October 6, 2014

A review comparing the Roomba 581 to the new 870

iRobot provided a significant discount so I could purchase the Roomba 870 for review. The iRobot Roomba 870 is my 4th robot vacuum. The first two were also Roombas, the 530 and 581, and the more recent robot was a Neato XV21. Roomba 530 died a few days out of warranty, but iRobot awesomely sent me a 581, before they were even sold in the United States, as a replacement. The 581 has lasted more than 4 years with one replacement battery. Neato totally konked out after a year, but we aren't keen to replace him with another one.

Roomba 870 & 581
Basically, I feel like at this point, I know my robot vacuums, so here's what I think of the Roomba 870:

The 870 is much better than the 581 and the 530 before that. The beater bars are almost zero maintenance and the dust bin is way easier to empty. It's a sealed bin, so it picks up a lot more too.

Roomba 870 dust bin
What I'll call "Old Roomba" (581) got fine hairs and dirt particles but the bigger stuff would get pushed around and left in big piles when he transitioned between types of flooring, like wood to carpet or tile to wood. So a trail of stuff was being pushed around, kind of annoying and gross when I'd step in it with bare feet.

"New Roomba" (870) picks everything up and hasn't pushed anything around, ever. Of course, if I leave out a sock or drop fabric on the floor, it gets caught, but that's like all the robot vacuums, and like a traditional upright as well.

Easy-to-clean beater bar of Roomba 870
New Roomba really isn't any smarter than Old Roomba. It gets stuck under one of my couches and sometimes under my husband's recliner. It gets stuck in the bathroom when it happens to close the door while cleaning, so I have to wedge something under the door to keep it open.

Getting a room cleaned happens and it cleans well, but it takes longer than my Neato, which is more methodical about going about a room. Rooma seems more random.


I liked neato's methodical way of getting a room compared to random way roomba. super long battery life, so gets it all, just takes longer. Thanks to the extra long Roomba battery life, taking longer doesn't mean it has to stop to charge. The battery can handle my 1200+ square foot main level.

Typical emptying Roomba after cleaning my first floor
There is something I don't like about the 870, but it's not annoying enough to give it less than 5 stars. When the dust bin is full, the detector works great and puts a light on. But that's it. Roomba keeps going and there's no alert, no stopping, so unless I check on the robot, I have no way to know if it's still cleaning or just running around with a full bin. Full bin means nothing is being sucked up. For my first floor, the bin needs to be emptied once a cleaning cycle.

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