IRobot Roomba 560 Review
A 1970s television commercial portrayed a woman outside of the home pursuing fun activities. She turned to the camera, smiled, and said “I’m cleaning my bathroom bowl.” Recently, on a flight to London, I turned to the passenger next to me and said, “I’m vacuuming my living room floor.”
How was I accomplishing this? My new iRobot Roomba 560 (which I’ve nicknamed Hazel) was on patrol. The Roomba employs a variety of sensors that allow it to navigate boundaries (it can detect virtual walls demarcated by a “lighthouse” that confine it to a single room), stairs, and furniture.
After I charged it for 16 hours (subsequent charges require only three hours), a built-in voice tutorial walked me through the basics.
The Roomba starts its rounds by cleaning in a spiral and then heads to a wall. Simply press the “clean” button and off it goes. A spinning side brush sweeps along wall edges, pushing what it finds into the Roomba’s path. Two counter-rotating brushes collect dirt and other debris. The vacuum itself is reasonably powerful and the Roomba adjusts automatically to different flooring surfaces. The remainder of its cleaning is seemingly random but it does clean every part of the room quite thoroughly and works well on carpet, tile, and wood flooring.
Roomba takes much longer per room than a typical vacuum cleaner, but since there’s no human intervention this really isn’t a problem. In addition, you can program the Roomba 560 to clean while you are away.
If the Roomba requires your attention, such as to empty the dustbin or if it’s stuck (very unusual, in my experience), it alerts you with a series of chimes. Otherwise, if you need me, I’ll be vacuuming the bedroom next.