Roomba 980 Review:Just during the holidays, iRobot released their appreciated Roomba 980 vacuum cleaner. With Neato competitor releasing their slightly improved Botvac “D” series recently, it was speculated that iRobot could follow the suit. However, it has been relatively long since the Roomba 880 and 870 debuted. I honestly did not know what to expect.
It is clear that iRobot is not interested in coding a market share to competitors, and rightly so.
Like all previous Roomba’s, there are things to love and things I do not like. Either way, it will be difficult to give Roomba 980’s this year. In this Roomba 980 review I will tackle the key features (what’s new) and the pros and cons. In the end I will make a general recommendation and suggest some alternatives.
TheRoomba 980 is the best robot vacuum currently on the market.
Roomba 980 Reviews
1 Key features – What’s new with the Roomba 980
2 pros and cons – things I like and things I do not
3 Other Roomba 980 Alternatives to Consider
3.1 Roomba 880
3.2 Botvac D80
3.3 Roomba 650
3.4 Roomba 960
3.5 Thinking Cleaner Faceplate
3.6 New Robots on the Horizon?
3.7 Roomba 980 vs Botvac Connected
4 last call – is the Roomba 980 worth it?
Main Features of Roomba 980 – What’s New With the Roomba 980
The following are some of the new, updated and remarkable features on the 980:
More battery charging time: The Roomba 980 can now take 2 hours for charging. This is a personal best for Roomba. On some of my older 700-series vacuums I have come with third party replacement batteries, but this is the best factory standard (out of the box) so far. It’s still not lithium-ion (for those who like it), but it’s an improvement. Like the 800 Series robots, the 980 will automatically return to the base of the docking station, but now it will be recharged and resume the cleaning it left.
IRobot HOME App: For me, this is the game changer. I have been waiting for robot vacuum cleaners to integrate more integrally into the smart home experience. IRobot is the first robot vacuum company – to my knowledge – that an app like this has. You can press “Clean” somewhere and start / stop the 980 as desired. This is perfect for people on the way (like me). When I’m at work or out of the house, I can start things while I’m gone. The app is simple enough to use and actually functions as an advanced remote. On the older Roomba’s you can perform a predetermined schedule every day, but no direct control like this!
Roomba 980 app
New Navigation System: It’s really more of an upgrade.This is a big deal. In essence, it is possible for the visible localization that Roomba looks forward to navigating and planning the room. This is the type of groundbreaking improvement that significantly improves the 980 over previous versions. What does this mean practically? Less in arbitrary terms and a more organized and efficient cleaning route.
More suction: Fortunately, iRobot was not satisfied with some new features. They have also set up their game in the power department. The AeroForce cleaning system has the same basic technology, but 2 times more effective when cleaning waste per cleaning cycle. It also has a carpet boost that maximizes airflow when it detects a carpet or carpet underneath. The end result is a more thorough clean, replicating, higher grade traditional vacuum.
Enhanced virtual wall lighthouse: Roomba uses these small towers to signal where to clean (and where not to clean … act as an invisible wall barrier). The 980 has performed the lighthouse game. They are now smaller and take AA batteries (as opposed to the “D” batteries for previous series). This is a nice improvement, because who has extra D batteries around?
Pros and Cons of Roomba 980 Review
– Things I Like and Things I Do not
Roomba 980 Pros
The App is great: it’s pretty simple and simple, but that means everything to me. Using my robot from my phone means that the Roomba is now part of my smart family. IRobot has really been delivered on a smart, web-based, creamba vacuum, where tools like the Nest and Ecobee smart thermostats are off. I already think of the possibilities for future integration with my diverse smart home apps and controllers.
App Helps Monitor Maintenance: There is a very cool ‘diagnostics’ section of the app that monitors different parts of the Roomba, and uses simple bars to let you know when things need to be changed or served (think of emptying the bin, Replacing extractors, filters, etc …). It also tells you exactly how to perform the required maintenance needs.
