Most recommended roomba, hopefully sub-$200
June 3, 2009 8:42 PM   Subscribe

Most recommended roomba, hopefully sub-$200

I'm looking for a first roomba, I'm a student and will be upgrading from almost never vacuuming, so any results should be impressive. No pets, no shag rugs, apartment.

Is it worth it to get one of these $400-600 new roombas, or is there one that goes in the $100-200 range that is almost as good? I'm looking for bang for the buck here (also, horror stories if you have a roomba and find it doesn't clean enough - but we're just looking for it to pick up crumbs and dust).
posted by lrodman to Technology (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I'm perfectly happy with my $199 roomba, although I've never had experience with a more expensive one to compare. But for simple crumbs and dust vacuuming I don't imagine you'll have any problem with cheaper one. You do have to remember to clean the roller things on the bottom more than a regular vacuum or its effect goes down quickly - I do it every two rounds or so (I have long hair and cats, so ymmv). However they provide you with a fun little slicing tool to clean them so its not bad and only takes a minute.
posted by frobozz at 8:56 PM on June 3, 2009

Sorry, forgot to be specific - I have the iRobot Roomba 416.
posted by frobozz at 9:01 PM on June 3, 2009

The reviews that I read before I bought my first Roomba led me to believe that they crap out after a year or two, to buy a cheaper one so you won't be furious when you have to replace it. I am on my second one now because the battery crapped out on the first one and it seemed a better deal to spend $150 or so on a brand new slightly fancier one than $80 on a new battery for an old Roomba. Anyway, on one hand I love the roomba, but I often am too lazy to bother to use it. (Move speaker wires, stick the curtains on something, pick up all the chairs, move that Ikea chair it gets stuck on out of the room...) But when I make myself do it, it gets everything WAY cleaner than I would bother with myself.

I have NO idea what models I have, the first one was one of the cheapy old red ones. Now it's white and docks itself somewhat badly. But it has two of the walls, not that lighthouse thingy. It seems like the models change all the time, so I can't tell from the website what my current one is.
posted by artychoke at 9:35 PM on June 3, 2009

Roomba regularly come up for sale on - you might want to start checking out. They post one new item for sale at midnight central time.
posted by metahawk at 9:37 PM on June 3, 2009

I have iRobot Roomba® 416. It is $199. I love it. I also have a Scooba. The Scooba is a bit temperamental.
posted by fifilaru at 10:20 PM on June 3, 2009

I got the $150 one, which is the cheapest one, and it is great. We were glad we didn't spend money on the more expensive ones, because honestly I don't know what else we could possibly want ours to do.
posted by Nattie at 11:25 PM on June 3, 2009

I have the bright yellow dirt dog roomba, which sweeps instead of vacuums, and I love it. It goes over my cowskin rug no issue, but if you've got carpets it might be an issue. I recommend reading the reviews on amazon about this model to find out more about how it works on rugs.
I have zero complaints about the machine, I did TONS of research before I bought one and this one seemed to be the most reliable. It picks up dog hair like crazy, along with anything else. The first few times you use it you might have to empty it midway, but if you use it often enough, there won't be much for it to clean up.
If you buy it from Hammacher Schlemmer, there is a lifetime replacement guarantee, which is good to have to deal with the issue of it breaking after a year.
I think it's around $130.
posted by newpotato at 12:41 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yeah, mine went wonky after a year, shortly after the warranty ran out so I wish I hadn't spent like $300 on it. It did a good job while it lasted.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:21 AM on June 4, 2009

My one comment on mine, a 3rd generation, is it gets stuck in the fray of my carpet all the time. From what I understand the 4th and 5th generations don't have this problem. If you have tassels on your carpet, don't get less than a 4th generation. I don't know this from experience, only from ad literature. is your friend. That's where I got mine. Just check it every day, they come for sale about once a month.
posted by teabag at 6:09 AM on June 4, 2009

I have the 510, which I think I paid around $200 for. I'm very happy with it. I noticed the last time I changed the furnace filter that it was much less dusty than previously, and the only change I can think of is that I got a Roomba.

The big difference between the cheaper and the more expensive ones, as far as I can tell, is that the expensive ones dock themselves. I don't see the point in that, because I empty the dirt out after every use and just plug it in then. Some expensive ones have timers, but again, I don't see the point -- if you're not going to be home, just set it going before you walk out the door.

They also work really well for keeping small children in bed, by the way. "Shut your door, sweetie! I'm going to set Rosie going!"
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:15 AM on June 4, 2009

Your best bet is going with one of the low-end 500 series Roombas. I have the 530 and I'm pleased. All the 500's are self-docking.
posted by radioamy at 9:43 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Cool - and yeah, I love woot (probably too much) and see them there all the time.

Dirt dog is just for hard-floors, right? I'll have carpets next year.

Do the better ones handle wires better, too? Like, could it run with wires left on the floor?

Also, what happens if they get tangled in wires while you are gone? Will they intelligently shut-off when they detect they're stuck, or will the motor run until the battery runs out or it starts a fire (I presume this doesn't happen but just checking :)
posted by lrodman at 10:46 AM on June 4, 2009

Roomba 418 (special Woot-only package) here, bought for $150.

Very much worth it in my mind. Seconding frobozz about cleaning the Roomba itself (both ease of cleaning and frequency). Definitely get a bundle that includes the self-charging base or buy it separately. I'd hate to have to plug it in myself when it was done.

No data on handling loose wires on the floor since mine run around the perimeter of the room and are large anyway (heavily shielded component video cable).

The default OH-CRAP behavior is to stop where it is (which is linked to the vacuum moter; moving == vacuuming) and beep for a minute or two. Mine really only did this when it got stuck on a rug with tassels (we got rid of the rug quickly) and when it ate a sock one time. It would never stay in one place and run down the battery.
posted by mysterious1der at 11:28 AM on June 4, 2009

When mine gets stuck in tassels it shuts off and complains. It's smart enough to know when it's ruining something.

As for wires, never had that issue as my wires are well hidden. If the roller is jammed it will shut off, but I remember reading stories about lamps being pulled off tables. Just tack the damn things down.
posted by teabag at 5:03 AM on June 5, 2009

Today on Woot, they are selling a refurbished Roomba 530 Robotic Vacuum with Virtual Wall and Self-Charging Home Base for $135 including shipping.
posted by grouse at 7:31 AM on June 29, 2009

Response by poster: Ended up getting that roomba 530 with wall and base for 135, but in October. Thanks!
posted by lrodman at 9:01 PM on October 13, 2009

I bought one of the ones in June. It has been great. Visitors always remark on the freshly-vacuumed look of my place (quite unusual in my social circle), and I have to dust the tables less often as well. My only complaint is that I wished it were easier to clean itself. The little cleaning tool is no longer included. I found this and this—do you think they would be worth trying?
posted by grouse at 9:18 PM on October 13, 2009

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