent on vacuuming, though — I'd waste the time previously spent pushing a vacuum around just watching it do its thing. Now, at least, I can just let it run, but I do get a feeling of "wow, that's rather cool" each time I run it...

And designed to be user-repaired, or at least parts replaced, which is always a bonus.

Re:Really pleased with it (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#41365291)

Borrow a Dyson and see how much crap the Roomba leaves behind -- if you have a carpet, that is. Perhaps it's usable on hard surface floors.

Re:Really pleased with it (2)

jittles (1613415) | about 2 years ago | (#41365393)

I'll bet the Roomba could pick stuff up after the Dyson, too. They probably use different methods for cleaning, and one will do a better job at cleaning up certain types of things than the other. I have two vacuums in my closet, one a Hoover and I forget who makes the other, Dirt Devil? And I can easily run one and then the other and get more junk up no matter which one I use first.

Re:Really pleased with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41365869)

I'll bet the Roomba could pick stuff up after the Dyson, too. They probably use different methods for cleaning, and one will do a better job at cleaning up certain types of things than the other. I have two vacuums in my closet, one a Hoover and I forget who makes the other, Dirt Devil? And I can easily run one and then the other and get more junk up no matter which one I use first.

... then you have two crappy vacuums. I had a Roomba, got a Dyson, and was shocked by what it picked up. I ran the Roomba so I'd have a better comparison, and it picked up almost nothing. The Dyson is just so much better at cleaning that I got rid of the Roomba. This was four years ago, so maybe they're better now, but I found the Roomba to be more novel than effective.

Re:Really pleased with it (3, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#41366117)

That's a vacuum cleaner salesmen's wet dream. There will always be something to pick up. This is why all salesmen will be glad to show off how much their cleaner picked up that your "crappy" cleaner missed. Hell, I'll bet if you vacuumed your carpet after the Dyson or Kirby, you'd still pick up dust.

Re:Really pleased with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41366509)

The funny thing is, the one time we had a Kirby sales presentation at our house, to demonstrate they put down baking soda, had us vacuum, then came behind us with their vacuum - from the look on their faces I could tell our vacuum sucked up much, much more than they were expecting - and it was a 20 year old canister vac (Mid 1980's Eureka Express) There was a smattering of baking soda on their black filter pad, but not even enough to call the resulting color dark grey. 45 minutes later after they told us the price and their "special offers" we just reminded them that our vacuum did darn well and getting an extra 2-3% of the dirt was not worth the 1200+ dollars.

Re:Really pleased with it (1)

SimplyGeek (1969734) | about 2 years ago | (#41365955)

I could say the same for any vacuum cleaner: Take a Dyson and vacuum the floor with it. You'll be amazed at what the Dyson picks up that your other cleaner was leaving behind. --- Huge Dyson convert

Re:Really pleased with it (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 2 years ago | (#41366495)

Then borrow a good vacuum and see how much crap a Dyson leaves behind. Seriously I had a friend who insisted that the Dyson was the best vacuum ever. I got sick of hearing about it so I had him bring it over and we tested his Dyson, my wet/dry shop vac, and my second hand Kriby on the carpet in the back of my Jeep Cherokee (really fucking nasty). Both of my vacuums did a better job (single pass over a strip of carpet) than the Dyson and wet/dry shop vac doesn't have a beater brush.The Dyson may not lose suction but it doesn't have much to lose I want a vacuum that can suck a golf ball through a garden hose. On a hard surface a cotton rag mop and wringer bucket with hot water and a bit of bleach will do wonders.

Re:Really pleased with it (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#41372095)

To suck a gold ball through a garden hose you're producing a lot of vacuum but very little air power. Most power is then wasted: with a huge pressure differential the turbine stalls. On a Dyson the turbine stalls much earlier than on your golfball sucker, but then turbine isn't all that different from a wing. Low stall speed means inefficient blade when operating at nominally high speed. What you want from a vacuum is high air power.

Sure high vacuum is nice when you got a clog, but that's a tradeoff that IMHO Dyson engineers got right for a change. Clogs are rare events. If you don't abuse the vacuum, the intake nor the hose shouldn't ever clog, it's pretty much your fault for sucking up stuff that's too big to fit. Otherwise, at high air power, there's decent airflow that picks up dirt and does the job it's designed to do.

I find that Dyson is optimized for cleaning carpets using the main beater brush. It is, conversely, pessimized for the lower flow, higher vacuum attachments. To a point where I think you'd be much better off with another vacuum for attachment use. There's no simple way around it short of having two turbines and a clutch to route motor power between them based on circumstances. You literally need one turbine for high flow, one for high vacuum (like when using attachments on a car carpet). Many vacuums optimize for high vacuum at lower flow, and thus they perform nowhere near whey they could for high flow carpet cleaning with the beater brush. No vacuum cleaner can claim to tackle both equally well, because, well, nature just doesn't work that way when all you have is one bog-standard turbine.

Perhaps there's some blade design magic to be done on a turbine to make it perform better across a wider range of flows and pressure differentials, but so far it doesn't seem to have reached the vacuum cleaner market. All I can think of at the moment is some localized added airflow on the blades themselves (through holes going into the blade), but that makes the turbine more complex and simple sheetmetal aluminum turbine discs won't work anymore.

Re:Really pleased with it (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about 2 years ago | (#41372205)

Borrow a Dyson and see how much crap the Roomba leaves behind

Sad to say, we have a Dyson — we had it before the Roomba. The Roomba is great on the wooden/tiled floors downstairs, and only just passable on carpet upstairs. The Dyson is used for the stairs and the skirting boards and behind doors etc. where the Roomba cannot easily go. The Roomba is convenient, and, frankly, fun, but I would not be able to do without a more traditional vacuum cleaner yet.