Better on carpets: Robust vacuum cleaners tend to perform better on hardwood floors and hard floor alternatives (tile, etc …). Now the newly designed engine is particularly good to adapt to floor surfaces. Once detected, the 980 will work a little more muscle to thoroughly clean the carpets as they should be cleaned. In a side test with my Roomba 880 (and a lot of spilled crushed cheerios) both appeared to appear the same at a distance, but the 980 was actually more able to pick up more crumbs that were filtered off. The bottom of the carpet. It was a subtle difference, difficult to tell of getting up, but still an important difference.
More hands Off / User-friendly: In short, it’s more of a robot! The new app, the stronger battery and the auto charging / resume feature make the Roomba 980 even more hands free than both earlier models and the competition. Slowly but surely, home robotics is the life of his promise. If you are vacuumed or physically unable to do this, this is the outsourced solution.
Prominent Navigation:Usually new features are added and I can hardly tell the difference. Not so with the new navigation technology. In the past, Roomba’s have the beat for cleaning in a randomized, random pattern. While the end result was clean floors, it was not beautiful. Yet it was also a bit inefficient. This was one of the contradictions I liked about most Neato models. Now the 980 is much more organized, methodical and efficient. It still hugs things in order to get its bearings, especially in rooms with lots of furniture. Not so much to the extent that it did in the past. With careful observation, even though the 980 will remember these “bumps” for future cleansing, it will not do with the same wild desolation.
Smarter algorithm: For all your geeks there, this robot is actually smarter than its predecessors and competition. In general, I noticed that the 980 spent much less time than pause and calculate both my 880 and Botvac’s (including the new Connected Botvac) because it creates the card of the room.
Excellent customer service: iRobot is still the leader when it comes to customer service. This is more of a general “pro” and less specific to this model, but still remarkable. Every time I have to replace a Roomba, I have had no problems. They are also good at diagnosing problems.
Strong Secondary Parts Market: As a Roomba owner, I know that it’s only a matter of time before I need to replace, brush or filter a battery. Unlike other robot companies, Roomba has a flood of after-market companies that specialize in creating better replacement accessories and components. For example, I found replacement batteries that are better than the factory settings. This applies a little to companies like Neato (smaller market share) and this market is virtually unavailable for the other small players.
Better Suction Overall: My two quasi-scientific ways to measure this are that: A) I can feel a lot more wind / air from the device, and B) those larger particles of high-powered vacuum pellets are being captured The trashcan. This is an upgrade on the Roomba 880, which I also compared as my baseline.
Roomba 980 Cons
App may be more: This is not really a legitimate grip, because I’m happy with the new app. It’s more a wish. I want to fully integrate my Roomba with the rest of my smart home. It would be fun to handle everything from one app (and one controller like the SmartThings Hub and others). It would probably not be hard to do and it can be something that iRobot is already in the way of.
Still not ‘Perfect’: It’s a clear improvement, but it’s still not perfect. It is sometimes confused by power cords and can have problems with significant thresholds. Once it gets stuck, but once you’ve found the problem areas, it’s easy to make your house “Roomba proof”. It’s not quite like a human ….
Competition on the road? Both the Dyson Eye and the Neato Botvac Connected are rumors that they are coming in quickly. How fast? I can not really tell you. The Botvac Connected (which has similar app controls) will likely be released this year, but no fixed release date has been set. The Dyson Eye has been rumored for years to work, but lately I have not heard about an expected release date. It can still be 6-12 months away. What this means is that the Roomba 980 can compete more quickly on the horizon. At present, the 980 is the best robot on the market, but that can change. Certainly, if the price points are more affordable, Roomba could seriously be interrupted.
UPDATE: The Dyson 360 Eye has recently been released. Generally, it has a more powerful vacuum, but less competent room-to-room navigation. You can read my full review for more details.
Does not work in full darkness: as long as there is light, ie you can see your way, the 980 must work well. However, for black-black rooms you will inevitably get an error code. When cleaning at night or in a basement without lights, this can be a problem. My simple solution is to keep night lighting in any room it needs.
Carpet improvement is loud: it takes more dirt, so I’m a happy customer, but it’s still worth it. Not going to sleep in the same room.
Available only in one place: Up to now – as is often the case with new releases – the Roomba 980 is available only through the iRobot store. This is probably because they want to check prices as long as possible. (see here for the listing at amazon)!
