Vacuuming sucks, so when our old canister vacuum bit the dust, I was left with the unglamorous task of purchasing a new one. I've had my eye on Roomba – the robotic machine that will clean my floors while I nap. Seriously. Upon purchasing the Roomba 530 ($300), I was a bit skeptical but more excited (and a little giddy) to give it a shot. Quite honestly, I have never been so thrilled to plug anything in.
After I waited for it to fully charge (about three hours), I let it loose to have its way with my filthy floors. The robot took about 45 minutes to do about three rooms. Longer than I had anticipated, but it cleaned far better than I expected, and I was smitten. Perfect? No. There were a few specks of dirt left behind, but that was in part my fault (I didn't realize that I needed to empty the bin midcycle because it's smart enough to know when enough is enough). Then when it was done with the job, it made its way back to the charging station as I watched in amazement. For my full evaluation, including what I didn't like, just read more.
Likes: I literally followed it around my house to watch the magic and was shocked to see Roomba find its way out of tight spaces and corners. Also, it won't fall down stairs, so you can put it upstairs, walk away, and come back to a clean space. The robot handled hardwood and carpets like a pro and even gobbled up larger chunks with ease. What's more? This smart vac cleans under beds perfectly, and its parts can be ordered individually, which means replacing something is simple and far less expensive than most other vac repairs. My favorite thing about Roomba? Not lifting a finger.
Dislikes: Roomba doesn't fall down stairs, but it also doesn't clean them. It didn't fit under some of my furniture, which means I'll still need to whip out my handheld vac and Swiffer from time to time. Also, I had to retrieve random things from it that were left on the floor that were not meant to be swept up, but next time I'll give the room a quick once over first. Finally, to keep the vacs functioning to their fullest, iRobot recommends cleaning the Roomba after each use. This was my least favorite step in the whole process, but I'll take a five-minute cleanup over a full vacuuming session any day.
All in all, I'm a big fan. Sure, I won't be tossing my handheld vac or Swiffer anytime soon, but this is by far the best way to clean that I've ever experienced. Now if only they could come up with a robot to do my windows, toilets, and dishes.