Smart home devices have gained in popularity in recent years. Today, lights, appliances, surveillance cameras, and more, are controllable from any smartphone, no matter your location. First launched in 2002, the Roomba autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner might be considered the world’s first smart home device. However, that really isn’t correct. It wasn’t until late last year that iRobot released its first true smart vacuum cleaner, the iRobot Roomba 980. What makes it so smart? It’s time to find out.
Design and Hardware
iRobot Roomba 980 App
Like previous versions, the iRobot Roomba 980 looks like a large hockey puck on wheels. On the top, you’ll find a large Clean button and camera. The latter is new to the Roomba line. Combined with a floor sensor, the camera uses visual simultaneous localization and mapping (vSLAM) technology to track where the device has been. Most importantly, the technology helps the Roomba avoid obstacles along the way. Added to this is iRobot’s new iAdapt 2.0 navigation solution, which allows the vacuum to maneuver around your home more easily than did previous models.
On the bottom of the device, you’ll find two tangle-free AeroForce extractors, which allows it to clean floors without brushes. With the Roomba 980, iRobot claims the extractors get 10 times more power than previous models and captures 99 percent of allergens, pollen, and particles as small as 10 microns. You’ll also find a removable trash bin with a HEPA filter on the bottom.
The Roomba 980 also comes with a docking port, which charges the device. Better still: the Roomba 980 knows when its battery needs charging and goes to the docking port automatically. When fully charged, the device will finish the job with no further user input.
Finally, the vacuum comes with two dual mode virtual wall barriers for those times you don’t want a certain room cleaned. They also help the device avoid steps.
All About the Software
iRobot Roomba 980 App
The Roomba 980 is iRobot’s first vacuum cleaner that features Wi-Fi and a companion app. Hence, the reason I wanted to review this device since it was first launched in late 2015.
To control previous Roomba versions, you needed to push the device’s Clean button and get out of the way. When problems arose such as the battery died or the bin needed emptying, you received a sound alert.
With the Roomba 980 Home app, control moves to your smartphone. On the app’s main tab, you’ll find a Clean button and a battery status icon. From here, you can start, pause, or end the current job. You can also send the Roomba back to its base for charging. When an issue occurs, you’ll see a message on this screen and the solutions necessary to get the device working again. You’ll also receive sound alerts from the vacuum.
The scheduling tab allows you to program your vacuum to work on certain days and times automatically. The More tab offers a help guide, history of jobs, and other settings. A Care section shows the current state of the vacuum’s bin, debris extractors, and core robot. You’ll always know when parts must be cleaned or replaced.
Other features worth mentioning include:
- Carpet boost, which automatically increases power on carpets where it’s needed most;
- A three-stage cleaning system, which uses a combination of agitation, brushing, and suction;
- Multi-room navigation, which allows it to clean up to three rooms on the same floor without stopping.
But How Does It Work?
Early Roombas have been rightly criticized for lacking enough suction power to clean up most debris. Hitting objects were also commonplace. I didn’t have any of these problems with the Roomba 980.
My home is approximately 1,900 square feet. During my tests over the past two months, Roomba has cleaned six rooms on two levels multiple times. On the main floor, I have a carpeted living and dining room, and a kitchen with hardwood floors. On the second floor, there are three carpeted bedrooms. I didn’t have Roomba clean bathrooms or closet spaces.
I found that the Roomba did a terrific job each time
I found that the Roomba did a terrific job each time; I have collected a lot of dust from the bin as proof. Movement wise, the Roomba avoided obstacles with ease, although it did seem to have problems around doors in the kitchen next to throw rugs. I suggest removing these before doing a job.
From a sound perspective, Roomba isn’t quiet and even less so when the carpet boost switches on. However, I didn’t find it any louder than most vacuum cleaners on the market. And honestly, after a while, the noise faded into the background, as many household sounds do.
The Bottom Line
Rating the iRobot Roomba 980
Should you buy an iRobot Roomba 980? That depends on a number of factors, starting with its price. There’s no getting around it, $900 is a lot of money to spend on a vacuum.
Still, if you’re the type of person that doesn’t have the time to vacuum your home all that often, yet still want an always-clean house, it should definitely be considered. The iRobot Roomba 980 can save you a lot of time each week and that fact must be considered before making a purchase. You must also consider whether you want to be cleaning a vacuum bin after each job, which I found was necessary during my tests.