Price: iRobot is always the price tag. All their robots are usually light to moderately more expensive than the competition. The 980 is no different. In fact, it’s free darn expensive! At $ 900 per unit, this is probably not something that can be easy spring. You can view this offer for more detailed pricing. In this case you get what you pay. This generation has actually improved many important aspects. Hands down, this is the best robot vacuum currently available. However, if this is your first robot, you may want to search for less expensive, yet competent alternatives (see below)
Other Roomba 980 alternatives to consider
If the price is too much of a hub, do not worry. There are other big vacuum cleaners in consideration.
You will get 3 virtual lighthouses that allow a perimeter to be placed for larger homes and spaces. The Roomba 880 was the cream of the crop until the 980 was released. You can check my Roomba 880 review here. At that time, it was the most effective robot to buy vacuum money. The patented AeroForce cleaning system is 50% more effective when cleaning debris than the 700 series. This, combined with a larger bin, a better battery and a remote control, made it the most hands-free device at the time. Now it’s the 2nd best. It has no revolutionary app, but it has all other important features for a real runner up. More importantly, it’s a full $ 200 cheaper than the 980 (check this offer for even steeper discounts). Still pricey, but much less.
I was not impressed with the original Botvac release, but the new D series has made some good improvements.checkout my full Botvac D80 Review Here
In particular, they have a problem with the brush (by changing a bearing), making it less susceptible to being touched (especially with human and pet hair in my experience). Not only does the Botvac D80 look better, it also functions functionally better than previous Neato models. The suction power is best yet, and probably comparable to the new Roomba 980. Still, you do not get app controls, but it’s still relatively easy to plan and use. The patented laser navigation technology means more organized routes and it usually works well. You can check this list here, where it usually sells less than the top line Roomba’s.
It has been a while, but it is still reliable. It is also much more affordable. You can read my full Roomba 650 review here. If budget is your greatest concern, try the 650 to see if it’s good enough for your needs. Yes, it lacks some nice “extras”, but the core cleaning technology is there.
The 650 is ideal for people with small houses, apartments or just a small area that they want to clean regularly. It does not come with the standard HEPA filter (good for people with allergies and animal owners) like the 880 and 980, but the AeroVac filter does a good job. Overall, this is a great robot for people who just started, curious to see if the technology works for their needs. I still have mine to this day after 3 years (and a few replacement batteries). Best of all, you’ll find the 650 for a very affordable price at this offer.
This is a great option if the WiFi feature is the most important thing you want. Basically, it has the 880 specifications + WiFi / App control, at the middle price between 880 and 980. Read more about Roomba 960 review my thoughts or review this offer for the latest prices.
Thinking Cleaner Faceplate
I was initially a little skeptical about this “work-around”, but it actually works pretty well. Thinking Cleaner was the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign. It adds functional WiFi capability to any Roomba 500 or 600 Series robot. Skeptic? I was also. Basically, you attach a faceplate that changes your Roomba. It’s easy enough to confirm.
Best of all, it can sync with other smart home apps (like SmartThings, etc …), something that I criticized the Roomba 980 because I did not. You can do the same features as the Roomba 980 WiFi, just in a less “polished” and intuitive way. The app is pretty solid and lets you switch remotely, alert you when you need Roomba help and even play a song to find your lost Roomba. It is available for just a fraction of the cost of a new Roomba here.
Who is Roomba 980 good for?
1) Existing owners of a 500 or 600 series Roomba.
2) Prospective buyers who want WiFi features but can not pay / do not want to spend $ 899 on the 980. For example, buying a new Roomba 650 and Thinking Cleaner Faceplate will bring you no more than $ 500 in total.
Roomba 980 vs Botvac Connected
Both the Roomba 980 and the Botvac Connected feature have WiFi-enabled control. This is clearly the main function for both. I prefer the Roomba app personally better, but both are similar in terms of features / usage.
What are the main differences?
i) The Botvac Connected is highly affordable (usually about $ 200 less), but see this offer for current information and prices.
ii) The Botvac now has the “Eco” and “Turbo” mode.
iii) The Roomba 980does not have “carpet boost” and the Botvac.
iv) The Roomba 980 has virtual wall for its usage, while the Botvac depends totally on capturing the magnetic tape around your home.
UPDATE: You can read my full comparison (recently completed) here