Running the Roomba every day is no effort, so it gets run a lot more often than I would bother to vacuum, and so, on the whole, everything looks clean enough, but I run the Dyson every so often too. Overall, I'm really pleased with the Roomba, but I was accepting of its limitations before buying it — if it were bought as a vacuum-to-replace-them-all, I would expect disappointment.

Re:Really pleased with it (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 2 years ago | (#41372835)

If I can't see it I don't care. My roomba keeps my living room clean enough, and certainly far cleaner than I did vacuuming once every 2 weeks.

Smitten (1)

carrier lost (222597) | about 2 years ago | (#41365165)

Roomba has a place in all of our hearts [botaday.com]

Roomba?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41365245)

The fact that I haven't thought about the Roomba in more than 7 years until this story came up should say something about the impact this thing had.

And to think they talk about "changing the world." I wonder if they ever heard of Steve Jobs..

Re:Roomba?? (2)

partyguerrilla (1597357) | about 2 years ago | (#41367531)

I wonder if you ever heard of Dennis Ritchie.

10 years ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41365255)

... known by my cat as "The Occupation".

Obligatory Onion articles (4, Funny)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 2 years ago | (#41365301)

Re:Obligatory Onion articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41373723)

I wanted to thank you, sir, for posting something funny and not xkcd.

Cat and my Roomba (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41365339)

Today (and at least once before) my cat has activated the Roomba by walking on top of it.

The cat then promptly runs away.

10 years is nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41365425)

Mom's been vacuuming the basement for 43 years now.

Re:10 years is nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41365733)

If the internet is to be believed, she sucks harder and longer than a Roomba too.

The future is now. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about 2 years ago | (#41365541)

I grew up watching those little robots zipping around on the bridge of an Imperial star ship, so when I first powered up the thing I was a giddy. I felt like I was one step closer to the idealized future envisioned in my childhood.

Interesting to read this considering we got a Roomba about two months ago. iRobot clearly put a lot of thought into it's design, at least from a mechanical standpoint. It's fun to watch for the first 15 minutes. However, that amusement then turns to intense frustration as the damn thing keeps returning to the same area. Even worse is when it's in return-to-dock mode, gets within 5 feet of the dock and decides to go off in some random direction.

Prior to buying the Roomba I wasn't aware of how much competition actually exists. There are some robot vacuums which exhibit quite a bit more intelligence than anything from iRobot. They scan the room, then vacuum back and forth in neat lines, turning only where there's an obstacle. Those are impressive to watch and you feel like you're actually observing sort of machine intelligence. The Roomba doesn't feel any smarter than some battery powered toy with a bumper to detects walls. That said from what I've read those smarter vacuums aren't necessarily more effective. And they manage to get stuck just the some. And interestingly, some of the high end units out there uses the same random way-finding method as the Roomba.

I'd say a Roomba is better suited for a single-room space, like a loft, with little clutter. Otherwise you have to prepare your environment for your Roomba. And if you have multiple rooms you have to cordon off each space so that it's more likely to do a proper job. You end up devoting more effort than you should need to manage the thing. It does an adequate job, but it inconsistent from day to day. One thing I don't understand is why they haven't built in a power conservation mode, so that when it's trying to return to dock the vacuum will shut down and all it's powering is wheels and sensors.

Outside of the addition of some sensors and adjustments to the vacuum system, the design hasn't changed much at all. It still bounces off everything like it always has. There's so much potential there. It feels like the company has decided to focus their efforts on more experimental technology and use Roomba as a cash cow. In 10 years I would have expected smarter robots.

Re:The future is now. (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41365569)

I grew up watching those little robots zipping around on the bridge of an Imperial star ship, so when I first powered up the thing I was a giddy. I felt like I was one step closer to the idealized future envisioned in my childhood.

Unfortunately, we're a lot closer to that Imperial future in a lot of ways we'd rather not be.

Re:The future is now. (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#41366191)

The Neato shuts down the vacuum when it's returning to the base. It's generally been awesome for a scheduled 4 times a week cleanup. It's gotten stuck a few times due to the layout of my house, but I'd say it's 95% on top of it's game. Once I figured out what it tends to get stuck or confused on/with I haven't had it act up or get lost in a few months.

Roomba = Junk (1)

haplo21112 (184264) | about 2 years ago | (#41366049)

My only comment, Spent the money on the Roomba and the Scooba within 18 months both were completely dead.

The Roomba lost its mind and no amount of fiddling could get it back.

The Scooba was replaced 3 times due to a design flaw that iRobot refused to admit to, but is well documented on the web.

DJ Roomba (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41366171)

DJ Roomba [youtube.com]

birthday-cake riding roomba (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41366233)

I'm guessing the celebration includes a birthday-cake riding a roomba. Why not? We've seen no end of videos with baby on roomba, kitten on roomba, etc.

Good enough for most, perhaps... but not for me. (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#41366249)

I'll be interested when they invent one that a) can do stairs, and b) can empty its own bin into a trash receptacle when full.

Hey, DJ Roomba! (1)

Pope (17780) | about 2 years ago | (#41366329)

http://djroomba.com/ [djroomba.com]

Rockin' the house and keepin' it clean!

Heinlein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41366465)

I'll stick with my Hired Girl.

also starred in an episode of NCIS (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 2 years ago | (#41366937)

The Halloween Episode (season 4 episode 6) a roomba was active in a crime scene (and got stomped by Gibbs) and "collected" the brass.

Are they still loud? (1)

antdude (79039) | about 2 years ago | (#41368327)

I wanted to get one, but they are loud like vacuum cleaners. :(

Re:Are they still loud? (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 2 years ago | (#41372895)

yes they are loud. No they are not as loud as a normal vacuum cleaner. No it doesn't matter that they are loud (as you can let them run when you are not there).
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