Living with a Robot: The Roomba 880 Living with a Robot: The Roomba 880

Look, we’ve all seen Terminator, we know the dangers of robots. We let them into our lives for a little convenience and boom, Skynet happens. So you’ll have to excuse us if we were a little suspicious when a Roomba 880 showed up at our doorstep, beckoning to be let in like a lost puppy caught in a rain storm. Okay Roomba, but we’re watching you.

This isn’t just any Roomba, this is the latest and greatest from iRobot. This means we're either in for the best cleaning experience of our lifetimes, or we're expediting robot revolution. Full disclosure, we had no previous interactions with Roomba technology before this review, but this model listed off some very impressive features; promising to clean like no vacuum has ever cleaned before – all the while definitely *not* plotting world domination… We’ll see.

Out of the Box

Right off the bat we were impressed with the simplicity of setting the Roomba up. The packaging was clean, straightforward, and directions were super clear. We didn’t have to fuss over programming anything to get it running, and the more advanced settings were made simple through illustrations.

Along with our robotic friend, the box comes with a docking station, a remote control, two “lighthouses” which create an infrared wall that keeps the Roomba from passing it, and of course batteries.

With everything out of the box and charged up, it was time to put lil Roomba to the test. We set up its docking station in a corner of the living room that wouldn’t draw too much attention, and then placed a lighthouse near the computer area, as we didn’t want the Roomba to be bumping into our toes while we worked. With everything in place, we simply hit the “CLEAN” button on the remote, and the Roomba exited its docking station and began vacuuming away.

Cleaning

Before letting the Roomba get to work, we placed a few fragile objects in its path to test how careful it would be when navigating our home. We set up an art easel in the center of the room as well as a wine glass at the edge of the wall.

Upon starting up, we instantly noticed how intelligently the Roomba mapped out our unique space and worked its way around tricky arrangements. It appeared to learn as it went along, and after a few careful nudges it moved its way around the art easel and wine glass with ease, not missing a spot.

With the “AeroForce” suction system, a feature that sets the 880 model apart from its lesser siblings, the Roomba was cleaning as efficiently as any human. It can even find its way around cords that have been left out.

Once the Roomba was running low on battery, it would conveniently return to its docking station to recharge.

The Roomba’s strength comes from the convenience of programming. Sure, one session might not get the job done every time, but program it to clean once a day while you’re at work and you’ll quickly see the value of this little robot. All the while being out of sight and out of mind.

We were a bit disappointed with the overall sound of the Roomba in motion. We figured we could sit in the same room and watch TV or work on the laptop, but the sheer volume of its vacuum made it difficult a small price to pay for not having to get up off the couch.

Roomba in action near couch.

Maintenance

More an admission on our cleaning habits than its bin size, the Roomba filled up in no time at all. It gave off a few beeps letting us know it needed our attention, and upon inspection was displaying an image that made it clear it was time to empty it out.

This process couldn’t have been easier. With a simple click of a button, the bin came out of the Roomba like a cartridge. Once empty, we just slid it back in until a clicking sound made it clear that it was secure. One more push of the “CLEAN” button and the Roomba was back at it.

While we haven’t had it long enough to change the filters, a mock filter swap proved just as convenient as emptying the bin.

Price

Now this is where things get iffy. Roomba’s aren’t exactly cheap to own, and for good reason – there is a lot of technology packed into these little things. The 880 series, however, really asks a lot from consumers at $700, roughly $400 more than the 600 series.

While we can’t say if the features are worth that massive price bump, we can say that being able to remove the weekly chore of vacuuming is priceless, and the Roomba 880 does just that.

Final Thoughts

We would have liked to see some bluetooth connectivity at this price point. The remote control felt dated and it feels like there has been a missed opportunity with smartphones. Furthermore, the noise levels were a bit daunting at first. It would be nice to have a setting that reduced the volume of the Roomba at the cost of less suction power.

That being said we loved the Roomba, and we’ll let our suspicions of robot world domination subside briefly if it means never having to lift a vacuum again.

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