Vacuuming is a laborious chore that I both hate and love. How so? Viewing the contents of the bin upon finish makes the chore worth it, but yet every time the chore comes to head I often skip it. After all, it’s a hassle to dig out the vacuum, unwind its cord, plug it in and then carefully navigate the contents of the room such that I don’t knock something over…and all the while reduce the number of times I have to plug it in to reach every corner of the room. I own two Dyson vacuums and often use the handheld DC35, but only upon a spill or when a quick clean up is needed, such as removing the crumbs from the edge of my coffee table. So it’s for this reason that a robovac makes the most sense for me, and probably for millions of you like me.
So keep reading my iRobot Roomba 980 review to find out if this $899 robotic vacuum is right for you.
Price: $899.99 on Amazon
Summary: This is iRobot’s top of the line robovac that boasts all the latest bells and whistle, including smart connectivity allowing you to access and control the Roomba 980 from your Android or iOS device. It does an excellent job cleaning carpet and hardwood, but thanks to it’s hockey puck like shape, it misses 90 degree corners.
What We Liked
- Smartphone connectivity via WiFi makes operating and maintaining the 980 a breeze
- Cleans carpets effectively
- Easy to maintain
- Can easily navigate from room to room and builds a database of furniture, etc for next cleaning
What We Didn’t
- Expensive; $900 for a vacuum
- Can’t clean deep in corners due to its shape
- The bin’s filter is messy and some what difficult to empty
iRobot Roomba 980 Specs
|Coverage||1500 Square Feet|
|Size||13.9 x 13.9 x 3.6 inches|
To a large degree, the IRobot Roomba 980 looks like every other Roomba. Which is to say it sports their familiar hockey puck shape. However, unlike the lesser models (below the 960) the 980 sports a camera which maps out the room, allowing it to develop a log of visual landmarks and thus improve cleaning for next time. In short this means less bumping and more cleaning. And when it does hit something, there is a bump panel to help it detect obstacles and steer around or away from them. There are a few other sensors on board, including one to detect a ledge (aka cliff detection) and one to detect the presence of carpet, where upon the iRobot Roomba 980 will increase its suction power (“Dirt Detect™ Series II5 uses optical and acoustic sensors to detect high concentrations of dirt, dust and pet hair, and the robot then provides focused cleaning where it’s most needed”).
Standing at 3.6″ tall and 9.8″ in diameter, the IRobot Roomba 980 is able to fit under most coffee table, credenzas and those alike. For anything lower, there is a corner brush to sweep dirt into its path (much like Deebot D45), which is then sucked up by a set of rubber rollers that move dirt, pet hair and debris through its AeroForce® filter that purportedly captures 99% of allergens, pollen, and particles as small as 10 microns. It’s not up to HEPA standards, so if you’re looking to capture smaller particles, try this list of HEPA vacuums and HEPA air filters, with the latter probably being a better resolve since it’s more immediate.
As for charging, there is a simple base station included in the box. The IRobot Roomba 980 will return home when it’s done cleaning your room or when its battery runs low. That said, the 980 is capable of cleaning up to 2,000 square feet, though depending on settings may need to recharge itself, or the bin may need to be emptied, though you can override that last issue if needed. That said, the Roomba 980 is intelligent enough to know where to pick up from where it left off in the event it requires a recharges as it stores a layout of your home’s floors. I’m not sure if its memory caps out at 2,000 square feet, so you might want to check if your home is larger or simply buy a Roomba 980 for each floor.
Lastly, there is handle, albeit slightly hidden to my much surprise, and 3 buttons (home, spot cleaning and on/off) that are straight forward and easy to operate.
Developing a baseline for performance with any vacuum can be tough to measure. To me, the best indicator for quality or success, is just simply looking at the floor and the bin’s contents. In this particular case, the Roomba 980 performed admirably and with consistency.
I scheduled – via the app no less – my Roomba 980 to run 3 times a week in my living room/kitchen area, which is where the 980 lays its weary wheels. While emptying the bin after each cleaning wasn’t necessary, I still did as such to determine its efficacy. And I’m happy to report that while not full, the consistently removed debris, dirt, dust and pet hair from my hardwood floors, leaving little to be find by the naked eye. The 980 did however struggle to pick up crumbs in corners, which is likely due to its round shape, which didn’t allow it to get close enough access to remove or suck up dirt. That all being said, the Roomba 980 never once drove off the stairs in my living room save for the time a house slipper got in its path, and even then it drove half off the end and never took a complete tumble.
On the 980’s off days, I also placed it in my bedroom and bathroom, which is a mix of thin carpet (bedroom) and tile (bathroom). Here the Roomba 980 automatically increased its power (carpet boost), which in turn produced more noise, but the results each time were stupendous, filling up the bin to almost full with dust and long girlfriend hair. Again, I couldn’t help but note that the 980 struggled to get into the corners of my bathroom. But that last issue aside, I can now see how remiss I’ve been when it comes to vacuuming my bedroom, especially under my bed which is often unreachable with even the best upright vacuum.
Before you can use the Roomba 980 with your iOS or Android device, you’ll need to connect it to your home’s WiFi network. The app will walk you through the process, but note that it’s not compatible with WiFi networks that are 5Ghz. But fear not, as most new and top rated routers will have both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequency running simultaneously.
Once the 980 is connected to your home’s WiFi you’ll be able to manually activate the robovacs cleaning cycle, as well as schedule cleaning days and with that the time. My living room and kitchen, which are connected, total about 350 square feet. It takes the Roomba 980 about 30 minutes to completely clean the area, minus the space under the two sofas. And I know this because the Roomba app has a History section, allowing you to review the time and the total square footage covered. Interestingly enough, my Roomba 980 generally covers about 250-280 sq ft, which now makes me realize my home may be smaller than advertised. Good things I rent.
Within the app you can also view the status of the bin, rollers and sensors. When indicating “red” it’s time to address some issues, though you’ll need to manually reset the status in the app once you’ve performed any routine maintenance. There you can also view instructions and find links to new parts in the event something does break or wear beyond use.
I should note that remote access, while outside my home’s network, was slow to respond, but did work after a few attempts. But nevertheless, it did allow me to manually control cleaning if needed.
Yes, the Roomba 980 comes at a premium. By comparison, there are view vacuums, be it canister, upright or handheld vacuums, that cost this much; $900. However, with it you get a vacuum that is capable of cleaning both carpet and hardwood all without damaging it. And doing so with a frequency that even a dedicated maid or housekeeper can’t attain.
And, if you’re still struggling with the price tag there are a few things to think about.
- How often do you vacuum now? The more you use a vacuum the greater the benefit and in turn the effective cost drops.
- What is your time worth? Vacuuming 2,000 square feet can take an hour or more. Wouldn’t you rather have that time back and in turn garner some piece of mind that your room or rooms are healthier to reside in.
To that end, the iOS app works flawless and makes scheduling the IRobot Roomba 980 ultra easy. It also helps you maintain the vacuum, which in upon itself requires nothing more than a Philips head screwdriver.