One of Miami’s top socialites caused a stir recently when she went on Facebook and declared her love for her Roomba, causing a deluge of over 100 comments of friends both curious and singing the praises of their own bot vacuums. One even wrote “OMG best thing evah! Now, I can give the housekeeper the weekend off without living in squalor!” We had to investigate.
Until very recently, robot vacuums like the Roomba were little more than a novelty, and certainly not very “smart.” Those with nice furniture dared not get early versions because they would blindly bump into the legs of valuable furniture, and suck up silk curtains. But things have advanced since then (and that famous “Breaking Bad” scene in which the Roomba served as a scapegoat for Jessie Pinkman.)
That doesn’t mean the new models still don’t suck up everything in their way, legos and lost diamond earrings included, but they are far smarter these days. The latest models have visual sensors to help the robot map its surroundings so it doesn’t get lost and keep it from hitting against baseboards and furniture so it might take better care of chair legs than a hurried housekeeper.
There are also high-performance filters and WiFi connectivity, which means owners can start and stop cleaning from anywhere. But they aren’t just easy, they also clean house quite well, going over every inch of floor twice, and using side brushes to get into crevices.
The two competing brands duking it out for dominance in the robot vacuum space is iRobot and Neato. Their respective top of the line models go head to head: iRobot’s Roomba 980 ($900) and Neato’s BotVac Connected ($700). They both have similar features, but Neato’s Botvac Connected is beating the 980 on cleaning ability and price. That said, both have legions of adamant fans.
A downloadable app for smartphones means users can start the vacuum from anywhere. It is from the same app the initial set-up is done, for which on the Botvac, includes giving a name to the little machine, giving it more personality than the shape suggests. Let’s say you choose, “Rosie” after the famous robot maid in the Jetsons. Next thing you know, you’ll be receiving messages from Rosie letting you know when she’s finished cleaning, stuck somewhere or needs her bin emptied.
If the whole house can’t be completed in one charge, both models will return to the base by itself, recharge and then resume cleaning. When is the last time your maid texted you to tell you she was taking a brake to “recharge her batteries?”
If you live in Manhattan or the Bay area and buy a Neato Botvac on Enjoy.com, for the same retail price, they will come to your home and spend an hour helping with set up. But don’t fear, even without the good folks at Enjoy, it’s easy.